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Japanese battleship Hatsuse
Japanese battleship Hatsuse.jpg
Hatsuse at anchor
Career (Japan)
Name: Hatsuse
Ordered: 1897
Builder: Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick
Yard number: 680
Laid down: 10 January 1898
Launched: 27 June 1899
Completed: 18 January 1901
Fate: Sank 15 May 1904 after striking a mine
General characteristics
Class & type: Shikishima-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 14,850 long tons (15,090 t) (normal)
Length: 438 ft (133.5 m)
Beam: 76 ft 9 in (23.4 m)
Draught: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Installed power: 14,500 shp (10,800 kW)
25 Belleville boilers
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 vertical triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 849 (as flagship)
Armament: 2 × 2 – 12 in (305 mm) guns
14 × 2 – 6 in (152 mm) QF guns
20 × 1 – 12-pounder guns
8 × 1 – 3-pounder guns
10 × 1 – 2.5-pounder Hotchkiss guns
4 × 18-inch torpedo tubes
Armour: Harvey armour
Belt: 4–9 in (102–229 mm)
Deck: 2.5–4 in (64–102 mm)
Gun turrets: 10 in (254 mm)

Hatsuse (初瀬 Hatsuse?) was a Shikishima-class pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy by the British firm of Armstrong Whitworth in the late 1890s. The ship participated in the early stages of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war. She was involved in the subsequent operations until she struck two mines off Port Arthur in May 1904. The second mine detonated one of her magazines and Hatsuse sank almost immediately afterwards with the loss of over half her crew.


Hatsuse was 438 feet (133.5 m) long overall and had a beam of 76 feet 9 inches (23.4 m). She had a full-load draught of 27 feet (8.2 m) and normally displaced 14,850 long tons (15,090 t) and had a crew of 849 officers and enlisted men when serving as a flagship. The ship was powered by two Humphrys Tennant vertical triple-expansion steam engines using steam generated by 25 Belleville boilers. The engines were rated at 14,500 indicated horsepower (10,800 kW), using forced draught, and were designed to reach a top speed of around 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). Hatsuse, however, reached a top speed of 19.11 knots (35.39 km/h; 21.99 mph) from 16,117 indicated horsepower (12,018 kW) on her sea trials. She carried a maximum of 1,643 long tons (1,669 t) of coal[1] which allowed her to steam for 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[2]

The ship's main battery consisted of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns mounted in two twin gun turrets, one forward and one aft. The secondary battery consisted of fourteen 6-inch (152 mm) quick-firing guns, mounted in casemates on the sides of the hull and in the superstructure.[3] A number of smaller guns were carried for defence against torpedo boats. These included 20 QF 12-pounder 12 cwt[Note 1] guns, eight 47-millimetre (1.9 in) 3-pounder guns and ten 37-millimetre (1.5 in) 2.5-pounder Hotchkiss guns. She was also armed with four submerged 18-inch torpedo tubes. Hatsuse's waterline armour belt consisted of Harvey armour and was 4–9 inches (102–229 mm) thick. The armour of her gun turrets had a maximum thickness of 10 in (254 mm) and her deck ranged from 2.5 to 4 inches (64 to 102 mm) in thickness.[1]

Construction and career

Hatsuse's hull under construction three months after her keel was laid

Hatsuse ready to be launched

Hatsuse, named after Hase-dera Temple, which was famous for its maple trees,[4] was ordered as part of the 10 Year Naval Expansion Programme and paid for from the £30,000,000 indemnity paid by China after losing the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895. The ship was laid down by Armstrong Whitworth at their Elswick shipyard on 10 January 1898. She was launched on 27 June 1896[5] and completed on 18 January 1901.[6] Before sailing to Japan, she represented the Meiji Emperor at Queen Victoria's funeral.[7]

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, Hatsuse, commanded by Captain Yu Nakao, was assigned to the 1st Division of the 1st Fleet. She participated in the Battle of Port Arthur on 9 February 1904 when Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō led the 1st Fleet in an attack on the Russian ships of the Pacific Squadron anchored just outside of Port Arthur. Tōgō had expected his surprise night attack on the Russians by his destroyers to be much more successful than it actually was and anticipated that they would be badly disorganized and weakened, but the Russians had recovered from their surprise and were ready for his attack. The Japanese ships were spotted by the cruiser Boyarin which was patrolling offshore and alerted the Russian defences. Tōgō chose to attack the Russian coastal defences with his main armament and engage the Russian ships with his secondary guns. Splitting his fire proved to be a bad idea as the Japanese 8-inch (203 mm) and six-inch guns inflicted little damage of significance on the Russian ships who concentrated all their fire on the Japanese ships with some effect. Although a large number of ships on both sides were hit, Russian casualties numbered only 17 while the Japanese suffered 60 killed and wounded before Tōgō disengaged. Hatsuse was hit twice during the battle, losing seven crewmen killed and 17 wounded.[8]

Hatsuse participated in the action of 13 April when Tōgō successfully lured out a portion of the Pacific Squadron, including Vice Admiral Stepan Makarov's flagship, the battleship Petropavlovsk. When Makarov spotted the five battleships of the 1st Division, he turned back for Port Arthur and Petropavlovsk struck a minefield laid by the Japanese the previous night. The Russian battleship sank in less than two minutes after one of her magazines exploded, Makarov one of the 677 killed. Emboldened by his success, Tōgō resumed long-range bombardment missions, which prompted the Russians to lay more minefields.[9]

On 14 May 1904, Admiral Nashiba put to sea with the battleships Hatsuse (flag), Shikishima, and Yashima, the protected cruiser Kasagi, and the dispatch boat Tatsuta to relieve the Japanese blockading force off Port Arthur.[10] On the following morning, the squadron encountered a minefield laid by the Russian minelayer Amur. Hatsuse struck one mine that disabled her steering at 10:50 a.m. and Yashima struck another when moving to assist Hatsuse. At 12:33 p.m., the latter drifted onto another mine that detonated one of her magazines,[11] killing 496 of her crew,[12] and sinking the ship at 38°37′N 121°20′E / 38.617°N 121.333°E / 38.617; 121.333Coordinates: 38°37′N 121°20′E / 38.617°N 121.333°E / 38.617; 121.333.[6] Tatsuta and Kasagi managed to save the Admiral and Captain Nakao with 334 other officers and enlisted men. Yashima's flooding could not be controlled and she foundered about eight hours later, after her crew had abandoned ship.[13]


  1. "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 20 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brook 1999, p. 125
  2. Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 17
  3. Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 221
  4. Jane, p. 399
  5. Brook 1985, p. 274
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 18
  7. Brook 1999, p. 127
  8. Forczyk, pp. 41–44
  9. Forczyk, pp. 45–46
  10. Warner & Warner, p. 279
  11. Brook 1999, p. 124
  12. Forczyk, p. 46
  13. Forczyk, pp. 46–47


  • Brook, Peter (1985). "Armstrong Battleships for Japan". Toledo, Ohio: International Naval Research Organization. pp. 268–82. ISSN 0043-0374. 
  • Brook, Peter (1999). Warships for Export: Armstrong Warships 1867 – 1927. Gravesend, Kent, UK: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-89-4. 
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 
  • Forczyk, Robert (2009). Russian Battleship vs Japanese Battleship, Yellow Sea 1904–05. Oxford, UK: Osprey. ISBN 978 1-84603-330-8. 
  • Jane, Fred T. (1904). The Imperial Japanese Navy. London, Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co. OCLC 1261639. 
  • Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter; Mickel, Peter (1977). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Warner, Denis; Warner, Peggy (2002). The Tide at Sunrise: A History of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904–1905 (2nd ed.). London: Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-5256-3. 

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