SENKAN!

(Mutsu by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships")

IJN MUTSU: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2009 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Lars Ahlberg.
Revision 5


1 June 1918:
Yokosuka Navy Yard. Battleship MUTSU, designed by naval architect Cdr, constructor, (later Vice Admiral, constructor) Hiraga Yuzuru, is laid down.

1 May 1920:
Yokosuka. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Komaki Shizen (former CO of AC NISSHIN) is posted as Chief Fitting-Out officer.

31 May 1920:
Yokosuka. MUTSU is launched.

9 July 1920:
Captain Komaki becomes Commanding Officer and retains duty as Chief Equipping Officer.

1 March 1921:
Captain Komaki is relieved of duty as Chief Fitting-Out officer. He remains Commanding Officer.

19 October 1921:
During speed trials, MUTSU attains 26.728 knots.

24 October 1921:
MUTSU is completed and commissioned in the IJN. Captain Komaki remains the Commanding Officer. She is incorporated into the Sasebo Naval District.

18 November 1921:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kurose Seiichi (former CO of BB AKI) assumes command.

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

1922:
A smoke defelector, slightly thicker than NAGATO's, is fitted to the fore funnel to keep the bridge clear of funnel smoke at high speeds. A 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 MUTSU had been commissioned on 10 September 1921 and had already steamed 2,500 nautical miles. The Japanese finally manage to save MUTSU.

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.

28 August 1922:
Kure. BatDiv 1's NAGATO, MUTSU, KONGO, HIEI, KIRISHIMA and ISE depart for the Siberian coast on maneuvers and a flag-showing mission, preceding withdrawal of Japanese troops.

1 December 1922:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Teraoka Heigo (former CO of KIRISHIMA) assumes command.

1 September 1923:
Changshan archipelago, Korea Bay. The Great Kanto Earhquake 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. Enroute to Yokosuka, a foreign cruiser (possibly armored cruiser USS HURON (CA-9) is briefly sighted.

1 December 1923:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hara Kanjiro (former CO of AC IZUMO) assumes command.

30 March 1924:
Amami O-Shima, 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.

August 1924 to March 1925:
The top of the fore funnel is swept back.

10 November 1924:
Captain (later Admiral/MoN/Prime Minister) Yonai Mitsumasa (former CO of FUSO) assumes command.

1 December 1925:
Reserve ship. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ikeda Tanin (former CO of TOKIWA) assumes command.

1 December 1926:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Edahara Yurikazu assumes (former CO of IWATE) command.

5 February 1927:
The stem is rebuilt; however, it is not successful and NAGATO is not so fitted.

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 annual Naval Review.

1 December 1927:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hori Teikichi (former CO of NAGARA) assumes command.

10 December 1928:
Captain (later Admiral) Yoshida Zengo (former CO of KONGO) assumes command.

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 (later Vice Admiral) Anno Kiyoshi (former CO of YUBARI) assumes command.

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.

1 December 1930:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Monai Isao (former CO of NAKA) assumes command.

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 (former CO of KIRISHIMA) assumes command.

1932:
Four twin (4x2) dual purpose 5-inch (127-mm) HA guns are installed. The existing 3-inch (76-mm) AA guns are landed.

10 May 1932:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Wada Senzo (former CO of HIEI) assumes command.

1 November 1932:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ando Takashi (former CO of TAKAO) assumes command.

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

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.

October 1933:
Yokohama Bay. MUTSU again serves as the Emperor's flagship during naval maneuvers and for the annual Naval Review.

15 November 1933:
Reserve ship. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kasuya Soichi (former CO of YAMASHIRO) assumes command.

20 November 1933:
Rebuilding of pagoda mast started. 10-m (in place of 8-m) rangefinders fitted on turrets 2 and 3. A Kure Type No. 2 Model 3 catapult is fitted.

1 June 1934:
Transferred to Yokosuka Naval District.

5 September 1934: First Reconstruction and Modernization:
Yokosuka Navy Yard. MUTSU's hull is lengthened aft, a triple bottom and massive torpedo-bulges are fitted and all torpedo tubes are removed. An armor strake is fitted to hull bottom in the vicinity of the turn of the bulges. The thickness of the horizontal armor over her magazines and machinery spaces is increased. 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. MUTSU’s fore funnel is removed.

New main caliber turrets taken from unfinished battleships KAGA and TOSA are installed. Her 16.1-inch (410-mm) guns' elevation is increased to 43 degrees, increasing their maximum range to 41,448 yards or 23.5 miles. Additional armor is fitted to turret faces, sides and tops. The barbette armor is likewise strengthened. The secondary batteries 5.5-inch (140-mm) guns' elevation is increased to 35 degrees. Two upper deck secondary caliber guns are landed. Four twin dual purpose 5-inch guns are installed and 20 Type 96 25-mm AA guns are fitted. A Kure Type No. 2 Model 5 catapult and a collapsible crane are fitted. Three Nakajima E4N2 floatplanes are embarked.

15 November 1934:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hosogaya Boshiro (former CO of CHOKAI) assumes command.

15 November 1935:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kasuga Atsushi (former CO of YURA), CO of CHOKAI assumes additional temporary duty as CO of MUTSU.

2 December 1935:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Koori Hidesaburo (former XO of CL KISO) assumes command.

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

30 September 1936:
MUTSU's First Reconstruction and Modernization is completed. Her standard displacement is now 39,050-tons.

16 November 1936:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Goto Eiji (former CO of TAKAO) CO of Yokosuka Naval Barracks assumes command assumes additional temporary duty as CO of MUTSU until 1 December 1936.

1 December 1936:
Attached to BatDiv 1, First Fleet.

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 the lines of communications to northern China.

15 August 1937:
Returns to Sasebo.

20 August 1937:
Departs Mitsuhama (Ehime prefecture) carrying 2,000 men from the 11th IJA Division.

23 August 1937:
Arrives at Shanghai, China. The troop transport is completed.

24 August 1937:
Off Shanghai. Joint operations are conducted with land forces and aircraft.

25 August 1937:
Returns to Sasebo.

15 September 1937:
Departs Sasebo for operations off northern China.

23 September 1937:
Returns to Sasebo.

1 December 1937:
Captain (Admiral, posthunously) Tagaki Takeo (former CO of TAKAO) assumes command.

9 April 1938:
Departs Sasebo for operations off southern China.

14 April 1938:
Operations off southern China are concluded.

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 assumes (former CO of CHOKAI) assumes command.

15 December 1938:
Reserve ship.

1 November 1939:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hoshina Zenshiro (former CO of CHOKAI) assumes command.

15 November 1939:
Attached to BatDiv 1, First Fleet.

26 March 1940:
Departs Sasebo for operations off southern China.

2 April 1940:
Operations are concluded.

15 November 1940:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Kobayashi Kengo (former CO of TAKAO) assumes command.

1941:
External degaussing coils fitted. Anti-torpedo bulges are filled with crushing tubes.

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

3 March 1941:
Operations are concluded.

11 August 1941:
Attached to BatDiv 1, Combined Fleet. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kogure Gunji (former CO of CHIKUMA), is posted as Commanding Officer.

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. MUTSU is home-ported at the Yokosuka for crew rotations and repairs.

30 August 1941:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

3 September 1941:
Dry-docked at Yokosuka.

13 September 1941:
Undocked.

21 September 1941:
Departs Yokosuka.

23 September 1941:
Off Murozumi.

1 November 1941:
Anchors at Saiki in readiness.

19 November 1941:
Arrives to Hashirajima.

25 November 1941.
Departs for Kure.

29 November 1941:
Returns to Hashirajima.

1 December 1941:
Kure. Dry-docked for repairs and maintenance.

3 December 1941:
Undocked. 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 carrier HOSHO, escorted by DesDiv 21's WAKABA, NENOHI, HATSUHARU and HATSUSHIMO and DesDiv 27's ARIAKE, YUGURE, SHIRATSUYU, SHIGURE, MIKAZUKI and YUKAZE.

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.

18 January 1942:
Kamegakubi Naval Proving Ground, Inland Sea, 15 miles SW of Kure. MUTSU acts as a target tug during new battleship YAMATO's gunnery trials off Kurahashi Island. MUTSU tows old Italian-built armored cruiser NISSHIN which, as a target ship, had been sunk earlier, but raised. YAMATO sinks her again with her 18.1-inch shells.

20 January 1942:
Proceeds to Kure.

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

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

28 February 1942:
Departs for Agenosho (Bonin Islands).

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.

1 May 1942:
Captain Kogure is promoted to Rear Admiral.

5 May 1942:
BatDiv 1's MUTSU and NAGATO depart Hashirajima for gunnery practice in the Iyo Nada with BatDiv 2. The HYUGA's No. 5 turret gun blows up. She departs for Kure with FUSO as escort. MUTSU and the 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 carriers AKAGI, KAGA, SORYU and HIRYU that had been picked up earlier by DesRon 10's destroyers. The MUTSU refuels DesRons 3 and 10's destroyers.

14 June 1942:
The Main Body returns to Hashirajima.

20 June 1942:
Hashirajima. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Yamazumi Teijiro (former CO of MYOKO) assumes command. Rear Admiral Kogure is reassigned as the Chief of Staff of Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo's (former CO of HARUNA) 1st Southern Expeditionary Fleet.

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 Bat Div 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 July 1942:
Kure. Drydocked.

29 July 1942:
Undocked.

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, Advanced Force for Guadalcanal operations.

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

17 August 1942:
The Advanced Force arrives at Truk. MUTSU and three destroyers are assigned to the Fleet Train of the Support Force. The Fleet Train supports Kondo's Advanced Force and Vice Admiral Nagumo's Third Fleet.

20 August 1942:
Admiral Yamamoto dispatches the Advanced Force to rendezvous with Nagumo’s Main Body that is then enroute from Kure.

A Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" flying boat spots USS LONG ISLAND (ACV-1) ferrying aircraft. The MUTSU, the cruiser ATAGO and destroyers pursue the American ship, but no contact is made. (They are too late. LONG ISLAND, then 190 miles south of Guadalcanal off San Cristobal, catapults 19 Marine Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighters and 12 Marine Douglas SBD "Dauntless" dive-bombers. They are the first aircraft to land on "Henderson" Field, Guadalcanal, home of the soon-to-be named "Cactus Air Force").

21 August 1942:
Nagumo's Third Fleet, Main Body: CarDiv 1's SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU, CarDiv 2's RYUJO, BatDiv 11's HIEI, and KIRISHIMA, CruDiv 7's KUMANO and SUZUYA, CruDiv 8's CHIKUMA and TONE and Desron 10's light cruiser NAGARA and three destroyers is scheduled to arrive at Truk. Instead, Yamamoto orders Nagumo to refuel at sea from oilers and continue on towards Guadalcanal.

24 August 1942: The Battle of the Eastern Solomons:
At sea. Provides close support.

27 August 1942:
The MUTSU fires four rounds at tracking enemy aircraft. The MUTSU group is ordered south of the Solomon Islands to locate and attack an American Task Force that was spotted there by Japanese reconnaissance planes. MUTSU and her group fail to make contact and she is ordered to retun to port.

2 September 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

5 September 1942:
The Advanced Force returns to Truk.

9 September 1942:
MUTSU is incorporated into the Main Body of the Guadalcanal Operation Force. Training and maintenance at Truk.

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.

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

7 January 1943:
MUTSU departs Truk via Saipan then to Kure with carrier ZUIKAKU, CruDiv 7's SUZUYA, Des Div 6's INAZUMA, DesDiv 19's ISONAMI, DesDiv 27's ARIAKE. DesDiv 20's AMAGIRI also escorts the task group from Saipan to Kure.

12 January 1943:
MUTSU detaches from the task group and makes port at Yokosuka Navy Yard.

12-28 January 1943:
Returns to Hashirashima. MUTSU resumes 'standby alert'.

29 January 1943:
Yokosuka. Drydocked

6 February 1943:
Undocked.

15 February 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

16 February 1943:
Arrives at Hashirajima. Resumes training duties.

23 February 1943:
MUTSU’s home port is changed from Yokosuka to Hashirajima.

4 March 1943:
Departs Hashirajima. Arrives at Kure.

8 March 1943:
Departs Kure. Returns to Hashirajima.

10 March 1943:
Captain Miyoshi Teruhiko (former CO of MYOKO) assumes command. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Yamazumi is reassigned as Chief of Staff of the Eighth Fleet at Rabaul.

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:
Departs Hashirajima for Tokoyama, 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 7 th 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, who assumed command of the FUSO on June 1st, 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. She hosts 113 flying cadets and 40 instructors of the Tsuchiura Naval Air Group who are aboard for 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 after being drydocked. 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 weighs 2,064-lbs. and contains 1,200 submunitions. Each turret magazine contains 240 shells (120 per gun), including 50 "sanshiki-dans."

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 coded 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. Her crew rescues 353 survivors of the 1,474 crewmembers aboard MUTSU. Only 13 of the visiting flying cadets/instructors are among the survivors. The IJN can ill-afford the loss of 140 instructors and pilot trainees, particularly after the heavy losses sustained in April in Operation "I-GO" during the reinforcement of the 11th Air Fleet at Rabaul. Later, destroyers TAMANAMI and WAKATSUKI arrive, as do boats from TATSUTA and the cruiser MOGAMI. 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. Later, the frequency of patrols by naval vessels and aircraft is increased in Hiroshima Bay, the Iyo-nada 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. All 39 wounded sailors are transported by TAMANAMI to a secluded hospital on Mitsukoshima. [1] A major cover-up is launched to conceal that something has happened to MUTSU. To further prevent rumors from spreading, many survivors are later sent to remote garrisons on Tarawa, Makin, Kwajalein, Saipan and Truk.

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 "headquarters" for the salvage efforts. To conceal that MUTSU has sunk the divers are told that the ship they are exploring is similar to sister-ship NAGATO. Then the divers are allowed to familiarize themselves on NAGATO.

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: The IJN suspects that the Type 3"Sanshiki-dan" incendiaries are the cause because a fire at the Sagami arsenal a few years earlier was caused by improper storage of the incendiary materials. After the accident, the Minister of the Navy, Admiral Shimada Shigetaro (former CO of HIEI) orders the Type 3 shells offloaded from all IJN ships carrying them.

Hashirajima: The "M-Commission" led by 60-year old Admiral Shiozawa Koichi (former CO of FURATAKA) is convened to conduct a formal accident investigation. Shiozawa considers all possibilities from the possibile detonation of "Sanshiki" shells to improbable attacks by a lone American torpedo plane or an attack by either a midget or fleet submarine.

Cdr Yasui Yasukado, the inventor of the "Sanshiki" shells is called in to testify. Tests are conducted at Kamegakubi on some shells salvaged from turret No. 3 and on shells from the previous lot and the next lot. An experiment is conducted by engineer troops with dozens of witnesses of the accident who had survived. The test uses a specially built model of turret No. 3. The final experiment is also based on the identification of the color of the smoke generated during the burning of Sanshiki shells compared to gunpowder. The smoke of burning powder is reddish-brown, while the smoke of burning Sanshiki shells is white. The witnesses of the disaster insist that they saw reddish-brown smoke. Moreover, during testing, it becomes clear that explosions do not occur below 80 degrees Centigrade. Cdr Yasui only escapes blame for the disaster by the IJN's top brass because the tests disclose that the Type 3 shells do not explode easily.

The M-Commission labors for two months and prepares their report. The commission doubts that the shells had caused the disaster. As a result the loading of Sanshiki shells on board ships is resumed. Later, the IJN revises completely their standards for the handling and storage of explosives aboard ships.

The investigation concludes that the explosion was "most likely caused by human interference". Some investigators think there was a ring of saboteurs, but the principal suspect is a disgruntled seaman gunner of turret No. 3 who had brooded over theft charges and was killed in the blast. The divers search for his body but it is never found. During the war, the belief persists that, somehow, he managed to escape.

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 minisub, but it snags on a railing on MUTSU. All officers aboard almost suffocate before the minisub breaks free. Finally, it is decided that it is impossible to raise MUTSU.

15 August 1943:
The survivors of MUTSU stationed on 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. About 150 are sent to Saipan and almost all are killed there in 1944 during the U. S. invasion of the Marianas.

1 September 1943:
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/LUTZOW), about the circumstances surrounding British Operation "Source." Only after completing the exploration of MUTSU's wreck, do the Japanese decide that, indeed, the explosion must have occurred from within the magazine itself. [2]

July 1944:
The oiled-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 in Operation Take ("Bamboo").

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

1949:
The first salvage attempt is made but soon abandoned.

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

23 August 1970:
Turret No. 4 is salvaged. Since then many artifacts are brought up including gun barrels, propellers, the bow section, anchors and crewmembers' personal belongings. The No. 4 turret is displayed at Etajima.

February 1972:
The bow section is lifted in a two-stage operation in using a 1,500-ton floating crane. 272 crewmembers remain entombed within the ship.

November 1972:
The MUTSU Memorial Museum opens in Tôwa Chô.

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.


Authors' Note:
[1] The same hospital where the survivors of super-carrier SHINANO were held incommunicado in 1944.

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

Thanks for assistance in researching the IJN officers mentioned in this TROM go to Mr. C. C. Cheng of Ohio, Mssrs. Yutaka Iwasaki and Kuroyama Kazuo of Japan and Mr. Jean-François Masson of Canada. Thanks also go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan.

– Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Lars Ahlberg.


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