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Mutsuki Class Destroyer
1,336 Tons (Normal)
1,800 Tons (Deep Load)
320' x 30' 1" x 9' 9"
4 x 12cm Type 3 guns
2x3 24" torpedo tubes
18 x Depth Charges
16 x Mines
USN May 8, 1944
Built by Ishikawajima Shipyards in Tokyo. Laid down April 16, 1926 as Destroyer No. 30. Launched October 6, 1926. Completed April 30, 1927 with "30" painted in white amidships. On August 1, 1928 renamed Nagatsuki 長月 meaning "Lengthy Moon” or “Ninth Month of Lunar Calendar” (September)". Assigned to Assigned to the Third Fleet, Desron 5, Destroyer Division 22 with Nagatsuki, Fumizuki, Minazuki and Satsuki. Each destroyer had "22" painted in white on the bow with the kanji in white amidship.
On November 26, 1941 departed with Desron 5 from Terashima Strait to Mako. On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War, supported the initial Japanese landings in Aparri on northern Luzon in the Philippines. On December 22, 1941 supported the landing force at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon and sustained light damage from strafing by U. S. aircraft and suffered one crew member killed and five wounded. During January 1942 to February 1942 escorted a troop convoy from Formosa to Malaya and Camranh Bay.
On February 27, 1942 supported the Western Java invasion force. On March 10, 1942 Desron 5 is deactivated and the destroyers are reassigned to Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet, Southwest Area Fleet. On April 10, 1942 reassigned to the 1st Surface Escort Division, Southwest Area Fleet and escorts convoys and five days later Lieutenant Commander Ninokata Kanehumi takes command.
On September 19, 1942 arrives Sasebo for repairs and new underwater sound detection equipment is installed. On October 28, 1942 departs Sasebo and two days later arrives Moji and then returns to the South Pacific for escort duties. On December 1, 1942 assigned to the 1st Surface Escort Division.
On January 21, 1943 departs Sasebo with Fumizuki and Satsuki escorting Kamikawa Maru via Truk and Rabaul to Shortland Harbor. On February 1, 1943 performs a "Tokyo Express' run to provide cover for the evacuation of Japanese troops from Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal.
On February 4, 1943 again provides cover for the evacuation of Japanese troops from Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal and returning tows disabled Maikaze back to the Shortlands.
On February 7, 1943 again cover for the evacuation of Japanese troops from the Russell Islands and aids damaged Isokaze. On February 11, 1943 escorts a convoy from Shortland Harbor via Rabaul to Palau arriving six days later.
On July 2-3, 1943 Nagatsuki and Yubari plus eight other destroyers conduct a shore bombardment mission of Rendova Island.
On July 4, 1943 during the night Nagatsuki with Niizuki, Satsuki and Yunagi part of a high speed troop transport "Tokyo Express" run bound for Kolombangara Island but the mission was aborted when U.S. warships from Task Force 18 (TF 18). On July 5, 1943 after midnight, the destroyers fired a salvo torpedoes. One of the torpedoes from Niizuki hit and sank USS Strong (DD-467) from 11 nautical miles away in what is believed to be the longest successful torpedo shot in the history of Naval warfare.
During the night of July 5-6, 1943 high speed troop transport "Tokyo Express" run bound for Kolombangara Island intercepted by U. S. Navy (USN) force during the Battle of Kula Gulf and was hit by a 6" shell causing damage and ran aground while unloaded troops at Bambari Harbor (Jack Cove) on Kolombangara Island. Afterwards, Satsuki attempted to tow the destroyer free without success.
On July 6, 1943 while grounded bombed by U. S. aircraft twice and suffered eight dead and 13 wounded with bombs causing an explosion and fire. Afterwards, the damaged and grounded destroyer was abandoned. On October 1, 1943 officially removed from the Navy list.
Fates of the Crew
The surviving crew including Lt. Commander Furukawa waded ashore onto Kolombangara Island and walked with the infantry they landed to Vila.
This destroyer was abandoned parallel to the shore with a slight list to port. On May 8, 1944 the destroyer was photographed by USS Montpelier (CL-57). At this time, the shipwreck was hard aground with the deck line above water. The bow section forward of the bridge and no. 2 stack were missing, possibly from the explosion.
Postwar, most of the destroyer was salvaged for scrap metal. By the early 2000s, only small pieces of wreckage remain in shallow water including the boilers and other parts.
Gareth Colman adds:
"Rumor has it it was used for target practice which makes sense as it has been pancaked and there is not much left. There a couple of boilers and bits and pieces but not much to make it distinguishable as a destroyer."
Combined Fleet - IJN Nagatsuki: Tabular Record of Movement
USN Historical Center Nagatsuki (Destroyer, 1927-1943) (via Wayback Machine)
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