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Japanese battleship Yashima
Japanese battleship Yashima.jpg
Yashima in 1897
Career (Japan)
Name: Yashima
Ordered: 1894 Naval Programme
Builder: Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick
Yard number: 625
Laid down: 6 December 1894
Launched: 28 February 1896
Completed: 9 September 1897
Fate: Sank 15 May 1904 after striking a mine
General characteristics
Class & type: Fuji-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 12,230 long tons (12,430 t) (normal)
Length: 412 ft (125.6 m)
Beam: 73 ft (22.250400 m)
Draught: 26 ft 3 in (8.0 m)
Installed power: 13,500 ihp (10,100 kW)
10 cylindrical boilers
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 vertical triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 4,000 nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 650
Armament: 2 × 2 – 12 in (305 mm) guns
10 × 1 – 6 in (152 mm) QF guns
20 × 1 – 3-pounder guns
4 × 1 – 2.5-pounder Hotchkiss guns
5 × 18-inch torpedo tubes
Armour: Harvey armour
Belt: 14–18 in (356–457 mm)
Deck: 2.5 in (64 mm)
Gun turrets: 6 in (152 mm)

Yashima (八島 Yashima?) was a Fuji-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 the day after the start of the war. She was involved in the subsequent operations until she struck a mine off Port Arthur in May 1904. She did not sink immediately, but capsized while under tow a number of hours later. The Japanese were able to keep her loss a secret from the Russians for over a year so they did not try to take advantage of her loss.


Yashima was 412 feet (125.6 m) long overall and had a beam of 73 feet 6 inches (22.4 m) and a full-load draught of 26 feet (7.925 m). She normally displaced 12,230 long tons (12,430 t) and had a crew of 650 officers and enlisted men. The ship was powered by two Humphrys Tennant vertical triple-expansion steam engines using steam generated by ten cylindrical boilers. The engines were rated at 13,500 indicated horsepower (10,100 kW), using forced draught, and designed to reach a top speed of around 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). Yashima, however, reached a top speed of 19.227 knots (35.608 km/h; 22.126 mph) on her sea trials.[1] She carried a maximum of 1,620 tonnes (1,590 long tons) of coal 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 ten 6-inch (152 mm) quick-firing guns, four mounted in casemates on the sides of the hull and six mounted on the upper deck, protected by gun shields.[3] A number of smaller guns were carried for defence against torpedo boats. These included fourteen 47-millimetre (1.9 in) 3-pounder guns and ten 2.5-pounder Hotchkiss guns of the same calibre.[Note 1] She was also armed with five 18-inch torpedo tubes. Yashima's waterline armour belt consisted of Harvey armour and was 14–18 inches (356–457 mm) thick. The armour of her gun turrets was six inches thick and her deck was 2.5 inches (64 mm) thick.[1]

Construction and career

A model of Yashima in the National Maritime Museum

Yashima, an old name for Japan,[6] was ordered as part of the 1894 Naval Programme and the ship was laid down by Armstrong Whitworth at their Elswick shipyard on 6 December 1894. The ship was launched on 28 December 1896[7] and completed on 17 August 1897.[8] She conducted her sea trials during the following month.[7] In 1901, the ship exchanged 16 of her 47 mm guns for an equal number of QF 12 pounder 12 cwt[Note 2] guns. This raised the number of crewmen to 652 and later to 741.[2]

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, Yashima, commanded by Captain Hajime Sakamoto, 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 expected to find them 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 very little significant damage 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. Yashima was not hit during the battle.[9]

On 10 March, Yashima and her sister Fuji, under the command of Rear Admiral Nashiba Tokioki, blindly bombarded the harbour of Port Arthur from Pigeon Bay, on the southwest side of the Liaodong Peninsula, at a range of 9.5 kilometres (5.9 mi). They fired 154 twelve-inch shells,[10] but did little damage.[11] When they tried again on 22 March, they were attacked by Russian coast defence guns that had been transferred there by the new Russian commander, Vice Admiral Stepan Makarov, and also from several Russian ships in Port Arthur using observers overlooking Pigeon Bay. The Japanese ships disengaged after Fuji was hit by a 12-inch shell.[10] Yashima participated in the action of 13 April when Tōgō successfully lured out a portion of the Pacific Squadron, including 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.[12]

On 14 May 1904, Admiral Nashiba put to sea with the battleships Hatsuse (flagship), Shikishima, and Yashima, the protected cruiser Kasagi, and the dispatch boat Tatsuta to relieve the Japanese blockading force off Port Arthur.[13] On the following morning, the squadron encountered a minefield laid by the Russian minelayer Amur. Hatsuse struck one mine that disabled her steering and Yashima struck another when moving to assist Hatsuse. Almost immediately afterwards, the latter drifted onto another mine that detonated one of her magazines, killing 496 of her crew, and sinking the ship.[14] Yashima was towed away from the minefield, north towards the Japanese base in the Elliott Islands. She was still taking on water at an uncontrollable rate and Captain Sakamoto ordered the ship anchored near Encounter Rock to allow the crew to easily abandon ship. He assembled the crew, which sang the Japanese national anthem, Kimigayo, and then abandoned ship. Kasagi took Yashima in tow, but the battleship's list continued to increase and she capsized about three hours later,[15] roughly at coordinates 38°34′N 121°40′E / 38.567°N 121.667°E / 38.567; 121.667Coordinates: 38°34′N 121°40′E / 38.567°N 121.667°E / 38.567; 121.667.[2] No Russians observed Yashima sink so the Japanese were able to conceal her loss for more than a year.[16]


  1. Sources differ significantly on the exact outfit of light guns. Naval historians Roger Chesneau and Eugene Kolesnik cite 20 three and four 2.5-pounders.[4] Jentschura, Jung & Mickel give a total of twenty-four 47 mm guns, without dividing them between the 3 and 2.5-pounders,[2] while Silverstone says that they had only twenty 47 mm guns, again without splitting them.[5]
  2. "cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brook 1999, p. 122
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 16
  3. Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 221
  4. Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 220
  5. Silverstone, p. 309
  6. Jane, p. 400
  7. 7.0 7.1 Brook 1985, p. 268
  8. Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 17
  9. Forczyk, pp. 41–44
  10. 10.0 10.1 Forczyk, p. 44
  11. Brook 1985, p. 269
  12. Forczyk, pp. 45–46
  13. Warner & Warner, p. 279
  14. Forczyk, p. 46
  15. Warner & Warner, pp. 279–82
  16. Warner & Warner, pp. 283, 332


  • 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. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0. 
  • 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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