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Japanese cruiser Suzuya (1934)
Heavy cruiser Suzuya
Career (Japan) Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Suzuya
Namesake: Susuya River in Karafuto
Ordered: 1931 Fiscal Year
Builder: Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
Laid down: 11 December 1933
Launched: 20 November 1934
Commissioned: 31 October 1937[1]
Struck: 20 December 1944
Fate: sunk 25 October 1944 at Battle off Samar at 11°45.2′N 126°11.2′E / 11.7533°N 126.1867°E / 11.7533; 126.1867Coordinates: 11°45.2′N 126°11.2′E / 11.7533°N 126.1867°E / 11.7533; 126.1867
General characteristics
Class & type: Mogami class cruiser
Displacement: 8,500 tons (official, initial)
13,670 tons (final)
Length: 197 m (initial)
198 meters (final)
Beam: 18 meters (initial)
20.2 meters (final)
Draught: 5.5 meters (initial)
5.89 meters (final)
Propulsion: 4-shaft geared turbines
10 Kampon boilers
152,000 shp
Speed: 37-knot (69 km/h) (initial)
35 knots (65 km/h) (final)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km) @ 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 850


  • 15 × 155 mm (6.1 in) / 60-cal guns (5×3)
  • 8 × 127 mm (5 in) / 40-cal guns (4×2)
  • 4 × 40 mm AA guns
  • 12 × 610 mm (24 in) torpedo tubes


Armor: 100-125 mm (belt)
35-60 mm (deck)
25 mm turret
Aircraft carried: 11 x floatplanes

Suzuya (鈴谷?) was the third of four vessels in the Mogami-class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy.[4] She was named after the Suzuya river on Karafuto (Sakhalin).


Built under the 1931 Fleet Replenishment Program, the Mogami-class cruisers were designed to the maximum limits allowed by the Washington Naval Treaty, using the latest technology. This resulted in the choice of a 155 mm (6.1 in) dual purpose (DP) main battery in five triple turrets capable of 55° elevation. To save weight, electric welding was used, as was aluminum in the superstructure, and the use of a single funnel stack. New impulse geared turbine engines, coupled with very heavy anti-aircraft protection, gave the class a very high speed and protection. However, the Mogami-class ships were also plagued with technical problems due to their untested equipment, and proved to be top-heavy with stability problems in heavy weather as well.[4]

Service career

Early career

Line drawing of Suzuya as she appeared in 1944

Suzuya was completed at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal in January 1936, but on completion was immediately placed in the reserves while waiting for dry dock space to permit modifications. She was officially commissioned on 31 October 1937, but reconstruction and refit work was not completed until 30 September 1939, at which point her main armament had been converted from the 6.1 inch guns to the 8 inch guns of a heavy cruiser.[4]

Assigned to CruDiv7 with her sister ships Mogami, Mikuma and Kumano, Suzuya participated in the occupation of Cochinchina, French Indochina from her forward operating base on Hainan, after Japan and Vichy French authorities reached an understanding on use of air facilities and harbors from July 1941. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Suzuya was assigned to cover the invasion of Malaya as part of CruDiv7 under Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's First Southern Expeditionary Fleet, providing close support for landings of Japanese troops at Singora, Pattani and Kota Bharu.[4]

On 9 December 1941, Japanese submarine I-65 reported sighting of Royal Navy Force Z (the Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales, battlecruiser HMS Repulse and supporting destroyers). The report was received by light cruiser Sendai, which relayed the message to Admiral Ozawa aboard his flagship, Chokai. However, the reception was poor and the message took another 90 minutes to decode. Moreover, I-65's report was incorrect about the heading of Force Z. Two Aichi E13A1 "Jake" floatplanes from Suzuya and Kumano attempted to shadow Force Z, but both were forced to ditch due to lack of fuel. Only Suzuya's crew was recovered. The following day, Force Z was overwhelmed by torpedo bombers of the 22nd Air Flotilla from Indochina.

In December 1941, Suzuya was tasked with the invasion of Sarawak, together with Kumano, covering landings of Japanese troops at Miri. From her base at Cam Rahn Bay, she sortied with Kumano to cover landings of troops at Anambas, Endau, Palembang and Banka Island, Sabang on Sumatra and Java from the end of December 1941 to the middle of March. Suzuya also participated in the seizure of Andaman Islands on 20 March 1942.

Indian Ocean Raids

From 1 April 1942 CruDiv 7 based from Mergui, Burma joined with CruDiv 4 to participate in the Indian Ocean raids.[4] Mikuma, Mogami and destroyer Amagiri detached and formed the "Southern Group", which hunted for merchant shipping in the Bay of Bengal, while Suzuya, Kumano, and Shiokaze covered the northern areas. Chokai, light cruiser Yura, aircraft carrier Ryujo and destroyers Ayanami, Yugiri, Asagiri formed a center group to reinforce northern or southern wings as necessary. Over the next few weeks, the northern groups claimed kills on a 4,986-ton American merchant vessel Exmoor, British 7,621-ton freighter Autoclycus, British 9,066-ton freighter Malda and the 2,440-ton British freighter Shinkuang.[5] In total the commerce raiding expedition sank over twenty ships during their brief stay in the Bay of Bengal. Afterwards, Suzuya was withdrawn back to Kure for repairs, and was then sent to Guam to join the Midway Invasion Task Force.[4]

Battle of Midway

On 5 June, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, CINC of the Combined Fleet ordered CruDiv 7 to shell Midway Island in preparation for a Japanese landing. CruDiv 7 and DesDiv 8 were 410 miles (660 km) away from the island, so they made a high-speed dash at 35 knots (65 km/h). The sea was choppy and the destroyers lagged behind. At 2120, the order was canceled. However, this dash placed CruDiv 7 within torpedo range of the USS Tambor, which was spotted by Kumano. Kumano signaled a 45° simultaneous turn to starboard to avoid possible torpedoes. The emergency turn was correctly executed by the flagship and Suzuya, but the third ship in the line, Mikuma, erroneously made a 90° turn. Behind her, Mogami's navigator, watching Suzuya, did not see Mikuma's movement and turned 45° as commanded. This resulted in a collision in which Mogami rammed Mikuma's portside, below the bridge. Both vessels were severely damaged. Suzuya returned to Kure on 23 June and CruDiv 7 was transferred from the Second Fleet to the Third Fleet.

After returning to Singapore, CruDiv 7 (Suzuya and Kumano) were tasked with the Invasion of Burma from 28 July 1942. While in the Straits of Malacca, Suzuya was attacked by Royal Netherlands Navy submarine O-23, which fired four torpedoes, but missed. However, with the American invasion of Guadalcanal on 7 August, Suzuya was quickly recalled to the Pacific front.

Operations in the Solomon Islands

On 24 August 1942, CruDiv 7 joined Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's Carrier Strike Force (Shokaku, Zuikaku, Zuiho and Ryujo) with cruiser Chikuma northeast of Guadalcanal. During the resultant Battle of the Eastern Solomons, USS Saratoga sank the aircraft carrier Ryujo; but Suzuya was too far away to be in the combat. Suzuya subsequently patrolled between Truk and the Solomon Islands through the middle of October.

On 26 October 1942, Nagumo's Carrier Strike force engaged the USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, battleship USS South Dakota and cruiser USS San Juan in the Battle of Santa Cruz, sinking the Hornet and damaging other ships. The battle was a long-range air battle, and again Suzuya was far enough away to avoid direct combat.[4]

In early November, CruDiv 7 was ordered to reinforce Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa's Eighth Fleet at Shortland, and participated on the bombardment of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal on 14 November. Suzuya, cruisers Maya, Tenryu, Chokai, Kinugasa and Isuzu and destroyers Kazagumo, Makigumo, Michishio, Yugumo, Asashio and Arashio bombarded the air strip with 989 203 mm (8 in) shells. On withdrawing, the task force was attacked by USS Flying Fish (which missed) and aircraft from Enterprise and Guadalcanal. Kinugasa was sunk, Chokai and Maya were damaged; Suzuya escaped unscathed, and through early January 1943 continued her patrols and coverage of transport convoys between Truk, Kavieng and Rabaul.

Suzuya returned to Kure on 12 January 1943 for repairs, at which time additional AA guns and a Type 21 air search radar were installed. She returned to Kure again on 6 April, at which time her dual 13 mm machine guns were replaced by two triple-mount Type 96 25 mm AT/AA Guns.

Suzuya departed Yokosuka on 16 June 1943, with another major resupply convoy to the Solomon Islands, and shuttled back and forth from Truk to Rabaul through the end of the year. On 18 July, Suzuya was attacked by Guadalcanal-based Marine TBM Avengers off Kolombangara, but escaped without damage. On 3 November, Suzuya with Mogami and Chikuma were dispatched from Rabaul to bombard American forces that just landed at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville Island, but the raid was prevented to reach gun range thanks to US Admiral Merill's victory, sinking cruiser Sendai. Suzuya was back in Rabaul harbor on 5 November, when the United States launched an attack with 97 planes from USS Saratoga and USS Princeton. Suzuya was one of the few ships not hit in the raid.

On 1 February, Suzuya assisted with the evacuation of Truk. On 20 March Rear Admiral Kazutaka Shiraishi assumed command of CruDiv 7. Suzuya went into refit at Singapore on 24 March, at which time an additional eight single-mount Type 96 25 mm AA guns were installed.

Battle of the Philippine Sea

On 13 June 1944, Admiral Soemu Toyoda, CINC, Combined Fleet, activated the "A-Go" plan for the defense of the Mariana Islands. Suzuya was assigned to Admiral Kurita's "Force C" with the battleships Yamato, Musashi and aircraft carriers Zuiho, Chiyoda, Chitose,and cruisers Atago, Takao, Maya, Chokai, Kumano, Chikuma, Tone, and Noshiro. Later in the day, the Mobile Fleet's aircraft attacked Task Force 58 off Saipan, but suffered overwhelming losses in the "Great Mariana's Turkey Shoot". At 2030 on 20 June, two hours after she was hit by torpedoes by Grumman TBM Avengers from USS Belleau Wood, the Hiyo exploded and sank. That night, Suzuya retired with the remnants of the Japanese fleet to Okinawa.

Back in Kure on 25 June 1944, Suzuya was refit once again. Four triple-mount and 10 single-mount Type 96 25 mm AA guns were installed, bringing the total to 50 barrels (14×3 and 18×1) and a Type 22 surface search radar and Type 13 air-search radar were fitted. On 8 July, Suzuya departed Kure back for Singapore and Brunei, and was involved in fleet training and patrols in the Singapore-Brunei area through October. By this time, her Type 22 Kai 4M radar was upgraded to Kai 4S for fire control.

Battle of Leyte Gulf

In late October, the Japanese fleet assembled in Brunei in response to the threatened American invasion of the Philippines. On 25 October 1944, in the Battle off Samar, Suzuya engaged the three "Jeep carriers" in American Task Group 77.4, but was attacked by ten TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers. A near-miss destroyed her port propeller. At 1050, Suzuya was attacked by 30 other carrier aircraft. Another near-miss caused the Long Lance torpedoes in Suzuya's No. 1 torpedo tubes to explode, which in turn started other fires, damaged the starboard engine rooms and the No. 7 boiler room. Suzuya was abandoned at 1150, and at 1322 sank at 11°45.2′N 126°11.2′E / 11.7533°N 126.1867°E / 11.7533; 126.1867.[4] Destroyer Okinami took off Captain Teraoka and 401 crewmen. US warships later rescued more sailors.

Suzuya was removed from the Navy List on 20 December 1944.



  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4. 
  • Cox, Robert Jon (2010). The Battle Off Samar: Taffy III at Leyte Gulf (5th Edition). Agogeebic Press, LLC. ISBN 0-9822390-4-1. 
  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1. 
  • Howarth, Stephen (1983). The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895-1945. Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-11402-8. 
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Lacroix, Eric; Linton Wells (1997). Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-311-3. 
  • Watts, Anthony J. (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday & Company. 
  • Whitley, M.J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-141-6. 

External links


  1. Lacroix, Japanese Cruisers, p. 794
  2. 2.0 2.1 Watts, Japanese Warships of World War II, p. 99
  3. Campbell, Naval Weapons of World War Two, pp. 185-187
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Whitley, Cruisers of World War Two, pp. 181-184
  5. L, Klemen (1999-2000). "Allied Merchant Ship Losses in the Pacific and Southeast Asia". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 

See also

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