Japanese destroyer Arashi
Arashi underway in December 1940.
|Launched:||22 April 1940|
|Commissioned:||25 November 1940|
|Struck:||15 October 1943|
|Fate:||Sunk in action, 7 August 1943|
|Class and type:||Kagerō-class destroyer|
|Displacement:||2,490 long tons (2,530 t)|
|Length:||118.5 m (388 ft 9 in)|
|Beam:||10.8 m (35 ft 5 in)|
|Draft:||3.8 m (12 ft 6 in)|
|Speed:||35 knots (40 mph; 65 km/h)|
|Operations:||Battle of Vella Gulf (1943)|
|Victories:||USS Asheville (1942)|
Arashi played a vital role in World War II by inadvertently guiding US attack planes to the Japanese carrier fleet at the Battle of Midway. Arashi had become separated from the Japanese carrier force while attempting to destroy an American submarine, USS Nautilus. Following her attacks on Nautilus, Arashi steamed at high speed to rejoin the group. All four IJN carriers were sunk by Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers of American aircraft carriers USS Yorktown and USS Enterprise, giving the US a decisive victory and checking Japanese momentum in the Pacific War.
Design and description
The Kagerō class was an enlarged and improved version of the preceding Asashio class. Their crew numbered 240 officers and enlisted men. The ships measured 118.5 meters (388 ft 9 in) overall, with a beam of 10.8 meters (35 ft 5 in) and a draft of 3.76 meters (12 ft 4 in). They displaced 2,065 metric tons (2,032 long tons) at standard load and 2,529 metric tons (2,489 long tons) at deep load. The ships had two Kampon geared steam turbines, each driving one propeller shaft, using steam provided by three Kampon water-tube boilers. The turbines were rated at a total of 52,000 shaft horsepower (39,000 kW) for a designed speed of 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph). The ships had a range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) at a speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph).
The main armament of the Kagerō class consisted of six Type 3 127-millimeter (5.0 in) guns in three twin-gun turrets, one superfiring pair aft and one turret forward of the superstructure. They were built with four Type 96 25-millimeter (1.0 in) anti-aircraft guns in two twin-gun mounts, but more of these guns were added over the course of the war. The ships were also armed with eight 610-millimeter (24.0 in) torpedo tubes for the oxygen-fueled Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedo in two quadruple traversing mounts; one reload was carried for each tube. Their anti-submarine weapons comprised 16 depth charges.
Construction and career
On 3 March 1942 Arashi assisted in sinking the gunboat USS Asheville.
Arashi is most famous for its involvement in the Battle of Midway. Providing escort to the carrier group, the destroyer was alerted to the presence of an approaching U.S. submarine, USS Nautilus, when a Japanese Zero fighter aircraft dived and fired machine guns at Nautilus as it came to periscope depth. Arashi spotted the encounter and began to drop depth charges. The Japanese Task force changed course while Arashi continued its attack on Nautilus. Having kept Nautilus down long enough that she no longer was a threat, the captain of Arashi finally broke off the attack and steamed north to rejoin the carrier group. As two squadrons of dive bombers from Enterprise searched above for the Japanese Task Force, Arashi was spotted making great speed to the north. The ship's speed created a long wake, which acted as a direction arrow to the American aviators, guiding them to the Japanese carriers. Meanwhile, Japanese fighter aircraft protecting the carriers had been pulled away as they all attempted to engage an incoming torpedo attack from Hornet's VT-8 torpedo squad. At the moment of decision, the Japanese carriers were essentially without high air cover. This made for an uncontested approach for the American dive bombers. The Enterprise dive bombers happened to arrive over the Japanese carriers Kaga and Akagi unimpeded, scoring multiple hits on Kaga and a single hit on Akagi that doomed both ships.
During the battle Arashi is known to have picked up one of the downed airman from Yorktown. He had been made to provide the Japanese with a general description of the make-up of the force they had been fighting against, the only clear description of the American carrier forces the Japanese obtained during the battle. According to Admiral Chūichi Nagumo's battle report, the airman died the day following his recovery and was buried at sea. Among other facts the Japanese learned, the report indicated the pilot had been from Chicago. This was in fact Ensign Wesley Osmus, one of the TBD pilots of VT-3. Osmus was flying the last plane in VT-3's formation, and thus was first to be attacked and destroyed as they made their approach. Osmus was picked up later on 4 June and buried 5 June. A U.S. Naval investigation after the war interviewed witnesses who reported that after his interrogation Osmus had been taken to the stern of Arashi and struck in the back of the neck with a fire axe. He clung briefly to the railing, and then was pushed overboard into the sea. An attempt was made to find the captain of Arashi (Commander Watanabe Yasumasa) and try him for war crimes, but it was discovered that he had died later in the conflict (he was Killed In Action as Commander Destroyer Division 1 aboard destroyer Numakaze on 18 December 1943), and the matter was set aside.
At the Solomon Islands
Arashi was part of a Japanese convoy that sailed through the Blackett Strait in 1943. It included fellow destroyers Amagiri, Hagikaze, and Shigure. The convoy's lead ship, Amagiri, is famous for being the vessel to ram and sink the American patrol craft PT-109, the PT boat commanded by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, who would survive the war and go on to become the President of the United States.
On 7 August 1943, Arashi was again attempting to land reinforcements to the garrison on New Georgia island as part of a four-destroyer fast convoy when she was intercepted by a U.S. destroyer force lying in wait between Kolombangara and Vella Lavella (07°50′S 156°55′E). The U.S. forces struck with complete surprise. Arashi along with the destroyers Hagikaze and Kawakaze were sunk by torpedoes and naval gunfire from U.S. destroyers Dunlap, Craven and Maury in what became known as the Battle of Vella Gulf.
- Chesneau, p. 194
- Whitley, pp. 200–01
- Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 148
- Parshall, Jonathan; Tully, Anthony (2005). Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books. p. 217. ISBN 1-57488-923-0.
- Chūichi Nagumo (June 1942). "CINC First Air Fleet Detailed Battle Report no. 6".
- Cressman, Robert (1999). The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Naval Institute Press. p. 101. ISBN 1-55750-149-1.
- Parshall et al.
- "Osmus". Navy Historical Society.
- Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
- Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter & Mickel, Peter (1977). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-893-X.
- Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War 2. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.