Japanese cruiser Atago

Japanese cruiser Atago

"Atago" (Japanese: あたご Kanji: 愛宕) was one of four "Takao"-class heavy cruisers, designed to be an improvement over the previous "Myōkō"-class design. These ships were fast, powerful, and heavily armed with enough firepower to hold their own against any ships built. The "Takao"-class ships were approved under the 1927 fiscal year budget as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's strategy of the Decisive Battle, and forming the backbone of a multipurpose long range strike force. "Atago" was built by the Kure Naval shipyards near Hiroshima, and like her sister ships, was named after a mountain. Mount Atago is located outside of Kyoto.

Operational History

At the start of the Pacific War, the "Atago" was the flagship of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's Cruiser Division 4, along with sister ships "Maya","Chokai", and "Takao", and assigned to support the invasion of Malaya and the Philippines.

From January through March 1942, the "Atago" was based out of Palau, and was involved in operations to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies, participating in numerous combat operations, including the Battle of the Java Sea. After taking Vice Admiral Kondo on an inspection tour of Japan’s new possessions in the former Dutch East Indies, the Atago returned to Yokosuka in April 1942 where was assigned to the unsuccessful pursuit of Admiral William F. Halsey's Task Force 16.2 after the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.

After a retrofit in April 1942 to replace its single 4.7-inch (120 mm) dual purpose guns with new dual 5-inch (127 mm) DP guns, the "Atago" departed for the disastrous Battle of Midway, from which it returned unscathed.

Guadalcanal campaign

On August 7 1942, the "Atago" was reassigned south to Truk, from which it made numerous sorties in the defense of Guadalcanal through December. The "Atago" also participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons (August 24 1942), Battle of Santa Cruz Islands (October 26October 27 1942) and in the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (November 15 1942). On August 25, 1942, During the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, aircraft from the U.S. aircraft carrier "Wasp" shot down two Aichi E13A floatplanes from "Atago" that were engaged in reconnaissance missions, killing all four aircrew members in the two aircraft. [cite book
last = Lundstrom
first = John B.
coauthors =
year = 2005 (New edition)
chapter =
title = First Team And the Guadalcanal Campaign: Naval Fighter Combat from August to November 1942
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-59114-472-8
, p. 159.
] During the latter battle, in a night gun duel with the USS "South Dakota" (BB-57) and the USS "Washington" (BB-56), the "Atago" and "Takao" hit the "South Dakota" with seventeen 8-inch hits, five 6-inch and one 5-inch hit. The "Kirishima" also hit the "South Dakota" with a single 14-inch round that exploded on her aft No. 3 turret's barbette.

The "South Dakota" was damaged, but not sunk. Early in the battle, the "Atago" and the "Takao" each launched eight Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes at the "Washington" but they all missed. "Atago" was damaged slightly as a result of the action, and returned to Kure for repairs on December 17 1942.

In January 1943, the "Atago" returned to Truk to continue Japanese efforts to hold the Solomon Islands, and eventually to support the evacuation of Guadalcanal. It remained based out of Truk through July 1943, when it returned to Yokosuka for further refits and medications to add two triple-mount Type 96 25 mm AA guns.

Later battles

From August – November 1943, the "Atago" returned to Truk to continue its sorties supporting Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands. In response to the Allied landings on Bougainville on November 1, 1943, "Atago" and several other Japanese cruisers were sent to Rabaul to prepare to attack the Allied landing forces. On November 5 1943, while refueling at Rabaul, the "Atago" task force was attacked by 97 planes from the USS "Saratoga" (CV-3) and the USS "Princeton" (CVL-23). "Atago" sustained three near-misses by 500-lb (227 kg) bombs that killed 22 crewmen, including her skipper Captain Nakaoka who was hit by a bomb splinter while on the bridge. On November 15 1943, the "Atago" returned to Yokosuka for repairs, and installation of additional 25 mm AA guns and a Type 22 surface-search radar.

In January 1944, the "Atago" returned to Truk. On February 10 1944, the cruiser force was attacked by the USS "Permit" (SS-178) in a night surface attack, but she missed with four torpedoes. The "Atago" was then reassigned to CruDiv 4 based in Palau under Vice Admiral Ozawa's First Mobile Fleet. The cruiser force was unsuccessfully attacked by the USS "Dace" (SS-247) on April 6 1944.

On June 13 1944, the "Atago" was in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, which resulted in disastrous losses for the Imperial Japanese Navy; however, the "Atago" again emerged unscathed. On June 22 1944, the "Atago" retired with the remnants of the fleet via Okinawa to Kure, where in a final refit, four triple- and 22 single-mount 25 mm AA guns were installed bringing the total to 60 barrels. A Type 13 air-search radar was also fitted.

unk in the Battle of Palawan Passage

From July through October 1944, the "Atago" was flagship of Admiral Kurita's First Mobile Striking Force, the most powerful component of the Imperial Japanese Navy at the time with seven battleships, eleven heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and nineteen destroyers based at Lingga Roads near Singapore. On October 22 1944, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Atago sortied with CruDiv 4's "Chōkai", "Takao" and the "Maya". On the following day, October 23 1944, in the Battle of the Palawan Passage, the "Atago" was hit by four torpedoes fired by the USS "Darter" (SS-227), and set afire. At 05:53, the Atago capsized in about 1,000 fathoms of water at coord|09|28|N|117|17|E.

Of "Atago"’s crewmen, 360 were killed, but 529 survivors including Vice Admiral Kurita, CoS Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tomiji Koyanagi (former CO of "Kongō") and the "Atago"’s skipper Rear Admiral Araki were rescued by the "Kishinami"; 171 other survivors were also rescued by the "Asashimo". "Atago"’s sister ships fared no better: "Maya" was sunk by USS "Dace"; "Takao" was forced back to Brunei after being torpedoed by USS "Darter" (later scuttled after running onto a reef); and two days later "Chōkai" was lost off Samar.

Commanding Officers

Chief Equipping Officer - Capt. Kenichi Sada - 20 June 1930 - 30 March 1932

Capt. Kenichi Sada - 30 March 1932 - 1 December 1932

Capt. Ibo Takahashi - 1 December 1932 - 15 November 1933

Capt. Giichi Miyata - 15 November 1933 - 1 November 1934

Capt. Shigeru Sonoda - 1 November 1934 - 15 November 1935

Capt. Kozo Suzukida - 15 November 1935 - 15 April 1936

Capt. Seiichi Ito - 15 April 1936 - 1 December 1936

Capt. Aritomo Goto - 1 December 1936 - 12 July 1937

Capt. Takeo Okumoto - 12 July 1937 - 1 December 1937

Capt. Minbu Sakano - 1 December 1937 - 10 August 1938

Capt. Nakai Minowa - 10 August 1938 - 15 November 1938

Capt. Seigo Takatsuka - 15 November 1938 - 15 November 1939

Capt. Chimaki Kono - 15 November 1939 - 15 October 1940

Capt. Tomiji Koyanagi - 15 October 1940 - 11 August 1941

Capt. Baron Matsuji Ijuin - 11 August 1941 - 1 December 1942

Capt. / RADM* Nobuki Nakaoka - 1 December 1942 - 5 November 1943 (KIA)

NO CO ASSIGNED - 5 November 1943 - 15 November 1943

Capt. / RADM Tsutau Araki - 15 November 1943 - 23 October 1944 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 15 October 1944.)



*cite book
last = D'Albas
first = Andrieu
authorlink =
year = 1965
title = Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II
publisher = Devin-Adair Pub
location =
id = ISBN 0-8159-5302-X

*cite book
last = Dull
first = Paul S.
authorlink =
year = 1978
chapter =
title = A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-097-1

*cite book
last = Lacroix
first = Eric
authorlink =
coauthors = Linton Wells
year = 1997
chapter =
title = Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-311-3

External links

*cite web
last = Parshall
first = Jon
coauthors = Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp, & Allyn Nevitt
year =
url = http://www.combinedfleet.com/kaigun.htm
title = Imperial Japanese Navy Page (Combinedfleet.com)
work =
accessdate = 2006-06-14

See also

Atago class destroyer DDG-177 Atago (commissioned 2007)

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