Japanese cruiser Suzuya

Japanese cruiser Suzuya

nihongo|"Suzuya"|鈴谷 was the third of four vessels in the "Mogami"-class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was named after the Suzuya river in Tohoku region, Japan.


Built under the 1931 Fleet Replenishment Program, the "Mogami"-class cruisers were designed to the maximum limits allowed by the Washington Naval Treaty, using the latest technology. This resulted in the choice of a 155 mm (6.1 in) dual purpose (DP) main battery in five triple turrets capable of 55° elevation. To save weight, electric welding was used, as was aluminum in the superstructure, and the use of a single funnel stack. New impulse geared turbine engines, coupled with very heavy anti-aircraft protection, gave the class a very high speed and protection. However, the "Mogami"-class ships were also plagued with technical problems due to their untested equipment, and proved to be top-heavy with stability problems in heavy weather as well.

ervice career

Early career

"Suzuya" was completed at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal in January 1936, but on completion was immediately placed in the reserves while waiting for dry dock space to permit modifications. She was officially commissioned on 31 October 1937, but reconstruction and refit work was not completed until 30 September 1939.

Assigned to CruDiv7 with her sister ships "Mogami", "Mikuma" and "Kumano", "Suzuya" participated in the occupation of Cochinchina, French Indochina from her forward operating base on Hainan, after Japan and Vichy French authorities reached an understanding on use of air facilities and harbors from July 1941. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, "Suzuya" was assigned to cover the invasion of Malaya as part of CruDiv7 under Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's First Southern Expeditionary Fleet, providing close support for landings of Japanese troops at Singora, Patani and Kota Bharu.

On 9 December 1941, Japanese submarine "I-65" reported sighting of Royal Navy Force Z (the Royal Navy battleship HMS "Prince of Wales", battlecruiser HMS "Repulse" and supporting destroyers). The report was received by light cruiser "Sendai", which relayed the message to Admiral Ozawa aboard his flagship, "Chokai". However, the reception was poor and the message took another 90 minutes to decode. Moreover, "I-65's" report was incorrect about the heading of Force Z. Two Aichi E13A1 "Jake" floatplanes from "Suzuya" and "Kumano" attempted to shadow Force Z, but both were forced to ditch due to lack of fuel. Only "Suzuya's" crew was recovered. The following day, Force Z was overwhelmed by torpedo bombers of the 22nd Air Flotilla from Indochina.

In December 1941, "Suzuya" was tasked with the invasion of Sarawak, together with "Kumano", covering landings of Japanese troops at Miri. From her base at Cam Rahn Bay, she sortied with "Kumano" to cover landings of troops at Anambas, Endau, Palembang and Banka Island, Sabang on Sumatra and Java from the end of December 1941 to the middle of March. "Suzuya" also participated in the seizure of Andaman Islands on 20 March 1942.

Indian Ocean Raids

From 1 April 1942 CruDiv 7 based from Mergui, Burma joined with CruDiv 4 to participate in the Indian Ocean raids. "Mikuma", "Mogami" and destroyer "Amagiri" detached and formed the "Southern Group", which hunted for merchant shipping in the Bay of Bengal, while "Suzuya", "Kumano", and "Shiokaze" covered the northern areas. "Chokai", light cruiser "Yura", aircraft carrier "Ryujo" and destroyers "Ayanami", "Yugiri", "Asagiri" formed a center group to reinforce northern or southern wings as necessary. Over the next few weeks, the northern groups claimed kills on a 4,986-ton American merchant vessel "Exmoor", British 7,621-ton freighter "Autoclycus", British 9,066-ton freighter "Malta" and the 2,440-ton British freighter "Shinkuang". In total the commerce raiding expedition sank over twenty ships during their brief stay in the Bay of Bengal. Afterwards, "Suzuya" was withdrawn back to Kure for repairs, and was then sent to Guam to join the Midway Invasion Task Force.

Battle of Midway

On 5 June, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, CINC of the Combined Fleet ordered CruDiv 7 to shell Midway Island in preparation for a Japanese landing. CruDiv 7 and DesDiv 8 were 410 miles away from the island, so they made a high-speed dash at 35 knots. The sea was choppy and the destroyers lagged behind. At 2120, the order was canceled. However, this dash placed CruDiv 7 within torpedo range of the USS "Tambor", which was spotted by "Kumano". "Kumano" signaled a 45° simultaneous turn to starboard to avoid possible torpedoes. The emergency turn was correctly executed by the flagship and "Suzuya", but the third ship in the line, "Mikuma", erroneously made a 90° turn. Behind her, "Mogami's" navigator, watching "Suzuya", did not see "Mikuma's" movement and turned 45° as commanded. This resulted in a collision in which "Mogami" rammed "Mikuma's" portside, below the bridge. Both vessels were severely damaged. "Suzuya" returned to Kure on 23 June and CruDiv 7 was transferred from the Second Fleet to the Third Fleet.

After returning to Singapore, CruDiv 7 ("Suzuya" and "Kumano") were tasked with the Invasion of Burma from 28 July 1942. While in the Straits of Malacca, "Suzuya" was attacked by Royal Netherlands Navy submarine O-23, which fired four torpedoes, but missed. However, with the American invasion of Guadalcanal on 7 August, "Suzuya" was quickly recalled to the Pacific front.

Operations in the Solomon Islands

On 24 August 1942, CruDiv 7 joined Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's Carrier Strike Force ("Shokaku", "Zuikaku", "Zuiho" and "Ryujo") with cruiser "Chikuma" northeast of Guadalcanal. During the resultant Battle of the Eastern Solomons, USS "Saratoga" sank the aircraft carrier "Ryujo"; but "Suzuya" was too far away to be in the combat. "Suzuya" subsequently patrolled between Truk and the Solomon Islands through the middle of October.

On 26 October 1942, Nagumo's Carrier Strike force engaged the USS "Enterprise", USS "Hornet", battleship USS "South Dakota" and cruiser USS "San Juan" in the Battle of Santa Cruz, sinking the "Hornet" and damaging other ships. The battle was a long-range air battle, and again "Suzuya" was far enough away to avoid direct combat.

In early November, CruDiv 7 was ordered to reinforce Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa's Eighth Fleet at Shortland, and participated on the bombardment of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal on 14 November. "Suzuya", cruisers "Maya", "Tenryu", "Chokai", "Kinugasa" and "Isuzu" and destroyers "Kazagumo", "Makigumo", "Michishio", "Yugumo", "Asashio" and "Arashio" bombarded the air strip with 989 203 mm (8 in) shells. On withdrawing, the task force was attacked by USS "Flying Fish" (which missed) and aircraft from "Enterprise" and Guadalcanal. "Kinugasa" was sunk, "Chokai" and "Maya" were damaged; "Suzuya" escaped unscathed, and through early January 1943 continued her patrols and coverage of transport convoys between Truk, Kavieng and Rabaul. "Suzuya" returned to Kure on 12 January 1943 for repairs, at which time additional AA guns and a Type 21 air search radar were installed. She returned to Kure again on 6 April, at which time her dual 13 mm machine guns were replaced by two triple-mount Type 96 25 mm AT/AA Guns.

"Suzuya" departed Yokosuka on 16 June 1943, with another major resupply convoy to the Solomon Islands, and shuttled back and forth from Truk to Rabaul through the end of the year. On 18 July, "Suzuya" was attacked by Guadalcanal-based Marine TBM Avengers off Kolombangara, but escaped without damage. On 3 November, "Suzuya" with "Mogami" and "Chikuma" bombarded American forces that landed at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville Island. "Suzuya" was in Rabaul harbor on 5 November, when the United States launched an attack with 97 planes from USS "Saratoga" and USS "Princeton". "Suzuya" was one of the few ships not hit in the raid.

CruDiv 8 was disbanded 1 January 1944, and "Suzuya" reassigned to CruDiv 7. On 1 February, "Suzuya" assisted with the evacuation of Truk. On 20 March Rear Admiral Kazutaka Shiraishi assumed command of CruDiv 7. "Suzuya" went into refit at Singapore on 24 March, at which time an additional eight single-mount Type 96 25 mm AA guns were installed.

Battle of the Philippine Sea

On 13 June 1944, Admiral Soemu Toyoda, CINC, Combined Fleet, activated the "A-Go" plan for the defense of the Mariana Islands. Suzuya was assigned to Admiral Kurita's "Force C" with the battleships "Yamato", "Musashi" and aircraft carriers "Zuiho", "Chiyoda", "Chitose",and cruisers "Atago", "Takao", "Maya", "Chokai", "Kumano", "Chikuma", "Tone", and "Noshiro".

Later in the day, the Mobile Fleet's aircraft attacked Task Force 58 off Saipan, but suffered overwhelming losses in the "Great Mariana's Turkey Shoot". At 2030 on 20 June, two hours after she was hit by torpedoes by Grumman TBM Avengers from USS "Belleau Wood", the "Hiyo" exploded and sank. That night, "Suzuya" retired with the remnants of the Japanese fleet to Okinawa.

Back in Kure on 25 June 1944, "Suzuya" was refit once again. Four triple-mount and 10 single-mount Type 96 25 mm AA guns were installed, bringing the total to 50 barrels (14×3 and 18×1) and a Type 22 surface search radar and Type 13 air-search radar were fitted. On 8 July, "Suzuya" departed Kure back for Singapore and Brunei, and was involved in fleet training and patrols in the Singapore-Brunei area through October. By this time, her Type 22 Kai 4M radar was upgraded to Kai 4S for fire control.

Battle of Leyte Gulf

In late October, the Japanese fleet assembled in Brunei in response to the threatened American invasion of the Philippines. On 25 October 1944, in the Battle off Samar, "Suzuya" engaged the three "Jeep carriers" in American Task Group 77.4, but was attacked by ten TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers. A near-miss destroyed her port propeller. At 1050, "Suzuya" was attacked by 30 other carrier aircraft. Another near-miss caused the Long Lance torpedoes in "Suzuya's" No. 1 torpedo tubes to explode, which in turn started other fires, damaged the starboard engine rooms and the No. 7 boiler room. "Suzuya" was abandoned at 1150, and at 1322 sank at coord|11|45.2|N|126|11.2|E. Destroyer "Okinami" took off Captain Teraoka and 401 crewmen. US warships later rescued further sailors.

"Suzuya" was removed from the Navy List on 20 December 1944.

Commanding Officers

*Chief Equipping Officer - Capt. Tsunemitsu Yoshida - 20 November 1934 - January 1936
*Capt. Tsunemitsu Yoshida - January 1936 - 1 December 1936
*Capt. Shojiro Mizusaki - 1 December 1936 - 1 December 1937
*Capt. Yaichiro Shibata - 1 December 1937 - 15 November 1938
*Capt. Kyuji Kubo - 15 November 1938 - 15 November 1939
*Capt. Gihachi Takayanagi - 15 November 1939 - 15 October 1940
*Capt. / RADM Masatomi Kimura - 15 October 1940 - 24 November 1942 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 November 1942.)
*Capt. Takeji Ono - 24 November 1942 - 7 September 1943
*Capt. Yuji Takahashi - 7 September 1943 - 1 September 1944
*Capt. Masao Teraoka - 1 September 1944 - 25 October 1944



*cite book
last = Brown
first = David
authorlink =
year = 1990
title = Warship Losses of World War Two
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-55750-914-X

*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 = Howarth
first = Stephen
authorlink =
year = 1983
title = The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895-1945
publisher = Atheneum
location =
id = ISBN 0-68911-402-8

*cite book
last = Jentsura
first = Hansgeorg
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 1976
chapter =
title = Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-893-X

*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

*cite book
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authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 1995
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title = Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia
publisher = Naval Institute Press
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id = ISBN 1-55750-141-6

External links

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

*cite web
last = Chen
first = Peter
year = 2007
url = http://ww2db.com/ship_spec.php?ship_id=40
title = WW2DB: Suzuya
accessdate = 2007-11-04

*Tabular record: [http://www.combinedfleet.com/suzuya_t.htm CombinedFleet.com: "Suzuya" history] (Retrieved 26 January 2007.)


ee also

*List of World War II ships

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