Japanese escort Kunashiri

Kunashiri (国後) was one of four Shimushu-class escort ships built for the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.

Empire of Japan
Name: Kunashiri
Builder: Nihon Kokan, Tsurumi
Laid down: 1 March 1939
Launched: 6 May 1940
Commissioned: 3 October 1940
Struck: 5 November 1945
Fate: wrecked, 4 June 1946
General characteristics
Class and type: Shimushu-class escort ship
Displacement: 870 long tons (884 t)
Length: 77.7 m (255 ft)
Beam: 9.1 m (29 ft 10 in)
Draught: 3.05 m (10 ft)
Speed: 19.7 knots (22.7 mph; 36.5 km/h)
Complement: 150

Background and description

The Japanese called these ships Kaibōkan, "ocean defence ships", (Kai = sea, ocean, Bo = defence, Kan = ship), to denote a multi-purpose vessel. They were initially intended for patrol and fishery protection, minesweeping and as convoy escorts. The ships measured 77.72 meters (255 ft 0 in) overall, with a beam of 9.1 meters (29 ft 10 in) and a draft of 3.05 meters (10 ft 0 in).[1] They displaced 870 metric tons (860 long tons) at standard load and 1,040 metric tons (1,020 long tons) at deep load. The ships had two diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft, which were rated at a total of 4,200 brake horsepower (3,100 kW) for a speed of 19.7 knots (36.5 km/h; 22.7 mph). The ships had a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at a speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph).[2]

The main armament of the Shimushu class consisted of three Type 3 120-millimeter (4.7 in) guns in single mounts, one superfiring pair aft and one mount 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 the total was increased to 15 guns by August 1943. A dozen depth charges were stowed aboard initially, but this was doubled in May 1942 when their minesweeping gear was removed.[2] The anti-submarine weaponry later rose to 60 depth charges with a Type 97 81-millimeter (3.2 in) trench mortar and six depth charge throwers.

Construction and career

In July 1943 Kunashiri participated in the Kiska evacuation aspect of Operation Ke. During the war Kunashiri operated mostly in the Kuriles and Hokkaido area escorting various convoys. On 28 July 1944. she was reported "damaged" by unknown cause- USS Tambor. After the end of World War II Kunashiri returned to Sasebo and was later used by the Allied Repatriation Service. On 4 June 1946 while en route to Uragi the vessel ran aground and was later abandoned. In attempts to rescue her, the Japanese destroyer Kamikaze also ran aground, while at the same time, she too was repatriating Japanese troops from Singapore.[3]


  1. Chesneau, p. 205
  2. Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 186
  3. "IJN Escort Kunashiri: Tabular Record of Movement". combinedfleet.com. Retrieved 27 August 2015.


  • 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.
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