© 2000-2001 Bob Hackett
Initial World War II Command Structure:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Obata Chozaemon (former CO of CA KUMANO) is the Commanding Officer since 30 May 1941. The YAMASHIRO is assigned to Vice Admiral Takasu Shiro's (former CO of CL ISUZU) First Fleet in BatDiv 2 with the ISE (F), the HYUGA and the FUSO.
7 December 1941: Operation Z – The attack on Pearl Harbor:
BatDiv 2 sorties from the Combined Fleet's anchorage at Hashirajima in Hiroshima Bay to the Bonin Islands with the First Fleet's BatDiv 1: NAGATO, MUTSU and the light carrier HOSHO escorted by light cruisers (probably the guardships OOI, KITAKAMI) and eight destroyers.
13 December 1941:
BatDiv 2 returns to Hashirajima. BatDiv 2 maintains 'standby alert' and training in the Inland Sea.
18 April 1942: The First Bombing of Japan:
Halsey's Task Force 16.2: USS HORNET (CV-8), VINCENNES (CA-44), NASHVILLE (CL-43), oiler CIMARRON (AO-22) and the destroyers GWIN (DD-433), MEREDITH (DD-434), GRAYSON (DD-435) and the MONSSEN (DD-436) and Task Force 16.1: USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), SALT LAKE CITY (CA-25), NORTHAMPTON (CA-26), the oiler SABINE (AO-25) and the destroyers BALCH (DD-363), BENHAM (DD-397), ELLET (DD-398) and the FANNING (DD-385) approach to within 668 nautical miles of Japan.
Led by Lt Col (later General/Medal of Honor) James H. Doolittle, 16 Army North American B-25 "Mitchell" twin-engine bombers of the 17th Bomb Group takeoff from Captain (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's carrier HORNET and strike targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya and Kobe. At Yokosuka, a B-25 damages the carrier RYUHO in a drydock undergoing conversion from the submarine depot ship TAIGEI.
Bat Div 2 and ten destroyers depart Hashirajima in pursuit of Halsey's ships.
19 April 1942:
At 30-00N, 135-20E, one of Bat Div 2's Type 95 Nakajima E8N "Dave" two-seat reconnaissance floatplanes, armed with two bombs, sights a cargo ship. The biplane drops a message with an order to stop. About 1000, the BatDiv 2 group heading NE encounters the neutral Russian merchant ANGARSTROI. A destroyer sends a boarding party to search the Russian ship. The ship is found to be carrying 7,555 metric tons of sugar and 10 tons of other products from San Francisco to Vladivostok. The Japanese order the merchant to proceed with the destroyer to Kushimoto on Honshu for a further search. The BatDiv 2 group turns SE and departs in a further unsuccessful pursuit of the Americans. Later, BatDiv 2 returns to Hashirajima.
5 May 1942:
BatDiv 2 departs Hashirajima for gunnery practice in the Iyo Nada with BatDiv 1's MUTSU and the NAGATO. The HYUGA's No. 5 turret gun blows up and her aft magazines are flooded to save her. The FUSO escorts the HYUGA to Kure. The YAMASHIRO and the other battleships return to Hashirajima.
19 May 1942:
BatDiv 2 departs Hashirajima with the First and the Third Fleets for maneuvers at sea.
23 May 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima.
29 May 1942: Operation MI - The Battle of Midway:
BatDiv 2 sorties as a screen for the Aleutian Force with CruDiv 9: light cruisers KITAKAMI, OOI, the 2nd Supply Unit's oilers and 12 destroyers.
6 June 1942:
After Operation MI is cancelled, BatDiv 2 is diverted north to support operations in the Aleutians.
14 June 1942:
Returns returns to Yokosuka. BatDiv 2 resumes 'standby alert'.
22 June 1942:
24 June 1942:
Arrives at Hashirajima. Resumes 'standby alert'.
14 July 1942:
At Hashirajima. Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi (former CO of ISE) assumes command of the First Fleet. Vice Admiral Takasu is reassigned as Commander of both the 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet (Dutch East Indies Force) and the Southwest Area Fleet.
The First Fleet is reorganized. BatDiv 1's NAGATO and the MUTSU are transferred to BatDiv 2 with the YAMASHIRO, the FUSO, the ISE and the HYUGA. BatDiv 2 performs 'standby alert' and training missions.
To partially compensate for the loss of carrier strength at Midway, the Navy Aircraft Department begins plans to convert the FUSO-class battleships to hybrid battleship/carriers. Work is to begin in June 1943, but these plans are later cancelled.
29 August 1942:
At Kure. Enters drydock.
1 September 1942:
At Hashirajima. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Owada Noboru (former CO of CL KATORI) assumes command. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Obata is reassigned as the Commanding Officer of the Hong Kong Area Special Base Force with additional duty as Chief of Staff of the 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet. The YAMASHIRO continues to maintain "standby alert".
4 September 1942:
5 September 1942:
At Hashirajima. The YAMASHIRO continues to maintain "standby alert" and participates in battle exercises in the Inland Sea thereafter.
The YAMASHIRO conducts air training exercises in the western Inland Sea with the carrier ZUIKAKU and the battleships MUSASHI, the NAGATO and the FUSO.
1 February 1943:
3 February 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.
1 March 1943:
At Yokosuka. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Hayakawa Mikio (former CO of CA CHOKAI) assumes command from Captain Owada who later as a Rear Admiral commands SubRon 7 at Truk.
8 April -June 1943:
At Kisarazu on Toyko Bay. Participates in air training exercises.
At Yokosuka. Refit. A Type 21 air and surface search radar and twenty-one 25 mm AA guns (17 single and 2 twin-mounts) are fitted making a total suite of thirty-seven 25-mm AA guns.
2 August 1943:
Captain Hisamune Sojiro (former CO of NAGATO) assumes command. In a change-of-command swap, Captain Hayakawa is reassigned as the CO of the NAGATO (as ComDesRon 2, KIA on SHIMAKAZE, Nov 44).*
26 August 1943:
28 August 1943:
Arrives at Kure.
7 September 1943:
Departs Hashirajima for gunnery exercises with Naval Gunnery School cadets and senior instructors. Returns to the Muroto Bight the same night.
8 September 1943:
Departs Muroto to continue gunnery exercises; returns to Tokuyama Bay that night, probably to refuel.
9 September 1943:
Departs Tokuyama to participate in radar set tests.
10 September 1943:
Returns to Hashirajima.
15 September 1943:
Reassigned as a training ship for midshipmen.
8 October 1943:
At Kure. Enters Drydock. Hull is scraped.
15 October 1943:
The YAMASHIRO and the newly converted battleship/carrier ISE depart Saeki for Truk on the "TEI" No. 3 troop transport mission with a task group: CruDiv 18's light cruiser TATSUTA, DesDiv 32's FUJINAMI, SUZUNAMI and the HAYANAMI.
20 October 1943:
The task group arrives at Truk. The anchorage is largely empty, Admiral Koga having sortied with the fleet to Brown Atoll, Eniwetok three days earlier to intercept an enemy task force thought to be closing on Wake Island. The YAMASHIRO, ISE and the TATSUTA debark troops and remain at Truk as guardships during the fleet's absence.
26 October 1943:
The fleet returns to Truk.
31 October 1943:
BatDiv 2's YAMASHIRO and the ISE depart Truk in a task group with CarDiv 2's JUNYO, escort carrier UNYO, CruDiv 8's TONE, CruDiv 18's TATSUTA, DesDiv 7's AKEBONO, DesDiv 17's TANIKAZE and DesDiv 24's SUZUKAZE and the UMIKAZE.
5 November 1943:
At 0505, near the Bungo Suido, Japan, LtCdr (later Admiral) I. J. "Pete" Galantin's USS HALIBUT (SS-232), alerted by Ultra, picks up the zigzagging task group on radar at 14 miles, base course 300 degrees, speed 19 knots.
At 0539, Galantin fires six Mark 14 bow torpedoes at the JUNYO, range 1,200 yards, depth set at 10 feet.
At 0540, a torpedo hits the JUNYO in the stern, but the other five miss astern. The HALIBUT circles hard to port.
At 0543, Galantin fires two stern torpedoes at the carrier. During the action, a dud torpedo hits the YAMASHIRO.
At 0558, Galantin tries to fire another steam torpedo at JUNYO but it malfunctions and "runs hot" in the tube. The JUNYO, rudder disabled, is towed safely through the Bungo Suido. The ISE and the other ships in the task group are undamaged.
5 November 1943:
Arrives at Tokuyama.
6 November 1943:
Arrives at Kure.
7 November 1943:
Arrives at Hashirajima. Resumes second-line 'standby alert' and training duties.
25 December 1943:
Captain Tawara Yoshioki (former CO of CL NOSHIRO) assumes command from Captain Hisamune.
29 December 1943:
Departs Hashirajima for Yokosuka.
31 December 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.
25 February 1944:
At Yokosuka. BatDiv 2, First Fleet is deactivated, then reactivated as BatDiv 2, Combined Fleet. The YAMASHIRO is reassigned as a training ship in the Yokosuka Naval District. Battle exercises in Kisarazu Bight thereafter.
1 May 1944:
Captain Tawara is promoted to Rear Admiral.
5 May 1944:
Rear Admiral Tawara dies, apparently of natural causes.
6 May 1944:
Rear Admiral Shinoda Katsukiyo (former CO of CL NAGARA) assumes command.
12 May 1944:
Enters No. 5 Drydock at Yokosuka.
24 May 1944:
29 May 1944:
Departs Yokosuka to serve as radar target vessel in naval exercises. Returns to Yokosuka that day.
June 1944: Aftermath of the Battle of the Philippine Sea:
Tokyo: The headquarters staff of the Combined Fleet, appalled at the debacle of Operation A-GO, submits a plan to the CINC, Admiral Toyoda Soemu (former CO of HYUGA). It calls for the FUSO and the YAMASHIRO to be fitted with additional AA guns and Daihatsu landing barges and used for a counter-landing on Saipan. Admiral Toyoda rejects the proposal as a suicide mission doomed to failure.
20 July 1944:
At Yokosuka. Enters drydock. One Type 21, two Type 13 air search and two Type 22 surface search/gunnery control radars are fitted. Sixty-six 25-mm AA guns (8 triple-mounts, 9 dual-mounts, 24 single mounts) and and twenty-four 13.2 mm machine guns (all single) are also installed. The final AA suite is ninety-two 25-mm AA guns (8 triple-mounts, 17 twin-mounts, 34 single mounts) and sixteen 13.2-mm machine-guns (3 twin-mounts, ten single mounts.) An air defense center is fitted on an open platform one level/deck below the main gun foretop. The plan also calls for the replacement of five lifeboats with six Daihatsu landing craft, but it is unclear if this is carried out. The YAMASHIRO's lower scuppers are closed over.
About this time, the YAMASHIRO probably was also fitted with a Type 2 infrared (IR) Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) /signaling device mounted midway up on each side of the bridge. This may have been based on the German "Seehund" device. They are built around a telescopic sensor that receives light-waves in the IR range and registers a readout in the radio shack. The system also includes a pair of 20-mm. binoculars coaxially mounted with the transmitting IR lamp on the bridge so that another ship can use the IR detector for elementary signaling or as a formation light for station keeping.
10 August 1944:
12 August 1944:
Departs Yokosuka with the escort carrier UNYO, DesDiv 21's WAKABA and the HATSUHARU.
14 August 1944:
Arrives at Kure. Participates in battle exercises thereafter.
10 September 1944:
Designated as the flagship of BatDiv 2, Second Fleet.
23 September 1944:
Pressed into front-line service, the YAMASHIRO departs Kure for Lingga in Vice Admiral Nishimura Shoji's (former CO of HARUNA) BatDiv 2: FUSO and the YAMASHIRO with DesDiv 17: ISOKAZE, URAKAZE HAMAKAZE and the YUKIKAZE.
24 September 1944:
At 0716, off the Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Islands), LtCdr Clyde B. Stevens' USS PLAICE (SS-390) sights two FUSO-class battleships coming out of the mist at 29-30N, 129-15E. They are in column screened by four destroyers; one on each bow of the leader and one on each beam of the second battleship. The screens are stationed about 3,000 yards off the track. The PLAICE also spots a Mitsubishi Type F1M "Pete" float seaplane as a close air screen. The targets are zigzagging using straight legs. Stevens begins his approach.
At 0742, Stevens estimates the target's length as 600-feet and sets his torpedo spread with 120 percent coverage from aft forward. He has a 30-degree angle on the bow of a battleship. Stevens fires his six bow tubes, then checks the positions of the destroyer screen, and swings his periscope back to the target. In low power, the battleship now fills three-fourths of his 'scope! Stevens takes the PLAICE deep to avoid a collision.
At 0745, the PLAICE's crew hears five explosions, but all six torpedoes miss.
26 September 1944:
In the Luzon Straits, South China Sea. The BatDiv 2 group is spotted by the USS POMFRET (SS-391). The submarine is unable to attack due to the speed of the battleships and the presence of a Japanese submarine.
27 September 1944:
In the South China Sea, off Luzon, Philippines. The BatDiv 2 group is spotted by the USS FLASHER (SS-249) but the submarine is unable to attack.
4 October 1944:
BatDiv 2 and DesDiv 17 arrive at Lingga, south of Singapore.
18 October 1944:
Steams with the fleet from Lingga to Brunei Bay, Borneo.
20 October 1944:
Arrives at Brunei.
22 October 1944: Operation SHO-I-GO ("Victory") - The Battle of Leyte Gulf:
At 1510, sorties from Brunei as flagship of Vice Admiral Nishimura's Force "C" (Southern Force): BatDiv 2: YAMASHIRO (F), FUSO, CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, DesDiv 4's MICHISHIO, DesDiv 10's YAMAGUMO, ASAGUMO and DesDiv 27's SHIGURE.
24 October 1944:
In the Sulu Sea. At 0918, 26 aircraft from Task Group 38. 4's USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and FRANKLIN (CV-13) attack Force "C". A bomb hits the FUSO, starts a fire and destroys her floatplanes. A bomb hits the SHIGURE and the MOGAMI is strafed. No other damage is inflicted on Nishimura's force and no further air attacks are made. That morning, the MOGAMI launches a reconnaissance floatplane.
At 1235, the MOGAMI's floatplane reports enemy battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, transports and PT boats ahead. Undaunted, Nishimura - well aware that Kurita will not make it to Leyte Gulf at the prescribed time - presses ahead at 18 knots
25 October 1944: The Battle of the Surigao Strait:
Captain Jesse G. Coward's picket Desron 54 lays in wait to launch a "hammer and anvil" torpedo attack. Desron 54's western section is the USS McDERMUT (DD-677) and the MONSSEN (DD-798). The eastern section is the MELVIN (DD-680), REMEY (DD-688) (F) and the McGOWAN (DD-678). At 0245, Force"C" is picked up on the McGOWAN's radar at 15 miles.
At 0250, thirty-nine PT boats attack Force "C". At 0250, thirty-nine PT boats attack Force "C. The FUSO and the YAMASHIRO's 6-inch secondary armament opens fire on the PT boats. The YAMASHIRO hits Lt (j.g.) Richard W. Brown's PT-493 ("Carole Baby") that is illuminated by Japanese destroyers' search lights. All of the PT boats' torpedoes miss. The PT-493 is beached and later sinks.
By 0254, Desron 54's western section makes radar contact. At 0256, the SHIGURE's lookouts sight the MELVIN, REMEY and the McGOWAN at 9,000 yards. The YAMASHIRO probes with her searchlight but the destroyers are too far away to be seen. At about 0300, the MELVIN, REMEY and the McGOWAN launch 27 Mark 15 torpedoes, then take fire from the YAMASHIRO and her destroyers.
At 0309, the FUSO, making 17 knots, is hit starboard side amidships by one or two of the MELVIN's Mark 15 torpedoes and a fire starts. The FUSO slows, sheers to starboard out of formation and reverses course back down the strait making about 10 knots.
From 0310-0311, the McDERMUT and the MONSSEN each launch their torpedoes. At 0320, on the American right flank, Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kenmore M. McManes' DesRon 24 launches 15 torpedoes, but they all miss. At 0321, a torpedo launched ten minutes earlier by DesRon 54's MONSSEN hits the YAMASHIRO in her port quarter and starts a fire. The YAMASHIRO's skipper Admiral Shinoda orders two magazines flooded which disables four of his main guns.
A torpedo (or torpedoes) launched by the McDERMUT hits the destroyer YAMAGUMO; she blows up and sinks with all hands. Another of the McDERMUT's torpedoes hits and disables the destroyer MICHISHIO that later sinks. Still another of the McDERMUT's torpedoes hits the destroyer ASAGUMO and she sinks in the morning.
From 0324-25, DesRon 24 and Captain (later Vice Admiral) Roland N. Smoot's Desron 56's fourteen destroyers launch more torpedoes at Force "C". Cdr H. G. Corey of DesRon 24's USS KILLEN (DD-593) orders his torpedoes set at a depth of 22 feet to inflict maximum damage. At 0331, the YAMASHIRO is hit portside amidships by one of five Mark 15 torpedoes launched by the KILLEN. The YAMASHIRO slows to five knots, but by 0336 she is able to make 18 knots.
At 0338, the fires aboard the FUSO reach her magazines; she explodes and breaks into two parts.
At 0351, the American cruiser screen: the USS PORTLAND (CA-33), MINNEAPOLIS (CA-36), COLUMBIA (CL-56), DENVER (CL-58), LOUISVILLE (CA-28)(FF), PHOENIX (CL-46), BOISE (CL-47) and the Australian SHROPSHIRE opens fire. Between 0353-0359, arrayed behind the flanking cruisers, Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Jesse B. Oldendorf's Battle Line, the old battleships USS CALIFORNIA (BB-33), PENNSYLVANIA (BB-38), MISSISSIPPI (BB-41), TENNESSEE (BB-43), MARYLAND (BB-46) and the WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48), also opens fire.** The YAMASHIRO, smashed by hundreds of shells, manages to return fire and maintain 12 knots.
Between 0403 and 0405, Desron 56's NEWCOMB (DD-586), RICHARD P. LEARY (DD-664) and the ALBERT W. GRANT (DD-649), on a parallel course to the right of the Japanese formation, launch thirteen torpedoes at a range of 6,300 yards.
Beginning at 0407, Cdr T. A. Nisewaner's GRANT takes seven hits from the YAMASHIRO's 4.7-inch secondary battery and eleven hits by American 6-inch shells from the PORTLAND and the DENVER.
At 0409, Admiral Oldendorf orders "Cease-Fire" because American shells are hitting his own destroyers. The YAMASHIRO takes advantage of the lull in fire, turns south and increases speed to 15 knots. At 0411, two torpedoes launched by the NEWCOMB catch the YAMASHIRO and explode in her starboard beam.
Sunk: At 0419, the YAMASHIRO, a blazing wreck, capsizes and sinks by the stern in the Surigao Strait at 10-22N, 125-21E. Three survivors are picked up by the destroyer USS CLAXTON (DD-571) but about 150 other Japanese sailors in the water do not want to be saved. One of the three survivors, an English-speaking Warrant Officer, confirms that the YAMASHIRO has been sunk. About 1,400 crewmen are lost including Vice Admiral Nishimura and the YAMASHIRO's skipper Rear Admiral Shinoda.
15 November 1944:
BatDiv 2, Combined Fleet, is deactivated.
31 August 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.
The John Bennet Deep Ocean Research International Company locates a wreck it believes to be the YAMASHIRO near her recorded sinking position in the Surigao Strait at a depth of about 600 feet. The wreck appears to be largely intact.
**All of Oldendorf's battleships except the MISSISSIPPI were veterans of Pearl Harbor. The PENNSYLVANIA (BB-38) did not open fire during the engagement because she could not get a target fix with her obsolete Mark 3 Fire Control System Radar.
Author's Note: Special thanks for assistance in researching Japanese-language sources used in constructing this TROM go to Mr. Sander Kingsepp of Estonia and Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan. Thanks for assistance in researching the IJN officers mentioned in this TROM also go to Mr. Yutaka Iwasaki and of Japan and Mr. Jean-François Masson of Canada.
I also recommend that readers interested in more detail concerning the YAMASHIRO's final hours consult Tony Tully's well-researched "Shell Game at Surigao: The entangled fates of FUSO and YAMASHIRO" at http://www.combinedfleet.com/atully06.htm
- Bob Hackett.