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Japanese destroyer Akatsuki
Japanese destroyer Akatsuki
Akatsuki underway on January 18, 1937.
Career Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Akatsuki
Ordered: 1923 Fiscal Year
Builder: Sasebo Naval Arsenal
Laid down: February 17, 1930
Launched: May 7, 1932
Commissioned: November 30, 1932
Struck: December 15, 1942
Fate: Sunk in action off Guadalcanal, November 13, 1942
General characteristics
Class & type: Akatsuki-class destroyer
  • 1,750 long tons (1,780 t) standard
  • 2,050 long tons (2,080 t) re-built
  • 111.96 m (367.3 ft) pp
  • 115.3 m (378 ft) waterline
  • 118.41 m (388.5 ft) overall
  • Beam: 10.4 m (34 ft 1 in)
    Draft: 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)
    • 4 × Kampon type boilers
    • 2 × Kampon Type Ro geared turbines
    • 2 × shafts at 50,000 ihp (37,000 kW)
    Speed: 38 knots (44 mph; 70 km/h)
    Range: 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
    Complement: 219
    Armament: • 6 × Type 3 127 mm 50 caliber naval guns[1][2]
    • up to 28 × Type 96 25 mm AT/AA Gun[3][4]
    • up to 10 × 13 mm (0.52")/76 cal. Type 93 AA guns[5][6]
    • 9 × 24 in (610 mm) torpedo tubes for Type 93 torpedoes[7]
    • 36 depth charges

    Akatsuki in the Yangtse River, China, in August 1937

    Akatsuki ( Dawn?) [8] was the twenty-first Fubuki-class destroyer, or the lead ship of the Akatsuki-class destroyer (if that sub-class is regarded as a separate class), built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the inter-war period. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world.[9] They remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.


    Construction of the advanced Fubuki-class destroyers was authorized as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's expansion program from fiscal 1923, intended to give Japan a qualitative edge with the world's most modern ships.[10] The Fubuki-class had performance that was a quantum leap over previous destroyer designs, so much so that they were designated Special Type destroyers (特型 Tokugata?). The large size, powerful engines, high speed, large radius of action and unprecedented armament gave these destroyers the firepower similar to many light cruisers in other navies. The Akatsuki sub-class was an improved version of the Fubuki, externally almost identical, but incorporating changes to her propulsion system.[11]

    Akatsuki, built at the Sasebo Naval Arsenal was the first of the “Type III” improved series of Fubuki destroyers, incorporating a modified gun turret which could elevate her main battery of Type 3 127 mm 50 caliber naval guns to 75° as opposed to the original 40°, thus permitting the guns to be used as dual purpose guns against aircraft.[12] Akatsuki was laid down on February 17, 1930, launched on May 7, 1932 and commissioned on November 30, 1932.[13]

    Operational history

    On completion, Akatsuki was assigned to Destroyer Division 6 along with her sister ships, Inazuma, Hibiki, and Ikazuchi, under the IJN 1st Fleet and participated in operations in the Second Sino-Japanese War. Like others of her type, she was modified during the middle 1930s, both to correct design deficiencies and to enhance combat capabilities.

    World War II

    At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Akazuki was assigned to Destroyer Division 6 of Desron 1 of the IJN 1st Fleet, and had deployed from Mako Guard District to provide cover for landing operations in British Malaya and later for in operations against the Netherlands East Indies, including the invasion of western Java and in the Philippines.[14] She attacked, but failed to sink the USS Permit (SS-178) on 17 March 1942.

    After returning to Yokosuka Naval Arsenal for maintenance in March 1942, Akazuki was reassigned to northern operations, and deployed from Ōminato Guard District in support of Admiral Boshiro Hosogaya’s Northern Force in the Aleutians campaign, patrolling waters around Kiska and Attu during June and July, and towing the damaged Hibiki from Kiska back to Paramushiro in the Chishima Islands. She continued to be assigned to northern patrols in the Chishima islands and Aleutian islands through the beginning of August.[15] After maintenance at Yokosuka in late July, Akazuki was reassigned as escort for the new aircraft carriers Zuihō and Unyō, which it accompanied to Truk, and missions in the Solomon Islands and back to Kure Naval District.

    From October, Akatsuki was used for numerous “Tokyo Express” high speed transport runs throughout the Solomon Islands.[16]

    On October 25, 1942 Akatsuki, Ikazuchi, and Shiratsuyu conducted a daylight raid into the waters of "Ironbottom Sound" off Guadalcanal. In the resulting action, the fast minesweeper USS Zane (DMS-14) was damaged and fleet tug USS Seminole (AT-65) and patrol craft YP-284 were sunk before the Japanese ships were driven off by US Marine coastal artillery. Akatsuki suffered light damage when its No.3 gun turret was hit by coastal artillery, with four crewmen killed.

    Three weeks later, Akatsuki returned to "Ironbottom Sound" as part of a powerful bombardment force built around the battleships Hiei and Kirishima. On the night of 12–13 November 1942, in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, this unit encountered a task force of U.S. Navy destroyers and cruisers. Operating on the right flank of the Japanese battleships, Akatsuki is often credited with illuminating and then torpedoing USS Atlanta (CL-51): however, her Chief Torpedo Officer, Michiharu Shinya – one of her few survivors - later stated unequivocally that Akatsuki was overwhelmed by gunfire before being able to launch any torpedoes that night.[17][18] Soon after illuminating Atlanta, she was heavily hit by American gunfire and sank early in the action near Savo Island at position 09°17′S 159°56′E / 9.283°S 159.933°E / -9.283; 159.933Coordinates: 09°17′S 159°56′E / 9.283°S 159.933°E / -9.283; 159.933, with the loss of all but eighteen crewmen (out of a total complement of 197), which were later captured by U.S. forces.[19]

    On 15 December 1942, Akatsuki was removed from the navy list.[20]


    • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
    • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
    • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1961). Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June 1942-April 1944, vol. 7 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ASIN B0007FBB8I. 
    • 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. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
    • Nelson, Andrew N. (1967). Japanese–English Character Dictionary. Tuttle. ISBN 0-8048-0408-7. 
    • Watts, Anthony J (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday. ASIN B000KEV3J8. 
    • Whitley, M. J. (2000). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-521-8. 

    External links


    1. 5"/50 caliber,
    2. 12.7 cm/50 3rd Year Type,
    3. 25mm/60 caliber,
    4. 25 mm/60 AA MG Type 96,
    5. 13mm/76 caliber,
    6. 13 mm/76 AA MG Type 93,
    7. Japanese Torpedoes,
    8. Nelson. Japanese-English Character Dictionary. Page 483
    9. "IJN Fubuki class destroyers". 
    10. Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040
    11. Peattie & Evans, Kaigun page 221-222.
    12. F Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1977), Volume 10, p.1040.<
    13. Nishidah, Hiroshi (2002). "Fubuki class 1st class destroyers". Materials of the Imperial Japanese Navy. 
    14. IJN Akatsuki: Tabular Record of Movement
    15. Morison. Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June 1942-April 1944.
    16. D’Albas. Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II.
    17. Editors Note 1
    18. The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal by Robert Ballard and The Path From Guadalcanal by Michiharu Shinya
    19. IJN Akatsuki: Tabular Record of Movement
    20. Nishidah, Hiroshi (2002). "Fubuki class destroyers". Materials of the Imperial Japanese Navy. 

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