JUNYOKAN!

(CHOKAI by Ueda Kihachiro)

HIJMS CHOKAI: Tabular Record of Movement

© 1997-2014 Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
Revision 14


26 March 1928:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi's shipyard as Cruiser No. 12.

13 April 1928:
Cruiser No. 12 is tentatively named CHOKAI.

5 April 1931:
Launched and named CHOKAI. Captain Miki Taichi (35), current Chief Equipping Officer (CEO) of ASHIGARA, is appointed CEO of CHOKAI

1 December 1931:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hosogaya Boshiro (36) is appointed CEO.

30 June 1932:
Completed simultaneously with sister MAYA and registered in the Yokosuka Naval District. Captain Hosogaya is the Commanding Officer.

Early July 1932:
Transferred to Yokosuka.

1 December 1932:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Tanimoto Umataro (35)(former CO of YURA) is appointed CO. Assigned to CruDiv 4, Second Fleet with TAKAO, ATAGO, and MAYA, replacing the MYOKO class heavy cruisers.

April 1933:
CruDivs 4 and 5 participate in night gunnery exercises and long-range firing drills, using floatplane spotting.

29 June 1933:
CruDivs 4 and 6 depart Sasebo for a cruise in Taiwanese waters.

5 July 1933:
CruDivs 4 and 6 arrive at Makung, Pescadores.

13 July 1933:
CruDivs 4 and 6 depart Takao to participate in Great Special Maneuvers off Truk and southern Honshu with the Blue Fleet.

18 August 1933:
Arrives at Kisarazu Bight.

25-26 August 1933:
CHOKAI participates in the 16th Naval Review off Yokohama with Emperor Showa (Hirohito) aboard.

18 October 1933:
Dry-docked at Yokosuka for a refit.

15 November 1933:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Koike Shiro (37)(former CO of AOBA) is posted CO.

2 February 1934:
CruDiv 4 departs Yokosuka for squadron training off Kyushu.

April 1934:
CruDiv 4 returns to Yokosuka.

27 September 1934:
CruDivs 4 and 6 depart Port Arthur for Tsingtao.

5 October 1934:
CruDivs 4 and 6 arrive at Sasebo.

22 October-30 December 1934:
Steering gear repairs at Yokosuka.

15 November 1934:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Mikawa Gunichi (38)(former CO of AOBA) is appointed CO.

29 January-20 February 1935:
Machinery repairs at Yokosuka.

29 March 1935:
CruDivs 4 and 6 depart Yuya Bay, Honshu, for a cruise in central Chinese waters.

4 April 1935:
CruDivs 4 and 6 arrive at Sasebo.

August-September 1935:
CruDiv 4 participates in the Annual Grand Exercise hold along the coast of Honshu as a part of the Blue Fleet.

2 October 1935:
Following the Fourth Fleet incident on 26 September, the maneuvers are canceled. CruDiv 4 returns to Yokosuka.

15 November 1935:
Placed in reserve at Yokosuka. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kasuga Atsushi (37) is appointed CO.

13 May-31 July 1936::BR> Undergoes hull strengthening works at Yokosuka Navy Yard as the first unit of the TAKAO class.

29 October 1936:
Participates in the 17th Fleet Review in Kobe Bight.

31 October 1936-31 July 1937:
Refit at Yokosuka. The turbines are modernized and 40-mm Vickers AA guns replaced with 13.2-mm Type 93 quadruple machine guns. The pole derrick on the mainmast is replaced by a built-up derrick. The Sperry type searchlights are replaced by Type 92 sets. The quadropod foremast is shortened and a RDF room is added.

1 December 1936:
Captain Okumoto Takeo (38) is appointed CO.

12 July 1937:
Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Goto Aritomo (38)(former CO of ATAGO) is appointed CO.

7 August 1937:
Rejoins CruDiv 4.

10 August 1937:
CruDiv 4 departs Sasebo to patrol in northern Chinese waters.

Late August 1937:
CruDiv 4 returns to Sasebo.

6 September 1937:
CHOKAI departs Port Arthur to patrol in central Chinese waters.

21 November 1937:
Returns to Sasebo.

9 April 1938:
CruDiv 4 (now comprising CHOKAI and MAYA) departs Terajima Strait to rendezvous with CruDiv 8, DesRon 1, and SubRon 2 for a joint cruise off southern Chinese coast.

13 April 1938:
CruDiv 4 arrives at Takao, Taiwan.

September-early October 1938:
CruDivs 4 and 7 conduct joint gunnery training off Ariake Bay, Kyushu.

17 October 1938:
CruDivs 4 and 7 depart Terajima Strait with a squadron including BatDivs 1, 3, and light cruiser ABUKUMA to patrol the southern Chinese coast.

27 October 1938:
CruDiv 4 arrives at Makung.

15 November 1938:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Hoshina Zenshiro (41)(former CO of MYOKO) is appointed CO.

21 March 1939:
CruDiv 4 departs Sasebo for a cruise in northern Chinese waters.

3 April 1939:
Arrives at Ariake Bay to join the Combined Fleet for gunnery training that lasts until May.

1 November 1939:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kouda Takero (41)(former CO of YUBARI) is appointed CO.

10 November 1939:
CHOKAI is reassigned to the Fifth Fleet.

15 November 1939:
CHOKAI is reassigned as the flagship of the Fifth Fleet/CruDiv 15.

19 October 1940:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Watanabe Seishichi (42)(former CO of JINGEI) is appointed CO.

20 November 1941:
CHOKAI is in CruDiv 4 as flagship of Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo's (former CO of HARUNA) First Southern Expeditionary Fleet of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (former CO of KONGO) Second Fleet, Southern (Malay) Force.

Departs Kure with CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, MIKUMA and SUZUYA, less Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo (former CO of KONGO) and flagship KUMANO that departs Kure on 23 November.

26 November 1941:
CHOKAI and CruDiv 7 arrive at Samah, Hainan Island, China.

26 November 1941:
ComCruDiv 7 Kurita and KUMANO arrive at Samah.

2 December 1941:
CHOKAI 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).[1]

4 December 1941: Operation "E" - The Invasion of Malaya:
CHOKAI, CruDiv 7, SubRon 5's light cruiser YURA, eight destroyers and four submarines depart Samah as part of the close support force for the seizure of Malaya. Operates off Cap Camau, Indochina then Camranh Bay.

9 December 1941: The Pursuit of the Royal Navy's "Force Z":
At 1415, LtCdr Harada Hakue's submarine I-65 reports sighting a British force steaming NNW at 14 knots. This is Admiral Sir Tom S. V. Phillips who sorties from Singapore to find and attack the Malaya invasion transports with his Force Z: Captain J. C. Leach's new battleship HMS PRINCE OF WALES, Captain (later Vice Admiral) W. G. Tennant's old battlecruiser HMS REPULSE, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, EXPRESS, TENEDOS and Australian destroyer HMAS VAMPIRE.

Vice Admiral Kondo's Southern (Malay) Force's Main Body of BatDiv 3/2's KONGO and HARUNA, CruDiv 4's ATAGO and TAKAO and eight destroyers sortie S from the Poulo Condore area to engage Force Z at daylight the next day. Kondo orders Vice Admiral Ozawa's CHOKAI and Rear Admiral Kurita's CruDiv 7, DesRon 3's light cruiser SENDAI and four destroyers to make a night attack against Force Z, but no contact is made.

A Japanese reconnaissance aircraft searching for Force Z mistakes CHOKAI for one of the British ships and makes a sighting report. Fifty-three bombers arrive soon and begin positioning for attack. The reconnaissance plane drops a flare to illuminate the target. At the last moment, the ship is recognized as friendly and the attack is broken off. Aboard the flagship, Ozawa signals CHOKAI's identity to Saigon. All aircraft are recalled and the search is postponed until daylight.

10 December 1941:
At dawn, Ozawa and Kurita's cruisers join the Main Body in the hunt for Force Z. That afternoon, off Kuantan, Malaya, Force Z is overwhelmed by 88 torpedo-bombers (Type 96 Mitsubishi G3M2 "Nells" and Type 1 G4M1 "Bettys") of the Genzan, Kanoya and Mihoro Kokutais of Rear Admiral Matsunaga Sadaichi's (former CO of ISUZU) 22nd Air Flotilla based at Saigon and Thudaumot, Indochina. 840 British seamen are lost including Admiral Phillips.

CHOKAI and the other IJN ships receive reports of the sinking of both British capital ships and depart the search area. CHOKAI returns to Camranh Bay on 11 December.

13 December 1941:
Departs Camranh with light cruiser KINU. Provides cover for Second Malaya Convoy NE of Kuantan, Malaya.

20 December 1941:
Returns to Camranh.

5 January 1942:
Departs Camranh with Vice Admiral Kurita's CruDiv 7, section 1's KUMANO and SUZUYA. They cover troop movements to Borneo with destroyers MURAKUMO and SHIRAKUMO.

9 January 1942:
Returns to Camranh.

16 January 1942:
Departs Camranh with CruDiv 7, light cruisers YURA and KINU and DesRon 3 in response to a false report that a British RENOWN-class battleship is at Singapore.

18 January 1942:
Returns to Camranh.

10 February 1942: Operation "L" - The Invasions of Palembang and Bangka Island, Sumatra.
In the morning, CHOKAI departs Camranh Bay with CruDiv 7 to escort 25 invasion transports.

That same day, LtCdr Theodore Aylward's USS SEARAVEN (SS-196) receives an “Ultra” message from Captain (later Vice Admiral) John Wilkes, ComSubAsia in Java alerting SEARAVEN that a convoy departed Camranh Bay heading towards Sumatra. Aylward races to the position given, submerges and waits.

11 February 1942:
In the morning, in heavy seas, the convoy appears on the horizon. Aylward sets up on two heavy cruisers and at close range fires two torpedoes at each cruiser, but all four torpedoes –unreliable Mark 14’s – miss.

15 February 1942: The Battle for Palembang:
Dutch Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman tries to attack the Japanese invasion force off Bangka Island, but at 0923, a floatplane from CHOKAI discovers Doorman's ABDA naval force. Soon after the floatplane's report, aircraft from the light carrier RYUJO and the land-based Genzan Kokutai attack the Allied force. Destroyers USS BARKER (DD-213) and BULMER (DD-222) are damaged. Dutch destroyer HMNS VAN GHENT runs aground the same day in the Gaspar Strait on an uncharted reef and is lost.

19 February 1942:
Off Cap St. Jacques near Saigon.

22 February 1942:
Near Cap St. Jacques, CHOKAI strikes a reef and damages her hull.

25 February 1942:
Departs Cap St. Jacques area for Singapore, escorted by destroyer AYANAMI.

27 February 1942:
Arrives at Singapore. Drydocked. Undergoes hull repairs at the No. 101 Repair Facility at Seletar Naval Base.

9 March 1942: Operation "T" - The Invasion of Northern Sumatra:
Departs Singapore with CruDiv 7 to cover the invasion landings in northern Sumatra at Sabang.

12 March 1942:
Covers the invasion landings at Iri, Sumatra.

15 March 1942:
Returns to Singapore.

20 March 1942:
Departs Singapore with CruDiv 7 to cover the invasion of the Andaman Islands and the seizure of Port Blair.

26 March 1942:
Arrives at Mergui, Burma.

1 April 1942: Operation "C" - The Raids in the Indian Ocean:
Flagship of Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo's (former CO of HARUNA) Second Expeditionary Fleet, Malay Force. At 1100, Ozawa's Mobile Force: CruDiv 4's CHOKAI and Cru Div 7's SUZUYA, KUMANO, MIKUMA and MOGAMI depart Mergui and steam into the Bay of Bengal with destroyers AYANAMI, YUGIRI, ASAGIRI and SHIOKAZE to attack merchant shipping. CHOKAI and YURA support CarDiv 4's light carrier RYUJO.

5 April 1942:
At 2030, the Mobile Force separates into three groups to attack merchant shipping in the Bay of Bengal. CruDiv 7/1's KUMANO and SUZUYA, under Rear Admiral Kurita, form the Northern Group with destroyer SHIRAKUMO. CHOKAI, SubRon 5's light cruiser YURA, DesDiv 20's YUGIRI and ASAGIRI form the Center Group under Admiral Ozawa. MOGAMI, MIKUMA and destroyer AMAGIRI form the Southern Group.

6 April 1942:
Bay of Bengal. After 0730, KUMANO and SUZUYA and destroyer SHIRAKUMO attack a six-ship convoy and sink 4,986-ton American Export Line’s EXMOOR (ex-CITY OF ST. JOSEPH), 9,066-ton British freighter MALDA, 7,621-ton British freighter AUTOCLYCUS and 2,441-ton British freighter SHINKUANG at 19N, 86E. Ozawa's cruisers also sink 6,622-ton British freighter INDORA and Captain J. H. Gregory’s British India Line’s 4,921-ton cargo ship SILKSWORTH. About 50 of SILKSWORTH's mostly Chinese crewmen survive.

25 miles S of Vizgapatam, northern Indian coast. RYUJO's aircraft bomb and sink American freighter SELMA CITY. RYUJO's aircraft also bomb British cargo ship GANGES. She is finished off by gunfire from CHOKAI, YURA, RYUJO and one of DesDiv 20's destroyers.

Bay of Bengal. RYUJO's aircraft bomb American freighter BIENVILLE. She is finished off by a torpedo from CHOKAI.

6-9 April 1942:
Ozawa's commerce raiding detachment sinks over twenty ships during their brief foray in the Bay of Bengal. [2]

11 April 1942:
Arrives at Singapore. Ozawa's flag is transferred to light cruiser KASHII.

13 April 1942:
Departs Singapore with destroyer SHIOKAZE.

22 April 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

25 April 1942:
Captain (later Vice Admiral, posthumously) Hayakawa Mikio (former CO of NOTORO) is appointed CO.

3 May 1942:
Drydocked at Yokosuka. Two twin Type 96 25-mm AA mounts are installed abreast the forward funnel. Two Type 93 13-mm twin machine guns on the forebridge platforms are likewise replaced by twin 25-mm mounts.

9 May 1942:
Undocked.

13 May 1942:
Flagship of Vice Admiral Kondo's Second Fleet.

21 May 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for Hashirajima, arriving on the 23rd.

27 May 1942: Operation "MI" - The Battle of Midway:
CruDiv 4 section 1's CHOKAI and ATAGO (new flagship of the Second Fleet) depart Hashirajima with Vice Admiral Kondo's Strike Force, Support Force, Main Body's BatDiv 3/ 1's HIEI and KONGO, CruDiv 5's MYOKO and HAGURO, DesRon 4's light cruiser YURA, destroyers MURASAME, SAMIDARE, HARUSAME, YUDACHI, ASAGUMO, MINEGUMO and NATSUGUMO.

14 June 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima-Kure.

14 July 1942:
Designated flagship of Vice Admiral Mikawa's Eighth Fleet (Outer South Seas Force).

19 July 1942:
DDeparts Hashirajima for Rabaul in company of ASAGUMO and NATSUGUMO. Vice Admiral Mikawa and staff are embarked on CHOKAI.

25 July 1942:
Arrives at Truk. Vice Admiral Mikawa is briefed by Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Inoue Shigeyoshi, C-in-C, Fourth Fleet.

28 July 1942:
Departs Truk for Rabaul in company of DesDiv 16/1's YUKIKAZE and TOKITSUKAZE.

30 July 1942:
Simpson Harbor, Rabaul. By 1700, Eighth Fleet HQ and its 103-man staff are transferred ashore.

31 July-7 August 1942:
Departs Rabaul for the Moewe Passage (near Kavieng). Anchors with CruDiv 6's AOBA, KAKO, KINUGASA and FURUTAKA.

7 August 1942: American Operation "Watchtower" - The Invasion of Guadalcanal, Solomons:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's (former CO of ASTORIA, CA-34) Amphibious Task Force 62, covered by Vice Admiral (MOH '14/later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher's (former CO of VERMONT, BB-20) Task Force 61 and Rear Admiral (later Admiral) John S. McCain's (former CO of RANGER, CV-4) Task Force 63's land-based aircraft, lands Maj Gen (later General/MOH/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and Guadalcanal opening the campaign to take the island.

7-8 August 1942:
CHOKAI departs the Moewe Passage with CruDiv 6 for Rabaul. Embarks Vice Admiral Mikawa and staff, then proceeds through the "Slot" towards Guadalcanal with light cruisers TENRYU and YUBARI and destroyer YUNAGI. The submarine USS S-38 sights the IJN force in St. George's Channel, but is unable to attack.

9 August 1942: The Battle of Savo Island.
Vice Admiral Mikawa aboard CHOKAI leads CruDiv 6 in a night gun and torpedo action. At 2312, CHOKAI, KAKO and FURUTAKA each launch a floatplane to provide illumination. They soon report three cruisers south of Savo.

The Japanese approach W of Savo undetected, surprise and sink Captain Samuel N. Moore's QUINCY (CA-39) and Captain (later Rear Admiral) Frederick L. Riefkohl's VINCENNES (CA-44) and heavily damage Captain William G. Greenman's ASTORIA (CA-34), Captain Frank E. Getting's (former CO of AMC HMAS KANIMBLA) cruiser HMAS CANBERRA, Captain Howard D. Bode's CHICAGO (CA-29) and RALPH TALBOT (DD-390) and PATTERSON (DD-392).[3]

CHOKAI takes several hits from QUINCY and ASTORIA that knock out her No. 1 turret and kill 34 crewmen. She returns to Rabaul.

10 August 1942:
At dawn, CHOKAI returns to Rabaul, where Vice Admiral Mikawa's flag is returned ashore. She is repaired by the 8th Submarine Base Unit until 17 August. The forward turret is partially restored, so that only its starboard gun becomes usable.

Savo. In the morning, an American destroyer scuttles and sinks heavily damaged HMAS CANBERRA. About noon, attempts to salvage heavily listing ASTORIA fail. She rolls over on her port beam and sinks by the stern at 1216. CHICAGO undergoes repairs until January 1943.

10-15 August 1942:
Rabaul. CHOKAI undergoes temporary repairs.

19 August 1942:
Redesignated as flagship of the Eighth Fleet.

22 August 1942:
Departs Rabaul for Shortland with destroyer ISOKAZE.

23 August 1942:
Departs Shortland with CruDiv 6 to provide distant cover for the Guadalcanal reinforcement convoys.

24-25 August 1942:
During the night, floatplanes from CHOKAI, KINUGASA and light cruiser YURA drop bombs on Lunga Point.

25-26 August 1942:
During the night, floatplanes from CHOKAI, AOBA, KINUGASA, FURUTAKA and YURA again bomb the Lunga area.

26 August 1942:
Returns to Rabaul.

6 September 1942:
At Rabaul with destroyer ARIAKE.

10 September 1942:
Departs Rabaul. Arrives at Shortland.

16-20 September 1942:
Departs Shortland with destroyer KAGERO.

30 September 1942:
Departs Rabaul.

1 October 1942:
At Shortland with CruDiv 6. Embarks Type 0 Common shells instead of Type 91 APs.

13 October 1942:
At 0630, Vice Admiral Mikawa departs Shortland for Guadalcanal with KINUGASA, DesDiv 20's AMAGIRI and DesDiv 30's MOCHIZUKI.

14 October 1942:
CHOKAI and KINUGASA bombard Henderson Field with destroyers AMAGIRI and MOCHIZUKI.

15 October 1942:
Returns to Shortland.

24-26 October 1942:
Provides cover for a Guadalcanal reinforcement convoy with KINUGASA.

1-5 November 1942:
Provides cover for another Guadalcanal reinforcement convoy with KINUGASA.

13 November 1942: The Naval Bombardment of Henderson Field:
Vice Admiral Mikawa departs Shortland for Guadalcanal with his Main Body's CHOKAI and KINUGASA, light cruiser ISUZU and destroyers ARASHIO and ASASHIO.

The Main Body accompanies Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Nishimura Shoji's (former CO of HARUNA) Bombardment Unit's MAYA and SUZUYA, light cruiser TENRYU, DesDiv 4's MICHISHIO and DesDiv 10's KAZAGUMO, MAKIGUMO and YUGUMO. CHOKAI launches floatplanes to drop magnesium parachute flares and light targets for the bombardment of Henderson Field.

14 November 1942:
From 0130-0200, MAYA and SUZUYA bombard Henderson Field with 989 8-inch shells, then retire towards Shortland. The task force is attacked by LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Glynn R. Donaho's USS FLYING FISH (SS-229). Donaho fires, but misses one of the heavy cruisers with six unreliable Mark-14 steam torpedoes.

Around 0830, Captain George E. Dooley's flight of six Marine Grumman TBF "Avenger" torpedo-bombers from VMSB-131 at Guadalcanal attack a "MOGAMI-class" heavy cruiser (actually CHOKAI) and claim five torpedo hits (two to the port side and three to the starboard). In reality, CHOKAI evades all torpedoes, receiving no damage.

After 1030, CHOKAI is attacked by five Douglas SBD-3 "Dauntless" dive-bombers from USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) VB-10, led by LtCdr James A. Thomas. Ensign Edwin J. Stevens and Ensign Jefferson H. Carroum score two near misses off CHOKAI's starboard side. The concussion floods some compartments and two boiler rooms are temporarily disabled, but the cruiser is still capable of 29 knots, arriving at Shortland on that same day. One sailor is wounded. [4]

16 November 1942:
Departs Shortland with destroyers KAGERO, YUGUMO, MAKIGUMO, KAZAGUMO, OYASHIO and SUZUKAZE.

17 November 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

18 November 1942:
Departs Rabaul via Kavieng with SUZUKAZE.

20 November 1942:
Arrives at Truk. Undergoes repairs.

1 December 1942:
Departs Truk.

2 December 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

December 1942-10 February 1943:
On station in the Rabaul-Kavieng area.

11 February 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

13 February 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

15 February 1943:
Departs Truk in company of carrier CHUYO and several destroyers, including ARASHI.

20 February 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka. Refit.

1 March 1943:
CHOKAI is dry-docked at Yokosuka until 13 March. Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Aruga Kosaku (former ComDesDiv 4) is appointed CO replacing Captain Hayakawa who becomes CO of YAMASHIRO.

4 April 1943:
Departs Yokosuka via Saeki with a task group that includes escort carriers TAIYO, CHUYO and destroyers OYASHIO, KUROSHIO, HIBIKI and SAZANAMI.

7 April 1943:
The task group arrives at Saipan and departs the same day. USS HADDOCK (SS-231) sights the group but is unable to attack.

9 April 1943:
At 2248, the task group is attacked by USS TUNNY (SS-282) at 06-07N, 150-28E. The submarine fires all ten of her torpedo tubes, but most premature or miss. TAIYO is damaged slightly. CHOKAI and CHUYO are undamaged.

10 April 1943:
Arrives at Truk with CHUYO and TAIYO.

13 April 1943:
Departs Truk on a troop transport run to Rabaul and Kavieng with HAGIKAZE.

15 April 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul, later departs for Kavieng.

20 April 1943:
Arrives back at Truk.

30 June 1943:
Departs Truk with DesDiv 17's YUKIKAZE, SUZUKAZE and KAWAKAZE (the latter returns after grazing a reef).

2 July 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

5 July 1943:
Arrives at Shortland.

7 July 1943:
Departs Shortland with DesDiv 11's HATSUYUKI and DesDiv 12's MURAKUMO and SHIRAKUMO.

8 July 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

18 July 1943:
CHOKAI and SUZUYA depart Rabaul for the Vella Gulf with the light cruiser SENDAI and DesDiv 27's YUGURE, DesDiv 31's KIYONAMI and two other destroyers to cover other destroyers acting as fast transports carrying troop reinforcements. Off Kolombangara, the group is attacked by Guadalcanal-based Marine Grumman TBM "Avenger" torpedo-bombers. A near-miss damages CHOKAI's aft hull plates.

20 July 1943:
Attacked by North American B-25 "Mitchell" skip bombers. DesDiv 27's YUGURE and DesDiv 31's KIYONAMI are sunk with all hands.

21 July 1943:
CHOKAI returns to Rabaul.

10 August 1943:
Departs Rabaul for Truk.

11 August 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

13 August 1943:
Departs Truk.

16 August 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka, dry-docked until 11 September for hull and steering gear repairs. During the same refit a Type 21 surface-search radar and two additional Type 96 25-mm AA mounts are installed.

20 August 1943:
Reassigned to CruDiv 4, Second Fleet.

15 September 1943:
Departs Yokosuka via Shortland and Rabaul with MAYA and destroyers SHIMAKAZE and NAGANAMI carrying a SNLF unit.

20 September 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

5-6 October 1943:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Alfred E. Montgomery's (former CO of RANGER, CV-4) Task Force 14's carriers USS ESSEX (CV-9), YORKTOWN (CV-10), LEXINGTON (CV-16), INDEPENDENCE (CV-22), BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24) and COWPENS (CVL-25) launch raids on Wake Island and the Marshall Islands.

17 October 1943:
The Japanese intercept radio traffic that suggests the Americans are planning another raid on Wake. The CINC, Combined Fleet, Admiral Koga Mineichi (former CO of ISE) sorties from Truk to Brown Atoll, Eniwetok to intercept the Americans with the fleet: BatDiv 1's YAMATO, MUSASHI and NAGATO, BatDiv 2's FUSO, Bat Div 3's KONGO and HARUNA, CarDiv 1's SHOKAKU, ZUIKAKU and ZUIHO, CruDiv 4's ATAGO, CHOKAI, TAKAO and the MAYA, CruDiv 7's SUZUYA, MOGAMI, CruDiv 8's CHIKUMA and TONE, light cruisers AGANO, NOSHIRO and OYODO and destroyers.

26 October 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

26 October 1943:
At Truk.

3 November 1943:
Departs Truk for Rabaul with CruDivs 4, 7, CruDiv 8's CHIKUMA and MOGAMI and destroyers to attack U.S. forces that landed at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville on 1 November. Enroute, CHOKAI is detached with destroyer SUZUNAMI to assist the damaged tankers NISSHO MARU and NICHIEI MARU.

6 November 1943:
Arrives at Truk with tankers.

10 November 1943:
The CHOKAI assumes the duties of flagship of CruDiv 4 from ATAGO.

20 November 1943: American Operation "Galvanic" - The Invasion of the Gilberts:
Forces under Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Raymond A. Spruance (former CO of MISSISSIPPI, BB-41), Commander, Central Pacific, invade Tarawa and Makin Islands. The invasion fleet of 200 ships includes 13 battleships and 11 carriers.

24 November 1943:
The CHOKAI departs Truk in response to the American invasion of Tarawa with CruDiv 7's SUZUYA, KUMANO, the light cruiser NOSHIRO, destroyers HATSUZUKI, SUZUTSUKI, HAMAKAZE, FUJINAMI and HAYANAMI. Fleet tanker NIPPON MARU provides support escorted by the YAMAGUMO, MAIKAZE and NOWAKI.

26-27 November 1943:
At Kwajalein.

28-29 November 1943:
At Eniwetok.

30 November-3 December 1943:
At Roi.

5 December 1943:
Arrives back at Truk.

14 January 1944:
At Truk. CruDiv 4's flag is returned to ATAGO. Probably at that time ten Type 96 25-mm single mounts are added.

21 January 1944:
Departs Truk to escort supply ship IRAKO torpedoed the day before by USS SEADRAGON (SS-194).

31 January 1944: American Operation "Flintlock" - The Invasion of the Marshall Islands:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's (former CO of HORNET, CV-8) Task Force 58 lands the 4th Marine Division and the Army's 7th Infantry Division that soon capture the Kwajalein, Roi-Namur and Majuro atolls.

4 February 1944:
Two USMC Consolidated PB4Y-1 (B-24) "Liberator" photo-reconnaissance planes from Bougainville overfly Truk at high altitude. Battleship MUSASHI opens fire, but without effect.

This overflight, combined with the invasion of the Marshalls and recent radio intelligence decrypts, convince the CINC, Combined Fleet, Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Koga Mineichi (former CO of ISE) to withdraw the major portion of his heavy units to Palau.

10 February 1944:
Departs Truk for Palau with CruDiv 5's HAGURO and MYOKO, CruDiv 4's ATAGO and destroyers.

At 2100, USS PERMIT (SS-178) attacks the cruiser force in a night surface attack at 08-27N, 149-24E, but misses with four torpedoes.

13 February-29 March 1944:
At Palau.

17-18 February 1944: American Operation "Hailstone" - The Attack on Truk Lagoon:
Task Force 58's five fleet carriers and four light carriers, supported by six battleships, ten cruisers and 28 destroyers, launch air attacks on Japanese ships in the lagoon, airfields and shore installations. They sink 31 transports and 10 naval vessels (two cruisers, four destroyers and four auxiliary vessels), destroy nearly 200 aircraft and damage severely about 100 more. Truk is eliminated as a major fleet anchorage for the IJN.

19 February 1944:
Palau. CHOKAI receives fresh provisions replenishment from stores ship KITAKAMI MARU.

1 March 1944:
CruDiv 4 is reassigned to Vice Admiral Ozawa's First Mobile Fleet. 11 March 1944:
Palau. CHOKAI receives fresh provisions replenishment from KITAKAMI MARU.

29 March 1944:
CHOKAI sorties from Palau with CruDiv 4's ATAGO, MAYA and TAKAO and CruDiv 5's MYOKO and HAGURO to avoid anticipated carrier air raids.

1-4 April 1944:
CHOKAI is at Davao, Philippines with CruDivs 4 and 5. CHOKAI receives fresh provisions replenishment from supply ship KITAKAMI MARU.

6 April 1944:
The cruiser force is attacked by LtCdr (later Captain) Bladen Clagett's USS DACE (SS-247), but he misses with six improperly set bow torpedoes. The cruiser force is also sighted by Cdr William S. Stovall's DARTER (SS-227), but he is unable to attack.

7 April 1944:
USS SCAMP (SS-277) sights the cruiser force coming out of Davao Bay, but the submarine is detected and is unable to attack.

9 April 1944:
Arrives at Lingga (S of Singapore). Conducts battle training exercises during the month.

21 April-3 May 1944:
Seletar Naval Base. Undergoes minor upkeep. During that time Captain Aruga contracts dengue fever, but still retains command of the ship.

11 May 1944:
Departs Lingga with CruDiv 4 for the First Mobile Fleet's advance anchorage at Tawi Tawi.

14 May 1944:
Arrives at Tawi Tawi.

6 June 1944:
Tawi Tawi. After Captain Aruga's condition becomes critical, Captain Tanaka Jo (47)(former CO of KITAKAMI) assumes command. Due to lack of suitable shore facilities Aruga has to be treated aboard CHOKAI. Captain Aruga later becomes CO of YAMATO.

13 June 1944: Operation "A-GO" - The Battle of the Philippine Sea:
Departs Tawi Tawi with Vice Admiral Ozawa's Mobile Fleet for Guimaras near Panay, Philippines in Force "C" (less YAMATO, MUSASHI, MYOKO, HAGURO, NOSHIRO). USS REDFIN (SS-272) sights the Mobile Fleet departing Tawi Tawi.

14 June 1944:
Guimaras. Captain Aruga is sent ashore and later flown to Manila. The Mobile Fleet refuels from Supply Force No. 2's oilers GENYO and AZUSA MARUs.

15 June 1944:
The Mobile Fleet departs Guimaras through the Visayan Sea and the San Bernardino Strait into the Philippine Sea headed towards Saipan. At 1622, USS FLYING FISH (SS-229) spots the Mobile Fleet in the San Bernardino Strait. She reports the sighting that evening.

16 June 1944:
At 1650, Ozawa's force is joined by Vice Admiral Ugaki Matome's (former CO of HYUGA) aborted Operation "Kon" Task Force from Batjan: BatDiv 1's YAMATO and MUSASHI, CruDiv 5's MYOKO and HAGURO and DesRon 2's NOSHIRO.

18-19 June 1944:
At 2100, Ozawa splits the Mobile Fleet. Forces "A" and "B" proceed southward. Force "C" Vanguard proceeds due east. The Mobile Fleet's aircraft attack elements of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, but suffer overwhelming aircraft losses in the "Great Mariana's Turkey Shoot".

20 June 1944:
At 1830, HARUNA, KONGO and carrier CHIYODA are attacked by Grumman TBM "Avenger" torpedo-bombers from USS BUNKER HILL (CVL-17), MONTEREY (CVL-26) and CABOT (CVL-28). HARUNA is hit by bombs and damaged by near-misses. CHOKAI is undamaged and retires with the Mobile Fleet to Okinawa.

24 June 1944:
Arrives at Hashirajima.

26 June 1944:
Kure. Enters dock. Type 22 surface-search and Type 13 air-search radars are probably installed at this time The AA suite is increased by twelve Type 96 25-mm single AA mounts.

8 July 1944:
Departs Kure with Group "A's" YAMATO and MUSASHI, CruDiv 4's ATAGO, TAKAO and MAYA, CruDiv 7's KUMANO, SUZUYA, TONE and CHIKUMA, DesRon 2's NOSHIRO with DesDiv 27's AKISHIMO, HAYASHIMO, DesDiv 31's KISHINAMI, OKINAMI and ASASHIMO, DesDiv 32's FUJINAMI, HAMANAMI and SHIMAKAZE, DesDiv 17's HAMAKAZE, DesDiv 27's SHIGURE and SAMIDARE and Group "B's" KONGO and NAGATO, CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, DesRon 10's YAHAGI with DesDiv 17's URAKAZE, ISOKAZE, HAMAKAZE and YUKIKAZE. CHOKAI carries IJA troops and material to Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa.

10 July 1944:
Group A detaches from Group B and departs Okinawa for Lingga (near Singapore) to join the Mobile Fleet.

16 July 1944:
At 0530, CruDivs 4, 7, and DesRon 2 detach from Group A for Singapore.

19 July-3 August 1944:
While ATAGO is in drydock at Singapore, CHOKAI assumes the duties of flagship of CruDiv 4.

22 July 1944:
Singapore. A staff conference dealing with gunnery problems is held on board CHOKAI. Vice Admiral Ugaki Matome (former CO of HYUGA), CO, BatDiv 1 (former CO of HYUGA) acts as chairman.

14 September 1944:
Lingga anchorage. CHOKAI receives fresh provisions replenishment from stores ship KITAKAMI MARU.

23 September 1944:
Lingga anchorage. CHOKAI receives fresh provisions replenishment from KITAKAMI MARU.

18-20 October 1944:
Departs Lingga for Brunei Bay, Borneo with CruDiv 4 and CruDiv 5's MYOKO and HAGURO.

22 October 1944: Operation "SHO-I-GO"(Victory) - The Battle of Leyte Gulf:
CHOKAI sorties with Vice Admiral Kurita's First Mobile Striking Force, Force "A "(Center Force): BatDiv 1, CruDiv 4, CruDiv 5's MYOKO and HAGURO, DesRon 2's light cruiser NOSHIRO with DesDiv 2's DesDiv 2's HAYASHIMO, AKISHIMO, KIYOSHIMO, DesDiv 31's KISHINAMI, OKINAMI, ASASHIMO and DesDiv 32's FUJINAMI, NAGANAMI, HAMANAMI and destroyer SHIMAKAZE.

23 October 1944: The Battle of the Palawan Passage:
At 0633, Cdr (later Captain) David McClintock's USS DARTER (SS-227) sinks Vice Admiral Kurita's flagship ATAGO and damages TAKAO. Kurita and his staff are picked up by Cdr Mifune Toshiro's destroyer KISHINAMI. Vice Admiral Ugaki assumes temporary command of the Mobile Force. Meanwhile, at 0655, Cdr Bladen Claggett's USS DACE (SS-247) torpedoes MAYA. She sinks at 0705. At 1620, Kurita transfers to the YAMATO and resumes command. CHOKAI is undamaged. Force A is attacked by McClintock's DARTER

CHOKAI is the sole undamaged unit of CruDiv 4. Vice Admiral Kurita reassigns her to CruDiv 5.

24 October 1944:- The Battle of the Sibuyan Sea:
Force A endures 11 raids by over 250 aircraft of Task Force 38's USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), ESSEX (CV-9), LEXINGTON (CV-16), INTREPID (CV-11), FRANKLIN (CV-13) and CABOT (CVL-28). Battleship MUSASHI is sunk, NAGATO hit, HARUNA damaged by near-misses and YAMATO is hit by bombs and down by the bow. MYOKO is hit by an aircraft torpedo. TONE is hit by bombs. CHOKAI is undamaged.

At 1530, Force A reverses course back through the Sibuyan Sea. At 1715, Force A reverses course again. Finally, at 2330, Force A enters the San Bernadino Strait in single file.

25 October 1944: The Battle off Samar:
At 0030, Force A exits the San Bernardino Strait and proceeds eastward until 0300, then turns SE towards Leyte Gulf.

At 0558, Force A opens fire at the U.S. Seventh Fleet's Task Group 77.4 escort carriers of "Taffy 3": USS ST. LO (CVE-63), WHITE PLAINS (CVE-66), KALININ BAY (CVE-68), FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70), KITKUN BAY (CVE-71) and GAMBIER BAY (CVE-73). Force A sinks GAMBIER BAY, destroyers HOEL (DD-533), JOHNSTON, (DD-557) and destroyer escort ROBERTS (DE-413).

TG 77. 4's aircraft damage CHIKUMA and SUZUYA and they later sink. TONE and HAGURO are also damaged.

At 0851, CHOKAI is taken under 5-inch fire from "Taffy 3" escort carriers and destroyer escort ROBERTS. She receives 6 shell hits to port side amidships, probably from escort carrier WHITE PLAINS (CVE-66).

At 0859, a secondary explosion, probably caused by CHOKAI's own torpedoes on deck, knocks out her engines and rudder. She shears out of formation to port and moves eastward.

After 0905, four TBM-1C "Avengers" from KITKUN BAY’s VC-5 attack a Japanese heavy cruiser (in all likelihood CHOKAI), already being engaged by WHITE PLAINS, using her 5-inch stern gun. Led by Cdr Richard L. Fowler, the "Avengers" score one 500-lb SAP bomb hit to the cruiser’s stern. The pilots observe how the crippled CHOKAI, billowing smoke, begins to slow down. [5]

At 0955, lookouts on cruiser TONE observe CHOKAI, dead in the water, 3.8 miles away.

At 1006, Kurita orders Cdr Matsuzaki Tatsuji's destroyer FUJINAMI to escort CHOKAI. She and FUJINAMI down an Avenger during an air attack. FUJINAMI removes the survivors including Captain Tanaka.

At 2148, FUJINAMI signals that she scuttled CHOKAI with torpedoes at 11-22N, 126-22E.

27 October 1944:
80 miles N of Iloilo. FUJINAMI, enroute to Colon, is redirected to a small island off Semirara to pick up the crew of HAYASHIMO. That afternoon, near the island, FUJINAMI is attacked by planes from ESSEX and sinks with all hands including CHOKAI's survivors.

Captain Tanaka is promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously. CHOKAI's Executive Officer, Captain Kamikawa Takeo is also promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously.

20 December 1944:
Removed from Navy list.


Authors' Notes:
[1] Mt. Niitaka, located in Formosa (now Taiwan), was the highest point in the Japanese Empire at the time.

[2] Sources vary as to the number of ships (21-23) and the tonnage (31,000-112,000) sunk by Ozawa's ships.

[3] Of the Allied cruiser commanders at Savo, both Captain Moore and Captain Getting were mortally wounded, Captain Greenman survived and was reassigned to the Service Force, Captain Riefkohl survived and became the Naval Attache to Mexico and Captain Bode survived, but commited suicide a year later.

[4] Older sources suggest that CHOKAI was damaged on that day by a single near miss scored by one of VS-10's dive-bombers. The first historian to correct was John B. Lundstrom in his "The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign“ (1994). [5] A radio message received by YAMATO at 0918 refers to a bomb hit to the forward engine room and suggests that the repairs were underway. Special thanks for assistance in researching the IJN officers mentioned in this TROM go to Mr. Jean-François Masson of Canada. Thanks also go again to Aldert Gritter of the Netherlands, Andrew Obluski of Poland and Randy Stone of the United States.

Thanks go to Don Kehn, Jr. for info on the sinking of SELMA CITY and GANGES on 6 Apr '42.

Thanks go to Johm Whitman of Virginia and Gengoro Toda of Japan for info about stores ship KITAKAMI MARU.

- Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.


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