Japanese destroyer Matsu (1944)

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For other ships of the same name, see Matsu (ship).
Empire of Japan
Name: Matsu
Ordered: 1943
Laid down: 8 August 1943
Launched: 3 February 1944
Completed: 28 April 1944
Struck: 10 October 1944
Fate: Sunk by gunfire NW of Chichi-jima, 4 August 1944
General characteristics
Class & type: Matsu-class destroyer
  • 1,262 long tons (1,282 t) standard
  • 1,506 long tons (1,530 t) trial
Length: 100 m (328 ft 1 in)
Beam: 9.35 m (30 ft 8 in)
Draft: 3.3 m (10 ft 10 in)
  • 2 × Kampon water tube boilers,
  • 2 × Kanpon impulse turbines,
  • 2 shafts, 19,000 shp
Speed: 27.8 knots (32.0 mph; 51.5 km/h)
Range: 3,500 nmi (6,500 km) at 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Complement: 211

Matsu (Japanese 松, meaning: Pine tree) was the lead ship of the Matsu-class destroyers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She had a very short career: less than a year from laying her keel in 1943, and just more than three months from her completion in 1944, to her sinking as she returned from her first escort mission.

The Matsu-class ships were built late in the Pacific Theater of World War II, and were intended to be more cost-effective in response to the changing character of naval warfare at that time. These ships were lighter and smaller than previous Japanese destroyers, including different armament such as enhanced anti-aircraft guns and anti-submarine weapons, along with radar. Since surface warfare was believed to be less likely at this stage of the war, armament such as torpedo tubes that would be useful against surface ships was diminished. Gun mounts were open rather than turreted; this lack of protection for the gun crews would prove critical for Matsu.

Operational history[edit]

After being completed at the Maizuru Naval Arsenal on 28 April 1944, Matsu was assigned to Destroyer Squadron 11 ("Desron 11") for training. The ship's captain was Lt. Cmdr. Tsuneo Yonei. He was relieved on 1 June and reassigned to command the destroyer Momi of the same class. Matsu‍ '​s new captain was Lt. Cmdr. Gen Yoshinaga, previously captain of the destroyer Amagiri. At completion of training on 15 July, Matsu was permanently assigned to Destroyer Division 43 ("Desdiv 43"), part of Desron 11.[1]

First and final battle[edit]

Matsu sailed from Tateyama as the flagship of the 2nd Convoy Escort Group, which contained all of Desron 11 and was commanded by Rear Adm. Ichimatsu Takahashi, on 29 July escorting Convoy No. 4804 to Chichi Jima.[1] On 4 August, the convoy had delivered its cargo and was returning to Japan when it was spotted by a search plane from the American Task Group 58.1. An airstrike was quickly launched and Matsu was crippled by a torpedo hit from a Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber.

The diminished surface warfare weaponry of the Matsu class was quickly and mercilessly exploited. Three destroyers from TG 58.1 closed in, mounting a combined armament of fifteen 127 mm (5 in) guns, compared to only three on Matsu. The American gun crews also had the advantage of proximity fused shells. From maximum range, shell fragments mowed down Matsu‍ '​s unprotected gun and torpedo crews. Then the American destroyers closed in, switching to ordinary high explosive shells and aiming at her waterline. Matsu was sunk by the coordinated gunfire of USS Cogswell, Ingersoll and Knapp 81 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Chichi Jima (at 27°40′N 141°48′E / 27.667°N 141.800°E / 27.667; 141.800Coordinates: 27°40′N 141°48′E / 27.667°N 141.800°E / 27.667; 141.800). Only six survivors from Matsu‍ '​s crew of 210 were picked up by the American destroyers, and one later died of his wounds. Both Yoshinaga and Takahashi were killed in action.[1] Matsu was stricken from the official IJN lists on 10 October 1944.

Japanese line drawing of the Matsu-class destroyer plan, showing twin 127 mm DP gun mount aft and single mount forward, quadruple centerline torpedo tubes, four triple and six twin 25 mm anti-aircraft gun mounts, and twin depth charge racks on stern.


  1. ^ a b c Allyn D. Nevitt (1998). "IJN Matsu: Tabular Record of Movement". combinedfleet.com. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 

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