SENKAN!

(Mutsu at Yokosuka, 1937-colorized by Irootoko, Jr)

IJN Battleship MUTSU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2017 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Lars Ahlberg.
Revision 9


1 June 1918:
Yokosuka Navy Yard. Battleship MUTSU, designed by naval architect Constructor Captain (later Constructor Vice Admiral) Yamamoto Kaizo, is laid down.

1 May 1920:
Yokosuka. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Komaki Shizen (25)(former 2nd Section chief of the Naval Affairs Bureau at the Navy Ministry) is appointed the Chief Equipping officer (CEO).

31 May 1920:
Yokosuka. MUTSU is launched at 1500. The ceremony is attended by Empress Sadako (later Empress Dowager Teimei) and her eldest son, LtCdr/Crown Prince Hirohito (the future Emperor).

9 July 1920:
Captain Komaki is appointed the Commanding Officer, retaining additional duty as Chief Equipping Officer until 1 March 1921.

11-12 October 1921:
Start of speed trials.

19 October 1921:
During the speed trials off Tateyama, MUTSU attains 26.728 knots on 87,479 shp.

24 October 1921:
MUTSU is completed and commissioned in the IJN. Attached to Sasebo Naval District. Captain Komaki Shizen is the Commanding Officer.

18 November 1921:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kurose Seiichi (26)(former CO of BB AKI) is appointed the CO.

1 December 1921:
Assigned to BatDiv 1, First Fleet.

20-30 May 1922:
During a refit at Sasebo Navy Yard a curved smoke deflector, slightly thicker than NAGATO's, is fitted to the fore funnel to keep the bridge clear of smoke at high speeds. A Caquot type captive balloon is embarked on the fantail.

6 February 1922: The Washington Treaty:
Washington, DC. Japan, United States, Britain, France and Italy agree to limit the displacement and main armament of their capital ships, aircraft carriers and cruisers and to limit the total tonnage and age of their capital ships and carriers. Battleships and aircraft carriers are set at a ratio of 5:5:3 for the navies of Great Britain, the United States and Japan. Japan's Plenipotentiary at the conference is her Minister of the Navy, Admiral (later Fleet Admiral/Prime Minister), the Baron, Kato Tomosaburo.

During the conference, the US representative suggests MUTSU should be scrapped. However, Japanese delegates maintain that MUTSU had been commissioned on 10 September 1921 and had already steamed 2,500 nautical miles. The Japanese delegation finally manages to save MUTSU. [1]

12 April 1922:
Early in the morning, the First Fleet anchors at Yokohama and hoists White Ensigns. The Prince of Wales and his ADC, Lt (later Admiral of the Fleet) Lord Louis Mountbatten visit MUTSU and NAGATO, both flying royal pennants.

26 June 1922:
MUTSU, NAGATO and ISE depart Inchon, Korea, to patrol in Port Arthur (Lushun) area and put in at Chinhae, Korea on 4 July, joining CruDiv 3 (KISO, KUMA, OI) from Sasebo.

28 August 1922:
Kure. BatDiv 1's MUTSU, NAGATO, KONGO, HIEI, KIRISHIMA and ISE depart for the Siberian coast on maneuvers and a flag-showing mission, preceding the withdrawal of Japanese troops. After a brief call at St. Vladimir Bay the squadron returns to Otaru on 10 September.

1 December 1922:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Teraoka Heigo (27)(former CO of KIRISHIMA) is appointed the CO.

1 September 1923:
Changshan archipelago, Korea Bay. The Great Kanto Earthquake occurs.

2 September 1923:
The battleships of the First Fleet depart Changshan for Kyushu.

3 September 1923:
In the afternoon, the fleet steaming at 20 knots, enters a typhoon area.

4 September 1923:
NAGATO and MUTSU arrive at Uchinoura Bay, Kyushu, to embark food, provisions and medical supplies. Both battleships depart on that same day. En route to Yokosuka, a foreign cruiser (possibly armored cruiser USS HURON (CA-9) is briefly sighted.

30 November-20 December 1923:
During a refit at Sasebo Navy Yard a new swept-back fore funnel is fitted. [2]

1 December 1923:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hara Kanjiro (28)(former CO of AC IZUMO) is appointed the CO.

30 March 1924:
Off Amami Oshima, 8 miles NW of Sotsu-Takasaki. During towing exercises, the CO of NAGATO misjudges the drift of his vessel. NAGATO grazes MUTSU. Thanks to last-minute maneuvers undertaken by both battleships there are no casualties, but NAGATO loses one of her anchors and her hull plating receives minor damage.

May-June 1924:
During a foremast rebuild at Sasebo a target survey station is added to the lower section of the forebridge rangefinder deck and the main battery command station is rebuilt. Probably during the same refit all main gun barrels are replaced and the main battery director is upgraded.

7 September 1924:
S of Nojima, Boso Peninsula. After 1710 MUTSU and NAGATO participate in the sinking of the semi-dreadnought AKI.

10 November 1924:
Captain (later Admiral/MoN/Prime Minister) Yonai Mitsumasa (29)(former CO of FUSO) is appointed the CO.

December 1924:
During a refit at Sasebo Navy Yard the captive balloon is landed.

1 December 1925:
Placed in reserve at Sasebo. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ikeda Tanin (30)(former CO of TOKIWA) is appointed the CO.

1 December 1926:
MUTSU is reassigned to BatDiv 1. Captain (later Vice Admiral) Edahara Yurikazu (31)(former CO of IWATE) is appointed the CO.

20 Januar-28 May 1927:
Sasebo Navy Yard. In an attempt to reduce the amount of spray in heavy seas, a new 2-meter long sheer section is fitted to MUTSU's bow. The mainmast starboard yardarm is strengthened to support an outrigger-style aircraft-handling derrick boom. One Yokosho E1Y2 Type 14 floatplane is embarked.

12-30 September 1927:
Yokosuka Navy Yard. MUTSU is converted to an Imperial inspection vessel.

20 October 1927:
Yokohama Bay. After serving as Emperor Hirohito's (Showa) flagship during naval maneuvers, MUTSU serves as the Emperor's flagship during that year's Naval Review.

1 December 1927:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hori Teikichi (32)(former CO of NAGARA) is appointed the CO.

October 1928-February 1929:
During a refit at Sasebo Navy Yard a set of No. 1 paravanes and L-type hydrophones are fitted.

10 December 1928:
Captain (later Admiral/MoN) Yoshida Zengo (32)(former CO of KONGO) is appointed the CO.

29 March 1929:
Saeki Bay. MUTSU is in BatDiv 3, First Fleet with light cruisers YURA, NAGARA and NATORI.

21 April 1929:
MUTSU and the First Fleet's cruisers arrive at Nagasaki.

30 November 1929:
Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Anno Kiyoshi (33)(former CO of YUBARI) is appointed the CO.

22 April 1930: The London Treaty:
London. The Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament is signed by Japan, Great Britain and the United States. It is an extension of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. The signatories agree not to build new capital ships until 1937. A number of existing capital ships are to be scrapped.

20 October 1930: IJN Special Great Maneuvers:
S of Daio Zaki. During the night, light cruiser ABUKUMA collides with the light cruiser KITAKAMI. ABUKUMA loses her bow up to No. 1 turret. KITAKAMI sustains only limited damage above the waterline. MUTSU tows ABUKUMA to Tateyama.

1 December 1930:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Monai Isao (33)(former CO of NAKA) is appointed the CO.

December 1930-April 1931:
During a refit at Sasebo the main battery director and the shell hoists are upgraded.

September 1931: The Manchurian Incident:
Manchuria. Japan claims Chinese soldiers sabotaged the Japanese-controlled Manchurian railway. The Japanese Kwantung army attacks the Chinese Army and soon conquer all of Manchuria. They set up the puppet state of Manchukuo headed by the former Emperor of China, Henry Pu-Yi. China appeals to the League of Nations. The League sends V. A. G. R. Bulwer-Lytton, 2nd Earl of Lytton, to Manchuria to lead a Commission to investigate.

1 December 1931:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Kikuno Shigeru (34)(former CO of KIRISHIMA) is appointed the CO.

27 Februar 1932-30 January 1933:
During a rebuild at Sasebo all existing 3-inch (76-mm) AA guns are replaced by four twin (4x2) 127-mm and four 40-mm Vickers AA guns (2x2). Both superfiring main battery turrets are fitted with 10-m duplex rangefinders. A lattice searchlight tower with four 110-cm searchlights, relocated from the foremast, is erected abaft the fore funnel. A Kure Type No. 2 Model 3 Mk. 2 centerline catapult is installed between the mainmast and No. 3 main battery turret. Three Nakajima E4N2 No. 2 Model 2 floatplanes are embarked

10 May 1932:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Wada Senzo (34)(former CO of HIEI) is appointed the CO.

1 November 1932:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ando Takashi (34)(former CO of TAKAO) is appointed the CO.

1 December 1932:
Attached to BatDiv 1, First Fleet.

3 February 1933:
The flag of CinC, Combined Fleet is transferred from KONGO to MUTSU.

25 February 1933:
Geneva, Switzerland. The League of Nations. The Lytton Commission reports that Japan violated Chinese sovereignty and should return Manchuria to China. At a Special Assembly, 40 nations vote that Japan should withdraw. Only Japan votes against it. Instead of returning Manchuria, Japan instructs its representative Yosuke Matsuoka (later Foreign Minister), to walk out of the League. After withdrawing from the League, Japan also decides that she will no longer abide by restrictions such as the Washington of 1922 and the London Treaty of 1930 that impose limitations on the number and size of her warships.

13 June-3 October 1933:
MUTSU is appointed the flagship of Combined Fleet. During the Special Great Maneuvers off Truk in July she leads the Blue Fleet against the Red Fleet (flagship NAGATO).

24 August 1933:
Yokohama Bay. MUTSU again serves as the Emperor's flagship during the annual Naval Review.

15 November 1933:
Placed in reserve at Sasebo. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kasuya Soichi (35) (former CO of YAMASHIRO) is appointed the CO.

November-December 1933:
During a refit at Sasebo two Type 91 HA directors with 4.5 m Barr & Stroud stereoscopic rangefinders are installed to the funnel platforms.

1 June 1934:
Reattached to Yokosuka Naval District.

5 September 1934-30 September 1936: First Reconstruction and Modernization:
Yokosuka Navy Yard. MUTSU's hull is lengthened aft, anti-torpedo-bulges are fitted and all torpedo tubes are removed. The thickness of the horizontal armor over her magazines and machinery spaces is increased. The fore funnel is removed. All of her 20 original steam boilers are removed and replaced with four large Kampon oil-fired boilers in addition to six rebuilt small boilers. Her maximum speed is 25 knots.

New main caliber turrets taken from unfinished battleships KAGA and TOSA are installed. The elevation of her 16.1-inch (410-mm) guns is increased to 43 degrees. Additional armor is fitted to turret faces, sides and tops. The barbette armor is likewise strengthened. The 5.5-inch (140-mm) secondary battery elevation is increased to 35 degrees. Two upper deck secondary caliber guns are landed. A Kure Type No. 2 Model 5 catapult and a collapsible crane are fitted. Three Nakajima E4N2 No. 2 Model 2 floatplanes are embarked.

15 November 1934:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hosogaya Boshiro (36)(former CO of CHOKAI) is appointed the CO.

15 November 1935:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kasuga Atsushi (37)(former CO of YURA) is appointed the CO of CHOKAI and the CO of MUTSU as additional duty.

2 December 1935:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Koori Hidesaburo (37)(former ADC to the Emperor) is appointed the CO.

11 July 1936:
During a follow-up refit at Yokosuka a new Kure Type No. 2 Model 5 Mk. 1 catapult is installed. A 4-ton collapsible aircraft handling crane is added to the port side. An air defense station is added to the foretop.

27 July 1936:
During speed trials, MUTSU attains 25.283 knots.

30 September 1936:
MUTSU's first reconstruction and modernization is completed.

16 November 1936:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Goto Eiji (37)(current commandant of Yokosuka Sailor Corps) is appointed the CO of MUTSU as additional duty.

29 November 1936:
Kobe Bight. The newly-modernized MUTSU participates in the 17th Fleet Review.

1 December 1936:
Attached to BatDiv 1, First Fleet; designated the flagship of the Combined Fleet. Captain Goto assumes full-time command of MUTSU.

21 January 1937:
MUTSU is appointed the flagship of Combined Fleet.

28 March 1937:
During a follow-up refit at Yokosuka Navy Yard a closed-circuit airflow-based protection against poison gas attacks and the decontamination showers are added.

7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (First "China") Incident:
Lugouqiao, China. Japanese troops are on night maneuvers at the bridge. They fire blank cartridges. Chinese troops fire back, but do not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discover a soldier missing and assume the Chinese captured him. The Japanese demand entry to Beijing to look for the soldier. The Chinese refuse. The Japanese then shell the city. An undeclared war on China begins.

11 August 1937:
Departs Sasebo to protect a convoy heading for Taku, later patrols W of Korea.

15 August 1937:
Returns to Sasebo. Probably at that time three Nakajima E8N Type 95 "Dave" floatplanes are embarked

20 August 1937:
Departs Mitohama harbor in Ehime Prefecture, carrying two battalions (1,948 men) of the 22nd Infantry Regiment to Shanghai, China. Rendezvouses with NAGATO en route.

22 August 1937:
The squadron arrives off Shanghai. The floatplanes from MUTSU and NAGATO are launched to bomb Chinese military installations (including an artillery battery) in Pudong area, Yining bridge and troops at Dachang.

23 August 1937:
Off Saddle Islands. The troops embarked on MUTSU are transferred to light cruiser SENDAI, minelayer YAEYAMA, destroyers YUDACHI, SAMIDARE, MURASAME, SHIGURE, SHIRATSUYU, and YUGURE.

24 August 1937:
Off Shanghai. The E8N floatplanes from MUTSU conduct several flights in support of IJN troops off Shanghai.

25 August 1937:
MUTSU and NAGATO return to Sasebo.

15 September 1937:
Departs Sasebo to patrol off northern Chinese coast, returns on 23 September.

1 December 1937:
Captain (Admiral, posthunously) Takagi Takeo (39)(former CO of TAKAO) is appointed the CO.

9 April 1938:
Departs Terashima Strait for the southern Chinese coast in company of ISE, KONGO and heavy cruisers CHOKAI and MAYA. En route they rendezvous with HYUGA and KIRISHIMA from Sasebo, accompanied by light cruisers of CruDiv 8, destroyers of DesRon 1 and submarines of SubRon 2.

14 April 1938:
MUTSU, ISE and KONGO arrive at Keelung.

17 October 1938:
Departs Sasebo for operations off southern China.

23 October 1938:
Operations are concluded.

15 November 1938:
Captain (Vice Admiral, posthunously) Goto Aritomo (38)(former CO of CHOKAI) is appointed the CO.

15 December 1938:
Placed in reserve for the AA suite upgrade. The 40-mm Vickers AA guns are replaced by twenty Type 96 25-mm AA guns (10x2). The aircraft complement is changed to one Kawanishi E7K2 Type 94 "Alf" and three Nakajima E8N2 Type 95 "Dave" floatplanes.

1 February-15 May 1939:
Captain Goto is appointed the CO of YAKUMO as additional duty.

15 September 1939:
Captain Goto is appointed the CO of YAMASHIRO as additional duty.

1 November 1939:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hoshina Zenshiro (41) (former CO of CHOKAI) is appointed the CO.

15 November 1939:
MUTSU rejoins BatDiv 1, First Fleet.

26 March 1940:
Departs Sasebo in company of HARUNA to patrol the southern Chinese coast, rendezvousing with KONGO, YAMASHIRO, CruDiv 6 (flagship KAKO) and DesRon 1 (flagship ABUKUMA) en route.

2 April 1940:
The squadron arrives at Takao, Formosa.

1 November 1940:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Kobayashi Kengo (42)(former CO of TAKAO) is appointed the CO.

24 February 1941:
Departs Sasebo for operations off southern China.

3 March 1941:
Operations are concluded.

3 April 1941:
MUTSU is appointed the flagship of the Combined Fleet.

11 August 1941:
Attached to BatDiv 1, Combined Fleet. Captain (promoted Rear Admiral 1 May 1942; later Vice Admiral) Kogure Gunji (41)(former CO of CHIKUMA) is appointed the CO.

Hashirajima. MUTSU is in Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku's (former CO of AKAGI) BatDiv 1 with her sister ship, the Combined Fleet's flagship, NAGATO.

30 August 1941:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

3-13 September 1941:
Dry-docked at Yokosuka. An external degaussing coil is fitted. Anti-torpedo bulges are filled with crushing tubes. The aircraft complement is changed to two Nakajima E8N2 Type 95 "Dave" floatplanes.

21 September 1941:
Departs Yokosuka for Murozumi Bight.

23 September 1941:
Arrives at Murozumi Bight.

1 November 1941:
Anchors at Saeki in readiness.

19 November 1941:
Arrives to Hashirajima.

25 November 1941.
Departs for Kure.

29 November 1941:
Returns to Hashirajima.

1-3 December 1941:
Kure. Dry-docked for maintenance.

3 December 1941:
Returns to Hashirajima. Anchors in readiness condition.

8 December 1941: Operation "Z" – The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
BatDiv 1 sorties from Hashirajima to the Bonin Islands with the First Fleet's BatDiv 2's ISE, FUSO, YAMASHIRO, HYUGA, CarDiv 3's light carriers HOSHO and ZUIHO, escorted by DesDiv 21's WAKABA, NENOHI, HATSUHARU and HATSUSHIMO and DesDiv 27's ARIAKE, YUGURE, SHIRATSUYU, SHIGURE, MIKAZUKI and YUKAZE.

11 December 1941:
At 0600 the squadron changes course to the west and and 0900 to the NW, to return to Hashirajima. MUTSU suffers a steering gear failure, caused by the sudden loss of pressure in the hydraulic telemotor system, and lags behind the force for 15 minutes.

13 December 1941:
BatDiv 1 returns to Hashirajima, maintains standby alert. During this period, BatDiv 1 is involved in training, exercises and gunnery practice in the western Inland Sea. Minor repairs are carried out at Kure.

20 December 1941:
After 2140, Navy Minister Shimada Shigetaro (currently visiting Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku aboard NAGATO) is piped aboard MUTSU where he spends the night to return to NAGATO the following morning.

18 January 1942:
Off Kurahashi Island, Inland Sea, 15 miles SW of Kure. After 1830 MUTSU acts as a target tug during the new battleship YAMATO's gunnery trials.

19 January 1942:
After a night stop at Agenosho Bay, YAMATO and MUTSU return to Hashirajima at 1130, escorted by destroyers MIKAZUKI and YAKAZE.

20 January 1942:
Proceeds to Kure.

24 January 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima. Maintains standby alert and conducts battle training in the Inland Sea.

12 February 1942:
YAMATO joins BatDiv 1 with MUTSU and NAGATO. The Combined Fleet's flag is transferred from NAGATO to YAMATO.

19 February 1942:
At 0600, BatDiv 1 departs Hashirajima for joint maneuvers in Iyo Nada, Inland Sea. MUTSU departs as the 2nd unit of BatDiv 1.

28 February 1942:
Departs for Agenosho Bay.

1 March 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima.

5 March 1942:
At Kure for maintenance.

27 March 1942:
BatDiv 1 departs Hashirajima for training, returns to Tokuyama Bay.

30 March 1942:
At Hashirajima.

7 April 1942:
At Kure.

5 May 1942:
BatDiv 1's MUTSU and NAGATO depart Hashirajima for gunnery practice in the Iyo Nada with BatDiv 2. HYUGA's No. 5 turret gun blows up. She departs for Kure with FUSO as escort. MUTSU and other battleships return to Hashirajima.

11 May 1942:
BatDiv 1 departs Hashirajima for gunnery and AA practice in the Iyo Nada. Returns that night.

15 May 1942:
Batdiv 1 departs Kure for three days of exercises with CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, MIKUMA, KUMANO and the SUZUYA in the Inland Sea.

18 May 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima.

19 May 1942:
The First Fleet and the First Air Fleet depart Hashirajima for two days of maneuvers at sea.

23 May 1942:
The fleets return to Hashirajima.

29 May 1942:
The First Fleet's Main Body: BatDiv 1's YAMATO, NAGATO and MUTSU departs Hashirajima with the light carrier HOSHO, the seaplane tenders CHIYODA and NISSHIN, Supply Group No. 1's oilers NARUTO and TOEI MARU and DesRon 3's light cruiser SENDAI with nine destroyers.

4 June 1942: Operation "MI" - The Battle of Midway:
The Main Body remains 300 miles behind Vice Admiral Nagumo's First Carrier Striking Force and does not engage U.S. forces.

5 June 1942:
The Main Body joins up with the remnants of Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi's (former CO of YAMASHIRO) retiring Carrier Striking Force. MUTSU takes aboard about one-half of the survivors from the carrier AKAGI who had been picked up earlier by destroyers ARASHI and NOWAKI. MUTSU refuels DesRons 3 and 10's destroyers.

14 June 1942:
The Main Body returns to Hashirajima.

20 June 1942:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Yamazumi Teijiro (44)(former CO of MYOKO) is appointed the CO.

3 July 1942:
At Tokuyama, probably to refuel.

6 July 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima.

14 July 1942:
Hashirajima. The First Fleet is reorganized. MUTSU and NAGATO are transferred from the Combined Fleet's BatDiv 1 to Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (former CO of ISE) First Fleet in BatDiv 2 with YAMASHIRO, FUSO, ISE and HYUGA. BatDiv 2 performs standby alert and training missions.

18 July 1942:
Departs Hashirajima. Arrives at Kure.

22-29 July 1942:
Kure. Dry-docked for hull maintenance.

3 August 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima.

9 August 1942:
MUTSU is attached to Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (former CO of KONGO) Second Fleet, Advance Force for Guadalcanal operations.

11 August 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for Truk with Kondo's Advance Force: CruDiv 4's ATAGO (F), TAKAO and MAYA, CruDiv 5's HAGURO and MYOKO, CarDiv 11's seaplane tender CHITOSE, DesRon 4's light cruiser YURA and five destroyers.

12 August 1942:
Admiral Yamamoto orders the Advance Force to redeploy E of the Bonin Islands to intercept a suspected task force (in reality the light cruiser USS BOISE (CL-47), conducting a raid on the IJN picket line E of Honshu). MUTSU refuels DesRon 4's destroyers at sea.

After no carriers are sighted, Vice Admiral Kondo soon resumes the voyage to Truk.

17 August 1942:
The Advance Force arrives at Truk. MUTSU and DesDiv 2's HARUSAME, MURASAME and SAMIDARE are assigned to the Fleet Train of the Support Force. The Fleet Train supports Kondo's Advance Force and Vice Admiral Nagumo's Third Fleet.

20 August 1942:
Admiral Yamamoto dispatches the Advance Force to rendezvous with Nagumo's Main Body, currently en route from Kure. Kondo leaves the MUTSU - unable to keep pace with his heavy cruisers - behind at Truk.

21 August 1942:
MUTSU departs Truk in company of HARUSAME, MURASAME and SAMIDARE to rendezvous with Kondo's Advance Force.

24 August 1942: The Battle of the Eastern Solomons:
N of Stewart Islands (now Sikaiana Atoll). At 1755, two VB-3's SBD-3 "Dauntlesses" from TF 11's USS SARATOGA (CV-3) attack a "MUTSU-class battleship" escorted by "four heavy cruisers and a dozen destroyers", claiming the battleship set on fire. In reality their target (seaplane carrier CHITOSE) is damaged by near misses.

At 1915 (local), Kondo, hoping to intercept the crippled USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) with his heavy cruisers after sundown, orders MUTSU and her escorts to return to port.

5 September 1942:
MUTSU and her escorts return to Truk.

9 September 1942:
Truk anchorage No. 1. Around 0950, destroyer AKIZUKI reports the sighting of a periscope south of Fanos Island. Several patrol vessels are dispatched to hunt down the intruder. MUTSU and YAMATO are temporarily redirected to a new anchorage south of Dublon Island.

MUTSU is incorporated into the Main Body of the Guadalcanal Operation Force.

20 September 1942:
Defensive anti-aircraft fire in the Rabaul area is unskilled and uncontrolled, so competent AA gunnery officers and men from MUTSU and YAMATO are dispatched from Truk to Rabaul to serve as instructors.

22 September 1942:
Truk. Thereafter, MUTSU participates in battle exercises.

11 October 1942:
Truk. Following the departure of the units of the Second and Third Fleets, after 1200 battleships MUTSU, YAMATO, CruDiv 9, repair ship AKASHI and other units are transferred to a new fleet anchorage south of Moen Island.

18 October 1942:
Truk. Fleet oiler KENYO MARU, attached to the Advance Force, arrives empty. MUTSU and YAMATO each transfer 4,500-tons of fuel to the oiler so that she can refuel fleet units for the Guadalcanal operations.

9 November 1942:
Truk. MUTSU and YAMATO provide rice for Kondo's outbound Advance Force.

7 January 1943:
MUTSU departs Truk for Yokosuka, escorted by CruDiv 7's SUZUYA and DesDiv 20's AMAGIRI.

12 January 1943:
MUTSU arrives at Yokosuka.

12-28 January 1943:
Returns to Hashirashima. Resumes standby alert.

29 January-6 February 1943:
Yokosuka. Dry-docked in Drydock No. 5 for hull cleaning and maintenance. The aircraft complement is changed to two Mitsubishi F1M2 "Pete" floatplanes.

15 February 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Hashirajima.

16 February 1943:
MUTSU and destroyers YAMAGUMO, HATAKAZE and NOKAZE are briefly joined by minelayer YURIJIMA and subchaser CH-37. Arrives at Hashirajima and resumes training duties thereafter.

4 March 1943:
Departs Hashirajima. Arrives at Kure.

8 March 1943:
Departs Kure. Returns to Hashirajima.

10 March 1943:
Captain (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Miyoshi Teruhiko (43)(former CO of MYOKO) is appointed the CO.

26 March 1943: The Battle of the Komandorski Islands:
North Pacific, off the Kamchatka Peninsula, Siberia. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Charles H. McMorris (former CO of SAN FRANCISCO, CA-38) in USS RICHMOND (CL-9) with SALT LAKE CITY (CA-25) and four destroyers engages Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro's (former CO of MUTSU) Fifth Fleet's heavy cruisers NACHI (F) and MAYA, light cruisers TAMA and ABUKUMA and four destroyers escorting Convoy "D" carrying troops and supplies for the isolated garrison on Attu Island in the Aleutians. In a four-hour running gun battle, McMorris succeeds in causing the Japanese to abort their resupply mission. Disgraced, Hosogaya is relieved of command and forced to retire in July.

13 April 1943:
MUTSU departs Hashirajima for Kure. At Kure, in response to the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, she is made ready to participate in a sortie to reinforce the Aleutians. MUTSU takes aboard a full load of ammunition and supplies.

17 April 1943:
Departs Kure. Returns to Hashirajima.

18 April 1943:
Admiral Yamamoto, CINC, Combined Fleet, is killed by USAAF P-38s at Bougainville while visiting bases. This event undoubtedly delays the Aleutian sortie.

26 April 1943:
Departs Hashirajima for Tokuyama, probably to refuel.

28 April 1943:
Returns to Hashirajima.

4 May 1943:
Departs Hashirajima for gunnery practice in the Iyo Nada.

5 May 1943:
Returns to Hashirajima.

10 May 1943:
Departs Hashirajima for gunnery practice in the Iyo Nada.

11 May 1943:
Returns to Hashirajima.

12 May 1943: American Operation "Landcrab":
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Thomas C. Kinkaid's (former CO of INDIANAPOLIS, CA-35) Task Force 16, covered by Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell's (former CO of THATCHER, DD-162) Task Force 51, lands the Army's 7th Division that captures Attu Island, Aleutians.

13 May 1943:
Returns to Hashirajima.

27 May 1943:
At Kure's Drydock No. 4 where her hull bottom is cleaned.

31 May 1943:
Returns to Hashirajima.

7 June 1943:
Captain Tsuruoka Nobumichi (the newly-appointed CO of FUSO) pays a call aboard MUTSU to meet with Captain Miyoshi, a classmate in Etajima's 43rd class.

8 June 1943:
MUTSU is moored at the flagship buoy midway between Hashirajima and the Suo-Oshima islands about two miles SW of Hashirajima.

At 1030 she embarks 113 cadets of No. 11 Class A Flight Reserve (Yokaren) 13th team and 40 instructors of the Tsuchiura Naval Air Group, led by Lt(jg) (Lt, posthumously) Toda Yukio (68), who are taking a familiarization tour.

Captain Tsuruoka's FUSO is moored about 1,100 yards SW of MUTSU. DesRon 11's flagship, light cruiser TATSUTA and several of the squadron's newly commissioned destroyers are moored more distantly south of Hashirajima.

1145: After lunch, MUTSU's deck crew prepares to move to mooring buoy No. 2 because NAGATO is expected to return at about 1300 from Kure. There is heavy fog and visibility is down to 500 yards. MUTSU's magazines contain a full load of ammunition including 16.1-inch Type 3 "Sanshikidan" incendiary shells designed as anti-aircraft rounds. Each shell, weighing 1,853-lbs, contains 735 submunitions. Each turret magazine contains 240 shells (120 per gun) including 50 Type 3 rounds.

1213: Suddenly, MUTSU's No. 3 turret's magazine explodes. Vice Admiral Shimizu, Commander of the First Fleet, a few miles away aboard NAGATO sees a brilliant white explosion. Shortly thereafter, he receives a plain language message from FUSO's Captain Tsuruoka. It says: "MUTSU blew up!"

MUTSU breaks in two. The 535-ft forward section collapses to starboard, sinks quickly and lies on the pagoda mast on the floor of the bay. The 147-ft stern section upends, but remains floating. FUSO immediately launches two of her Vedette boats. Later, destroyers TAMANAMI and WAKATSUKI arrive, as do boats from the cruisers TATSUTA and MOGAMI and one boat from the battleship NAGATO. An antisubmarine alert is put into effect immediately.

1430: NAGATO arrives after zigzagging through Hiroshima Bay. Later, since no submarines are sighted, the alert is cancelled, but the frequency of patrols by naval vessels and aircraft is increased in Hiroshima Bay, Iyo Nada sea and the Bungo and Kii Suido channels. NAGATO moors about 3,000 yards off FUSO's port beam and takes aboard the survivors rescued by TATSUTA. Her crew rescues 353 survivors of the 1,474 crewmembers aboard MUTSU. Only 13 of the visiting observers/instructors are among the survivors. All 39 wounded sailors are transported by TAMANAMI to a secluded hospital on Mitsugo Shima. [3]

9 June 1943:
Hashirajima: At about 0200, MUTSU's stern section sinks and comes to rest nearly upright in 130 feet of water in Hiroshima Bay at 33-58N, 132-24E.

In the morning, the first divers arrive and remain on the site for several months. FUSO serves as the base for the salvage efforts. At first, to conceal that MUTSU has sunk the divers are told that the ship they are exploring is similar to NAGATO. Then the divers are allowed to familiarize themselves on that ship.

The final list of those lost aboard MUTSU totals 1,121 men including her skipper, Captain Miyoshi and his Executive Officer, Captain Ono Koro (former XO of KIRISHIMA), both of whom are promoted to Rear Admiral, posthumously.

Tokyo: Initially the IJN's top brass suspects that the explosion was caused by a spontaneous conflagration of Type 3 "Sanshikidan" incendiary AA ammunition. Type 3 was known to contain flammable substances and there was a fire at the Sagami arsenal a few years earlier, caused by improper storage of Type 3 components. A few days after the accident, the Navy Minister, Admiral Shimada Shigetaro (former CO of HIEI) orders the Type 3 shells debarked from all IJN ships carrying them.

Hashirajima: The "M-Commission", led by 60-year-old Admiral Shiozawa Koichi (32)(former CO of FURUTAKA) is convened to conduct a formal accident investigation. Shiozawa considers all possibilities from the possibile detonation of Type 3 shells to improbable attacks by a lone American torpedo plane or an attack by either a midget or a fleet submarine. He is assisted by Rear Admiral Hoshina Zenshiro, the 22nd CO of MUTSU.

Cdr (later Captain) Yasui Yasukado (51), one of the inventors of the Type 3 shells is called in to testify. He explains that the incendiary ammunition cannot ignite or explode per se. Cdr Yasui also points out that the brown smoke observed by the survivors is not consistent with Type 3 filling, producing a white smoke when fired.

A test is conducted at Kamegakubi proving ground using a specially built mock-up of No. 3 turret. All survivors agree that they saw a brown or reddish-brown smoke prior to the explosion, consistent with a propellant fire.

Admiral Shiozawa next orders to investigate the possibility of a spontaneous propellant conflagration. The composition of propellant charges recovered from No. 3 turret magazine is analyzed and compared with that of the lots produced before and after, but no changes can be detected. Additional experiments show that under normal storage conditions the 102 DC1 propellant cannot ignite below 80 degrees Centigrade (176°F).

The "M-Commission" labors for two months before presenting their report. The commission confirms that the incendiary shells had not caused the disaster. As a result the loading of Type 3 shells on board ships is resumed. Later, the IJN revises completely their standards for the handling and storage of explosives aboard ships. A new Type 4 Mod. 3 time fuse is adopted for Type 3 AA rounds.

The investigation concludes that the explosion was "most likely caused by human interference". Some investigators think there was a ring of saboteurs, but several survivors point at a certain gunner's mate of turret No. 3, who was accused in petty theft and scheduled to appear before a naval court in Kure on 8 June. The divers manage to recover the bodies of inhabitants of crew space No. 4, where the crew of the No. 3 turret was accommodated, but the body of the suspect is not present among them.

22 July 1943:
Although the divers report that MUTSU is "bent like a broken nail", it is proposed to salvage the ship, tow it to a drydock at Kure and put her back on the line - optimistically - in three months. To convince their superiors in Kure, a dive is made with a modified 6-man Nishimura-type minisub, but it snags on a railing. All officers aboard almost suffocate before the minisub breaks free. Finally, it is decided that the battleship is beyond salvage.

A major cover-up is launched to conceal that something has happened to MUTSU. Kure Guard Force is dispatched to recover any flotsam originating from the battleship, which may reveal her identity. MUTSU's call sign is occasionally used in radio traffic to simulate her presence in remote areas of the Pacific. To further prevent rumors from spreading, many surviving sailors are later transferred to garrisons on Tarawa, Makin and Kwajalein. About 150 are sent to Saipan and almost all are killed there in 1944 during the U.S. invasion of the Marianas.

15 August 1943:
The survivors accommodated aboard FUSO are transferred to NAGATO that, with other fleet units, departs via Yashima and Yokosuka for Truk. Once the survivors arrive on Truk, they form the reserve unit of the local 41st Guard Force.

1 September 1943:
MUTSU is removed from the Navy List.

Doubts as to the cause of the disaster remain, especially by those who favor the explanation that a submarine attacked MUTSU. Several months later IJN officials question the German naval attaché in Tokyo, Vice Admiral (later Admiral/Knight's Cross) Paul Wenneker (former CO of Panzerschiff DEUTSCHLAND/LÜTZOW), about the circumstances surrounding the British Operation "Source." [4]

2 March 1944:
On that day, the USN Fleet Radio Unit, Melbourne, Australia (FRUMEL) issues the following comment:

"In regard to the continued absence of the battleship MUTSU from traffic, Honolulu now state they have some Jap prisoners of war who are definite that MUTSU was torpedoed in Home waters when on passage south and returned to Japan but her magazines blew up on arrival."

July 1944:
The oil-starved IJN cut a hole in the bottom of MUTSU's hulk and pump out 580-tons of fuel oil for use by their ships.

31 July 1945:
Seletar Naval Base, Singapore. Cruiser TAKAO is attacked and damaged heavily by the British X-craft. For some, doubts return about the cause of the loss of MUTSU. [5]

24 June 1948:
The Nishi-Nippon Kaiji Salvage Company acquires the right to salvage ammunition and fuel from the wreck. Before the works can start, the Far Eastern Commission (FEC) issues an order preventing the salvage of items from the wreck.

20 June 1949:
A local court authorizes the Nishi-Nippon Kaiji to salvage human remains and personal belongings from the wreck. On 21 July the operations start and continue until late March 1951.

November 1952:
The salvage operations are resumed.

28 June 1953:
The bow crest is raised.

20 March 1970:
The Fukada Salvage Company acquires the salvage rights to the wreck. Salvage operations on a much larger scale start soon thereafter and continue for eight years.

23 July 1970:
Turret No. 4 is salvaged. The body of the missing gunner's mate is found inside. He is identified by two personal seals carried in the pockets of his uniform.

15-16 March 1971:
The stern section is raised.

Since then many artifacts are brought up including gun barrels, propellers, the bow section, anchors and crewmembers' personal belongings.

 

February 1972:
The bow section is lifted in a two-stage operation in using a 1,500-ton floating crane.

November 1972:
The MUTSU Memorial Museum opens in Towa-cho on Yashiro Jima Island.

1978:
Salvage operations cease.

27 April 1994:
The museum moves into a new building.

1995:
According to a statement by the MUTSU Memorial Museum, no further salvage operations are planned.

9 April 2007:
JMSDF survey vessel KURUSHIMA compiles the multibeam image of the wreck of MUTSU.


Authors' Notes:
[1] The delay in MUTSU's completion was at least partly caused by Westinghouse Electric Co.'s failure to deliver the turbine reduction gear ordered for her. A new gear was manufactured at Kure Naval Arsenal (Okumoto, 2011, p. 155).

[2] Different sources provide different dates for the time when the new fore funnel was fitted. According to Agawa Hiroyuki (2001) and Okumoto Go (2011) it happened sometime after January 1924. We have decided to follow the time frame provided by Ishibashi Takao in his "Illustrated Ships Data of IJN 1868-1945. Battleships and Battle Cruisers" (Namiki Shobo, 2007, p. 542).

[3] The same hospital where the survivors of super-carrier SHINANO were held incommunicado in 1944.

[4] This was the attack by X-craft midget submarines on battleship TIRPITZ on 22 September 1943 while she is anchored in Kåfjord, Norway.

[5] Fukui Shizuo, the famous naval architect, advanced the theory that MUTSU was destroyed by an explosive device delivered aboard by a Japanese sailor hired by the British naval intelligence.

An article in "Warship 2009" suggests that the explosion might have been a result of an unnoticed fire in the area adjacent to the No. 3 magazine. Considering the number of people who were present belowdecks prior to the explosion it seems somewhat far-fetched.

A recent Japanese theory (not supported by naval experts) suggests that the explosion was triggered by the detonation of unexploded depth charges on the seabed that were dropped during a naval exercise by the destroyer USHIO. Another theory put forward by Tashiro Gunjuro, a secondary battery gunner from NAGATO in "Gakken Pictorial" Vol. 15 (1997), suggests that the explosion was in fact caused by improperly manufactured Type 3 ammunition as a result of electrostatic discharge of its incendiary filling.

To date the best source on that disaster remains the book "MUTSU Exploded" (1970) written by the naval historian Yoshimura Akira, who interviewed most of the survivors from that vessel. In their opinion the gunner's mate from turret No. 3 intended to escape from the ship while creating a magazine fire as a diversion. He must have disabled the temperature sensors prior to setting fire to several propellant charges, extracted from their fireproof cases, but evidently failed to exit the magazine before an explosion occurred.

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro and Mr. Unuma Takao of Japan, as well as to Mr. Richard Wolff (Oregon). Thanks for assistance in researching the IJN officers mentioned in this TROM go to Mr. Jean-François Masson of Canada, Mr. C. C. Cheng of Ohio, Mssrs. Yutaka Iwasaki and Kuroyama Kazuo of Japan. Special thanks go to Hans Mcilveen of the Netherlands for info on FRUMEL intercepts.

– Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Lars Ahlberg.


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