YAKUMO unknown location, undated
Photo collection:Peter Schliefke (Photo credit:P.A. Vicary)
Built by Stettiner Vulcan, Stettin-Bredow, Yard-No.240
9735 GT, 10288 dwt – 124.6 x 19.5
1900 YAKUMO Japanese Navy, Jpn.
-03-1947 broken up at Maizuru
Source:Miramar Ship Index, by arrangement
Yakumo was a 1st class armored cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy, designed and built by the Stettiner Vulcan AG shipyards in Stettin, Germany. The Yakumo was named from a stanza of the Waka by Susanoo in the Japanese mythology.
The Yakumo was one of six armored cruisers ordered for construction by overseas shipyards after the First Sino-Japanese War as part of the “Six-Six Program” (six battleships-six cruisers) intended to be the backbone of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Almost all of the orders were placed with shipyards in the United Kingdom, but for political and diplomatic reasons, the Yakumo was ordered from Germany and her near-sister ship, the Azuma was ordered from France. The Yakumo was the only cruiser in the Imperial Japanese Navy built by Germany, but was armed with British guns, to keep its ammunition compatible with other ships in the fleet.
Design and armament
Although the basic design for all six cruisers in this program was essentially the same (utilizing Armstrong-type 8-inch (203 mm) guns and with desired speed of 20-21 knots), each shipyard had considerable freedom to modify the details of the design. In the case of the Yakumo, the German shipbuilder used a relatively standard flush-deck hull with high freeboard, and turrets front and back. The Yakumo used 24 Belleville boilers, which were considered very advanced for its day.
The main armament for the Yakumo was a pair of twin-mounted 203 mm, 45 caliber guns of a new design in fore and aft gun turrets. The turrets were capable of 150 degree rotation left and right, and the guns could be elevated to 30 degrees, giving the guns a range of 18,000 meters. The secondary side-mounted 152 mm, 40 caliber guns had a range of 9,140 meters, and could fire at the rate of five shells per minute (up to seven per minute for a very skilled gun crew). The Yakumo was also equipped with a ram.
The Yakumo participated in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, and took part in the Battle of the Yellow Sea, and in the final crucial Battle of Tsushima, where it played a major role in the sinking of Russian battleship Admiral Ushakov. Afterwards, it served as the flagship of the 3rd Fleet in the operation to capture Sakhalin from Russia.
In World War I, the Yakumo fought at the Battle of Tsingtao, and later participated in the pursuit of the German East Asia Squadron under German Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee and the German raider Emden.
On 1 September 1921, the Yakumo was re-designated as a Coastal Defense Vessel and used primarily for training duties in oceanic navigation and cadet officer training. In this capacity, it participated in over 14 long distance voyages to Europe, North America and South America and the South Pacific. In 1930, together with the Izumo, it visited Tsingtao and Shanghai in China. In 1931, it made a long distance navigational training voyage, visiting Hong Kong, the Suez Canal, Naples, and Marseilles before returning to Sasebo. It was further downgraded to Coastal Defense ship on 30 May 1931. In 1933 the “Yakumo” and the “Iwate” called the Mexican port of Acapulco and continued to Panama.In 1936, while on a training voyage between Saipan and Truk, on its way to North America, the Yakumo suffered an accidental explosion in its front magazine, killing four sailors and flooding its front food locker. Repairs were made underway, and the Yakumo completed its mission, returning home after a cruise of 23,272 nautical miles (43,100 km).
After the start of the Pacific War, although hopelessly obsolete, the Yakumo was re-armed on 1 July 1942, anti-aircraft guns were added, and it was reinstated to the active list, again as a 1st class cruiser. It remained within the Inland Sea throughout the war assigned to training duties, and was not used in any combat operations.
After the end of the Pacific War, the Yakumo was briefly used as a transport to return troops and civilians to the home islands from Japan’s former overseas possessions, primarily from Taiwan and mainland China. On its final departure from China with Japanese evacuees, troops from the Chinese government stripped the Yakumo bare of all its furnishings, including the German-made wooden furniture in the captain’s cabin (some sources, however, stated that these furnishings were removed as the Yakumo was being scrapped and installed into the Atada, ex-ROCN “light cruiser” Yat-Sen that was at that time about to be reverted back to her former identity and returned to China, by the Japanese themselves). Sent to the breakers on 20 July 1946, the Yakumo was scrapped on 1 April 1947 at the Maizuru shipyard of Hitachi Shipbuilding & Engineering. The main anchor of the Yakumo is preserved at that location.