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  Kikuzuki 菊月
USN
Mutsuki-class Destroyer

1,772 Tons
338' x 30' x 9'9"
4 x 12cm Type 3 guns
6 x Torpedoes
16 x Mines
2 x 7.7mm MG

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IJN prewar

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IJN October 1, 1932

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34th NCB Oct 14, 1943

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USN c1944

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John Innes 2002

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Justin Taylan 2003

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Google Earth 2013
Ship History
Built by Kosakubu in Maizuru. Laid down June 15, 1925 as Mutsuki-class Destroyer. Launched May 15, 1926 as Destroyer 31. Commissioned November 20, 1926 in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) with Lieutenant Commander Mori Koukichi in command. Assigned to Destroyer Division 23 (Desdiv 23) with with destroyers Yuzuki and Uzuki. During 1935 renamed "Kikuzuki" meaning Chrysanthemum Moon. Misspelled "Kikitsku" [sic]. This destroyer had "23" in white on the bow indicating assignment to Destroyer Division 23.

Wartime History
On November 23, 1941 escorts troop convoys from Sakaide and four days later arrives at Haha jima (Mother Island). On December 4, 1941 departs Haha jima with the Japanese invasion force bound for Guam and then performed anti-submarine patrols. On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War, departs for Saipan. On January 10, 1942 departs Saipan for Truk arriving two days later.

On January 23, 1942 escorts the invasion force bound for Kavieng, then proceeded to Rabaul for patrol and escort duties. On January 31, 1942 assigned to commander Takemi Shimazui, commander of Comdesdiv 23 as his flagship.

On February 9, 1942 escorted the Gasmata invasion force then returned to Truk. Between March 1942 and April 1942 Kikuzuki was part of the force that occupied Salamau, Lae and Manus.

On April 28, 1942 departs Truk assigned to "Operation MO" to support the invasion of Tulagi. Destroyers Kikuzuki and Yuzuki escort Okinoshima the flagship of Rear Admiral Shima plus Azumasan Maru, minelayer Koei Maru, subchasers Toshi Maru No. 3 and Tama Maru No. 8, special duty minesweepers WA-1 and WA-2, Hagoromo Maru, Noshiro Maru No. 2 and Tama Maru. On May 3, 1942 the invasion arrives in Tulagi Harbor and unloads.

Sinking History
On May 4, 1942 in the morning, Kikuzuki and Yuzuki were fueling Okinoshima. At 8:15am, U.S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft from USS Yorktown CV-5 including twenty-eight SBD Dauntless dive bombers from VS-5 plus twelve TBD Devastators from VT-5 attack the landing force.

During the attack, the SBD Dauntless fail to score any hits on the vessels. Eight TBD-1 Devastators aim torpedoes at Kikuzuki, but miss. Possibly, due to aiming miscalculation from the cut water camouflage on her bow or due to faulty torpedoes. As the destroyer got underway, TBD Devastator piloted by Ed Williamson released his torpedo and hit the starboard machinery room. The explosion killed twelve aboard and wounded fourteen others. Kikuzuki looses power and was dead in the water at roughly Lat 9° 7' S, Long 160° 12' E.

Damaged, the destroyer was taken under tow by subchaser Toshi Maru No. 3 and towed to Halavo Bay off Florida Island (Nggela Sule, Big Gela). On May 5, 1942 during high tide, Kikuzuki slid underwater sinking into Halavo Bay.

Shipwreck
During the middle of 1943, the U.S. Navy (USN) raised and refloated Kikuzuki from Halavo Bay then towed the shipwreck into Purvis Bay (Tokio Bay) off Florida Island (Nggela Sule, Big Gela). The shipwreck was studied for intelligence value about Japanese destroyers and parts were salvaged.

Late in 1943 when the salvage was complete, what remained was abandoned at Purvis Bay (Tokio Bay) and allowed to settle in shallow water with the bow pointed to the northwest and the stern southeast facing the edge of Florida Island (Nggela Sule, Big Gela).

Over the decades, more metal was salvaged from the shipwreck, leaving only the cut-down deck to the waterline. Only a few easily recognizable items remain including the gun mounts, a 12cm Type 3 gun barrel (4.7" gun barrel) and a few portholes remain on the deck.

Morris Hall reports:
"There's very little left of the Kikuzuki now. A few scraps of superstructure and about 2/3rds of the deck can now be seen a foot or so above the high tide level. The barrel of a large gun is on the foredeck."

Justin Taylan visited in 2003:
"At low tide the ship is exposed, the outline of the deck at the waterline.  At least one gun barrel is still there, and other identifying features."

During 2016, the one remaining 4.7" gun barrel was recovered by a Japanese group for restoration and display in Japan.

References
Note, destroyer Kikuzuki is sometimes spelled "Kikitsku" [sic] in some English translations.
Another source credits TBD Devastator pilot Lt. John J. “Jo Jo” Powers of VB-5 for one direct hit [Kikuzuki?], two close-misses, and a persistent low-level strafing attack.
US Navy Historical Center - Kikuzuki Photos via Wayback Machine December 3, 2015
Naval History and Heritage Command - Coral Sea: Preliminary Activities
"Though results were modest, to some extent due to humid air fogging the dive bombers' sights, the destroyer Kikuzuki was fatally damaged and a few other ships and seaplanes were sunk."
Naval History and Heritage Command - The Battle of the Coral Sea
"Dauntlesses and Devastators (VB 5, VS 5, VT 5), supported by Wildcats (VF 42) from Yorktown (CV-5) carried out three strikes against the Japanese ships. They sank the destroyer Kikuzuki, the minesweeper Tama Maru and the auxiliary minesweepers Wa 1 and Wa 2 and damaged the destroyer Yuzuki, the minelayer Okinoshima, the transport Azumasan Maru, and cargo ship Kozui Maru."
Combined Fleet - IJN Kikuzuki: Tabular Record of Movement
The First Team (1984) mentions Kikuzuki

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Last Updated
June 16, 2021

 

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