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Japanese minelayer Itsukushima
Itsukushima, circa 1935.
Itsukushima, circa 1935.
Career (Japan) Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Itsukushima
Ordered: fiscal 1923
Builder: Uraga Dock Company[1]
Laid down: February 2, 1928
Launched: May 22, 1929
Commissioned: December 26, 1929
Struck: January 10, 1945
Fate: Sunk in action, October 7, 1944[1]
General characteristics
Type: minelayer
Displacement: 1,970 long tons (2,002 t) standard, 2080 tons normal
Length: 100 m (330 ft) pp,
104 m (341 ft) waterline
Beam: 11.83 m (38 ft 10 in)
Draught: 3.22 m (10 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 3-shaft diesel engine, 3 boilers, 39,000 hp (29,000 kW)
Speed: 17 knots (20 mph; 31 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 221

3 x 14 cm/50 Type 3 naval gun
2x Type 3 80 mm AA Gun

500x Type 5 naval mines
Armour: none

Itsukushima (厳島?) was a medium-sized minelayer of the Imperial Japanese Navy, which was in service during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. She was named after the First Sino-Japanese War-era cruiser Itsukushima, which in turn was named after Itsukushima, a sacred island in Hiroshima Prefecture of Japan. She was the first warship in the Imperial Japanese Navy with all diesel engine propulsion.[2]


Under the fiscal 1923 budget, the Imperial Japanese Navy authorized a minelayer to supplement its aging minelayers, the former cruisers Aso, and Tokiwa. The new vessel was designed to carrying 500 Type 5 naval mines, and to incorporate design features developed through operational experience gained in World War I. Initial plans to procure a 3000-ton vessel were scaled back to 2000-tons due to budget limitations.[3]

Itsukushima was launched by the Uraga Dock Company on May 22, 1929, and was commissioned into service on December 26, 1929.[4]

Operational history

After commissioning, Istukushima was assigned to the Yokosuka Naval District as a reserve and training vessel, making occasional cruises to the South Pacific Mandate and Bonin Islands. During the Combined Fleet Maneuvers of 1935, she was attached to the IJN 4th Fleet and suffered damage due to a typhoon in what was termed the "Fourth Fleet Incident". The damage required several months of extensive repairs, resulting in an almost complete rebuild by May 1936. Istukushima was assigned to the IJN 3rd Fleet from 20 October 1936, but is reassigned directly to the Combined Fleet after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War. After patrols of the Chinese coast until October 1937, Istukushima was reassigned back to the IJN 3rd Fleet and stationed at Ryojun Guard District. From December 1937 to 20 March 1938, Istukushima was assigned to the IJN 4th Fleet, and then back to Yokosuka Naval District, but based at Sasebo. From August 1938, under the command of the IJN 3nd[Clarification needed] Fleet, Istukushima began patrols of the Yangzi River in China. However, at the end of 1938, she was removed from active duty and placed on reserve status and returned to Yokosuka.

Istukushima was reactivated on 15 November 1940 under the Combined Fleet and resumed patrols of the China coast to April 1941, when she was reassigned back to the IJN 3rd Fleet and deployed to Palau in December 1941. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Itsukushima was assigned to the Southern Philippines Striking Force of the IJN 3rd Fleet under the overall command of Admiral Ibō Takahashi, and tasked with mining the San Bernardino Strait.

In January 1942, Itsukushima was assigned to the Netherlands East Indies theatre of operations, supporting the Japanese invasions of Tarakan and Balikpapan in Borneo as flagship of the Second Base Unit under Admiral Sueto Hirose. From 10 March, she was reassigned to the Third Southern Expeditionary Fleet under Admiral Rokuzo Sugiyama, and continued to support operations in Borneo and Java. She was then reassigned to the Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet, under the Southwest Area Fleet, patrolling between Singapore, Surabaya, Batavia and Ambon to the end of the year. On 25–26 December 1942, together with the light cruiser Natori, Itsukushima landed troops of the 24th Naval Base force which captured Hollandia, New Guinea.[5]

Itsukushima was subsequently based out of Palau through most of 1943, becoming part of the Fourth Southern Expeditionary Fleet from 30 November, and was deployed to Ambon by the end of the year.

In early 1944, Itsukushima was assigned to escort convoys between Ambon, Surabaya and Halmahera Island. On 6 May, she was unsuccessfully attacked by the USS Bonefish (SS-223), in the Celebes Sea. On 31 May, Itsukushima was assigned to "Operation KON" (the Relief of Biak), transporting reinforcements from Zamboanga on Mindanao in an effort to counter the American landings. On 24 August, Itsukushima was attacked by USAAF B-25 Mitchell bombers from the 345th Bomb Group while escorting a convoy near Lahbeh Strait near the Celebes. A near miss flooded her aft section, and engine room. She was attacked again on 2 September, but shot down two of the attacking planes, and so damaging two others that they were forced to crash-land. On 4 October, the minelayer Wakataka arrived to take Itsukushima under tow for Surabaya. However, on 17 October, while transiting the Java Sea under tow, Itsukushima was torpedoed by the Royal Dutch Navy submarine HNLMS Zwaardvisch (P322), and sank at position 5°23′S 113°48′E / 5.383°S 113.8°E / -5.383; 113.8.[6]

Itsukushima was removed from the navy list on 10 January 1945.



  1. 1.0 1.1 "Itsukushima". Miramar Ship Index. R.B.Haworth. Retrieved 6 October 2008. 
  2. Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Nishida, Hiroshi. "Materials of IJN". Imperial Japanese Navy. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  5. 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. 
  6. Nevitt, Allyn D. (1997). "IJN Itsukushima: Tabular Record of Movement". Long Lancers. 


External links

See also

Japanese minelayer Shirataka Coordinates: 5°23′S 113°48′E / 5.383°S 113.8°E / -5.383; 113.8

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