(ASHIGARA in 1940 - colorized photo by Irotokoo, Jr

IJN ASHIGARA: Tabular Record of Movement

© 1997-2016 Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
Revision 16

11 April 1925:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki's shipyard as a MYOKO-class cruiser.

22 April 1928:
Launched and named ASHIGARA.

8 February 1929:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Inoue Choji is appointed Chief Equipping Officer (CEO).

20 August 1929:
Completed and registered in the Sasebo Naval District.

30 November 1929:
Assigned as flagship of both CruDiv 4 (ASHIGARA, NACHI, MYOKO and HAGURO) and Vice Admira Iida Nobutaro's (former CEO/CO of NAGATO) Second Fleet.

26 October 1930:
Off Kobe. CruDiv 4 participates in the Emperor Hirohito's (Showa) Naval Review.

1 December 1930:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Otagaki Tomisaburo (former CO of KINUGASA) is appointed CO.

15 November 1933:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Yokoyama Sugao (former CO of CHOGEI) is appointed CO.

1935 Summer Maneuvers:
Off Muroran, Japan. During gunnery exercises, a flashback wrecks ASHIGARA's No. 2 turret and kills 41 men, but the magazine does not explode.

15 November 1935:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Sakura Takeo (former CO of KINU) is appointed CO.

15 June 1936:
Sasebo Navy Yard. ASHIGARA's first reconstruction is completed.

1 December 1936:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Takeda Moriji (former CO of MIKUMA) is appointed CO.

10 March 1937:
ASHIGARA is designated flagship of CruDiv 4, Second Fleet. She is detached and prepared for a trip to Europe to represent Japan at Britain's forthcoming Coronation Review. Two 60-mm Yamauchi saluting guns are fitted on both sides of the AA gun deck, and two Nakajima E8N1 Type 95 Dave two-seat floatplanes are embarked.

3 April 1937:
Departs Yokosuka flying the flag of ComCruDiv 4's Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kobayashi Sonosuke (former CO of KAGA). ASHIGARA steams to Europe via Singapore, Aden, the Suez Canal and Malta.

10 May 1937:
Arrives at Portsmouth, England.

20 May 1937: Britain's King George VI's Coronation Naval Review:
Spithead, England. ASHIGARA participates in the Coronation Review in honor of King George VI. The review is attended by 140 warships from Great Britain and her dominions and 18 foreign men-of-war including USS NEW YORK (BB-34), German Panzerschiffe ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE and incomplete French battleship DUNKERQUE. [1]

ASHIGARA drops anchor in her assigned position between the Swedish pre-dreadnought battleship DROTTNING VICTORIA and Dutch light cruiser JAVA. Royal Yacht VICTORIA AND ALBERT carrying the King passes to starboard as it troops the line of foreign warships.

During her visit to England, ASHIGARA's crew witness an air raid exercise in the Dover area. LtCdr Makino Shigeru (one of the later builders of YAMATO) notices radar towers on the Dover coast and sends a memo to the Kampon (Navy Technical Department) suggesting that the British must have invented a way to incorporate radio waves into their AA system. [2]

24 May 1937:
ASHIGARA arrives at Kiel, Germany. The majority of the crew then travels to visit the city of Berlin.

Berlin. Rear Admiral Kobayashi, Captain Takeda and CruDiv 4 senior staff officer Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Kuroshima Kameto accompanied by the Japanese Ambassador to Germany, Count Mushanokoji Kintomo and naval attache Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Kojima Hideo are received by Adolf Hitler in his office at the Reichskanzlei. [3]

27 May 1937: Japanese Naval Day:
Kiel. The Japanese celebrate Admiral Count Togo Heihachiro's 1905 victory in the Battle of Tsushima during the Russo-Japanese War .

31 May 1937: German Kriegsmarine Day.
ASHIGARA's crew join the Germans in festivities celebrating Admiral Reinhard Scheer's High Seas Fleet's tactical victory at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 during World War I. Later that day, ASHIGARA departs Kiel. She returns to Japan via Gibraltar, Port Said, Eqypt, the Suez Canal and Colombo, Ceylon.

5 July 1937:
ASHIGARA is designated the flagship of CruDiv 5.

8 July 1937:
Arrives at Sasebo.

20 August 1937:
ASHIGARA departs Atsuta (near Nagoya) with cruisers NACHI, MYOKO, HAGURO and MAYA, light cruiser JINTSU and destroyers AKEBONO, AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI, AYANAMI, ISONAMI, OBORO, SHIKINAMI and YUGIRI. ASHIGARA is carrying the IJA Expeditionary Army HQ.

21 August 1937:
Arrives at the Saddle (Ma'an) Islands, NE Zhoushan archipelago, China. Troops are transferred to JINTSU and destroyers AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI, MURASAME, OBORO, SAMIDARE, USHIO, YUDACHI and YUGIRI.

11 December 1937:
Just after midnight, American Dollar liner SS PRESIDENT HOOVER, enroute from Kobe to Manila, runs aground on a reef off the NE coast of the Formosan island of Hoishoto (also known as Samasana Island, Kasho-to, now Green Island).

HOOVER's Captain George W Yardley orders an SOS sent out for assistance and flares fired. The SOS is received by German freighter PRUSSIA that arrives at dawn, but, as the seas are still very high, she can do little. Strong winds and waves from a NE monsoon drive HOOVER further onto the shores of Green Island and she begins to list badly. At low tide around 1300, Captain Yardley orders the evacuation of his 503 passengers to the island.

At about 1500, ASHIGARA and a DesDiv 3 Minekaze-class destroyer arrive on scene to lend assistance and protect HOOVER, as does TORIYAMA MARU. That same morning, USS ALDEN (DD-211) and BARKER (DD-213) are ordered up from Manila to assist.

12 December 1937:
At 1245, ALDEN arrives on the scene and requests permission from Captain Takeda of ASHIGARA to enter Japanese territorial waters. BARKER arrives soon thereafter. An officer from ASHIGARA arrives on board ALDEN to give his government's permission to enter and assist PRESIDENT HOOVER. At 1500, TORIYAMA MARU arrives from Keelung carrying food and other necessities for HOOVER's crew and passengers.

13 December 1937:

14 December 1937:
Aboard PRESIDENT McKINLEY, news comes through about the 12 December bombing by Japanese aircraft and sinking of gunboat USS PANAY in the Yangtze River, China. McKINLEY departs for Manila carrying 700 passengers and crew. Later, SS PRESIDENT HOOVER is declared a constuctive total loss and scrapped.

15 December 1937:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Marumo Kuninori (former CO of KAKO) is appointed CO.

3 June 1938:
Captain (later Vice Admiral), the Marquis, Daigo Tadashige (former CO of TAKAO) is appointed CO.

1 December 1938:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Kamata Michiaki (former CO of KAKO) is appointed CO.

15 February 1939:
Yokosuka Navy Yard. ASHIGARA's second reconstruction is completed.

1 November 1939:
Captain Kamata assumes command of light cruiser YUBARI as an additional duty until 15 Nov '39.

22 September 1940:
Vichy France cedes airfields and agrees to admission of Japanese troops into northern Indochina (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam). The United States responds by placing a ban on the export of steel, scrap metal and aviation fuel to Japan.

15 October 1940:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Nakazawa Tasuku (former CO of ASAGAO) is appointed CO.

5 July 1941:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ichimiya Yoshiyuki (former CO of ITSUKUSHIMA) is appointed CO. Departs Takao, Formosa.

7 July 1941:
Arrives at Canton, China.

23 July 1941: Operation "FU"- The Occupation of Cochinchina (South Indochina):
Japanese and Vichy French authorities arrive at an "understanding" regarding the use of air facilities and harbors in Southern Indochina. From the next day on, Japanese forces occupy the country.

25 July 1941:
ASHIGARA departs Samah, perhaps with CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, MIKUMA, KUMANO and SUZUYA and CarDiv 2's HIRYU and SORYU.

29 July 1941:
Arrives at Saigon.

12 August 1941:
Departs Saigon.

13 August 1941:
Arrives at Samah.

15 August 1941:
Departs Samah. Cruises in Chinese waters.

23 August 1941:
Arrives at Sasebo.

2 December 1941:
ASHIGARA is the flagship of Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's (former CO of KIRISHIMA) Third Fleet and CruDiv 16 in the Philippine Seizure Force, Southern Force.

CruDiv 16 receives the signal "Niitakayama nobore (Climb Mt. Niitaka) 1208" from the Combined Fleet. This signifies that X-Day hostilities will commence on 8 December (Japan time).[4]

7 December 1941: Operation "M" - The Invasion of the Northern Philippines:
Departs Mako, Pescadores with CruDiv 4's MAYA, Cru Div 16's light cruiser KUMA and DesDiv 5s ASAKAZE and MATSUKAZE to support the North Philippine Force.

10 December 1941:
W of Luzon. At about 0800, five USN PBY-4 “Catalinas” of Patrol Wing 10 based at Los Banos attack CruDiv 16’s ASHIGARA and KUMA, CruDiv 4's MAYA and DesDiv 5's ASAKAZE and MATSUKAZE. The Catalinas fail to score a hit. At about 1300, four other PBYs from Sangley Point (Cavite) attack. They too fail to score a hit. One PBY is shot down by Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 Zeke carrier fighters of the IJN’s 3rd NAG.

11 December 1941:
Covers the invasion landings at Vigan. ASHIGARA is attacked unsuccessfully by five USAAF Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortresses" of the 14th Squadron. (The Americans later claim erroneously that Captain Colin P. Kelly sank battleship HARUNA in this attack).

14 December 1941:
Returns to Mako.

19 December 1941:
Departs Mako.

22 December 1941:
Covers the invasion landings in Lingayen Gulf.

23 December 1941:
Returns to Mako.

26 December 1941:
Departs Mako.

2 January 1942:
Departs Takao, Formosa.

6 January 1942:
Arrives at Davao, Philippines. Departs that day.

14 January 1942:
Arrives at Jolo, Philippines.

18 February 1942:
Arrives at Balikpapan, Borneo.

22 February 1942:
Arrives at Kendari, Celebes.

25 February 1942:
At Makassar, Celebes.

26 February:
MYOKO and destroyer INAZUMA arrive at Makassar from Sasebo and join ASHIGARA and destroyers IKAZUCHI and AKEBONO. All sortie the same day into the Java Sea.

27 February 1942: The Battle of the Java Sea:
NACHI and HAGURO engage cruisers HMS EXETER and USS HOUSTON (CA-30) and the Allied Force Commander Dutch Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman's light cruiser Hr.Ms DE RUYTER with guns and Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes. At 1843, HAGURO sinks destroyer Hr.Ms KORTENAER with torpedoes.

28 February 1942:
HAGURO sinks DE RUYTER with torpedoes. NACHI sinks light cruiser Hr.Ms JAVA with a torpedo. HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH retire to Batavia (Djakarta), Java.

At 1900, after refueling, HOUSTON and PERTH sortie for Tjilatjap via the Sunda Strait. At 2215, HOUSTON and PERTH attack Japanese troop transports screened only by destroyers HARUKAZE, HATAKAZE and FUBUKI. The destroyers make smoke to mask the transports. FUBUKI charges HOUSTON and PERTH and launches torpedoes.

At 2300, the Western Support Force's cruisers MIKUMA and MOGAMI, destroyer SHIKINAMI and the Third Escort Force's light cruiser NATORI, destroyers SHIRAKUMO, MURAKUMO, SHIRAYUKI, HATSUYUKI and ASAKAZE arrive and engage HOUSTON and PERTH with gunfire and torpedoes. At 2308, torpedoes strike both HOUSTON and PERTH. At 2342, PERTH sinks.

1 March 1942:
At 0030, HOUSTON sinks.

At 0850, CruDiv 5's NACHI and HAGURO with destroyers YAMAKAZE, and KAWAKAZE sight damaged cruiser HMS EXETER, destroyers HMS ENCOUNTER and USS POPE (DD-225) that are enroute to Sunda Strait from Surabaya.

At 1150, the Support Force's ASHIGARA and MYOKO with destroyers AKEBONO and INAZUMA also sight and exchange fire with the EXETER group that initiates a smoke screen. At 1245, NACHI and HAGURO also open fire on Captain Oliver L. Gordon's EXETER.

At 1250, EXETER is hit by shells, set afire and goes dead in water. AKEBONO and INAZUMA launch 18 torpedoes. At 1330, EXETER sinks. During the engagement, the Main Force expends 1,171 7.9-inch/20-cm rounds.

ASHIGARA and MYOKO damage LtCdr E. V. St. J. Morgan's destroyer HMS ENCOUNTER by a near miss from an 8-inch salvo. ENCOUNTER's Chief Engineer reports that repairs will take two hours. Surrounded and motionless with only one gun firing, Morgan orders his ship scuttled and her crew to abandon ship. At 1335, ENCOUNTER rolls over and sinks. [8]

LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Welford C. Blinn's old destroyer POPE escapes the engagement with the cruisers, only to be sunk at 1540 in attacks by aircraft from CHITOSE, MIZUHO and RYUJO. [9][10]

5 March 1942:
ASHIGARA and MYOKO arrive at Makassar, Celebes.

10 March 1942:
ASHIGARA becomes flagship of the Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet.

26 March 1942: Operation "X" - The Invasion of Christmas Island.
Departs Makassar to support the invasion of Christmas Island (190 miles S of Java).

6 April 1942:
Arrives at Makassar.

10 April 1942:
Flagship of the Southwest Area Fleet.

23 April 1942:
Departs Makassar.

28 April 1942:
Arrives at Surabaya, Java.

25 May 1942:
Departs Surabaya.

2 June 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo for a refit.

10 June 1942:

20 June 1942:

25 June 1942:
Departs Sasebo.

1 July 1942:
Arrives at Makassar.

8 July 1942:
ASHIGARA again becomes flagship of the Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet.

11 August 1942:
Departs Surabaya.

12 August 1942:
Arrives at Makassar.

21 August-September 1942:
Departs Makassar via Singapore for Surabaya, Java.

25 September 1942:
Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Ban Masami (former CO of YUBARI) is appointed CO.

30 September 1942:
Departs Surabaya on a troop transport run.

3 October 1942:
Arrives at Davao, Philippines.

4 October 1942:
Departs Davao.

8 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul, New Britain.

9 October 1942:
Arrives at Shortland. Disembarks troops who later reinforce Guadalcanal.

14 October 1942:
Arrives at Palau.

20 October 1942:
Arrives at Surabaya.

23 December 1942:
Departs Surabaya.

25 December 1942:
Arrives at the Seletar Naval Base, Singapore. Drydocked. Her hull is scraped and repainted.

2 January 1943:

5 January 1943:
Departs Singapore.

7 January-1 April 1943:
Arrives at Surabaya. Guardship duties.

1 April 1943:
Departs Surabaya.

9 April 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo. Refit. A Type 21 air-search radar is installed.

10 May 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

17 May 1943:
Arrives at Tarakan, Borneo and refuels.

18 May 1943:
Departs Tarakan.

20 May 1943:
ASHIGARA is assigned directly to the Southwest Area Fleet. Arrives at Surabaya, Java. Resumes guardship duties.

20 September 1943:
Surabaya. ASHIGARA is assigned as flagship of CruDiv 16, Southwest Area Fleet with light cruisers OI, KINU, KUMA and KITAKAMI.

22 October 1943:
Departs Surabaya.

23 October 1943:
Arrives at Singapore. Refit.

1 November 1943:
At Singapore. Training cruises in the Lingga area.

3 January 1944:
Departs Singapore with AOBA, light cruiser KUMA and destroyer URANAMI.

4 January 1944:
Arrives at Penang, Malaya and embarks Army troops and supplies.

5 January 1944:
Departs Penang.

6 January 1944:
Arrives at Mergui, Burma.

7 January 1944:
Departs Mergui.

8 January 1944:
KUMA detaches at Penang, the others continue.

9 January 1944:
ASHIGARA and AOBA arrive back at Singapore.

30 January 1944:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Miura Hayao (former XO of KONGO) is appointed CO. Captain Ban is reassigned to Headquarters, First Fleet and later is KIA as CO of FUSO.

25 February 1944:
Reassigned to CruDiv 21, Fifth Fleet (Northern Area).

27 February 1944:
Departs Singapore for Sasebo.

1 March 1944:
Alerted by codebreaker's "Ultra" signal, USS JACK (SS-259) lays in wait, but slightly off course. About 1300, unescorted ASHIGARA passes by at 25 knots, out of range.

3-29 March 1944:
Arrives at Sasebo. A Type 22 surface-search radar is installed.

29 March 1944:
Departs Sasebo via Kure for Ominato.

2 April 1944:
Arrives at Ominato. Guardship duty with NACHI.

30 April 1944:

2 May 1944:
Oiler TEIYO MARU undergoes towing replenishment training with ASHIGARA.

9 May 1944:
Kawauchi Bay, northern Honshu. ASHIGARA is refueled by oiler TEIYO MARU.

29 May 1944:
Kawauchi Bay. Oiler TEIYO MARU refuels ASHIGARA.

5 June 1944:
TEIYO MARU undergoes towing replenishment training with ASHIGARA in Kawauchi Bay.

19 June 1944:
Departs Ominato with NACHI.

21 June 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka. Refit.

29 June 1944:
Departs Yokosuka with NACHI.

1 July 1944:
Arrives at Ominato. Resumes guardship duty with NACHI.

31 July 1944:
Departs Ominato.

2 August 1944:
Arrives at Kure. Training.

15 September 1944:
Refit at Kure. Two twin-mount and 20 single-mount Type 96 25-mm AA guns are installed bringing ASHIGARA's total 25-mm suite to 48 barrels.

14 October 1944:
Departs Kure in Vice Admiral Shima Kiyohide's (former CO of OI) CruDiv 21 with NACHI and Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Masatomi Kimura's (former CO of SUZUYA) DesRon 1's light cruiser ABUKUMA and DesDiv 7's AKEBONO, KASUMI and USHIO, DesDiv 18's SHIRANUI and Des21's WAKABA, HATSUSHIMO and HATSUHARU.

15 October 1944:
Bungo Straits. Cdr Thomas L. Wogan's USS BESUGO (SS-321) spots Shima's fast moving force at 7,500 yards, but is unable to close. Wogan reports the sighting to COMSUBPAC.

16 October 1944:
Shima's force arrives at Amami-O-Shima.

18 October 1944:
Departs Amami-O-Shima with CruDiv 21 and DesRon 1.

W of Okinawa. At about 1030, Shima's force is sighted by LtCdr Orme C. Robbins' USS STERLET (SS-392) at 15 miles. Robbins closes to four miles, but is unable to get closer in the daylight. He reports the sighting to COMSUBPAC.

S of Okinawa. That evening, Shima's force is sighted by LtCdr Frederick J. Harlfingers' USS TRIGGER (SS-392) at nine miles. Harlfinger closes to five miles, but is driven off by an aircraft and a Japanese submarine that fires a torpedo at TRIGGER.

20 October 1944:
Formosa Strait. At 0400, LtCdr Richard H. O'Kane's USS TANG (SS-306) picks up Shima's zigzagging force now making 19 knots. O'Kane tracks the force until dawn, but cannot close.

Shima's force arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

21 October 1944:
Shima's force departs Mako for Manila, but is diverted to Coron, Philippines.

22 October 1944:
Luzon Strait. At about 0100, LtCdr James H. Ashley’s USS SEADRAGON (SS-194) sights Shima's force at 30,000 yards. Ashley misidentifies the force as "a carrier, two light cruisers and six destroyers." Ashley signals the sighting to Cdr Edward N. Blakely in SHARK (SS-314), commander of the wolf pack, and LtCdr Robert F. Sellars' BLACKFISH (SS-221). Ashley closes to 3,000 yards on the surface and fires his four stern tubes by radar bearings at the "carrier" and an overlapping cruiser at 21-57N, 118-14E. Ashley then takes SEADRAGON deep and evades. Later, he claims hits on both ships, but postwar these are not substantiated.

At 0855, LtCdr Richard W. Peterson's submerged USS ICEFISH (SS-367) spots a destroyer, then sights a task force of two NACHI-class heavy cruisers, escorted by three destroyers, bearing 064 T, course 160 T, speed 16 to 18 knots. ICEFISH cannot gain a position closer than 8,000 yards and is unable to attack. In heavy seas, Peterson surfaces to get off a contact report, but is forced under by Japanese planes before he can get off a report. Later that night, he tries again and is successful.

23 October 1944:
Arrives safely at Coron.

24 October 1944: Operation "SHO-I-GO"(Victory) - The Battle of Leyte Gulf:
Departs Coron to support Vice Admiral Nishimura Shoji's (former CO of HARUNA) First Raiding Force's BatDiv 2's YAMASHIRO and FUSO and CruDiv 7's MOGAMI.

Surigao Strait. At about 0420 that night, ASHIGARA and NACHI pickup two targets on their Type 22 surface-search radars. Vice Admiral Shima orders a torpedo attack and the cruisers turn to starboard to bring their tubes to bear. At 0427, each cruiser launches eight torpedoes by radar, but obtain no hits.

At 0429, NACHI collides with MOGAMI that is retiring southward. MOGAMI is holed starboard side above the waterline. NACHI's bow is rent portside and as she pulls clear, she begins to flood. Shima orders his force to retire.[5]

25 October 1944:
At 1330, ASHIGARA and DesDiv 7's KASUMI and USHIO overtake CruDiv 7's heavily damaged KUMANO that is limping towards Coron. At 1630, the group arrives at Coron where they refuel from oiler NICHIEI MARU.

27 October 1944:
Departs Coron with the NACHI and DesDiv 7. ASHIGARA detaches for Palawan. NACHI and the destroyers proceed to Manila where Task Force 38 aircraft attack them on 29 October and 5 November and sink NACHI in Manila Bay.

5 November 1944:
ASHIGARA arrives in Pagdanan (Bacuit Bay), Palawan Islands to rendevous with DesDiv 31 from Brunei.

8 November 1944:
Departs Brunei following YAMATO, carrier JUNYO, cruiser TONE and light cruiser KISO and DesDiv 30's UZUKI and the YUKUZI towards Pratas Island (near Formosa Strait). JUNYO, TONE and KISO are detached with DesDiv 30 to Manila. ASHIGARA, delayed by refueling, detaches and returns to Brunei.

17 November 1944:
Departs Brunei with battleship HARUNA and light cruiser OYODO.

18 November 1944:
Arrives at the Spratly Islands. The CINC, Fifth Fleet, Vice Admiral Shima Kiyohide, arrives from Manila aboard DesDiv 21's HATSUSHIMO accompanied by DesDiv 2's ASASHIMO and DesDiv 7's KASUMI and USHIO. Shima transfers his flag to ASHIGARA.

20 November 1944:
ASHIGARA joins CarDiv 4's ISE and HYUGA, HAGURO, HATSUSHIMO and KASUMI. Departs the Spratly Islands.

22 November 1944:
HAGURO detaches for Singapore. ASHIGARA arrives at Lingga (near Singapore).

12 December 1944:
CarDiv 4, ASHIGARA and OYODO depart Lingga.

14 December 1944:
Arrives at Camranh Bay, Indochina. Vice Admiral Shima transfers his flag from ASHIGARA to HYUGA. ASHIGARA and OYODO are detached from Car Div 4 and join Rear Admiral Kimura's Raiding Force's DesRon 2's KASUMI, ASASHIMO, KIYOSHIMO, SUGI, KASHI and KAYA for an attack on the American beachhead at San Jose, Mindoro, Philippines.

24 December 1944:
Departs Camranh with OYODO and DesRon 2.

26 December 1944:
During their approach to Mindoro, Kimura's Raiding Force is attacked by North American B-25 "Mitchell" medium-bombers. ASHIGARA is hit and damaged by a 500-lb. bomb that starts a heavy fire. All torpedoes are jettisoned. All available men fight the fire and extinguish it before it can reach the torpedo room and aft magazines. Destroyer KIYOSHIMO takes two direct bomb hits and is later sunk by a torpedo from USS PT-223.

27 December 1944: Operation "REI" - The San Jose Intrusion:
ASHIGARA bombards the American beachhead at San Jose with over 200 shells.

28 December 1944:
Returns to Camranh.

29 December 1944:
Departs Camranh.

1 January 1945:
Arrives at Singapore.

26 January 1945:
Seletar Naval Base. ASHIGARA enters drydock for repairs to the bomb damage incurred on 26 December.

28 January 1945:
Repairs are completed. Undocked.

30 January 1945:
Departs Seletar in the evening.

31 January 1945:
Arrives at Lingga.

5 February 1945:
CruDiv 5's ASHIGARA and HAGURO are transferred from the Southwest Area Fleet to the Tenth Area Fleet. During the next five months, they transport troops and supplies to the Dutch East Indies, then to the Bay of Bengal and back.

April 1945:
Departs Singapore for Batavia (Jakarta), Java.

17 April 1945:
In the afternoon, LtCdr Drijfhout van Hooff's Dutch submarine O-19 sights a NACHI-class cruiser and a destroyer. LtCdr van Hooff had received a signal warning that this squadron could be in the vicinity. The cruiser and her escort are sighted at 6 miles heading SSE, but suddenly change course 30 degrees and move outside torpedo range.

18 April 1945:
The next morning, O-19 sights the same ships again. At about 1030, LtCdr van Hooff fires a four torpedo spread from 5000 metres, but no hits are obtained. The destroyer does not counterattack.

22 April 1945:
ASHIGARA, escorted by destroyer KAMIKAZE, departs Batavia for Singapore.

Previously alerted by a coded signal, LtCdr Drijfhout van Hooff positions O-19 about 37 miles N of Batavia. At about 1330, his hydrophone operator announces the arrival of a Nachi-cruiser and her escort 1800 metres ahead. Shortly thereafter, an aircraft is sighted twice. About 1415, O-19 fires a spread of four torpedoes at ASHIGARA at a distance of over 4, 600 metres, but they all miss.

24 April 1945:
Arrives at Singapore. Captain Miura reports that he scraped a wreck or a reef. His hydrophone room is smashed.

27 April 1945:
Seletar Naval Base. ASHIGARA enters drydock. Inspection reveals no additional damage to her hull, rudder or propellers.

March 1945:
Undocked. Departs Singapore.

1 May 1945:
Captain Miura is promoted to Rear Admiral.

13 May 1945:
ASHIGARA joins HAGURO at Pulo Burnett to refuel KAMIKAZE during HAGURO's second try for the Andaman Islands. ASHIGARA then proceeds to Lingga.

4 June 1945:
Departs Singapore with KAMIKAZE.

5 June 1945:
Alerted by an "Ultra" signal, LtCdr Merrill Clementson's USS BLUEBACK (SS-326) and Cdr C. D. Rhymes' CHUB (SS-329) sight the ASHIGARA group, but the submarines are unable to attack. ASHIGARA arrives safely at Batavia, Java.

The submarines make a contact report that is intercepted by Cdr (later Vice Admiral Sir) Arthur R. Hezlet's (former CO of HMS THRASHER) HMS TRENCHANT and Cdr G. C. Clarabut's HMS STYGIAN. Hezlet is given permission to position TRENCHANT in the Banka Strait to intercept the cruiser when she returns to Singapore. [6][7]

6 June 1945:
ASHIGARA embarks about 1,600 army troops and 489 tons of materiel. At some point in 1945, ASHIGARA's three floatplanes are landed as are her torpedoes. Her torpedo tubes are then packed with food rations and munitions.

7 June 1945:
At 1000, ASHIGARA, escorted by destroyer KAMIKAZE, departs Batavia via the Bangka Strait for Singapore. ASHIGARA's port engine is inoperable. USS BLUEBACK reports ASHIGARA's and her escort's departure northbound, but is unable to attack. TRENCHANT negotiates a minefield in the northern entrance to the Banka Strait and takes up position on the inside of the Strait. STYGIAN takes the other side. Hezlet remains on the surface.

KAMIKAZE dashes up the Strait and takes TRENCHANT under fire. STYGIAN fires a torpedo at the destroyer, but misses. Hezlet crash dives. As depth charges explode nearby, he sights ASHIGARA coming north, hugging the Sumatran coast.

At 1215, Cdr Hezlet fires eight Mark VIII torpedoes from his bow and deck tubes at ASHIGARA from 4,700 yards. The cruiser's lookouts spot the torpedoes, but she is trapped between the shore and a minefield. ASHIGARA tries to turn into and comb the torpedoes, but she cannot complete the maneuver in time because of her inoperable port engine. She is hit by five torpedoes and reduced to a wreck. Navigation becomes impossible. She moves ahead by inertia and her AA guns open fire briefly on TRENCHANT's periscope. After some thirty of his crewmen observe the sinking cruiser through the periscope, Hezlet circles to bring his stern tubes to bear and fires two more torpedoes.

At 1237, ASHIGARA capsizes to starboard and sinks at 01-59S, 104-56E. KAMIKAZE rescues 853 crewmen and about 400 army troops.

Rear Admiral Miura survives the sinking of his ship and is rescued by KAMIKAZE. On 20 June 1945 he is appointed Assistant Chief of Staff, 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet.

20 August 1945:
Removed from Navy List.

Authors' notes:

[1] Spithead is located on the eastern part of the channel between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

[2] Early in 1936, the British Air Ministry established the Bawdsey Research Station, Suffolk, as the center for all pre-war radar experiments for both the Air Force and the Army. Experimental equipment was brought up to a high state of reliability and ranges of over 100 miles on aircraft were obtained. In 1937, a prototype Radio Detection Finding (RDF) station (called Chain Home) was handed over to the Royal Air Force. The first of three major pre-war air-defence exercises was carried out in the summer of 1937.

[3] The courtesy meeting with Hitler was in return for the Emperor's receiving the captains of some German cruisers that visited Japan in the '30s.

[4] Mt. Niitaka, located in Formosa (now Taiwan), was the highest point in the Japanese Empire at the time.

[5] Readers interested in more detail about this collision should see "The NACHI ~ MOGAMI Collision: A Study in the Fragility of History"

[6] In September 1943, Lt A. R. Hezlet's submarine HMS THRASHER tows the midget submarine HMS X5 from Loch Cairnbawn, Scotland to Kaafjord, Norway to join with five other midgets in an attack on German battleship TIRPITZ in Operation "Source". Four charges explode under TIRPITZ and put her out of action for months. In October 1944, at Phuket, Malaya, LtCdr Hezlet's HMS TRENCHANT successfully launches two Mark II Chariot midgets against Italian liners SUMATRA and VOLPI. Admiral Hezlet dies in Nov 2007 at age 93.

[7] In July 1945, Lt G. C. Clarabut's submarine HMS STYGIAN tows the midget submarine HMS XE3 from Brunei to an area near Singapore from which the midget attacks and blows the bottom out of anchored cruiser TAKAO in Operation "Struggle".

[8] On 21 February 2007, a group of divers operating from MV EMPRESS out of Singapore, including Australian photo-journalist Kevin Denlay, locate the wrecks of British heavy cruiser HMS EXETER and destroyer HMS ENCOUNTER in the Java Sea. The two warships were found at a depth of about 60m/200ft, 90 miles north of Bawean Island, about 350 nautical miles from Sunda Strait. EXETER lays on her starboard. Her faithful consort ENCOUNTER rests about two miles away. About 50 of EXETER's crew were killed, while 650 were made prisoners of war. Of these, 152 died in Japanese PoW camps. About eight of ENCOUNTER's crew were killed and 149 were made PoWs, of whom 38 died in captivity.

[9] On 3 March 1942, destroyer INAZUMA returned to the scene and rescued 151 of POPE's crew from life rafts and a lone whaleboat. Only one of POPE's crewmen was lost in the battle. INAZUMA landed the POWs at Makassar, Celebes. Earlier, on 1 March, INAZUMA had rescued 376 of EXETER and ENCOUNTER's crewmen. [10] In December 2008, the remains of USS POPE (DD-225) was located in the Java Sea in approx 105 feet/32 meters of water by owner/skipper Vidar Skoglie’s dive vessel MV EMPRESS operating out of Singapore. The old destroyer appears to have been found earlier by Indonesian salvage divers and very little remains but a rusted iron ‘skeleton’. The destroyer had been heavily damaged by the salvors using explosive charges.

Special thanks for assistance in researching the IJN officers mentioned in this TROM go to Mr. Jean-François Masson of Canada. Thanks also go to Randy Stone of the United States and "Adm. Gurita" of the Netherlands. Kudos also go to Andrew Obluski of Poland who provided some outstanding details of ASHIGARA's pre-war activity.

Thanks also go to the late John Whitman and to Fontessa-san of Japan for info about 1937 troop movement. Thanks go to J-air reader Steve C for info about ASHIGARA's condition at the time of her sinking.

- Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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