Tokusetsu-Kosakubu

(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 Working Department
at Shanghai, China

by Bob Hackett

© 2016 Bob Hackett
Revision 1


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 ďGeneral Bureau of Machine Manufacture of JiangnanĒ. 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. [2]

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 . [3]

In 1938, the Japanese successfully refloated NING HAI and PING HAI. They were towed to Shanghai where they underwent repairs at Kiangnan shipyard. 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 Kiangnan (Konan) shipyard and completed routine work that month.

In October 1940, gunboat IJN TOBA arrived at Kiangnan Engineering and Dock Works.

On 11 November 1940, Captain (later Rear Admiral/Eng) Kawano Hideo (24) was appointed Director of the IJN No. 1 Naval Working Department in Shanghai and Supervisor for Construction and Ordnance (Zosen Zohei Kantokukan ) of the IJNís Naval Shipbuilding Commandís (Kaigun Kansei Honbu) and served until 17 May 1942. [4]

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 IZUMOís searchlights, river gunboats SETA and ATAMI, a destroyer and artillery pieces ashore then sank PETEREL by gunfire. Six of PETERELís 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 Kiangnan Engineering and Dock Works, and later at the 1st Naval Repair Facility.

In 1942, among the warships that received varying degrees of repairs at the Kiangnan Dock 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 No. 1 Naval Working Department and Supervisor for Construction and Ordnance (Zosen Zohei Kantokukan ) of the IJNís Naval Shipbuilding Command and its Resident in Shanghai. On 25 August 1942, Captain Mikoshiba was appointed Chief Engineer, China Area Fleet, Shanghai (Shina Homen Kantai) and retained duty as Director of the IJN No. 1 Naval Working Department and Supervisor for Construction and Ordnance. On 5 October 1942, Captain Mikoshiba assumed full-time duty as Chief Engineer, China Area Fleet. His replacement as Director of the IJN No. 1 Naval Working Department and Supervisor for Construction and Ordnance is unknown.

In 1943, among the warships that received varying degrees of repairs at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding's Kiangnan Dockyard in Shanghai 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 built at Kiangnan Dockyard), 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.

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.

Also in 1944, minelayer IJN EIJO, a 2.274-gross ton Type 2D Standard Merchant was laid down at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding's Kiangnan Dockyard and completed that year. Also in 1944, among the warships that received varying degrees of repairs at Kiangnan Dockyard were gunboats IJN NARUMI, and IJN TATARA where she remained until the end of the war.

In Dec '44, KOTOBUKI MARU (ex-CONTE VERDE) was successfully refloated and drydocked at Kiagnan Dockyard 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.

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

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


Authors' Notes:
[1] The best translation of the term IJN "2nd Ship Repair Unit" according to British Intelligence reports, via Erich Muehlthaler, was "No.2 Naval Working Department." This translation will be used in this series to desiginate all the IJN's Ship Repair Units.

[2] For more on IJN river gunboats, please see our HOKAN!

[3] 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!

[4] The author could find no record of an IJN officer appointed as Director of the IJN No. 1 Naval Working Department prior to 1940.

Thanks go to Sander Kingsepp of Estonia.

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

-Bob Hackett


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