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Japanese cruiser Nagara
Japanese light cruiser Nagara
Career Japanese Navy Ensign
Ordered: 1919 Fiscal Year
Builder: Sasebo Navy Yard
Laid down: 9 September 1920
Launched: 25 April 1922
Commissioned: 21 April 1922[1]
Struck: 10 October 1944
Fate: Sunk 7 August 1944
torpedoed by submarine USS Croaker (SS-246)
off Amakusa Islands, East China Sea
32°09′N 129°53′E / 32.15°N 129.883°E / 32.15; 129.883Coordinates: 32°09′N 129°53′E / 32.15°N 129.883°E / 32.15; 129.883
General characteristics
Class & type: Nagara-class cruiser
Displacement: 5,570 tons[2]
Length: 162.1 m (532 ft)[2]
Beam: 14.2 m (47 ft)[2]
Draft: 4.8 m (16 ft)[2]
Installed power: 90,000shp[2]
Propulsion: 4-shaft geared turbine,
12 boilers (oil-burning 10, mixed 2)[2]
Speed: 36 kn (67 km/h)[2] (67 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 36 kn (67 km/h) [2]
 (9,000 km at 67 km/h)
Complement: 450[2]
Armament: (as built) 7 × 14 cm (5.5 in) guns,[2]
2 × 8cm guns[2]
8 × 61 cm torpedo tubes (12 Type 91 torpedoes) (2x4)[2]
48 mines[2]
Armor: 62 mm (belt)
30 mm (deck)[2]
Aircraft carried: 1 × floatplane, 1 catapult

Nagara (長良 軽巡洋艦 Nagara keijun'yōkan?) was the lead ship of her class of light cruiser in the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was named after the Nagara River in the Chūbu region of Japan.


The Nagara was the first vessel completed in the Nagara-class, and like other vessels of her class, she was intended for use as the flagship of a destroyer flotilla, and it was in that role that she participated in the invasions of the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Service career

Early career

Nagara was completed at Sasebo Navy Yard, and commissioned on 21 April 1922.[2] Soon after commissioning, Nagara was assigned to the Japanese naval base at Port Arthur, from where it patrolled the China coast to Tsingtao. As the Second Sino-Japanese War continued to escalate, Nagara was assigned to provide coverage for Japanese transports during the Battle of Shanghai,[3] and remained on station patrolling the China coast and the Yangtze River through 1939. With the heavy cruisers Myōkō and Nachi, the Nagara participated in the Hainan Island Operation in February 1939 under Vice Admiral Kondo Nobutake. From 30 January 1941 to 8 April 1941, Nagara assisted in the Invasion of French Indochina. From 10 June 1941 to 9 September 1941, Nagara provided coverage for the landings of Japanese troops in southern China.

Invasion of the Philippines and Dutch East Indies

On 10 September 1941 Captain Naoi Toshio assumes command. Nagara was assigned to Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's 16th Cruiser Division of Vice Admiral Ibo Takahashi's Third Fleet, together with the heavy cruiser Ashigara, light cruisers Kuma and Natori and the 5th Destroyer Flotilla.[3] On 26 November 1941, as flagship of Rear Admiral Kyuji Kubo's Fourth Surprise Attack Unit,[4] Nagara was based at Palau at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor.[3]

From 11–12 December 1941, Nagara covered the landings of troops at Legaspi, Luzon, Philippines, returning again from 24–30 December 1941 to cover additional landings at several points on southeast Luzon.[3]

In January 1942, Nagara was tasked with escortinf the convoy landing the Sasebo No. 1 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) at Menado, Kema and Kendari in the Celebes.[3] On 25 January 1942, while at Kendari, the destroyer Hatsuharu collided with Nagara, damaging the cruiser's hull. Rear Admiral Kubo transferred his flag to the Hatsushimo, and Nagara withdrew to Davao for repairs.[3] Returning to the Celebes on 4 February 1942, Rear Admiral Kubo transferred his flag back to Nagara, which then covered the invasion of Makassar. In the middle of the night of 6 February 1942, the invasion force was sighted by USS Sculpin (SS-191), which mistook the Nagara for a Tenryu-class cruiser and fired two Mark 14 torpedoes; one missed and the other prematurely exploded.[3]

On 17 February 1942, Nagara provided escort for transports with the IJA's 48th Infantry Division for the invasion of Bali and Java. During the operation, the Royal Navy submarine HMS Truant fired six torpedoes at Nagara, but all missed.[3]

On 10 March 1942, the Third Fleet was disbanded and replaced by the Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet under Vice Admiral Takahashi. Nagara remained in Rear Admiral Kenzaburo Hara's[5] 16th Cruiser Division with light cruisers Kinu and Natori.[3]

On 29 March 1942, the Nagara was part of the force sent to capture Christmas Island.[6] During the operation, USS Seawolf (SS-197) fired three torpedoes at Nagara, but all missed.[3] Nagara departed for Japan on 2 April 1942, where she is in drydock at Maizuru from 12 to 24 April 1942.[3]

Nagara was assigned as flagship of Rear Admiral Susumu Kimura's 10th Destroyer Flotilla with the destroyers Nowaki, Arashi, Hagikaze, Maikaze, Makigumo, Kazagumo, Yugumo, Urakaze, Isokaze, Hamakaze, Tanikaze under the Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's First Fleet.

Battle of Midway

In the Battle of Midway Nagara accompanied Admiral Nagumo's Carrier Striking Force, with the aircraft carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryū, battleships Haruna and Kirishima and cruisers Tone and Chikuma. On 4 June 1942 Nagara unsuccessfully counter-attacked USS Nautilus after the latter attempted to torpedo Kirishima. After Akagi was hit and set afire by dive-bombers from USS Enterprise, Vice-Admiral Nagumo transferred his flag to the Nowaki and then to Nagara.

Nagara returned safely to Japan on 13 June 1942. She brought about 500 wounded to Hashirajima, where they were transferred to the hospital ship Hikawa Maru on 15 June.[7]

Battle of the Solomon Islands

On 14 July 1942, the 10th Destroyer Flotilla with the Nagara was reassigned to the Third Fleet, which departed for Truk, Caroline Islands on 16 August 1942. The fleet included the aircraft carriers Shokaku, Zuikaku, Ryujo, battleships Hiei and Kirishima, cruisers Tone and Chikuma, and destroyers Akigumo, Makigumo, Kazagumo, Yugumo, Akizuki, Hatsukaze, Nowaki, Amatsukaze, Maikaze, Tanikaze and Tokitsukaze. On 25 August 1942, Nagara participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, which it survived without damage, arriving at Truk on 5 September 1942. From Truk, Nagara made a number of sorties towards the Solomon Islands in September. On 25–26 October 1942, Nagara participated in the Battle of Santa Cruz, and again returned to Truk undamaged.

On 9 November 1942, Rear Admiral Kimura and the Nagara squadron was assigned to screen the Hiei and Kirishima during a reinforcement plan to land 14,500 men, heavy weapons and supplies on Guadalcanal. The landing was to be preceded by a bombardment of Henderson Field by the battleships. This action becomes the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November 1942. During the engagement, Akatsuki and Yudachi were sunk, and Hiei, Amatsukaze, Murasame and Ikazuchi were damaged. Nagara was straddled by shells from the USS San Francisco (CA-38) taking a direct hit by one 5-inch (130 mm) shell which killed six crewmen but which caused only minor hull damage. Nagara retired westward around Savo Island escorting Kirishima with Hiei in tow, but Hiei was later sunk by planes from Henderson Field, USS Enterprise and B-17 Flying Fortress bombers from Espiritu Santo. Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa sortied from the Shortland Islands for Guadalcanal in Chōkai with the Kinugasa, light cruiser Isuzu, and destroyers Arashio and Asashio to carry out Kondo's original plan and bombard Henderson Field with his cruisers where Abe failed with his battleships. The cruisers Maya, Suzuya, Tenryu and destroyers Kazagumo, Makigumo, Michishio and Yugumo accompanied, while the Kirishima, Atago, Takao, Nagara and six destroyers formed a screening unit.

This led to the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 15 November 1942. Nagara and her destroyers engaged the Americans with gunfire and Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes. During the action, more than 30 torpedoes were launched at the USS South Dakota (BB-57), but all missed. However, the USS Preston (DD-379) and USS Walke (DD-416) were sunk and the USS Benham (DD-397) was so badly damaged that she was scuttled the next evening. On the Japanese side, Kirishima and destroyer Ayanami were lost, but Nagara was undamaged, and returned to Truk on 18 November 1942.

On 20 November 1942, Nagara became flagship of Rear Admiral Takama's 4th Destroyer Flotilla. The newly commissioned Agano replaced Nagara as flagship of 10th Destroyer Flotilla. The 4th Destroyer Flotilla consisted of three divisions of nine destroyers: 2nd Destroyer Division with three destroyers, 9th Destroyer Division with two and 27th Destroyer Division with four. After returning to Maizuru for refit at the end of 1942, Nagara's No. 5 140-mm gun was removed. During gunnery exercises off Saipan, Nagara sustained minor superstructure damage after an accidental shell explosion. Nagara returned to Truk on 25 January 1943.

In early February, Nagara participated in the evacuation of Guadalcanal, recovering 11,700 surviving Imperial Japanese Army troops.

In June 1943, Nagara transported the Yokosuka No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force for the occupation of Nauru.

Operations in the South Pacific

In July 1943, Nagara was involved in escorting the aircraft carrier Junyo, to ferrying aircraft to Kavieng, New Guinea. While mooring, Nagara detonated a mine laid at night by Australian PBY Catalina flying boats. The mine slightly damaged her bottom under the stern, and she was able to operate.

On 20 July 1943, the 4th Destroyer Flotilla was deactivated and Nagara replaced the Jintsu as flagship of Rear Admiral Shunji Isaki's 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the Second Fleet, consisting of Destroyer Divisions 24, 27, 31, plus three attached destroyers. Nagara was relieved as flagship of 2nd Destroyer Flotilla by the newly commissioned Noshiro on 20 August 1943, and was re-assigned to the Eighth Fleet under Vice Admiral, Baron Tomoshige Samejima. Nagara also returned to Maizuru for refit with a Type 21 air-search radar and four twin-mount Type 96 25-mm AA guns.

On 1 November 1943, Nagara relieved Kashima as flagship of the Fourth Fleet under Vice Admiral Masami Kobayashi. On 14 November 1943, she assisted in towing the light cruiser Agano back to Truk after it has been torpedoed by the USS Skate (SS-305). On 22 November 1943, Nagara sortied from Truk in response to American invasion of Tarawa and the Gilbert Islands, arriving at Kwajalein on 26 November 1943. It was attacked by TBF Avenger torpedo-bombers and SBD Dauntless dive-bombers from Task Group 50.3's USS Enterprise (CV-6) and USS Essex (CV-9) and damaged enough to justify a return to Japan in January 1944. At Maizuru from 26 January 1944, Nagara was again modified. The No. 7 140-mm gun mount was removed and replaced by a 127-mm unshielded HA gun mount. The fore and aft twin torpedo tubes were removed and replaced by two quadruple mounts aft. The catapult was removed and replaced by two triple-mount Type 96 25-mm AA gun mounts bringing the Nagara's 25-mm total to 22 barrels (2x3, 6x2, 4x1). Depth charge rails were installed in the stern and a Type 93 hydrophone set was fitted in the bow. On 15 May 1944, Nagara replaced Tatsuta as flagship of 11th Destroyer Flotilla, directly under the Combined Fleet. It remained in Japanese home waters training with new destroyers and escorting a convoy to the Ogasawara Islands in June and to Okinawa in July. In another refit at Yokosuka on 2 July 1944, ten single mount Type 96 25-mm AA guns were installed bringing Nagara's 25-mm total to 32 barrels (2X3, 6x2, 14x1). A Type 22 surface-search radar was fitted. On 7 August 1944, in route from Kagoshima to Sasebo, Nagara was spotted by USS Croaker (SS-246) on her first war patrol. Croaker closed to 1,300 yards and fired a salvo of four stern torpedoes, hitting Nagara starboard aft with one. Nagara sank by the stern off the Amakusa islands at 32°09′N 129°53′E / 32.15°N 129.883°E / 32.15; 129.883.[2] The captain and 348 crewmen went down with the ship, but 235 crewmen were rescued. Nagara was removed from the Navy List on 10 October 1944.


  1. Lacroix, Japanese Cruisers, p. 794.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 Nishida, Hiroshi (2002). "Nagara class light cruisers". Imperial Japanese Navy. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp (1997-2009). "HIJMS NAGARA: Tabular Record of Movement". Imperial Japanese Navy Page. 
  4. L, Klemen (1999-2000). "Rear-Admiral Kyuji Kubo". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
  5. L, Klemen. "Rear-Admiral Kenzaburo Hara". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
  6. L, Klemen (1999-2000). "The Mystery of Christmas Island, March 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
  7. Hackett, Bob; Kingsepp, Sander; Cundall, Peter (1998–2011). "IJN Hospital Ship Hikawa Maru: Tabular Record of Movement". Japanese Hospital Ships. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 


See also

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