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  Hatsuyuki 初雪
Fubuki Class Destroyer

2,057 Tons
11.86m / 115.3m / 118.41m
6 x 127mm guns (3x2)
22 x 25mm Type 96 AA guns
10 x 13mm AA guns
9 x 24" torpedo tubes
36 x depth charges

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IJN c1929-1943

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Shirley Cook 2006
Ship History
Built by Maizuru Naval Arsenal at Maizuru. Laid down April 12, 1926. Originally assigned hull designation “Destroyer No. 37”. Launched September 29, 1928. Completed March 30, 1929 as a Fubuki Class destroyer named Hatsuyuki 初雪 meaning "first snow" in Japanese. Assigned to the 2nd Fleet, Destroyer Division 11.

Wartime History
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Hatsuyuki covered Japanese landing at Shanghai during the Battle of Shanghai. Also the landings of Japanese forces at Hangzhou in northern China. In 1940, she participated in the invasion of French Indochina (Vietnam).

At the start of the Pacific War, Hatsuyuki was assigned to Destroyer Division 11 of Desron 3 of the 1st Fleet, and deployed from Kure Naval District to the port of Samah on Hainan Island. Between December 4, 1941 until January 30, 1942 Hatsuyuki was part of the escort for the heavy cruisers Suzuya, Kumano, Mogami and Mikuma out of Samah and Camranh Bay in support of the Japanese invasions of Malaya, Banka-Palembang and Anambas.

On February 18, 1942 she intercepted two transports attempting to flee from Singapore. On February 27, 1942 Hatsuyuki joined the western Java invasion force and participated in the Battle of Sunda Strait on March 1, 1942 and assisted in the sinking of HMAS Perth and USS Houston.

On March 12, 1942 joined the northern Sumatra invasion force. On March 23, 1942 joined the Andaman Islands invasion force and participated in patrol and escort duties operating out of Port Blair during the Japanese raids into the Indian Ocean then returned to Kure. Between April 13-22, 1943 underwent maintenance at the Kure Naval Arsenal.

Between June 4-5, 1942 during the Battle of Midway Hatsuyuki was an escort.

During July 1942, Hatsuyuki sailed from Amami-Ōshima to Mako Guard District, Singapore, Sabang and Mergui for a projected second Indian Ocean raid. The operation was cancelled due to the American landing on Guadalcanal. Instead, Hatsuyuki proceeded to Truk.

During August 1942, Hatsuyuki was used for high speed transport missions in the Solomon Islands as part of the "Tokyo Express" operating off southern Bougainville and Shortlands then traveling overnight to land troops and supplies at Cape Esperence on Guadalcanal. On September 4-5, 1942 Hatsuyuki assisted in sinking the USS Gregory DD-82 (APD-3) and USS Little DD-79 (APD-4).

During the Battle of Cape Esperance (Second Battle of Savo Island) during the night of October 11-12, 1942, Hatsuyuki rescued 518 survivors off Furutaka. Two days later escorted damaged Aoba northward to Truk. On October 26, 1942 during the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands (Battle of the South Pacific) Hatsuyuki patrolled the Shortlands.

Participated in the November 12-15 Naval Battle for Guadalcanal (Third Battle of the Solomon Sea). Initially she escorted the Support Force commanded by Admiral Takeo Kurita, then joined the Emergency Bombardment Force of Admiral Nobutake Kondō. With Nagara in the assault on enemy destroyers, Hatsuyuki assisted in sinking USS Benham, USS Walke, and USS Preston and damaged USS Gwin.

On November 18, 1942 returned to Truk Lagoon. In December, made one more transport run to Rabaul in December, then Hatsuyuki was assigned to escort Hiyō to Kure.

In January 1943, Hatsuyuki escorted a troop convoy from Pusan to Palau and then to Wewak. She continued to patrol and escort in the Solomon Islands until the end of February, when reassigned to the 8th Fleet. In March, Hatsuyuki assisted the rescue of survivors of the Battle of Bismarck Sea, before returning to Kure for refit.

In May, she escorted aircraft carrier Taiyō from Yokouka to Manila, Surabaya, Singapore, and back to Mako Guard District to Sasebo Naval District. During June, Hatsuyuki returned to Rabaul and resumed Tokyo Express supply missions in the Solomon Islands.

Participated in the second battle of Kula Gulf, July 5-6, 1943. During the battle, Hatsuyuki engaged a group of American cruisers and destroyers, and was hit by six dud shells, which damaged her steering and killed six crewmen.

On July 16, 1943 departed Rabaul on a troop transport run arriving in the Shortlands the next day.

Sinking History
On July 17, 1943 while anchored off Kahili (Buin) on southern Bougainville attacked by Allied aircraft. An aerial bomb hit exploded the aft magazine sinking the ship into shallow water at roughly Lat 06.50S Long 155.47E. Killed by the explosion and sinking was a total of 120 personnel (82 crew and 38 passengers) plus 36 were wounded. Captain Lieutenant Commander Sugihara survived the sinking.

Hatsuyuki sank upright on a sandy bottom. During the early 1970's the destroyer was heavily salvaged by by Dave Barnett / Pacific Diving for scrap metal. In addition to the wartime damage, the salvage divers used World War II ordnance as explosive charges to open the hull to allow access to internal compartments. They also used explosives to blow one of the gun turrets off the wreck. During the salvages many human remains were observed.

During the late 1970s until the start of the "Bogainville Crisis" in 1988, the shipwreck was a popular SCUBA dive site for the expatriate community on Bougainville. Since then, it is rarely dived.

Shirley Cook dove the wreck in late 1970s:
"No photographs of this, but have a very fancy porthole which nearly cost me my life. Left a bucket full of tools on the deck there as well."

Note, some sources refer to this destroyer as "Hatsuyuki No. 14" and list the sinking date as either July 17, 1943 or July 18, 1943.
Combined Fleet - IJN Hatsuyuki: Tabular Record of Movement

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Last Updated
August 4, 2020



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