Japanese battleship Asahi

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Japanese battleship Asahi in 1905
Career (Japan) 50px
Name: Asahi
Namesake: "Rising sun"
Ordered: FY 1896
Builder: John Brown & Company, UK
Laid down: 1 August 1897
Launched: 13 March 1899
Commissioned: 28 April 1900
Struck: 25 May 1942
Fate: Torpedoed 25 May 1942
General characteristics
Displacement: 15,200 tons (initial)
Length: 129.62 metres (425 ft)
Beam: 22.92 metres (75 ft)
Draught: 8.31 metres (27 ft)
Propulsion: Two Shaft Reciprocating VTE steam engine, 25 Belleville boilers, 15,000 shp (11,200 kW); 4 Kampon boilers after 1927 refit.
Range: 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km) @ 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 836

(removed in 1923)


(removed in 1923)

  • 100-229 mm main belt armor
  • 63-100 mm deck armor
  • 50-254 mm turret, casement
  • 200-360 mm, barbette
  • 75-356 mm conning tower

The Asahi (朝日(戦艦) Asahi (senkan)?) was a pre-dreadnought battleship in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Built at the same time as the Shikishima-class battleships, 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 Royal Navy's Formidable-class battleship. The name Asahi means rising sun, which by extension is a metaphor for Japan.


Asahi was laid down in Glasgow, Scotland by Clydebank Engineering & Shipbuilding Company, and completed by John Brown & Company. Upon her launch, she was the heaviest battleship yet built on the River Clyde. 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 on 23 October 1900.[1]

Operational History

File:IJN Asahi 2.jpg
Asahi seen in a 1905 postcard.

Asahi was very active in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, starting with the Battle of Port Arthur, and subsequent naval blockade. The Asahi participated in the Battle of the Yellow Sea (where she took one hit), and she struck a floating mine on 26 October 1904; repairs were completed in time for the Battle of Tsushima where she took nine hits, which killed eight and wounded 23 crewmen. During the Battle of Tsushima, Captain W. C. Pakenham, the Royal Navy's official military observer under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, took notes of the battle's progress from a deck chair on the exposed quarterdeck of the Asahi. His reports confirmed the superiority of Japanese training and tactics and publicized the historic victory within Western naval circles.[2]

In 1908, Asahi was part of the Japanese fleet which escorted the American Great White Fleet 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 class battleships, Asahi was used as a support vessel, to cover the landings of Japanese troops in Russia during Japan's Siberian Intervention.

Reclassified as a 1st-class Coastal defence ship 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 (22 km/h). In May 1925 Asahi ran aground off Toba, 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 salvage ship and also conducted experiments as Japan's first submarine rescue vessel using the old German submarine 0-1 (ex-U-125).[3]

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 and successfully launched a E2N1 Type 15 seaplane. Later, after repeated accidents, the compressed-air catapult was discarded in favor of a gunpowder-propelled one. On the completion of testing, Asahi was placed in the Naval Reserve.

However, in November 1937, after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident starting the Second Sino-Japanese War, Asahi was taken out of reserves, as was used as a transport to land troops in an amphibious operation at Hangzhou Bay.

As a submarine tender

Asahi lived a 7th life as a submarine tender from 1937, providing repair services, supplies, and served as a floating barracks, 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 fore and aft to resemble an old battleship and was assigned to "patrols" out of Shanghai from 29 May – 7 November 1940.[4]

From 15 November 1940 Asahi was assigned to the Combined Fleet and used as a transport, shuttling between Camranh Bay, Indochina and Kure.

From April 1942, Asahi was stationed at Singapore, and performed repairs in on the light cruiser Naka that had been torpedoed by the USS Seawolf off Christmas Island. Departing Singapore for Kure on 22 May, the Asahi was sighted by the USS Salmon on 25 May 1942, 100 miles (160 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 / 10°N 110°E / 10; 110. Sixteen crewmen were killed, but Captain Tamura and 582 crewmen survived.[5]

See also


  1. Howart, The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun
  2. Evans, Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941
  3. Combined Fleet.com Tabular Record of Movement
  4. Jentsura, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945
  5. Combined Fleet.com Tabular Record of Movement


  • Andidora, Ronald (2000). Iron Admirals: Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31266-4. 
  • Brown, D. K. (1999). Warrior to Dreadnought, Warship Development 1860-1906. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-84067-529-2. 
  • Evans, David (1979). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870211927. 
  • Howarth, Stephen (1983). The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The Drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895-1945. Atheneum. isbn = 0689114028. 
  • Jane, Fred T. The Imperial Japanese Navy. Thacker, Spink & Co (1904) ASIN: B00085LCZ4
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 087021893X. 
  • Schencking, J. Charles (2005). Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804749779. 

External links

ja:朝日 (戦艦) zh:朝日號戰艦