Shinano file photo [2488]


Ship ClassShinano-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderYokosuka Naval Arsenal
Laid Down4 May 1940
Launched8 Oct 1944
Commissioned19 Nov 1944
Sunk29 Nov 1944
Displacement63,000 tons standard; 73,000 tons full
Length873 feet
Beam131 feet
Draft35 feet
Machinery12 Kampon oil-fired boilers, 4 geared steam turbines, 4 shafts
Power Output150,000 shaft horsepower
Speed27 knots
Range10,000nm at 18 knots
Armament16x2x127mm dual purpose guns, 145x25mm Type 96 AA guns, 12x28x127mm AA rocket launchers
Armor20.5cm belt, 19cm hangar deck, 8cm flight deck
Aircraft47 operational, 0 in reserve


ww2dbaseIn May 1940, the keel for the third Yamato-class battleship was laid down at Yokosuka Naval Arsenal in Yokosuka, Japan. Similar to her sister battleship Yamato and Musashi, her construction was a closely guarded secret, and the dockyard was surrounded by tall fences. No photographs were taken during the construction to ensure security. In mid-1941, her construction was temporarily paused as the Japanese Navy prepared for war. In 1942, the loss of four fleet carriers at the Battle of Midway prompted Japanese naval leadership to convert Shinano, about 45% complete at the time, into a fleet carrier in an attempt to replenish the lost naval aviation strength. The conversion was oversaw by Vice Admiral Keiji Fukuda of Kampon, or the Japanese Navy Technical Department. When she was completed in Oct 1944, she became the largest carrier in the world; her full-load tonnage would not be surpassed until the arrival of the US Navy Forrestal-class carriers in the 1950s. Due to the threat of air attacks on Yokosuka, she was ordered to move to Kure, Japan to complete her fitting-out; Fukuda requested a delay of this move, citing that her watertight compartment doors had not been completed and other issues, but the request was denied. She departed in the evening of 28 Nov 1944, carrying about 2,500 men on board along with 6 Shinyo special attack boats and 50 Ohka special attack rocket aircraft; she was escorted by three destroyers, Isokaze, Yukikaze, and Hamakaze. At 2100 hours, merely three hours after leaving port, she was spotted by USS Archerfish under the command of Commander Joseph Enright; Shinano also detected USS Archerfish and began zig-zagging. At 0305 hours in the morning of 29 Nov 1944, USS Archerfish began to move into an attacking position, but one of the Japanese destroyers moved toward the submarine and forced Enright to dive. Nevertheless, Enright would catch an opportunity to attack shortly after, firing six torpedoes at 0315 hours. While Shinano's armored flight deck could withstand the impact of 1,000-pound (454-kilogram) bombs, the largest used by US Navy carrier bombers at the time, these torpedoes, four of which hit, would destroy her. The first hit destroyed the refrigerated areas and one of the empty aviation gas storage tanks, the second flooded the outboard engine room, the third destroyed the No. 3 fireroom, and the fourth flooded the starboard air compressor room, magazines, and ruptured the starboard oil storage tank. Captain Toshio Abe did not realize the scale of the damage and maintained speed in order to outrun the submarine before a second attack run could be commenced, but within minutes the carrier would suffer a 10-degree starboard list. Counter-flooding ordered by Abe corrected the list to 7 degrees, but damage control efforts continued to be inadequate. When dawn broke, the starboard boiler room flooded completely, and the list increased to 20 degrees, and further counter-flooding efforts would fail. At 0745 hours, she lost all power. At 0850 hours, Abe ordered Hamakaze and Isokaze to take Shinano in tow toward nearby Cape Ushio for beaching; the towing attempt failed as tow cables snapped, attributed to the over-weight carrier due to the state of flooding. At 1018 hours, Abe ordered the carrier, now suffering a 30-degree starboard list and beginning to show the inevitability of capsizing, to be abandoned. She capsized at 1057 hours. 1,435 were killed in her sinking, including Captain Abe; 1,080 survived. The news of Shinano's sinking was restricted, and the survivors were quarantined for several months to prevent the news from leaking.

Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign
Nihon Kaigun/
US Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Last Major Revision: Feb 2013

Aircraft Carrier Shinano Interactive Map


Carrier Shinano in Tokyo Bay, Japan, 11 Nov 1944

Shinano Operational Timeline

4 May 1940 The keel of Shinano was laid down at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal in Yokosuka, Japan.
1 Oct 1944 Most of the crew of Shinano boarded the carrier at Yokosuka, Japan by this date.
8 Oct 1944 Shinano was launched at Yokosuka, Japan. During the launch, one of the caissons at the end of the dock lifted unexpectedly, causing her to move forward, damaging the bow.
26 Oct 1944 Shinano completed bow repairs at Yokosuka, Japan.
19 Nov 1944 Shinano was comissioned into service at Yokosuka, Japan with Captain Toshio Abe in command.
28 Nov 1944 USS Archerfish surfaced south of Tokyo Bay, Japan at 1718 hours. At 1800 hours, the incomplete Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano departed Yokosuka, Japan, 2,175 officers and crew, 300 shipyard workers, and 40 civilians on board; she was escorted by destroyers Hamakaze, Yukikaze, and Isokaze and submarine chaser Cha-241. At 2034 hours, Archerfish sighted Inamba Shima about 90 miles south of the entrance to Tokyo Bay. At 2048 hours, Archerfish's radar detected a contact approaching from the north. At 2140 hours, commanding officer Commander Joseph Enright identified the target as an unknown aircraft carrier. A message was sent to Commander Submarines Pacific Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood in Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, who on the following day would order all submarines in the area to converge on this target.
29 Nov 1944 At about 0315 hours, after seven hours of silent pursuit after the zigzagging Japanese aircraft carrier Shinano, USS Archerfish fired six torpedoes at the target from her bow tubes. After observing two hits, the submarine dove; while diving, the carrier was seen beginning to list, and two more detonations were heard. An escorting Japanese destroyer dropped 14 depth charges, causing no damage. In the mean time, Shinano suffered uncontrollable flooding on the starboard side. Escorting destroyers Yukikaze, Hamakaze, and Isokaze rescued survivors. While underwater, the crew of Archerfish reported observing breaking up noises for 47 minutes. The carrier sank after about 7 hours.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. JC says:
26 Jun 2010 09:47:15 PM

Originally, I was told that the one sunk by Archerfish was IJPN MUSASHI a battleship not a carrier. But I also awared that there's a third ship - "Shinano" not in-service and the event was in the Inland sea. So I'll rewrite my record. Thank you.
2. Stormy says:
31 Aug 2011 08:17:33 PM

I have heard that there is another photograph of Shinano taken on 1 November 1944 by a B-29 on a reconnaissance flight, but I can not find it anywhere online. Does anyone know of a source where it may be found or if it exists at all?
3. wa6bjp says:
31 Jul 2012 06:07:43 PM

re Stormy's coimments, there was a book
on the sinking of Shinano, written by
Joseph Enright, Archerfish's C.O. that
had that picture. Unfortunately, I do not
have the name of that book.
4. Doug says:
27 Nov 2012 12:22:14 PM

I have the book.
Shinano! The Sinking of Japan's Secret Supership.
ISBN 0-312-00186-X
5. Doug says:
27 Nov 2012 12:31:00 PM

The book does include the photo. However, it is not a large picture. Because of the photo being taken at high altitude by a B-29, it is kind of grainy.
6. Wade says:
7 Feb 2013 05:02:16 PM

I see that much of the text is taken from the "article" on the Shinano. I emailed a correction to the site years ago, but they never made the edits, so I'll try again here: the Inland Sea was NOT "crawling with" American submarines. In fact, there were none in the Inland Sea as it is too shallow and restricted a body of water (not to mention mined) for subs to safely operate. Certainly, American subs guarded the main outlets of the Inland Sea, namely Kii Suido and Bungo Suido, but did not operate in, on, or under the Inland Sea itself.
7. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
8 Feb 2013 08:27:24 AM

Thanks Wade, we will make corrections you suggested.
8. Francis says:
3 Oct 2013 08:22:33 AM

I'd like to correct another misrepresentation on combined fleet. I read the same or a similar book about the sinking.
The Shinano did not sail with watertight doors not installed as stated on Watertight doors were mounted and installed. Air pressure testing for complete watertight integrity of each room was not completed before it was ordered moved. There was inadequate sealing around bulkhead electrical, pipe penetrations, etc. Basically all the finish work that needed/would've been done had Shinano reached her destination as planned.
9. Jaybox Holmes says:
20 Nov 2017 06:37:28 AM

Not to pick nits, but should be no hyphen in the name USS Archerfish.
10. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
20 Nov 2017 07:52:14 AM

Jaybox Holmes: Your nit picking is very much appreciated. The correction has been made!
11. Michelle McKay says:
24 May 2020 07:08:08 AM

As a crew member of the USS Archerfish (SSN678), the name given to SS 311 was correctly Archer-Fish. Then launching tag was miss labeled without the hyphen. Thus the boat was fondly referred the crew as Archerfish, without the hyphen. This is covered in the book, Galant Lady, by Ken Henry & Don Keith.
12. peter snell says:
18 May 2021 01:44:11 PM

Does read: "1,435 were killed in her sinking, including Captain Abe.. "

Should (probably) read: "1,435 crew were lost in her sinking, including Captain Abe .."
13. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
18 Jul 2022 07:21:18 AM

When Commander Enright told his story about sinking a Hayatake-class carrier, some people were more than sceptical. The American codebreakers believed they had identified all the remaining Japanese carriers and knew of their probable whereabouts. Although an earlier reconnaissance of Tokyo Bay had disclosed a previously unknown carrier nearing completion, US Navy intelligence believed Shinano to be a cruiser. It was therefore taken for granted that a cruiser had been converted into an aircraft carrier. But Enright made a drawing of the carrier which he had sunk and was therefore credited with sinking a 28,000 ton carrier. It was not until after the war that the US Navy discovered that Archerfish had, in fact, sunk the 70,755 ton carrier Shinano, about which the codebreakers had known nothing.
14. William L Rhoades says:
3 Feb 2023 10:33:04 AM

Just some helpful corrections.

This information I am going to submit, are extracts fron the book titled: SHINANO! The SINKING OF JAPAN'S SUPERSHIP... Written by Ret. Captain Joseph F. Enright, USN.
Captain Enright, an Annapolis graduate, was indeed, the very Submarine Commander, whom actually commanded the USN fleet boat submarine, USS ARCHER-FISH, SS-311, accredited with and responsible for the sinking of Japan's, IJN SHINANO.
Retired Captain Enright, himself spent over 39;years, doin the research, that has become this book.

Oh, and by-the-way, Captain Enright correctly spelled the actual name of his boat. For benefit of the public AND historical records.

It is 'CORRECTLY' spelled WITH the hyphen’ ...the correction is: 'ARCHER-FISH', as still listed on official navy records.

Also, your original article states that as one of the Japanese destroyers turned towards the US submarine, that feint forced Commander Enright to submerge.

READ THE BOOK, AND read the actual account from Commander Enright...he 'kept' the submarine 'on-the-surface' so as not to loose that advantage of distance from the carrier.

Enright did NOT SUBMERGE, in order to fall behind the carrier.

Simply check the facts from Enright book.

In those 30 some years where he did his research, he interviewed both the crew of his boat, and the survivors of the INN SHINANO!
William L Rhoades

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Carrier Shinano in Tokyo Bay, Japan, 11 Nov 1944

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