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Japanese cruiser Tokiwa
Tokiwa in 1905
Tokiwa in 1905
Career Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Tokiwa
Ordered: 1897 Fiscal Year
Builder: Armstrong Whitworth, United Kingdom
Laid down: 6 January 1897
Launched: 6 July 1898
Completed: 18 May 1899
Commissioned: 19 May 1899
Decommissioned: 9 August 1945
Struck: 30 November 1945
Fate: Sunk by air attack, 9 August 1945
Status: Raised on 5 April 1947; scrapped August–October 1947
General characteristics
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)
Propulsion: 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)
Complement: 726
Armament: (as cruiser)
• 4 × 203 mm (8 in) guns
• 14 × 152 mm (6 in) rapid fire guns
• 12 × 12-pounder rapid fire guns
• 7 × 2½-pounder rapid fire guns
• 5 × 360 mm (14 in) torpedo tubes
Armour: 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)

Tokiwa (常盤?) was an Asama-class armored cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Tokiwa was named after a lake in Yamaguchi prefecture, near Ube city. Her sister ship was the cruiser Asama. Tokiwa had one of the longest service lives of any ship in the Japanese fleet.


Tokiwa 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 Tokiwa 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, under the direction of Chief Equipping Officer Captain (future Admiral) Dewa Shigetō. She was assigned to the Sasebo Naval District on 19 May 1899 and arrived in Yokosuka on 17 July 1899.

Service record

As a cruiser

Tokiwa served an important role in the Russo-Japanese War, as part of the 2nd Squadron of the IJN 2nd Fleet. Under the command of Captain Motaro Yoshimatsu, she fought in the Battle off Ulsan on 14 August 1904 against the cruiser squadron of the Russian Pacific Fleet based at Vladivostok, and was later part of the Japanese force blockading that port. On 27–28 May 1905, under the command of Captain Reijiro Kawashima, Tokiwa was in the line of battle at the decisive Battle of Tsushima where she was damaged by gunfire.

In 1910, after the end of the war, Tokiwa was retrofitted with new coal-fired Belleview boilers, and remained in front-line service. In World War I, Tokiwa was assigned to the 4th Squadron of the IJN 2nd Fleet, and participated in the Battle of Tsingtao as part of the Japanese forces blockading that port on the China coast as part of the Japanese contribution to the Allied effort under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. She was later assigned to Pacific Ocean patrols against the German navy through early 1917. On 5 April 1917, she departed Yokosuka together with the cruiser Yakumo on a long distance navigational training cruise to ports in California, Hawaii and the South Pacific with cadets from the 44th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy.

After the end of World War I, Tokiwa continued to be used for oceanic navigation and officer candidate training, departing from Yokosuka on 1 March 1919 together with the cruiser Azuma for South Asia and Australia with cadets from the 46th class of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, and again on 24 November 1919 with Azumafor Singapore, Southeast Asia, Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea with the Academy's 47th class.

Tokiwa was removed from front-line status, and reclassified as a 1st-Class Coast Defence Vessel on 30 September 1921.

As a minelayer

On 30 September 1922, Tokiwa was converted to a minelayer at the Sasebo Naval Arsenal, with the removal of her 200 mm twin mount gun turrets and 150 mm secondary batteries. Offensive mine maneuvers by the Imperial Japanese Navy began in the Russo-Japanese War, using modified merchant ships; afterwards obsolete cruisers captured as prizes-of-war from Imperial Russia were modified and used. The conversion of Tokiwa into a minelayer gave the Imperial Japanese Navy a ship with an unprecedented large capacity. With mine launching tracks topside and on the mid-deck, the Tokiwa could deploy over 500 mines at a time.

On 1 August 1927 Tokiwa suffered substantial damage in an accidental explosion in Saiki Bay during an operation to deactivate armed mines. An accidental explosion triggered other mines to explode, causing major damage to her stern, and the death of 35 crewmen, with 65 others severely injured. Tokiwa was repaired at Sasebo Naval Arsenal, but placed into the reserve fleet. In 1931, Tokiwa was retrofitted with eight Kampon boilers and returned to active duty. With the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, from January 1932 to May 1933 Tokiwa was assigned to the IJN 1st Fleet and made patrols of the northern China coastline. With the establishment of the IJN 4th Fleet on 15 November 1939, Tokiwa was assigned to the 18th Squadron, and a year later to the 19th Squadron under the overall command of Admiral Kiyohide Shima together with the minelayer Okinoshima.

At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Tokiwa was assigned to Operation Gi (the invasion of the Gilbert Islands). In January 1942, under the overall command of Admiral Sadamichi Kajioka, Tokiwa participated in “Operation R” (the invasion of Rabaul and Kavieng).[1] However, on 1 February 1942, while at Kwajalein Atoll, she was damaged in an air raid by United States Navy aircraft from USS Enterprise (CV-6), forcing a return to Sasebo for repairs. She returned to Truk on 14 July, and on 19 August was assigned to the Japanese task force sent to recapture Makin Atoll after the Makin Raid.

On 1 May 1943 Tokiwa was reassigned to the Ōminato Guard District, but participated in a convoy to Truk at the end of May that was unsuccessfully attacked by USS Salmon (SS-182) on 3 June.

On 20 January 1944 Tokiwa was reassigned to the 18th Escort Squadron of the IJN 7th Fleet. As the Pacific War situation deteriorated further for the Japanese Empire, Tokiwa laid thousands of mines in the waters off Okinawa in June 1944 and Yakushima in February 1945. Ironically, Tokiwa was herself mined on 14 April 1945, approximately 78 miles (126 km) off Hesaki, Kyūshū suffering moderate damage. She was later damaged again by mines laid by USAAF B-29 Superfortress bombers on 3 June 1945.

While at Ōminato in Mutsu Bay in northern Japan at 41°12′00″N 141°36′00″E / 41.20°N 141.60°E / 41.20; 141.60, Tokiwa was severely damaged by a direct bomb hit and four near misses in an air attack on 9 August 1945 by United States Navy aircraft from Task Force 38, and was beached by her crew. On 30 November 1945 Tokiwa was removed from the navy list.[2]

After the end of World War II, the wreck was raised on 5 April 1947, towed to Hakodate, Hokkaidō, and scrapped from August–October 1947.



  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • 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

External links


  1. Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea, 1939-1945: The Naval History of World War Two. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2. 
  2. Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 

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