Laid down by the Kure Kaigun Kosho on March 11, 1912. Launched on March 28, 1914. Completed on November 18, 1915. Named Fusō. Also known as Fuso.
World War I Service
During World War I, Fuso took part in no major actions as the majority of the Japanese Navy was engaged in escort duties and support missions.
On October 25, 1944 at 2:50pm in the Battle for Leyte Gulf during the Battle of the Surigao Strait thirty-nine PT boats attack Force "C". At 0250, thirty-nine PT boats attack Force "C" with Fuso and Yamashiro opening fire with their 6" secondary guns as their supporting destroyers illuminated the PT boats that make a torpedo attack but all missed. By 2:54am, Desron 54's western section makes radar contact. At 2:56am Shigure lookouts spotted the MELVIN, REMEY and the McGOWAN at 9,000 yards. The YAMASHIRO probes with her searchlight but the destroyers are too far away to be seen. At about 0300, the MELVIN, REMEY and the McGOWAN launch 27 Mark 15 torpedoes, then take fire from the YAMASHIRO and her destroyers.
At 3:09am Fuso is hit in the starboard side by one or two of the MELVIN's Mark 15 torpedoes while making 17 knots and causes fires aboard, slows and steers to starboard out of formation and reverses course back down the Surigao Strait at roughly 10 knots.
From 0310-0311, the McDERMUT and the MONSSEN launch their torpedoes. At 0320, one of MONSSEN's torpedoes hits the YAMASHIRO. A torpedo also hits the destroyer Michishio, disables her and she later sinks. Another torpedo hits the destroyer ASAGUMO and blows off her bow. She sinks the next morning. At 0331, the YAMASHIRO is hit again by a torpedo and slows to five knots. By 0338, the FUSO's fire reaches her magazines. At about 0345, she explodes and breaks into two sections.
At 0529, the cruisers USS PORTLAND (CA-33) and the DENVER (CL-58) open fire on the retreating cruiser MOGAMI and the ASAGUMO. Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Jesse B. Oldendorf's flagship LOUISVILLE (CA-28) selects a large, stationary target with a very large fire burning. The LOUISVILLE's target turns out to be the still afloat bow section of the FUSO.
On October 24, 1944 at 09:08am Fusō, Yamashiro, and Mogami spotted a group of 27 carrier aircraft from USS Enterprise including Grumman TBF Avengers and Curtiss SB2C Helldivers escorted by F6F Hellcat that attacked. A bomb from one of them hit Fuso and destroyed the catapult and both floatplanes. Another bomb hit the ship near no. 2 turret and penetrated deck, killing everyone in no. 1 secondary battery. Damaged, Fuso began to list 2° to starboard.
On October 25, 1944 at 1:05am, Fuso opened fire at a shape off the port bow that proved to be Mogami and her gunfire killed three aboard. At 3:09am one or two torpedoes possibly fired by USS Melvin DD-680 hit Fuso on the starboard side amidship and increased her list to starboard and lost speed falling out of formation.
At 3:38am, Fuso reportedly suffered a magazine explosion, broke in half and sank. The discovery of the shipwreck in 2017 contradicts the idea the hull broken into two pieces. The stern floundered until about 6:40 off off Kanihaan Island southeast of the bow.
Rather, it seems Fuso sustained a torpedo hit near the bow, suffered flooding and capsized. Most of her crew of apporimately 1,400 went down with the ship.
Administratively, Fuso was removed from the Navy list on August 31, 1945.
Fates of the Crew
A small number of her crew were rescued by destroyer Asagumo which was also sunk soon afterwards. Some of the crew might have reached Leyte but were killed by Filipinos. Also, U. S. Navy attempted to rescue some of her crew but they refused rescue. At least ten of the crew were rescued and did survive.
During late 2017 RV Petrel discovered the shipwreck of Fuso upside down at a depth of 607' / 185m on the sea floor. The hull was intact with the bow broken and angled away where it sustained a torpedo hit. The pagoda mast was brokenoff and laying away from the hull.
IJN Fuso: Tabular Record of Movement
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December 27, 2018