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  Kikuzuki (Kikuzuki No. 23)
USN
Mutsuki Class Destroyer

1,772 Tons
338' x 30' x 9'9"
4 x 4.7"
6 x Torpedoes
16 x Mines
2 x 7.7mm MG
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IJN prewar

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USN August 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, Japan. Laid down June 15, 1925. Launched May 15, 1926. Commissioned November 20, 1926. Originally named "Destroyer 31". In 1935 renamed "Kikuzuki" meaning Chrysanthemum Moon.  The hull number "23" was painted on the bow. Also known as "Kikuzuki No. 23" or simply "Kikuzuki". Also misspelled "Kikitsku".

Wartime History
During early December 1941, it escorted the Japanese invasion force bound for Guam and then patrolled for enemy submarines in the area. Next, operated off Saipan then Truk.

On January 23, 1942 escorted 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. During March and April 1942 Kikuzuki was part of the force that occupied Salamau, Lae and Manus.

On April 28, 1942 departed Truk as part of "Operation MO", the invasion of Tulagi. Destroyers Kikuzuki and Yuzuki are escorting Okinoshima (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 during the morning, Kikuzuki and Yuzuki were fueling the Okinoshima. At 8:15am, carrier aircraft from USS Yorktown CV-5 including twenty-eight SBD Dauntless dive bombers from VS-5 plus twelve TBD Devastators from VT-5 attacked the landing force.

During the attack, the SBD Dauntless fail to score any hits on the vessels. Eight TBD 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 she 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 became dead in the water at roughly Lat 9° 7' South, Long 160° 12' East.

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 into the sea and sank into Halavo Bay.

Shipwreck
During the middle of 1943, the U.S. Navy (USN) raised and towed Kikuzuki to 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.

During late 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 4.7" gun barrel and a few portholes 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, this destroyer's name is sometimes spelled "Kikitsku" 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 mentions Kikuzuki

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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