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Mutsu file photo [6789]


Ship ClassNagato-class Battleship
BuilderYokosuka Naval Arsenal
Laid Down1 Jun 1918
Launched31 May 1920
Commissioned24 Oct 1921
Sunk9 Jun 1943
Displacement39,050 tons standard; 42,850 tons full
Length725 feet
Beam113 feet
Draft31 feet
MachineryFour Kampon oil-fired boilers and six small boilers, geared turbines, 4 shafts
Power Output80,000 shaft horsepower
Speed27 knots
Range5,500nm at 16 knots
Armament8x410mm guns, 18x140mm guns, 8x127mm AA guns, 98x25mm AA guns


ww2dbaseMutsu was the second of two Nagato-class battleships of the Japanese Navy; her construction was the responsibility of naval architect Commander Hiraga Yuzuru. Under the command of Captain Shizen Komaki, she joined the Sasebo Naval District on 24 Oct 1921, and later that year joined Battleship Division 1 of the First Fleet. During the negations for the Washington Treaty in Feb 1922, Mutsu was proposed to be scrapped by the Americans, but the Japanese delegation managed to save her. On 12 Apr 1922, she and battleship Nagato hosted British dignitaries the Prince of Wales and his aide Lieutenant Louis Mountbatten; both Japanese ships flew British royal pennants. On 28 Aug 1922, she joined other ships of Battleship Division 1 on a parade of force along the Siberian coast. On 1 Sep 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake ravaged the Tokyo area; along with other warships, Mutsu embarked food and medical supplies at Kyushu, Japan immediately and sailed for Yokosuka near Tokyo, Japan. On 20 Oct 1927, she served as Emperor Showa's flagship during naval maneuvers and the annual Naval Review. On 29 Mar 1929, she was assigned to Battleship Division 3 of the First Fleet. In 1932, she received four twin dual purpose 127-mm guns, sacrificing a number of 76-mm anti-aircraft guns to make room. On 1 Dec 1932, she returned to Battleship Division 1. In Oct 1933, she once again served as Emperor Showa's flagship during naval maneuvers and the subsequent annual Naval Review. On 1 Jun 1934, she was assigned to the Yokosuka Naval District. Between 5 Sep 1934 and 30 Sep 1936, she underwent a major reconstruction at Yokosuka in which she received anti-torpedo bulges, additional armor between magazines and machinery spaces, additional armor for turrets, oil-fired boilers, 4 twin 140-mm dual purpose guns and 20 Type 96 25-mm anti-aircraft guns, and a third catapult with three E4N2 floatplanes made by Nakajima. During this reconstruction, she lost her submerged torpedo tubes, fore funnel, and two of her secondary guns. On 1 Dec 1936, she returned to Battleship Division 1.

ww2dbaseOn 11 Aug 1937, one month after China and Japan plunged into the Second Sino-Japanese War portion of WW2, Mutsu sailed from Sasebo, Japan on a four-day patrol in the waters between Japan and China. Between 20 and 23 Aug, she transported 2,000 men of the 11th Division to Shanghai, China, then on 24 Aug fired her guns for naval support. On 15 Nov 1938, Captain Aritomo Goto, later of fame in the Solomon Islands during the Pacific War, took command of Mutsu; he would remain her commanding officer until 1 Nov 1939. Between late 1939 and mid 1941, she served in Japan and China. In early Dec, she sailed for the Pearl Harbor attack, but did not see combat. On 18 Jan 1942, Mutsu towed the old Italian-built armored cruiser Nisshin as a target ship for during the new battleship Yamato's gunnery trials off Kurahashi Island, Japan. In May, she performed various training and practice. On 29 May, she sailed with Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's Main Body fleet, which did not engage in combat during the subsequent Battle of Midway; she returned to Japan on 14 Jun. On 20 Jun, Captain Teijiro Yamazumi took command. On 14 Jul, she was transferred to Vice Admiral Mitsumi Shimizu's Battleship Division 2 of the First Fleet. On 9 Aug 1942, she was attached to Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo's Second Fleet, and on 11 Aug she sailed for Truk with Kondo's Advanced Force. On 20 Aug, she attempted to pursue American carrier Long Island but failed to make contact, resulting in Long Island delivering the first of many aircraft to be delivered to Henderson Field at Guadalcanal. On 24 Aug 1942, she provided close support for Japanese carriers during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. On 9 Sep, she joined the Main Body of the Guadalcanal Operation Force based at Truk. On 20 Sep, some of her anti-aircraft personnel were dispatched to Rabaul, New Britain to train ground-based naval anti-aircraft gunners. In Jan 1943, she escorted carrier Zuikaku to Kure, Japan, and then proceeded to Yokosuka Navy Yard for maintenance. On 10 Mar, Captain Teruhiko Miyoshi assumes command of Mutsu. On 13 Apr 1943, Mutsu docked at Kure to embark a full load of ammunition and supplies destined for the Aleutian Islands in response to the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, but the delivery was never made. On 27 May, she entered the Kure dry dock No. 4 facility for hull scraping and re-painting.

ww2dbase8 Jun 1943 was a lightly rainy day with poor visibility, which was not out of the ordinary for the region's early-Jun rain season; the surface of the water, however, was relatively calm. On this day, Mutsu was moored at BD2's flagship buoy No. 2 between Hashirajima and the Suo-Oshima islands. She had 1,321 men onboard, while 113 flying cadets and 40 instructors of the Tsuchiura Naval Air Group were also present on the ship. Division mate battleship Fuso was moored one kilometer southwest, while other cruisers and destroyers were also present. At about 1145 hours, she began to move from the buoy, as her sister ship Nagato, from Kure to the north, was scheduled to take over that spot at 1300 hours. At 1213, about half an hour after she began to move from one buoy to another and was at about three kilometers north of Oshima Island, her No. 3 turret and No. 4 turret magazines exploded in very close succession, sending reddish brown smoke up in the air, with the color indicative of the detonation of ammunition. Captain Nobumichi Tsuruoka might had been the first to report the explosion to flag officers, with a coded simple message "Mutsu blew up". The explosion ripped her hull into two parts; the 150-meter forward section rolled to starboard and sank upside down in about 30 seconds, while the aft section remained afloat until about 0200 hours on the next day when it sank on near even keel. destroyers Tamanami and Wakatsuki, boats from cruisers Tatsuta and Mogami, and boats from battleship Fuso arrived quickly to offer assistance, rescuing 353 (including 13 of the visiting Tsuchiura Naval Air Group members). 1,121 men perished as the result of this disaster, including commanding officer Captain Teruhiko Miyoshi and executive officer Captain Koro Ono.

ww2dbaseMutsu's loss was deemed a state secret in order to avert the potential damage on morale. Mass cremations of recovered bodies commenced almost immediately after the sinking. Captain Miyoshi's body was recovered by divers on 17 Jun, but his wife Omi Miyoshi was not notified until 6 Jan 1944, and the sinking of Mutsu was not mentioned. The wounded survivors were treated at secluded hospitals such as the one at Mitsukojima off Kure. Healthy and recovered survivors were re-assigned to various garrisons in the Pacific Ocean; some of the survivors were sent to Truk, Caroline Islands to form the 41st Guard Force, while 150 others were sent to Saipan, Mariana Islands. Most of the latter group were killed in 1944 during the American invasion. It should be noted that the treatment of Mutsu's survivors was not too different than the survivors of other lost Japanese warships during WW2, as secrecy during wartime was of utmost importance.

ww2dbaseThe Allies suspected the loss of Mutsu by May 1944, when Australian military intelligence acquired the transcript of an unnamed captured member of the Kure Special Naval Landing Forces, who spoke of Mutsu's loss during his interrogation. In Aug 1944, a captured member of the 90th Naval Garrison Unit corroborated the story when he spoke of the "rumor" of an unexplained explosion aboard the battleship. United States Navy did not believe these interrogations provided concrete information of Mutsu's sinking, and did not officially record Mutsu as lost until after the war.

ww2dbaseInitially, Japanese Navy leadership considered raising her wreck, possibly rebuilding her for recommissioning. However, after a failed attempt by underwater craft to investigate the wreck (which was nearly fatal) followed by a period of serious consideration, the idea of raising the wreck was given up in Aug 1943; she was removed from the Japanese Navy list on 1 Sep. In Jul 1944, the Japanese Navy conducted Operation Take to recover 580 tons of fuel from the wreck.

ww2dbaseMeanwhile, the official investigation began three days after the sinking. The responsibility fell upon the shoulders of 62-year-old Admiral Koichi Shiozawa, whose hurried investigation concluded that a disgraced seaman gunner who had recently been found guilty of theft charges set off the explosion, partly meant as a statement of protest and partly as means for suicide, possibly not realizing that the explosion would take down the entire ship. Over time, other theories were developed, including an Allied submarine attack, sabotage, explosion of improperly stored Type 3 Sanshiki-dan incendiary shells or cordite propellant charges, and electrical fire, but none of these alternative theories had significantly proven themselves more credible than the conclusion reached by Shiozawa.

ww2dbaseIn the early 1950s, the United States occupation administration formally returned the wreck of Mutsu to the Japanese. In 1953, the chrysanthemum crest, 1.2-meter in diameter, was raised. In 1963, one of her 14-centimeter casemate guns was raised and donated to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, Japan. On 20 Mar 1970, the Fukada Salvage Company acquired the rights to the wreck, and successfully salvaged her over the next eight years, beginning with the raising of the 900-ton No. 4 turret in Jul or Aug 1970, witnessed by Omi Miyoshi, widow of Captain Miyoshi; this turret is now on display at the site of the former Naval Academy at Etajima. In Sep 1971, turret No. 3 was raised; surprisingly, it was in tact and not ripped apart by the explosion. Various pieces recovered over the years were given to museums, memorials, and shrines all over Japan. By 1978, when the salvage operation ended, about 75% of the ship was lifted. In 1995, it was declared by the Mutsu Memorial Museum that there would be no more salvage operations

ww2dbaseSources: Nihon Kaigun, Warship 2009.

Last Major Revision: Nov 2009

Battleship Mutsu Interactive Map


Battleship Mutsu underway, 1921Battleship Mutsu, 1921-1922
See all 10 photographs of Battleship Mutsu

Mutsu Operational Timeline

24 Oct 1921 Mutsu was assigned to the Sasebo Naval District, Japan.
12 Apr 1922 Mutsu hosted the Prince of Wales and his aide Lieutenant Louis Mountbatten.
28 Aug 1922 Mutsu and other ships of Japanese Navy Battleship Division 1 participated on a parade of force along the eastern coast of Russia.
1 Sep 1923 Mutsu transported food and medical supplies for victims of the Great Kanto Earthquake.
20 Oct 1927 Mutsu was Emperor Showa's flagship during the annual Japanese Naval Review.
29 Mar 1929 Mutsu was assigned to Japanese Navy Battleship Division 3.
1 Dec 1932 Mutsu was assigned to Japanese Navy Battleship Division 1.
1 Jun 1934 Mutsu was assigned to the Yokosuka Naval District, Japan.
5 Sep 1934 Mutsu entered Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Japan for a reconstruction.
30 Sep 1936 Mutsu completed her reconstruction at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Japan.
1 Dec 1936 Mutsu was assigned to Japanese Navy Battleship Division 1.
11 Aug 1937 Mutsu departed Sasebo, Japan to patrol the Chinese coast.
20 Aug 1937 Mutsu embarked 2,000 men of the Japanese Army 11th Division.
23 Aug 1937 Mutsu arrived at Shanghai, China and disembarked 2,000 troops of the Japanese Army 11th Division.
24 Aug 1937 Mutsu provided naval gunfire support off Shanghai, China.
15 Nov 1938 Captain Aritomo Goto was named the commanding officer of battleship Mutsu.
1 Nov 1939 Captain Aritomo Goto was relived as the commanding officer of battleship Mutsu.
18 Jan 1942 Mutsu towed the old Italian-built armored cruiser Nisshin as a target ship for battleship Yamato's gunnery trials off Kurahashi Island, Japan.
14 Jun 1942 Mutsu arrived in Japan after the Midway operation.
20 Jun 1942 Captain Teijiro Yamazumi was named the commanding officer of battleship Mutsu.
14 Jul 1942 Mutsu was transferred to Combined Fleet Battleship Division 2.
9 Aug 1942 Mutsu was assigned to Japanese Navy Second Fleet.
11 Aug 1942 Mutsu departed Yokosuka, Japan.
20 Aug 1942 Mutsu sortied to hunt for USS Long Island which was delivering aircraft for Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, but failed to make contact.
24 Aug 1942 Mutsu escorted carriers during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.
9 Sep 1942 Mutsu was assigned to the Guadalcanal Operation Force based at Truk, Caroline Islands.
20 Sep 1942 Some of Mutsu's anti-aircraft personnel were disembarked to train ground-based anti-aircraft personnel at Rabaul, New Britain.
7 Jan 1943 Zuikaku, Mutsu, and Suzuya departed Truk, Caroline Islands, escorted by Yugure, Inazuma, Isonami, Asashio, and Ariake.
12 Jan 1943 Zuikaku, Mutsu, and Suzuya arrived at Kure, Japan, escorted by Yugure, Inazuma, Isonami, Asashio, and Ariake.
10 Mar 1943 Captain Teruhiko Miyoshi was named the commanding officer of battleship Mutsu.
13 Apr 1943 Mutsu arrived at Kure, Japan and took on a full load of ammunition and supplies destined for the Aleutian Islands, but that mission would soon to be canceled.
27 May 1943 Mutsu arrived at Kure, Japan and entered dry dock No. 4 for hull scraping and re-painting.
8 Jun 1943 Mutsu suffered an explosion due to unknown cause at 1213 hours about three kilometers north of Oshima Island in Japan. 1,121 men were killed; several hundred survivors were treated at military hospitals in Japan and then shipped off to various garrisons in order to maintain secrecy of this accidental explosion.
9 Jun 1943 Mutsu sank in the Hashirajima anchorage, Japan at 0200 hours from damage suffered during the explosion on the previous day.
17 Jun 1943 Captain Teruhiko Miyoshi's body was recovered from the wreck of battleship Mutsu in the Hashirajima anchorage, Japan.
6 Jan 1944 The families of the men lost during the 1943 sinking of battleship Mutsu was finally notified; they were not informed that the ship had been destroyed in an accident.
1 Sep 1944 Mutsu was struck from the Japanese Navy list.
20 Mar 1970 The Fukada Salvage Company acquired the rights to the wreck of battleship Mutsu.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Moinet GabrielAnonymous says:
8 Jun 2014 10:12:13 AM

Very Nice.
2. Anonymous says:
3 Mar 2021 04:26:16 AM

imagine being a naval officer and recieving a message saying "ship blew up"

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More on Mutsu
» Goto, Aritomo
» Kondo, Nobutake
» Kusaka, Ryunosuke
» Matsuda, Chiaki
» Takagi, Takeo
» Yonai, Mitsumasa

Event(s) Participated:
» Second Battle of Shanghai
» Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Islands
» Solomon Islands Campaign

Related Books:
» Imperial Japanese Navy Battleships 1941-45
» Warship 2009

Partner Sites Content:
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Battleship Mutsu Photo Gallery
Battleship Mutsu underway, 1921Battleship Mutsu, 1921-1922
See all 10 photographs of Battleship Mutsu

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