|Japanese cruiser Asama|
Asama in 1900
|Ordered:||1897 Fiscal Year|
|Builder:||Armstrong Whitworth, United Kingdom|
|Laid down:||1 November 1896|
|Launched:||22 March 1898|
|Completed:||18 March 1899|
|Decommissioned:||30 November 1945|
|Class & type:||Asama-class cruiser|
|Displacement:||9,700 long tons (9,856 t)|
|Length:||124.36 m (408 ft 0 in)|
|Beam:||20.45 m (67 ft 1 in)|
|Draught:||7.43 m (24 ft 5 in)|
2 shaft VTE|
18,000 shp (13,000 kW)
|Speed:||21.5 knots (24.7 mph; 39.8 km/h)|
|Range:||7,000 nmi (13,000 km) at 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h)|
• 4 × 203 mm (8 in) guns|
• 14 × 152 mm (6 in) rapid fire guns
• 12 × 12-pounder rapid fire guns
• 7 × 2.5-pounder rapid fire guns
• 5 × 360 mm (14 in) torpedo tubes
Main belt: 88–180 mm (3.5–7.1 in)|
Upper belt: 125 mm (4.9 in)
Barbette, turret, casemate: 150 mm (5.9 in)
Conning tower: 75–360 mm (3.0–14.2 in)
The Asama was one of six armored cruisers ordered to overseas shipyards after the First Sino-Japanese War as part of the "Six-Six Program" (six battleships-six cruisers) intended to form the backbone of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Construction of the Asama began as a private venture by the British shipbuilder Armstrong Whitworth of Elswick, and the design had to be modified slightly to meet Japanese requirements. At the time of its completion, the Asama was considered the fastest, most heavily armed and most heavily armored cruiser in the world. It arrived in Yokosuka on 17 May 1899.
The Asama provided support for Japanese forces in China during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. It 1902, it was part of the delegation dispatched to Great Britain for the Spithead Fleet Review in celebration of the coronation of King Edward VII. It made port calls at Singapore, Colombo, Suez and Malta on the way to Great Britain, and Cardiff, Lisbon, Gibraltar and Naples, Aden, Colombo, Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong on the return voyage.
The Asama participated in the Russo-Japanese War as part of the second squadron of the Second Fleet. It played a leading role in the opening Battle of Chemulpo Bay in the sinking of the Russian cruiser Varyag and the gunboat Korietz. Although some Russian sources claimed that the Asama was damaged in this battle, Japanese sources claim no damage, and there is no evidence to that the Asama needed any repairs before it was assigned to patrol duties off of Hokkaidō and the Kurile Islands, and in the blockade of the port of Vladivostok. It participated at the Battle of Tsushima, as the rearmost ship in the line of battle, suffering damage by gunfire (mostly from the battleship Imperator Nikolai I), which disabled her steering gear. Repaired after about two hours, the Asama retired from the battle, taking the captured Russian battleship Oryol in tow back to Sasebo.
World War I
During World War I, the Asama was part of the Japanese fleet involved in the capture of German colonies in the South Pacific (Caroline Islands, Mariana Islands, and Palau). During early 1915, the Asama created a minor diplomatic incident after running aground on the west coast of Mexico during patrols against the German navy. After being refloated, Asama steamed north to the British naval base at Nanaimo, British Columbia for repairs.
After World War I, the Asama was used primarily for long range oceanic navigation training by officer candidates. On 21 August 1920, it made a training voyage to Hong Kong, Singapore, Columbo, Durban, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Valparaíso, Tahiti, Truk and Saipan, thus circumnavigating the globe east to west.
The Asama was re-designated a "1st-class Coastal Defense Vessel" on 1 September 1921. On 26 June 1922, the Asama departed Yokosuka for Honolulu, Los Angeles, Panama Canal, Rio de Janeiro, where it participated in the Brazilian Centenary celebrations; then Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Durban, Colombo, Singapore and Hong Kong, returning to Yokosuka after thus circumnavigating the globe west to east. The following year, the Asama made a shorter cruise to Acapulco, Balboa, San Francisco, and Vancouver. On 1 December 1926, the Asama departed Yokosuka on a training cruise to Los Angeles, Honolulu, Victoria, Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Balboa, the Panama Canal, Colon, Havana, Baltimore, New York, Colon, Jaluit, Truk and Saipan, returning to Yokosuka after a voyage of 24,608 nautical miles (45,574 km).
Due to poor maintenance, her speed deteriorated to 19 knots (35 km/h) and she was fitted with new Kampon boilers and re-designated as a "Coastal Defense Vessel" on 30 March 1931. In a 1933 retrofit at Kure shipyards, 40 mm anti-aircraft guns were added to the bridge. On 15 February 1934, the Asama departed on a training cruise to Manila, Singapore, Aden, Istanbul, Athens, Naples, Marseilles, Barcelona, Malta, Alexandria, Djibouti, Colombo, Batavia, Palau and Saipan, returning to Yokosuka after a voyage of 21,853 nautical miles (40,472 km).
On 20 March 1935, the Asama departed Yokosuka on a training voyage to Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Singapore, Batavia, Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington, Auckland, Suva, Apia, Honolulu, Truk, and Saipan, returning to Yokosuka on 22 July 1935 after a 20,930-nautical-mile (38,760 km) cruise. On 14 October 1935, it participated in anti-air raid drills in Osaka and Kobe. However, at Kurahashi Island in the Inland Sea (near the Shiraishi lighthouse in Hiroshima prefecture), the Asama ran aground, severely damaging its keel.
World War II
After the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Asama was deemed to be in too poor condition for retrofit and modernization, and consequently it was demilitarized with the removal of its main guns and auxiliary batteries and permanently moored at Kure. On 1 July 1942, the hulk was designated an auxiliary training vessel. Towed to Shimonoseki in 1944, it was designated a self-propelled barracks vessel. The hulk of the Asama survived the Pacific War, and was decommissioned on 30 November 1945. It was scrapped under the American occupation of Japan in 1947.
- Estes, Donald H. (1978). Asama Gunkan: The Reappraisal of a War Scare. Journal of San Diego History 24:3 
- Evans, David. Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. US Naval Institute Press (1979). ISBN 0-87021-192-7
- Howarth, Stephen. The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The Drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895-1945. Atheneum; (1983) ISBN 0-689-11402-8
- Jane, Fred T. The Imperial Japanese Navy. Thacker, Spink & Co (1904) ASIN: B00085LCZ4
- Jentsura, Hansgeorg. Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. Naval Institute Press (1976). ISBN 0-87021-893-X
- Schencking, J. Charles. Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922. Stanford University Press (2005). ISBN 0-8047-4977-9
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