Chitose class cruisers
Japan (1898), Chitose, Kasagi
The US-built IJN Cruisers
The Chitose and Kasagi were built in the USA, at the Union Works shipyards in San Francisco and Cramp in Philadelphia. These were enlarged versions of the Takasago built in the UK. Both served during the Battle of the Yellow Sea and at Tsushima and both were hit hard. The Kasagi was used from 1910 as a training ship and was lost on reefs in 1916 in the Tsugaru Strait, while Chitose served as coastguard from 1922, before being stricken and later sunk as a target in 1931.
Japanese cruiser Chitose in WW1
Kasagi left elevation plan
These ships were the second major capital warships to be ordered by the Imperial Japanese Navy from an American shipbuilder, but also the last to be ordered from an overseas shipyard. They were to be enlarged versions of the previous Takasago. They were a modified design off of the original Armstrong Whitworth plans, carrying the same armament but less torpedo tubes. Also, both ships diverged in their compartmentation, with the British design having 109 watertight compartments versus 130 on the new cruisers. The name Chitose was better known in its later implementation on, a seaplane tender later converted as a light aircraft carrier during WW2; However her 1898 counterpart's launch was filmed by Thomas Edison, one of the earliest ship launches ever filmed. The launch ceremony was made to be moving, with the Governor of California and San Francisco mayor along with their niece and wife respectively christening the ship and launching her. The Japanese Consul explained that "Chitose" signified "thousand years of peace", while a flock of white doves was released in support of the ceremonials.
Colorized photos in Fine Arts Museum Boston
At 4,836 t (4,760 long tons) and with a length of 115.3 m (378 ft 3 in) w/l, a beam of 15 m (49 ft 3 in), and a draft of 5.4 m (17 ft 9 in) the Kasagi class was generously endowed for a protected cruiser. The installed powerplant of two shafts powered by VTEs (Vertical Triple Expansion engines) was fed by 12 boilers for a total of 11,600 kW (15,600 hp) as designed, and had a top speed of 22.5 kn (41.7 km/h; 25.9 mph) with a range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). The crew comprised 405 sailors and officers. The armament comprised two 20.3 cm/45 Type 41 naval guns (8 in), ten QF 4.7 inch Mk I–IV guns (113 mm), twelve QF 12-pounder 12 cwt naval guns (75 mm), six QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns (20 mm) and four 356 mm (14.0 in) torpedo tubes. Protection was adequate, with the deck being112 mm (4.4 in) on slopes and 62 mm (2.4 in) on flat surfaces, while the gun shields were 203 mm (8 in) thick to 62 mm (2.4 in) on the sides. The Conning tower was 115 mm (4.5 in) strong.
The cruiser was named after Mount Kasagi, a holy mountain outside Kyoto. She was built at William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia, and funded by the 1896 Emergency Fleet Replenishment Budget, largely fed by Chinese war reparations after the 1894 treaty of Shimonoseki.
IJN Kasagi began her career, still unnamed, to a naval review at Philadelphia to celebrate the end of the Spanish–American War, before sailing directly to the UK to receive her British-built Armament. She then joined Yokohama to be properly fit for service and listed as such. During Kagoshima Bay manoeuvers in the fog, she collided with a steamer (which was beached) but was able to complete her exercises nevertheless. The same year in 1900, she joined the international fleet deployed during the Boxer rebellion, supporting Japanese naval landing forces invading and occupying the port city of Tianjin. In 1901 she visited Vladivostok.
In 1904, she participated in the Battle of Port Arthur. On 9 February 1904, she was part of the 3rd Cruiser Squadron and dueled with the Russian ships at the entrance, taking some minor damage. She later shelled Vladivostok under Admiral Kamimura Hikonojō's orders. She also rescued the battleship Hatsuses' crew after the battleship had struck a mine, rebuffing Russian destroyers with her artillery simultaneously same time. At the Battle of the Yellow Sea on 10 August, she dueled and damaged the battleship Poltava and chased off the cruisers Askold and Novik.
Eventually, at the Battle of Tsushima under the banner of Admiral Dewa's 3rd Division, she fired the opening shots of the battle, engaging the battleship Oryol and then the cruisers Oleg, Aurora, and Zhemchug. However, she was badly hit below the waterline, which flooded a boiler room and coal bunker, with one KiA and nine wounded. She was forced to retire to assess the damage.
Eventually at the Battle of Tsushima
under the banner of Admiral Dewa's 3rd Division, she fired the first shot on the battle, engaging the battleship Oryol and then the cruisers Oleg, Aurora, and Zhemchug. However she was badly hit below the waterline, which flooded a boiler room and coal bunker, with one KiA and nine wounded. She was forced to retire to assess the damage.
Kasagi stern 1898
In 1908, the cruiser participated in the first large-scale post-war fleet maneuvers of the IJN and was later reclassified as a training ship. She sailed to Hawaii for her first cruise under this guise, and in 1912 made a passage in drydock to receive new Miyabara boilers and other minor modifications. During WW1 she was a training vessel attached to the Japanese 1st Fleet and did not see action. However, in 1916 she ran aground in heavy weather in the Tsugaru Strait, the reefs making a considerable breach that was not able to be repaired. It was decided to retrieve most of the heavy equipment and guns before evacuating the crew. Thusly, she was filled with explosives and sank on 10 August. She was struck from the list in November of that year.
Chitose arrived at the Yokosuka Naval District on 30 April 1899, and was accepted into service with the IJN. She fought in the Russo-Japanese War, playing a large part during the Battle of Port Arthur as the flagship of Admiral Dewa Shigeto. In February of 1904 she operated with the 3rd Cruiser Squadron against the Russian fleet at the entrance to Port Arthur. She dueled with the cruisers Askold and Novik and sank a Russian destroyer a few days later. At the Battle of the Yellow Sea (10 August) she chased the cruisers Askold and Novik and then turned to pursue the Novik off Hokkaido. The Russian cruiser was later sunk at the Battle of Korsakov in August.
At the Battle of Tsushima, Chitose and the rest of the 3rd Division engaged the Oleg, Aurora, and Zhemchug. Kasagi then carried Admiral's Dewa mark, which was transferred to the Chitose after the former was damaged. The day after, Chitose sank a Russian destroyer and chased the cruiser Izumrud. Afterward, the Japanese cruiser covered Northern Korean landings and returned to Maizuru Naval Arsenal. Placed in drydock she was repaired at the end of July 1905.
Before WW1, Chitose made a round trip with her sister ship IJN Tsukuba, first attending the Jamestown Exposition of 1907 and 300th-anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Jamestown Colony in the US, before moving on to Europe. There was an extensive overhaul in 1910: The old locomotive-style boilers were replaced by proper naval Miyabara boilers. from 1914 Chitose was assigned to the 2nd Fleet. She participated in patrols between Singapore and Borneo, chasing potential German commerce raiders and U-boats, in conformity with the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The rest of the war was spent without incident or anything of major notice occurring. IJN Chitose became a 2nd class coastal defense vessel on 1 September 1921 and was partially disarmed. Chitose was declared obsolete and on 1 April 1928 she was struck from the list and became hulk Haikan No. 1, before being sunk on 19 July 1931 off Shikoku island as a target for dive bombers.
Scan of Japanese cruiser Kasagi
Specifications of the Chitose class
|Displacement: 5700 tonnes standard|
|Dimensions: 120 x 14,9 x 5,4 m|
|Propulsion: 2 screws, 15 000 hp, 22,5 knots|
|Armour: 120 mm max|
|Armament: 2x 203 mm, 10x 120 mm, 12x 76, 6x 45mm, 4x 457mm TT sides, fore et aft.|
Launch movie by Thomas Edison
Conway's all the world's battleships 1860-1905 & 1906-1921
Illustration of the Chitose by the Author (1/750)