Shikishima Class Battleship - Ships

Ships

Ship Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
Shikishima Thames Iron Works, Leamouth, London 29 March 1897 1 November 1898 26 January 1900 Broken up, January 1948
Hatsuse Armstrong, Elswick 10 January 1898 27 June 1899 18 January 1901 Sank 15 May 1904 after hitting two mines

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, Hatsuse and Shikishima were assigned to the 1st Division of the 1st Fleet. They participated in the Battle of Port Arthur on 9 February 1904 when Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō led the 1st Fleet in an attack on the Russian ships of the Pacific Squadron anchored just outside of Port Arthur. Tōgō chose to attack the Russian coastal defences with his main armament and engage the Russian ships with his secondary guns. Splitting his fire proved to be a bad idea as the Japanese 8-inch (203 mm) and six-inch guns inflicted very little damage on the Russian ships who concentrated all their fire on the Japanese ships with some effect. Hatsuse was hit twice during the battle, 10 men being killed and 17 wounded, but Shikishima was only hit once with 17 men wounded.

Both ships participated in the action of 13 April when Tōgō successfully lured out two battleships of the Pacific Squadron. When the Russians spotted the five battleships of the 1st Division, they turned back for Port Arthur and the battleship Petropavlovsk struck a minefield laid by the Japanese the previous night. It sank in less than two minutes after one of her magazines exploded. Emboldened by his success, Tōgō resumed long-range bombardment missions, which prompted the Russians to lay more minefields.

On 14 May 1904, Hatsuse, Shikishima, and the battleship Yashima, the protected cruiser Kasagi, and the dispatch boat Tatsuta put to sea to relieve the Japanese blockading force off Port Arthur. On the following morning, the squadron encountered a newly laid Russian minefield. Hatsuse struck one mine that disabled her steering and Yashima struck another when moving to assist Hatsuse. Hatsuse struck another mine while drifting about a half hour later that detonated one of her magazines and the ship sank in a little over a minute. The catastrophe claimed 496 crewmen although the escorting ships were able to rescue 336 men.

Shikishima was not hit during the Battle of the Yellow Sea in August 1904, although a shell exploded prematurely in one of her 12-inch guns, disabling it. During the Battle of Tsushima in May 1905, she was hit nine times; the most serious of which penetrated beneath a six-inch gun, killing or wounding the entire gun crew. Again the ship had another 12-inch shell prematurely detonate in one of the forward guns, wrecking it completely. Shikishima was reclassified as a first-class coast defence ship in September 1921, and was used for training duties in various capacities until disarmed and reclassified as a transport in 1923. Her hulk continued to be used as a training ship until she was scrapped in 1948.

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