|Ship Class||Furutaka-class Heavy Cruiser|
|Builder||Mitsubishi Shipyard, Nagasaki, Japan|
|Laid Down||5 Dec 1922|
|Launched||25 Feb 1925|
|Commissioned||31 Mar 1926|
|Sunk||12 Oct 1942|
|Displacement||9150 tons standard; 10507 tons full|
|Machinery||4-shaft Parsons geared turbines, 12 Kampon boilers|
|Power Output||102000 SHP|
|Range||7,000nm at 14 knots|
|Armor||76mm belt, 36mm deck|
Named after the mountain at Etajima, Hiroshima, Japan where the Imperial Japanese Navy Academy was located, the heavy cruiser Furutaka was commissioned at Nagasaki, Japan in 1926. Between 1926 and 1930, she was a member of the 5th Sendai (Squadron). Between 1931 and 1933, she was placed in reserve. Between 1933 and 1936, she served off Chinese waters and engaged in intensive combat exercises. Between 1936 and mid 1939, she was modernized at Kure Navy Yard, Japan. The modernization included replacing her single gun mounts with twin turrets, widening of her beam (thus increasing displacement from 7,950 tons to 9,150 tons), upgrading her boilers, upgrading her anti-aircraft weapons, and upgrading her fire control equipment. Between 1939 and 1941, she patrolled in waters near the Japanese home islands as a part of the 6th Sendai.
During the opening chapters of the Pacific War, Furutaka sailed in support of the invasion of Guam and Wake islands as a part of Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto's 6th Sendai. Between 18 Jan and Mar 1942, with 6th Sendai, she supported Japanese landings at Rabaul, New Britain and Kavieng, New Ireland. In Mar and Apr, she covered the landings at the Solomon Islands and New Guinea. During the Battle of the Coral Sea, on 8 May 1942, carrier Shokaku was damaged by American aircraft, and Furutaka escorted her back to Truk in the Caroline Islands. On 5 Jun, she returned to Kure for repairs, returning to Truk on 7 Jul.
On 14 Jul, 6th Sendai which Furutaka was still a part of was assigned to the newly created Eighth Fleet under Vice Admiral Mikawa Gunichi, with which fleet she patrolled in the Solomon Islands. On 9 Aug, 6th Sendai engaged in the Battle of Savo Island, in which the American fleet suffered serious losses including the loss of 1,000 lives. In Aug and Sep, she sailed between Kieta and Rabaul, attacked by a PBY Catalina aircraft in late Aug and submarine USS S-47 on 12 Sep, but escaped unscathed on both occasions.
During the night of 11-12 Oct 1942, Furutaka was engaged in the Battle of Cape Esperance. The American fleet crossed the Japanese fleet's "T", and in the confusion of the start of the attack, Admiral Goto thought he was fired upon by mistake by Japanese ships, and maneuvered in a way that further exposed the fleet to the Americans. Flagship Aoba was quickly hit and heavily damaged, mortally wounding Goto. Under the direction of Captain Tsutau Araki, who had been the commanding officer since 28 Nov 1941, Furutaka maneuvered herself between Aoba and the American ships, sacrificing herself to protect the flagship from further harm. Destroyer USS Duncan fired two torpedoes at Furutaka that either missed or failed to detonate, but the 90 shell hits from American ships were effective in damaging Furutaka, igniting some of her Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes and causing fires. At 2354, an American torpedo hit her, flooding her forward engine room. After efforts to control flooding failed, orders were given to abandon her. At 0228 on 12 Oct, she sank by the stern. 514 survivors, including Captain Araki, were rescued by destroyers Hatsuyuki, Murakumo and Shirayuki. 33 men were killed with additional 110 men reported as missing; 115 were captured by Americans.
Sources: Struggle for Guadalcanal, United States Navy Naval Historical Center, Wikipedia.
Furutaka Operational Timeline
|31 Mar 1926||Furutaka was commissioned into service.|
|12 Oct 1942||Japanese cruiser Furutaka maneuvered herself in between flagship Aoba and American ships, saving the flagship but causing her own demise.|
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal