(Main dry dock at Kiangnan Engineering and Dock Works in Shanghai with the Arsenal in the background )

History of the IJN's No. 1 Naval Construction and Repair Department
at Shanghai, China

by Bob Hackett

© 2016-2017 Bob Hackett
Revision 4

In 1865, the Kiangnan (Jiangnan Arsenal ) was built on the Huangpu River in Shanghai during the Qing Dynasty for the construction of firearms and naval vessels. The Chinese name of the Kiangnan Arsenal was the “General Bureau of Machine Manufacture of Jiangnan”. It was the largest military factory in East Asia. In 1868, the shipyard launched its first ship, steam boat HUIJI. In 1891, the steelworks produced China's first batch of steel. In 1905, the shipyard began to be operated separately.

In 1918 the U. S. Government contracted with the Chinese Government to have four 10,000 ton ships built by the Kiangnan Dock & Engineering Works, in Shanghai. All the material used in these ships was purchased in the United States and shipped to China. In the 1920s, Kiangnan Dock launched six river gunboats contracted by the US Navy for patrol of the Yangtze River. These were patrol gunboats (PG) USS GUAM, TUTUILA, PANAY, OAHU, LUZON and USS MINDANAO. [1]

In 1931, a light cruiser of Japanese design was laid down at the Kiangnan Dock for the Chinese Navy, but its construction was delayed by tensions between Japan and China. The Japanese refused to provide secondary armament for the cruiser, but the Chinese managed to obtain the guns from Krupp of Germany and it was completed in 1933. In 1934, top-heavy design problems caused the cruiser to be recalled for extensive redesign and rework to to improve its stability and sea-worthiness. It was not until late 1935 that she was launched and named PING HAI. In summer of 1936, after installation of armament and fitting out in Japan, the Chinese light cruiser finally was completed.

On 7 July 1937, at the Marco Polo Bridge on the Hun River at Lukuokiao, IJA troops on night maneuvers fired blank cartridges. Chinese troops across the river thought they were under attack. They fired live rounds back, but did not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discovered a soldier missing and assumed the Chinese captured him. The Japanese demand entry to the Peiping (Beijing) suburb of Wanping to look for the soldier, but the Chinese refused. The Japanese then shelled the city. An undeclared war on China began.

The arms manufacturing arm of the Kiangnan Arsenal operated until its dissolution in 1937, at the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The shipyard was disassembled and relocated to Chungking (Chongqing) Shipyard further inland and re-established as the Chongqing Shipyard. Large parts of the assets of both the Arsenal and the Shipyard were occupied by Japanese forces during the war. During this period, the Japanese occupying forces absorbed the plant and equipment of the Arsenal into the Shipyard. Mitsubishi Shipbuilding took over operation of the Konan (Kiangnan) Shipyard.

In August 1937, the Nationalist Government sends light cruiser PING HAI and Japanese-built sister NING HAI, old cruiser YING JUI and a gunboat down the Yangtse River to Koin (Chiang Yin) to help defend Nanking, the Nationalist's capital city.

In September 1937, at Koin, NING HAI and PING HAI, were attacked by aircraft from carrier IJN KAGA, operating from Hangchou Bay south of Shanghai, and the ground-based IJN 2nd Combined Air Flotilla. They sustained bomb hits and near misses. After further attacks and more direct hits by 2nd Combined Air Flotilla bombers,both NING HAI and PING HAI sank in shallow water near Koin . [2]

In 1938, the Japanese successfully refloated NING HAI and PING HAI. They were towed to Shanghai where they underwent repairs at Mitsubishi Konan Yard.. Later, the hulks were towed to Sasebo where they were served as accomodation hulks.[2]

In June 1939, auxiliary gunboat IJN SHOSEI MARU entered dry dock at Mitsubishi Konan Yard and completed routine work that month.

In October 1940, gunboat IJN TOBA arrived at Mitsubishi Konan Yard.

About 1 November 1940, Captain/Engineer Kono Hideo was appointed Director of the IJN No. 1 Naval Construction and Repair Department in Shanghai. On that same day, nine officers (including medical branch and supply branch officers) and ten junior technicians were attached to the Department.

On 8 December 1941, on Shanghai's Whangpoo (Huangpu) River, at about 0400, some two hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, Captain Otani Inaho (51) of IJN coast defense ship (ex-armored cruiser) IZUMO and a detachment of Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops arrived and boarded the moored British river gunboat HMS PETEREL. Otani informed her CO that their countries were at war and demanded surrender of the ship. Polkinghorn refused and ordered the Japanese off at gunpoint. Illuminated by IZUMO’s searchlights, river gunboats SETA and ATAMI, a destroyer and artillery pieces ashore then sank PETEREL by gunfire. Six of PETEREL’s crew of 21 men were KIA, but Polkinghorn and the others survived and were made prisoners-of-war (POWs.)

Whuangpu River. gunboat USS WAKE (ex-USS GUAM) was rigged to be to scuttled with demolition charges, but also about 0400 WAKE was boarded and seized by Japanese Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops. Surprised and overwhelmed, WAKE's crew was taken as POWs before they could scuttle the ship. USS WAKE was the only USN warship to surrender in WW II.

Immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese troops stormed Shanghai's International Settlement. The French and Americans surrendered the Settlement without firing a shot and the residents were interned in POW camps.

On 15 December 1941, gunboat USS WAKE, renamed IJN TATARA, underwent refit at the Mitsubishi Konan Yard, and later at the 1st Naval Repair Facility.

In 1942, the Mitsubishi Konan Yard completed the following new cargo ships for the IJA, IJN and civilian authorities: KINRYO, KONEI, KYUKO and MINKA MARUs.

Also in 1942, among the warships that received varying degrees of repairs at the Mitsubishi Konan Yard were gunboats IJN SHOSEI MARU, IJN FUSHIMI, IJN TOBA and IJN TATARA (ex-USS WAKE).

On 17 May 1942, Captain (later Rear Admiral/Eng) Mikoshiba Hayato (24) was appointed Director of the IJN's No. 1 Naval Construction and Repair Department and Supervisor for Construction and Ordnance (Zosen Zohei Kantokukan ) of the IJN’s Naval Shipbuilding Command and its Resident in Shanghai. On 25 August 1942, Captain Mikoshiba was also appointed Chief Engineer, China Area Fleet, Shanghai (Shina Homen Kantai) and retained duty as Director of the IJN 1st Naval Repair Facility and Supervisor for Construction and Ordnance. On 5 October 1942, Captain Mikoshiba assumed full-time duty as Chief Engineer, China Area Fleet.

On 5 October 1942, Captain/Eng (later Rear Admiral/Eng)(23) Fujita Kenroku was appointed Director of the No. 1 Naval Construction and Repair Department.

In 1943, the Mitsubishi Konan Yard completed the following new cargo ships for the IJA, IJN and civilian authorities: CHINKAI, NEIKAI, ZUIKAI, and SHIRAHAMA MARUs.

Also in 1943, among the warships that received varying degrees of repairs at Mitsubishi Konan Yard were destroyer IJN KURI, ex-Italian gunboats CARLOTTO and and LEPANTO which were raised and salvaged by the Japanese, then transferred to Kiangnan Dockyard for extensive hull repairs and refit and renamed IJN NARUMI, and LEPANTO repaired and renamed INN OKITSU, gunboats IJN NANYO (ex-Chinese Maritime Customs Cruiser) TEH HSING, IJN River Gunboats FUSHIMI, SETA, and IJN TOBA and repair ship HAYASE. In September 1943, after the Surrender of Fascist Italy, the 18,765-ton Italian liner SS CONTE VERDE was scuttled off the Shanghai Club by her Italian crew so as not be captured by the Japanese.

On 20 April 1943, Captain/Eng Kasuga Takeshi was appointed Director of the No. 1 Naval Construction and Repair Department.

In 1944, the Mitsubishi Konan Yard completed the following new cargo ships for the IJA, IJN and civilian authorities: SHIROTAE, REIKAI, DOGO, DOKAN (DOKWAN), DOSHI, BUSHO (BUJO), DORYO, GAKUJO, EIJO (YEIJO), YOJO, DOUN and SHINJO MARUs.

Also in 1944, among the warships that received varying degrees of repairs at the Konan Yard were gunboats IJN NARUMI and IJN TATARA where she remained until the end of the war.

On 10 May 1944, Captain/Eng Yuzawa Jonosuke was appointed Director of the No. 1 Naval Construction and Repair Department.

In July 1944, the hulk of SS CONTE VERDE was uprighted to 67 degrees and salvage work commenced. At an unknown date, she was renamed KOTOBUKI MARU, but on 8 Aug' 44, she was bombed by a USAAF B-24 "Liberator" heavy bomber of 373rd Bomb Squadron and sunk for the second time.

In Dec '44, KOTOBUKI MARU (ex-CONTE VERDE) was successfully refloated and drydocked at the Konan Yard for minimum repairs to enable the vessel to proceed to Japan under its own power where the Japanese intended to convert her to a small aircraft carrier.

Finally in 1945, the Mitsubishi Konan Yard completed the following new cargo ships for the IJA, IJN and civilian authorities: DATE, KAEDE and KEIJO MARUs and DAIUN (TAIUN) MARU No. 1).

In March 1945, destroyer IJN KURI was damaged by mine at the mouth of the Yangtze River and underwent repairs, probably at the Konan Yard.

On 15 September 1945, at Kiangnan Dockyard, IJN NARUMI was surrendered to the Chinese Nationalists.

Authors' Notes:
[1] For more on IJN river gunboats, please see our HOKAN!

[2] In December 1943, MIKURA (ex-NING HAI) underwent reconstruction at Harima to a kaibokan coast defense ship and on 1 June 1944 was renamed IJN ISOJIMA. She was sunk off the Bonin Islands by an American submarmarine in September 1944. In January 1944, sister MISHIMA (ex-PING HAI) was towed from Sasebo to Kure and began reconstruction as a kaibokan. In June 1944, she was renamed IJN YASOJIMA. She was sunk off the Bonin Islands by USN carrier aircraft in November 1944. For more about these ex-Chinese light cruisers, please see our KAIBOKAN!

Thanks go to Fontessa-san of Japan, on "Axis History Forum" for the incredible amount of work he went to combing through the (Kaigun Jirei Koho) Naval Transfer and Promotion Lists and JACAR to find the Directors of the IJN's Naval Construction and Repair Departments. Thanks also to Sander Kingsepp of Estonia.

Questions to the author should be posted on the Discussion & Questions board.

-Bob Hackett

Back to IJN Overseas Naval Construction and Repair Departments