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The Lost Giant: The Sinking of IJN Fusō

The Lost Giant: The Sinking of IJN Fusō

The annals of naval history are replete with stories of ships that played pivotal roles in their time, only to meet tragic ends. Among these, the tale of the IJN Fusō, a Japanese battleship that met its fate during the Battle of Surigao Strait in World War II, stands out. This article delves into the history, service, and eventual sinking of IJN Fusō, a testament to the might and vulnerability of early 20th-century battleships.

Early Years and Specifications

Commissioned in 1915, IJN Fusō was the lead ship of the Fusō-class dreadnought battleships. Designed during a period when naval power was a measure of national strength, Fusō was an impressive warship. She had a displacement of 29,800 tons, a length of 673 feet (205.13 meters), a beam of 94 feet (28.65 meters), and a draft of 28 feet 6 inches (8.69 meters). Her speed reached 23 knots (43 km/h), powered by her robust engine system.

In her early years, Fusō patrolled the Chinese coast during World War I, ensuring Japanese interests in the region were protected. In 1923, she played a humanitarian role, assisting survivors of the Great Kantō earthquake, a devastating event with a magnitude of 7.9 that struck Japan.

Modernization and Wartime Service

As naval technology advanced, Fusō underwent two significant modernizations before the outbreak of World War II. Despite these efforts, the Japanese Navy deemed the Fusō-class ships too lightly armored and too slow compared to newer warships. Consequently, Fusō and her sister ship, Yamashiro, often found themselves in auxiliary roles, held back as part of the reserve fleet within the Inland Sea of Japan.

The Battle of Surigao Strait

Fusō’s moment of reckoning came during the Battle of Surigao Strait, part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf in the southern Philippines. On the night of October 24-25, 1944, the Japanese fleet, including Fusō, attempted a desperate night attack against the American naval forces. The battle was one of the few times in history that battleships engaged each other in a line-of-battle formation.

During this engagement, Fusō was struck by 2-3 torpedoes fired by U.S. destroyers. The torpedoes hit her starboard side, causing catastrophic damage and igniting an oil fire. Fusō capsized slowly to starboard, and within 40 minutes, she sank. The exact location of her sinking is approximately 9°50’0”N, 125°20’0”E.

The tragedy was compounded by the heavy loss of life. Of the few dozen crew members who initially survived the sinking and the subsequent oil fire, only ten eventually made it back to Japan.

Legacy and Rediscovery

The sinking of IJN Fusō marked the end of an era for battleships, highlighting their vulnerability to air power and submarines. Today, Fusō lies at the bottom of the Surigao Strait, a silent witness to the ferocious naval battles of World War II.

In recent years, interest in discovering and documenting the wrecks of World War II has grown. The site of Fusō’s sinking is among the many underwater graves that historians and divers seek to explore, aiming to preserve the memory of those who served and perished in these mighty warships.

IJN Fusō’s story is a poignant reminder of the rapid advancements in naval warfare and the shifting tides of military strategy. From her early days patrolling the Chinese coast to her tragic end at Surigao Strait, Fusō represents both the might and vulnerability of the battleship era. As we remember her and her crew, we honor the legacy of those who sailed into the annals of history aboard these iron giants.

 japanese warship fuso

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




Last modified onSunday, 07 July 2024 03:08
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