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Murakumo-class destroyer
IJN Kagero at Kure Taisho 9.jpg
Murakumo-class destroyer Kagero at Kure, 1920
Class overview
Builders: John I. Thornycroft & Company Chiswick, England
Operators: Empire of Japan Imperial Japanese Navy
Preceded by: Ikazuchi-class destroyer
Succeeded by: Akatsuki-class destroyer
In commission: Dec 29, 1898-June 4, 1925
Completed: 6
Active: 0
Lost: 1
Retired: 5
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
Displacement: 275 long tons (279 t) normal,
361 long tons (367 t) full load
Length: 63.2 m (207 ft) pp,
67.7 m (222 ft) overall
Beam: 5.96 m (19.6 ft)
Draught: 1.7 m (5.6 ft)
Propulsion: 2-shaft reciprocating, 3 boilers, 5,800 ihp (4,300 kW)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)
Complement: 50

The Murakumo class destroyers (叢雲型駆逐艦 Murakumogata kuchikukan?) were a class of six torpedo boat destroyers (TBDs) of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The class is also sometimes referred to as the Shinonome class destroyers (東雲駆逐艦 Shinonomegata kuchikukan?).[1]


In the First Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese navy came to understand the combat effectiveness of small, fast torpedo equipped warships over larger, slower ships equipped with slow-loading and often inaccurate naval artillery. The Murakumo class vessels were the second class of destroyers procured by the Imperial Japanese Navy, but were purchased almost simultaneously with the Ikazuchi class Four were ordered under the 1896 fiscal year budget, and an additional two under the 1897 budget. All were ordered from John I. Thornycroft & Company in Chiswick, England.[2]


The design of the Murakumo-class destroyers was based on Thorneycrofts two-stack destroyers for the Royal Navy (from 1913 known as the D class) also known as the “Thirty Knotters”. Although slightly smaller than the Ikazuchi-class, they had the same armaments.

All Murakumo-class vessels had a flush deck design with a distinctive "turtleback" forecastle that was intended to clear water from the bow during high speed navigation, but was poorly designed for high waves or bad weather. The bridge and forward gun platform were barely raised above the bow, resulting in a wet conning position. More than half of the small hull was occupied by the boilers and the engine room. With fuel and weaponry, there was little space left for crew quarters.

All were powered by triple expansion steam engines for 5,800 shp and had coal-fired water-tube boilers. Armament was one QF 12 pounder on a bandstand on the forecastle, five QF 6 pounder Hotchkisss (two sided abreast the conning tower, two sided between the funnels and one on the quarterdeck) and 2 single tubes for 18 inch torpedoes.[3]

Operational history

All six Murakumo-class destroyers arrived in Japan in time to be used during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. All were present at the Battle of the Yellow Sea and the final crucial Battle of Tsushima.

The Murakumo-class vessels reclassified as third-class destroyers on August 28, 1912, and were removed from front-line combat service. Shinonome was lost during a typhoon off of Taiwan on August 6, 1913-08.[4]

The five surviving vessels were again used in combat with the start of World War I, during the Battle of Tsingtao[5] and in the operations to seize German colonial possessions in the South Pacific.

After the war, Murakumo and Yugiri were demilitarized, and used a depot ships from 1919–1920, and into auxiliary minesweepers in 1920. Shiranui, Kagero and Usugumo were similarly modified in 1923, but all vessels were retired from service and struck from the Navy List by the end of 1925.

List of ships

Kanji Name
Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
叢雲 Murakumo
"Gathering Clouds"
Thornycroft, Chiswick, UK 1897-10-01 1898-11-16 1898-12-29 depot vessel 1919-04-01, aux minesweeper 1920-07-01; dispatch vessel 1922-04-01, scuttled 1925-06-04
東雲 Shinonome
"Dawn Cloud"
Thornycroft, Chiswick, UK 1897-10-01 1898-12-14 1899-02-01 wrecked off Taiwan 1913-07-23; written off 1913-08-06
夕霧 Yugiri
"Evening Mist"
Thornycroft, Chiswick, UK 1897-11-01 1899-01-26 1899-03-10 depot vessel 1919-04-01, aux minesweeper 1920-07-01; BU 1922-04-01
不知火 Shiranui
"Phosphorescent Foam"
Thornycroft, Chiswick, UK 1898-01-01 1899-03-15 1899-05-13 minesweeper 1922-04-01, dispatch vessel 1923-08-01; BU 1925-02-25
陽炎 Kagero
Thornycroft, Chiswick, UK 1898-08-01 1899-10-23 1899-10-31 Dispatch Vessel 1922-04-21; BU 1925-02-25
薄雲 Usugumo
"Thin Clouds"
Thornycroft, Chiswick, UK 1898-09-01 1900-01-16 1900-02-01 minesweeper 1922-04-01, dispatch vessel 1923-08-01; scuttled 1925-04-29


  1. Jentsura, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945
  2. Howarth, The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun
  3. Cocker, Destroyers of the Royal Navy
  4. Nishida, Imperial Japanese Navy
  5. Halpern. A Naval History of World War I


  • Evans, David (1979). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-192-7. 
  • 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. 
  • Jane, Fred T (1904). The Imperial Japanese Navy. Thacker, Spink & Co. ASIN: B00085LCZ4. 
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Cocker, Maurice (1983). Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893-1981. Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1075-7. 
  • Halpern, Paul G (1994). A Naval History of World War I. Routledge. ISBN 1-85728-498-4. 

External links

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