Japanese battleship Asahi
The was a pre-dreadnought
Pre-dreadnought battleship is the general term for all of the types of sea-going battleships built between the mid-1890s and 1905. Pre-dreadnoughts replaced the ironclad warships of the 1870s and 1880s...

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

 in the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

. Built at the same time as the Shikishima-class battleship
Shikishima class battleship
-External links:**...

s, and with virtually identical specifications, it is regarded as the second vessel in that class by a number of authors. However, the Shikishima-class vessels had three smokestacks, whereas Asahi had only two, thus giving her a distinctive silhouette, and more closely resembled the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

's Formidable-class battleship
Formidable class battleship
The Royal Navy's Formidable class battleships was an eight-ship class of pre-dreadnoughts designed by Sir William White and built in the late 1890s...

. The name Asahi means rising sun, which by extension is a metaphor for Japan.


Asahi was laid down in Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 by Clydebank Engineering & Shipbuilding Company, and completed by John Brown & Company
John Brown & Company
John Brown and Company of Clydebank was a pre-eminent Scottish marine engineering and shipbuilding firm, responsible for building many notable and world-famous ships, such as the , the , the , the , the , and the...

. Upon her launch, she was the heaviest battleship yet built on the River Clyde
River Clyde
The River Clyde is a major river in Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland. Flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire....

. Her delivery in 1900 was delayed when the vessel ran aground as she left for Japan. Stores and ammunition were removed, the ship pulled clear, and after an inspection in drydock she proceeded to Japan, arriving at Yokosuka
Yokosuka, Kanagawa
is a city located in Kanagawa, Japan. As of 2010, the city had an estimated population of 419,067 and a population density of 4,160 people per km². It covered an area of 100.62 km²...

 on 23 October 1900.

Operational history

Asahi was very active in the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 of 1904-1905, starting with the Battle of Port Arthur
Battle of Port Arthur
The Battle of Port Arthur was the starting battle of the Russo-Japanese War...

, and subsequent naval blockade. The Asahi participated in the Battle of the Yellow Sea
Battle of the Yellow Sea
The Battle of the Yellow Sea was a major naval engagement of the Russo-Japanese War, fought on 10 August 1904. In the Russian Navy, it was referred to as the Battle of 10 August. The battle foiled an attempt by the Russian fleet at Port Arthur to break out and form up with counterparts from...

 (where she took one hit), and she struck a floating mine
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

 on 26 October 1904; repairs were completed in time for the Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima
The Battle of Tsushima , commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War...

 where she took nine hits, which killed eight and wounded 23 crewmen. During the Battle of Tsushima, Captain W. C. Pakenham
William Christopher Pakenham
Admiral Sir William Christopher Pakenham, KCB, KCMG, KCVO was a British observer with the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Russo-Japanese War, during World War I he commanded the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron during the Battle of Jutland, and from December 1916 was Commander-in-Chief of the Battle...

, the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

's official military observer under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance
Anglo-Japanese Alliance
The first was signed in London at what is now the Lansdowne Club, on January 30, 1902, by Lord Lansdowne and Hayashi Tadasu . A diplomatic milestone for its ending of Britain's splendid isolation, the alliance was renewed and extended in scope twice, in 1905 and 1911, before its demise in 1921...

, took notes of the battle's progress from a deck chair on the exposed quarterdeck
The quarterdeck is that part of a warship designated by the commanding officer for official and ceremonial functions. In port, the quarterdeck is the most important place on the ship, and is the central control point for all its major activities. Underway, its importance diminishes as control of...

 of the Asahi. His reports confirmed the superiority of Japanese training and tactics and publicized the historic victory within Western naval circles.

In 1908, Asahi was part of the Japanese fleet which escorted the American
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 Great White Fleet
Great White Fleet
The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the United States Navy battle fleet that completed a circumnavigation of the globe from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909 by order of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with...

 through Japanese waters during its round-the-globe voyage. In 1914, the Asahi became a gunnery training ship, and in 1917, she was re-armed, with Japanese guns replacing her original British-made guns.

Various roles in interwar years

Although rendered obsolete by the development of the Dreadnought
The dreadnought was the predominant type of 20th-century battleship. The first of the kind, the Royal Navy's had such an impact when launched in 1906 that similar battleships built after her were referred to as "dreadnoughts", and earlier battleships became known as pre-dreadnoughts...

class battleships, Asahi was used as a support vessel, to cover the landings of Japanese troops in Russia during Japan's Siberian Intervention
Siberian Intervention
The ', or the Siberian Expedition, of 1918–1922 was the dispatch of troops of the Entente powers to the Russian Maritime Provinces as part of a larger effort by the western powers and Japan to support White Russian forces against the Bolshevik Red Army during the Russian Civil War...


Reclassified as a 1st-class Coastal defence ship
Coastal defence ship
Coastal defence ships were warships built for the purpose of coastal defence, mostly during the period from 1860 to 1920. They were small, often cruiser-sized warships that sacrificed speed and range for armour and armament...

 in 1921, she served as a combatant until 1923, when, under the terms of the Washington Naval Agreement, Asahi was disarmed and converted into a training ship. Her displacement dropped to 11,441 tons with the loss of her armor and guns, and her speed was limited to 12 knots (24 km/h). In May 1925 Asahi ran aground off Toba
Toba, Mie
is a city in Mie, Japan.Toba is the site of the Toba Aquarium, which houses such animals as dugongs, African manatees, porpoises, and a wide-variety of aquatic life....

, and after refloating was taken back to Yokosuka for extensive modifications.

From 1926 to October 1927 Asahi's 25 Belleville boilers were replaced with four Kanpon boilers. One of her two funnels was also removed, and a large crane was installed. Asahi was converted into a submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 salvage ship and also conducted experiments as Japan's first submarine rescue vessel using the old German submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 0-1 (ex-U-125).

In May 1928 in the capacity of an experimental test bed, the Asahi was fitted with a 19-meter compressed-air Type No. 1 aircraft catapult
Aircraft catapult
An aircraft catapult is a device used to launch aircraft from ships—in particular aircraft carriers—as a form of assisted take off. It consists of a track built into the flight deck, below which is a large piston or shuttle that is attached through the track to the nose gear of the aircraft, or in...

 and successfully launched an E2N1
Nakajima E2N
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography-External links:...

 Type 15 seaplane
A seaplane is a fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are a subclass called amphibian aircraft...

. Later, after repeated accidents, the compressed-air catapult was discarded in favor of a gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

-propelled one. On the completion of testing, Asahi was placed in the Naval Reserve.

However, in November 1937, after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident
Marco Polo Bridge Incident
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident was a battle between the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army, often used as the marker for the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War .The eleven-arch granite bridge, Lugouqiao, is an architecturally significant structure,...

 starting the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

, Asahi was taken out of reserves, as was used as a transport to land troops in an amphibious operation
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 at Hangzhou Bay
Hangzhou Bay
Hangzhou Bay, or the Bay of Hangzhou , is an inlet of the East China Sea, bordered by the province of Zhejiang and the municipality of Shanghai. The Qiantang River flows into the bay.It lies south of Shanghai, and ends at the city of Hangzhou...


As a submarine tender

Asahi lived a 7th life as a submarine tender
Submarine tender
A submarine tender is a type of ship that supplies and supports submarines.Submarines are small compared to most oceangoing vessels, and generally do not have the ability to carry large amounts of food, fuel, torpedoes, and other supplies, nor to carry a full array of maintenance equipment and...

 from 1937, providing repair services, supplies, and served as a floating barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

, until 1938, when the old vessel was once again taken in hand for conversion once again. Heavy lifting frames were installed on either side amidships, along with machine shops and repair facilities. She began her 8th career as a repair vessel on 18 December 1938. Asahi was also fitted with dummy wooden main battery
Main battery
Generally used only in the terms of naval warfare, the main battery is the primary weapon around which a ship was designed. "Battery" is in itself a common term in the military science of artillery. For example, the United States Navy battleship USS Washington had a main battery of nine guns...

 fore and aft to resemble an old battleship and was assigned to "patrols" out of Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

 from 29 May – 7 November 1940.

From 15 November 1940 Asahi was assigned to the Combined Fleet
Combined Fleet
The was the main ocean-going component of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Combined Fleet was not a standing force, but a temporary force formed for the duration of a conflict or major naval maneuvers from various units normally under separate commands in peacetime....

 and used as a transport, shuttling between Camranh Bay, Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

 and Kure
Kure, Hiroshima
is a city in Hiroshima prefecture, Japan.As of October 1, 2010, the city has an estimated population of 240,820 and a population density of 681 persons per km². The total area is 353.74 km².- History :...


From April 1942, Asahi was stationed at Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, and performed repairs in on the light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

Japanese cruiser Naka
was a Sendai-class light cruiser in the Imperial Japanese Navy, named after the Naka River in the Tochigi and Ibaraki prefectures of eastern Japan.-Background:...

 that had been torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

ed by the submarine USS Seawolf
USS Seawolf (SS-197)
USS Seawolf , a Sargo-class submarine, was the second submarine of the United States Navy named for the seawolf.Her keel was laid down on 27 September 1938 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine. She was launched on 15 August 1939 sponsored by Mrs. Edward C. Kalbfus and commissioned on 1...

 off Christmas Island
Christmas Island
The Territory of Christmas Island is a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean. It is located northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth, south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and ENE of the Cocos Islands....

. Departing Singapore for Kure on 22 May, the Asahi was sighted by the USS Salmon
USS Salmon (SS-182)
USS Salmon was the lead ship of her class of submarine. She was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the salmon, a soft-finned, gamy fish which inhabits the coasts of America and Europe in northern latitudes and ascends rivers for the purpose of spawning.Her keel was laid down...

 on 25 May 1942, 100 miles (160.9 km) SW of Cape Paderas. Asahi was torpedoed in a night attack and was hit in her port central boiler room and aft spaces by two of the four torpedoes fired. At 0103, moments after being hit, Asahi capsized at 10°00′N 110°00′E. Sixteen crewmen were killed, but Captain Tamura and 582 crewmen survived.

See also

  • List of battleships of Japan
  • Japanese battleship Mikasa
    Japanese battleship Mikasa
    is a pre-Dreadnought battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, launched in Britain in 1900. She served as the flagship of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō during the Battle of the Yellow Sea on 10 August 1904, and the Battle of Tsushima on 27 May 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War. The ship is preserved as...

    , another Japanese battleship derived from the Majestic-class

External links

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