IJN Amagi: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2004 Anthony Tully

Initial Command Structure:
Commanding Officer: Captain Yamamori Kamenosuke. Assigned to
Mobile Force, CarDiv 1, Third Fleet.

10 August 1944:
Commissioned at
Nagasaki. Proceeds to Oita and becomes flagship of Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo's Mobile Fleet till October.

September - December 1944:
Throughout this period, vessel never left the
Inland Sea, moving between Gunchu, Kure, and Hashirajima. During this time her and UNRYU's air groups are training at Matsuyuma air base.

11 September 1944:
AMAGI arrives off Iwakuni.

20 September 1944
Proceeded to off Matsuyama, Shikoku Islands. There she practices landings and take-offs with her Air Group flying back and forth from Matsuyama.

26 September 1944:
AMAGI returned to Kure.

23 October 1944:
Captain Yamamori relieved by Captain Miyazaki Toshio.

28 October 1944:
With UNRYU off Gunchu-koh.

27 November 1944:
Depart Iwakuni with KATSURAGI for exercises in the
Inland Sea.

10 December 1944:
RAdm Keizo Komura releived by Radm Sueo Obayashi as ComCarDiv 1.

12 December 1944:
Arrives after exercises with KATSURAGI at Matsuyuma roadstead.

20 December 1944:
ComCarDiv 1 Obayashi makes AMAGI his flagship. Depart for torpedo attack training exercises with land-based air.

21 December 1944:
Holding to a maximum speed of 12 knots to conserve fuel, AMAGI serves as target in live torpedo practice in the
Inland Sea.

20 January 1945:
At Iwakuni.

15 January 1945:
AMAGI's contingent of Air Group 601 is re-assigned from Matsuyama to Iwakuni Air Base. Shorly after, AMAGI transports the aircraft and personnel to Iwakuni.

21 January 1945:
At Iwakuni. CarDiv 1 ordered to transport personnel and equipment of the Oita Detachement of the Yokosuka Air Group from Kure and report to Iwakuni to report for duty with said Air Group for torpedo adjustment and attack training.

1 February 1945:
Depart Iwakuni for

10 February 1945:
Carrier Division 1 is abolished. ComCarDiv 1 hauls down his flag.
AMAGI enters dock at
Kure. The next day her air group is transferred from her and assigned to air bases in Kyushu.

15 February 1945:
Kure. Joined by KATSURAGI.

24 February 1945:

15 March 1945:
AMAGI assigned to 2nd Fleet.

19 March 1945:
Action: Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's (former CO of HORNET, CV-8) Task Force 58 carriers launch the first carrier strike on the Kure and Hiroshima Bay area and warships present. AMAGI attacked while anchored northwest of HARUNA at the Arsenal.
- One or two small bombs (250 or 500 pound G.P.) hit on edge of flight deck starboard aft about in line with frame 182. It tore right through the starboard fantail 12.7 cm twin HA gun mount and blew out a sliver of the hangar side and part of the flight deck on the starboard side. This knocked out the lift motors and jammed the aft elevator in the down position. (The damage was never repaired). In a message at 1207 AMAGI's gunners claim 12 planes shot down.

21 March 1945:
- 1315 AMAGI's CO reports on the damage; pointing out the elevator remains unuseable, and that there has been some damage to the hull adjacent to the #5 battery where the bomb grazed the carrier.

26 March 1945:
AMAGI is ordered to repair damage and refit at
Kure. (Apparently for possible assignment with 1-YB for Ten-GO.). But sister-ship KATSURAGI had moved the day prior to semi-permanent mooring off Mitsuko-jima Island.

28 March 1945:
In outer
Kure harbor roadstead. 1-YB including YAMATO departs for Mitajiri via Kubuto-shima; AMAGI to remain behind. After Ten-Go and loss of 2nd Fleet, it is decided to deactivate AMAGI to join her sister at Mitsuko-jima.

13 April 1945:
By this date, AMAGI has joined KATSURAGI at Mitsuko-jima in semi-permanent mooring. Camouflaging begins. A camouflage net is connected between the starboard side and the shore. On both the net and flight deck tree branches are placed to add to the appearance of greenery. A large house is placed transverse atop the front of the flight deck, while another shed oriented fore-and-aft placed port of the centerline behind the rear elevator. Simulated roads of sand are laid and false trees planted on the flight deck elsewhere.

20 April 1945:
Reassigned as `special duty' reserve ship of the 4th Kure Naval District. Captain Miyazaki relieved by Captain Shiro Hiratsuka who leaves KATSURAGI to take over an AMAGI manned only by a skeleton crew. Captain Miyazaki assumed senior responsibility for both idle carriers.

April to July 1945:
Never moves from semi-permanent mooring with starboard side 50 meters offshore from the southwest end of
Mitsuko-jima Island in Kure harbor. Heavily draped by camoufage nets with foliage and flight deck camouflaged with false "trees" and "houses" with sand poured to simulate roads to complete the effect.

24 July 1945:
- Dawn: Heavy air-raid on
Kure by aircraft of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) John S. "Slew" McCain's Task Force 38 carrier planes (launched at 0745)
- 0930 First flight of planes does not score any hits, but near-misses bracketed AMAGI's bow on both sides. One landed very close along the port side forward of the island detonating well under the water which blasted a hole in the hull fifteen feet below the waterline in vicinity of frames 80-84 [1] which caused the forward bomb magazine to immediately flood. The AMAGI listed slightly to port.
- c1000 hours was struck by two bombs only minutes apart. The first is a 500-pound bomb that detonates in the starboard passageway beside No.2 stack (around the frame 136-138 area), severely damaging the stack and blew a small hole in the starboard hull below the flight deck. However, this damage paled before that inflicted just afterwords by what post-war inspection determined no less than a 2,000 pound bomb. It struck almost exactly on the same line of frames but on the centerline dead amidships between the elevators. It penetrated some 25 feet and exploded either against or just above the upper hangar deck. The resulting blast was tremendous, completely blowing apart the adjacent hangar walls and flight deck. The flight deck for a length of 200 feet was bulged up, the sides of the hangar bulkheads amidships were blown out and a 50 meter section simply blasted out, upward, and overboard.[2] The flight deck between just abaft the island and extending to nearly exactly amidships was simply gone. The upper hangar opened to the sky. The blast shock dropped the forward elevator and caused a large longitudinal crack in the forward flight deck that caused the deck to droop downward and in like a valley. Finally, the bomb blew a 25-foot hole shaped like flattened triangle in the upper hangar deck and fragments of it passed through the lower hangar deck below, destroying watertight integrity of decks and bulkheads in the lower amidships over a wide area. On the bridge the Commanding Officer and others miraculously survived the catastrophic blast, and there was little fire. In addition to this, the very close-nearmisses as well as hits perforated the hull in numerous places below the waterline. Boiler Rooms # 4 and 6 on the port side began to flood, and AMAGI began to settle deeper into the water.
- c1200 Around this time a 5-inch rocket zoomed right past the island and smacked into an intact part of the flight deck to starboard between the forward elevator and the base of the island. It blew a small hole of 2 1/2 feet in diameter in the flight deck about frame 94. Though the carrier is in no danger of sinking, according to the Design Superitendent of the Kure Navy Yard the commanding officer (it may not have been Captain Hiratsuka aboard this morning) is unnerved by the big hit suffered earlier and now the rocket "as it zoomed past the island" and orders her abandoned some time not long after noon. This decision was controversial.[3] With some reluctance, the engineering watch evacuates, finally moving to do so after an additional near-miss to port abreast the after elevator grazes an anti-aircraft gun and opened the port after engine room to the sea.
- 1530 The carrier is all but abandoned when attacked again at 1530 by another 20 planes, after which, when the port after engine room begins to flood, the last watch evacuates. However, hearing the survivors reports that evening the Kure Navy Yard Superintendent censures the premature abandonment, and at the end of the day the AMAGI is still afloat and with only a slight port list and trim at the bow. Her flight deck however, is completely demolished. Despite this, some of the elaborate camouflage remained in place.

25 to 27 July 1945:
No clear details available. However, it is known that with their bulkheads perforated and weakened, # 3 and 5 Boiler Rooms adjacent to starboard gradually flooded as well. It has the benefit of counter-acting the flooding to port but it appears that during this time the AMAGI became heavily flooded below decks, and sat deep in the water. Though there seems to be little to no list on July 28 any additional uneven flooding would (and did) produce risk of a loss of stability.

28 July 1945:
AMAGI again bombed during heavy air raid on
Kure from TF 38.
- 0930 AMAGI attacked by about 30 carrier planes. KATSURAGI claims shooting down one that had just dropped its bomb on AMAGI.
- 1200 Eleven B-24s carry out level bombing of AMAGI and KATSURAGI from high altitude. Though none strike directly near-misses land close alongside to port, detonating below the waterline, whose fragments riddled the port shell in places. Although AMAGI suffered only one, possibly two, further direct hits, many near-misses to port opened plating and accelerated progressive flooding. One bomb strike was observed as a direct hit on the flight deck near the port deck edge opposite the No.2 stack.
- 1530 AMAGI attacked again by 30 carrier planes in the last attack she will suffer. When the last planes fly away AMAGI's flight deck is a complete shattered wreck with the exception of the fantail and rounddown. Even the camouflage warehouse built there is still standing, though the one on the bow has burned to ashes. But with the hangars largely empty, as like the 24th there is little fire of consequence per-se. At 1600 when last photographed she even appears to have a slight starboard list but with free surface at work, this is entirely plausible. [4] Since the ship had been abandoned, no real details such as this or the damage this day are known, but the cumulative damage and a fullisade of near-misses to port exaberate the progressive flooding already in progress. The AMAGI begins to list more notably to port, and as she heels water enters the gashes torn in the hull above the waterline by the fragments of the bombs exploding close aboard. Progressive flooding began along the Lower-most Deck. Though a small fire-fighting crew from
Kure Navy Yard is aboard as late as 1700, they report that progressive flooding has spread over the Lower-most Deck and free surface effects are a risk. Ship made further unstable by the weight of water poured into hangar by fire fighters.

29 July 1945:
Listing increased through the night and by morning AMAGI's bow was nosing under. The remains of the camouflage including the faux shed aft collapsed and slid into the sea as she heeled. At 1000 hours AMAGI lurched sharply to port, and capsized, toppling over and grounding at an angle of 70 degrees. Some of the flight deck wreckage hanging over the sides "including the two lift platforms" fell overboard at this moment. She came to rest with bow submerged and flight deck canted slanting into the water, starboard screws exposed. Casualties in the two days of action are unknown, but are said to be light.[5]

13 October 1945:
At time of
Kure inspection hand-over, AMAGI has only 1 officer and 4 petty officers and men still assigned as caretaker crew.

28 November 1945:
AMAGI wreck boarded and inspected by NavTech teams. Of interest, in addition to pinpointing some of the bomb hits they reported "there is no evidence of close near-misses below the waterline on the starboard side, there being only a few fragment holes in the bow area above the waterline." It appears most bombs to starboard were hitting the Mitsukoshima Island shore.

30 November 1945:
Removed from Navy List.

16 February 1946:
Raising and scrapping authorized.

21 June 1946:
The Harima Zosen Yard's office branch in Kure undertook the salvage and scrapping of AMAGI. The wreck was examined to evaluate methods for salvage and righting operations.

13 November 1946:
Righting operations on AMAGI hulk commence. At this time the port list is recorded as 61 degrees, so the hull had started to right itself in the intervening year since sunk. The bow was dug into the harbor bottom while the stern was notably aground rocks near the nearest jetty from Mitsukoshima Island.

5 December 1946:
The righting and salvage of AMAGI was one of the biggest undertaken to that date, comparable to that of USS OKLAHOMA (BB-37) and USS UTAH (AG-16) at Pearl Harbor in 1943-44. It thus merits relating since details are available.

First work focused on cutting the list in half, reducing it to 35 degrees to port. Further correction could not yet be attempted, as the fantail was hard aground and as long as the bow was down the hull could not be turned further. Refloating the carrier would be necessary before the hull could be moved.

The hull would have to be de-watered of course, and this required patches for "countless holes" both from bomb damage and naturally present like funnels, bomb and torpedo lifts, hatchways and portals. In all "over 400 square meters had to be patched over." Further complicating this was the fact the whole forward port side was submerged in 20 meters of water to the depth of the very right hand-most side of the forward elevator. Since the hangar sides and flight deck were not water-tight - especially since the blast damages incurred in the sinking -- the shell here had to be simply removed. All 600 tons of metal of the upper hull comprising the hangar sides and flight deck had to be dynamited clear. Not till July 1947 could the hull be judged emptied of water and lightened enough for the forepart be refloated and the stern to come free of the rocky beach. To do this 12 100-ton flotation tanks were attached and high capacity pump ofr 7,000 tons of water per hour went to work. The pump labored for tweleve days and nights. At the same time at low tides, even the sea bottom under the hull was removed. At some point during the sealing work, divers encountered and brought up two bodies of her crew that had been missing in action since July 1945. During all this work

31 July 1947:
The AMAGI came afloat on the last day of the month. By means of empty poontoons attached to the port side to buoy it up and flooding poontoons attached to starboard, the carrier was leveraged upright and afloat.

30 August 1947
Afloat again, AMAGI was hauled to the Navy Yard, docked and scrapping commenced.

11 December 1947:
Scrapping completed. It provided 13,946 tons of reusable steel.

Notes: [1] Frame numbers throughout are approximate - they derive from reliable photographic indications and inspection testimony.

[2] Close analysis of attack photographs clearly show the flight deck center section of AMAGI was blown out of the carrier before noon on 24 July. It did not simply fall off later. The section that did fall off later is visible in the same photos as a strip of flight deck hanging off the port deck edge near the aft elevator. This devastating hit was scored by aircraft of Task Group 38.1 either by Air Group 1 of USS BENNINGTON or Air Group 6 of USS HANCOCK, both of which persuasively claimed hits with 2,000 pound GP bombs.

[3] While it is not certain that the commanding officer referred to is Captain Hiratsuka, it is perhaps significant that his tenure of command ends on 28 July when AMAGI was still technically as well as factually still afloat. It is likely that the senior Engineer had filed objection to the abandonment, and between him and the censure of the Kure Navy Yard Superintendent, this timing could indicate Hiratsuka was "fired."

[4] A timed photograph as striking as it is important is taken at 1600 28 July by a USS HANCOCK (CV-19) aircraft. (It photographed HARUNA from vertical at the same time). This shows fire-fighting hoses in action in the smoking hangar as late as this hour, and the carrier with no obvious port list and still in reasonable good trim. The massive flight deck damage is clearly visible.

[5] Possibly not previously noted, but there is in fact major discrepancy in the times given for AMAGI's final topple to port and grounding. U.S. Naval Technical Mission to Japan [USNTMJ] report No. S-06-3 states "By nightfall AMAGI had rolled over to a 70 degree angle, coming to rest on the bottom with almost her entire starboard side exposed." Campaigns of the Pacific War states: "Since she was already heavily flooded as a result of the attack on 24 July the additional leakage caused by the near misses was sufficient to cause her to gradually list to port. At 1000 29 July she listed 70 degrees and now lies on her side." Since we are at the mercy of English translations of Japanese originals, the obvious way to reconcile the accounts would be to suggest that 1000 should have read 10 p.m., i.e., 2200 hours 28 July. However, the inclusion of the specific date of 29 July in the entry encourages acceptance of 10 a.m. as the final capsize, and I have gone with that in the narrative above. It is important to note that while they appear to be reliable `real-time' Japanese sources, the only details we have for AMAGI's Action Report are second-hand from English translations. What we can be certain of is the various accounts that sometimes allege AMAGI was capsized and sunk on 24 July are truncating events and are incorrect.[- Tully]

Last Japanese fleet carrier sunk in the Pacific War. Details of her salvage in 1947 derived from Kojinsha No.6 [SHOKAKU-class, SORYU, HIRYU, UNRYU-class, TAIHO] as translated for by Sander Kingsepp, Hiroyuki Yamanouchi, Yutaka Iwasaki, Katsuhiro Uchida, and Quinn Bracken.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks go to Bill Somerville for correspondence that helped make sense of the locations of the Amagi in the 1945 period.


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