© 2000-2017 Bob Hackett
13 December 1941:
BatDiv 2 returns to Hashirajima. BatDiv 2 maintains 'standby alert' and training in the Inland Sea. About this time, her 25mm AA suite is increased to 20 barrels.
18 April 1942: The First Bombing of Japan:
Halsey's Task Force 16.2's USS HORNET (CV-8), VINCENNES (CA-44), NASHVILLE (CL-43), oiler CIMARRON (AO-22) and destroyers GWIN (DD-433), MEREDITH (DD-434), GRAYSON (DD-435) and MONSSEN (DD-436) and Task Force 16.1's USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), SALT LAKE CITY (CA-25), NORTHAMPTON (CA-26), oiler SABINE (AO-25) and destroyers BALCH (DD-363), BENHAM (DD-397), ELLET (DD-398) and FANNING (DD-385) approach to within 668 nautical miles of Japan.
Led by Lt Col (later General/Medal of Honor) James H. Doolittle, 16 Army North American B-25 "Mitchell" twin-engine bombers of the 17th Bomb Group takeoff from Captain (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's carrier HORNET and strike targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya and Kobe. At Yokosuka, a B-25 damages carrier RYUHO in a drydock undergoing conversion from submarine depot ship TAIGEI.Bat Div 2 and ten destroyers depart Hashirajima in pursuit of Halsey's ships. 19 April 1942:
5 May 1942:
BatDiv 2 departs Hashirajima for gunnery practice in the Iyo Nada with BatDiv 1's MUTSU and NAGATO. HYUGA's No. 5 turret gun blows up and her aft magazines are flooded to save her. FUSO escorts HYUGA to Kure. YAMASHIRO and the other battleships return to Hashirajima.
19 May 1942:
BatDiv 2 departs Hashirajima with the First and the Third Fleets for maneuvers at sea.
23 May 1942:
Returns to Hashirajima.
29 May 1942: Operation MI - The Battle of Midway:
BatDiv 2 sorties as a screen for the Aleutian Force with CruDiv 9's light cruisers KITAKAMI and OI, 2nd Supply Unit's oilers and 12 destroyers.
6 June 1942:
After Operation MI is cancelled, BatDiv 2 is diverted north to support operations in the Aleutians.
14 June 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.
22 June 1942:
24 June 1942:
Arrives at Hashirajima. Resumes 'standby alert'.
14 July 1942:
At Hashirajima. Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi (former CO of ISE) assumes command of the First Fleet. Vice Admiral Takasu is reassigned as Commander of both the 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet (Dutch East Indies Force) and the Southwest Area Fleet.
The First Fleet is reorganized. BatDiv 1's NAGATO and MUTSU are transferred to BatDiv 2 with YAMASHIRO, FUSO, ISE and HYUGA. BatDiv 2 performs 'standby alert' and training missions.
To partially compensate for the loss of carrier strength at Midway, the Navy Aircraft Department begins plans to convert the FUSO-class battleships to hybrid battleship/carriers. Work is to begin in June 1943, but these plans are later cancelled.
29 August 1942:
Kure. Enters drydock.
1 September 1942:
Hashirajima. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Owada Noboru (former CO of KATORI) assumes command. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Obata is reassigned as CO of the Hong Kong Area Special Base Force with additional duty as Chief of Staff of the 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet. YAMASHIRO continues to maintain "standby alert".
4 September 1942:
5 September 1942:
Hashirajima. YAMASHIRO continues to maintain "standby alert" and participates in battle exercises in the Inland Sea thereafter.
YAMASHIRO conducts air training exercises in the western Inland Sea with carrier ZUIKAKU and battleships MUSASHI, NAGATO and FUSO.
1 February 1943:
3 February 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.
1 March 1943:
Yokosuka. Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Hayakawa Mikio (former CO of CHOKAI) assumes command from Captain Owada who later as a Rear Admiral commands SubRon 7 at Truk.
8 April-June 1943:
Kisarazu, Toyko Bay. Participates in air training exercises.
At Yokosuka. Refit. A Type 21 air and surface search radar and twenty-one 25 mm AA guns (17 single and 2 twin-mounts) are fitted making a total suite of thirty-seven 25-mm AA guns.
26 August 1943:
28 August 1943:
Arrives at Kure.
7 September 1943:
Departs Hashirajima for gunnery exercises with Naval Gunnery School cadets and senior instructors. Returns to the Muroto Bight the same night.
8 September 1943:
Departs Muroto to continue gunnery exercises; returns to Tokuyama Bay that night, probably to refuel.
9 September 1943:
Departs Tokuyama to participate in radar set tests.
10 September 1943:
Returns to Hashirajima.
15 September 1943:
Reassigned as a training ship for midshipmen.
8 October 1943:
At Kure. Enters Drydock. Hull is scraped.
15 October 1943:
YAMASHIRO and newly converted battleship/carrier ISE depart Saeki for Truk on the "TEI" No. 3 troop transport mission with a task group of CruDiv 18's light cruiser TATSUTA, DesDiv 32's FUJINAMI, SUZUNAMI and HAYANAMI. YAMASHIRO carries 804 men and 1,270 cubic meters of material. ISE carries 1,278 men and 1,510 cubic meters of material. TATSUTA carries 105 men and 118 cubic meters of material and DesDiv 32's destroyers carry 243 men and 100 cubic meters of material.
20 October 1943:
The task group arrives at Truk. The anchorage is largely empty, Admiral Koga having sortied with the fleet to Brown Atoll, Eniwetok three days earlier to intercept an enemy task force thought to be closing on Wake Island. YAMASHIRO, ISE and TATSUTA debark troops and remain at Truk as guardships during the fleet's absence.
26 October 1943:
The fleet returns to Truk.
31 October 1943:
At 0800, BatDiv 2's YAMASHIRO and ISE depart Truk with CarDiv 2's JUNYO, escort carrier UNYO, CruDiv 8's TONE, CruDiv 18's TATSUTA, DesDiv 7's AKEBONO, DesDiv 17's TANIKAZE and DesDiv 24's SUZUKAZE and UMIKAZE.
4 November 1943:
Escort carrier UNYO and DesDiv 7's AKEBONO are detached for Yokosuka.
5 November 1943:
Minelayers NUWAJIMA and YURIJIMA and auxiliary minesweepers TAMA, OI MARUs conduct an advance sweep of the Bungo Suido ahead of YAMASHIRO and ISE transiting the seaway heading north.
At 0539, Galantin fires six Mark 14 bow torpedoes at carrier JUNYO, range 1,200 yards, depth set at 10 feet. At 0540, a torpedo hits JUNYO in the stern, but the other five miss astern. HALIBUT circles hard to port.
At 0543, Galantin fires two stern torpedoes at the carrier. During the action, a dud torpedo hits YAMASHIRO. At 0558, Galantin tries to fire another steam torpedo at JUNYO but it malfunctions and "runs hot" in the tube. JUNYO, rudder disabled, is towed safely through the Bungo Suido. ISE and the other ships in the task group are undamaged.
6 November 1943:
YAMASHIRO, ISE and CruDiv 18's TATSUTA arrive at Tokuyama Naval Fuel Depot. Begins refueling.
7 November 1943:
Refuelling is completed. YAMASHIRO, ISE and TATSUTA depart Tokuyama and arrive at Hashirajima. Resumes second-line 'standby alert' and training duties.
29 December 1943:
Departs Hashirajima for Yokosuka.
31 December 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.
25 February 1944:
At Yokosuka. BatDiv 2, First Fleet is deactivated, then reactivated as BatDiv 2, Combined Fleet. YAMASHIRO is reassigned as a training ship in the Yokosuka Naval District. Battle exercises in Kisarazu Bight thereafter.
12 May 1944:
Enters No. 5 Drydock at Yokosuka.
24 May 1944:
29 May 1944:
Departs Yokosuka to serve as radar target vessel in naval exercises. Returns to Yokosuka that day.
June 1944: Aftermath of the Battle of the Philippine Sea:
Tokyo: The headquarters staff of the Combined Fleet, appalled at the debacle of Operation A-GO, submits a plan to the CINC, Admiral Toyoda Soemu (former CO of HYUGA). It calls for FUSO and YAMASHIRO to be fitted with additional AA guns and Daihatsu landing barges and used for a counter-landing on Saipan. Admiral Toyoda rejects the proposal as a suicide mission doomed to failure.
20 July 1944:
Yokosuka. Enters drydock. One Type 21, two Type 13 air search and two Type 22 surface search/gunnery control radars are fitted. Sixty-six 25-mm AA guns (8 triple-mounts, 9 dual-mounts, 24 single mounts) and and twenty-four 13.2 mm machine guns (all single) are also installed. The final AA suite is ninety-two 25-mm AA guns (8 triple-mounts, 17 twin-mounts, 34 single mounts) and sixteen 13.2-mm machine-guns (3 twin-mounts, ten single mounts.) An air defense center is fitted on an open platform one level/deck below the main gun foretop. The plan also calls for the replacement of five lifeboats with six Daihatsu landing craft, but it is unclear if this is carried out. YAMASHIRO's lower scuppers are closed over. 
10 August 1944:
12 August 1944:
Departs Yokosuka with escort carrier UNYO, DesDiv 21's WAKABA and HATSUHARU.
14 August 1944:
Arrives at Kure. Participates in battle exercises thereafter.
10 September 1944:
Designated as the flagship of BatDiv 2, Second Fleet.
17 September 1944:
Pressed into front-line service, Vice Admiral Nishimura Shoji's (former CO of HARUNA) BatDiv 2's YAMASHIRO and FUSO depart Ujina (near Hiroshima) carrying 2,131 men of the IJA’s 25th Independent Mixed Regiment consisting of three infantry battalions, one regimental gun company, one anti-tank gun company and one engineer company. Arrives at Kure later that day and awaits the arrival of DesDiv 17 from Lingga (S of Singapore).
19 September 1944:
DesDiv 17's ISOKAZE, URAKAZE and HAMAKAZE arrive at Kure from Lingga to escort BatDiv 2 back to Lingga. At Kure, they are joined by destroyer YUKIKAZE that is already there.
20 September 1944:
At 1042 (JST), ComBatDiv 2 Vice Admiral Nishimura transmits Secret radio message No. 201700: “BatDiv 2 and DesDiv 17 joint action schedule: 23 Sep departure from western Inland Sea, 29 Sep arrival at Brunei, 2 Oct arrival at Shonan (Singapore), 3 Oct arrival at Lingga.”
22 September 1944:
DesDiv 17 departs Kure for Agenosho, Yashiro Island.
23 September 1944:
BatDiv 2 departs Kure and joins DesDiv 17 at Agenosho, then departs. Many of the troops are billeted in tents on the battleships' decks.
24 September 1944:
Nansei Shoto (Ryukyu Islands). At 0716, LtCdr C. B. Stevens' USS PLAICE (SS-390) sights two FUSO-class battleships coming out of the mist at 29-30N, 129-15 E. They are in column screened by four destroyers; one on each bow of the leader and one on each beam of the second battleship. The screens are stationed about 3,000 yards off the track. PLAICE also spots a Mitsubishi Type F1M2 "Pete" floatplane close air screen. The targets are zigzagging using straight legs. Stevens begins his approach.
At 0742, Stevens estimates the target's length as 600-feet and sets his torpedo spread with 120 percent coverage from aft forward. He has a 30-degree angle on the bow of a battleship. Stevens fires his six bow tubes at 29-27N, 129-46E. He then checks the positions of the destroyer screen, and swings his periscope back to the target. In low power, the battleship now fills three-fourths of his 'scope! Stevens takes PLAICE deep to avoid a collision. At 0745, PLAICE's crew hears five explosions, but all six torpedoes miss.
26 September 1944:
Luzon Straits, Philippines. Cdr Frank Acker's USS POMFRET (SS-391), whose torpedoes missed FUSO in July, is on his second Pacific war patrol. At 1240, while submerged, Acker spots BatDiv 2 at 20-44N, 118-13E, but is unable to attack due to the speed of the battleships. Not seeing any air cover, Acker surfaces and goes to flank speed to close the battleships. At 1434, POMFRET's lookouts spot BatDiv 2 at a range of about 20 miles. The battleships are making about 20 knots and zigzagging on a base course of 211 degrees. Acker continues tracking BatDiv 2, but at 1620, the OOD spots a periscope at 330 degrees relative at 500 yards. POMFRET crash dives and breaks off the pursuit.
27 September 1944:
South China Sea, off Luzon, Philippines. At 0532, Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Reuben T. Whitaker's USS FLASHER (SS-249) spots BatDiv 2 at about 15-40N, 117-18E. Whitaker attempts an "end around" at flank speed, but the submarine is unable to close the range for an attack.
29 September 1944:
BatDiv 2 arrives at Labuan Island, Borneo, near Brunei, disembarks IJA troops and departs. That same day, arrives at Brunei Bay, Borneo. Remains overnight.
30 September 1944:
Departs Brunei for Singapore.
2 October 1944:
At 1400, arrives at Seletar Naval Base, Singapore.
4 October 1944:
BatDiv 2 and DesDiv 17 arrive at Lingga.
5 October 1944:
Captain Shinoda is promoted Rear Admiral.
18 October 1944:
Steams with the fleet from Lingga to Brunei Bay, Borneo.
20 October 1944:
Arrives at Brunei.
22 October 1944: Operation SHO-I-GO ("Victory") - The Battle of Leyte Gulf:
At 1510, sorties from Brunei as flagship of Vice Admiral Nishimura's Force "C" (Southern Force): BatDiv 2's YAMASHIRO (F), FUSO, CruDiv 7's MOGAMI, DesDiv 4's MICHISHIO, DesDiv 10's YAMAGUMO, ASAGUMO and DesDiv 27's SHIGURE.
24 October 1944:
Sulu Sea. At 0918, 26 aircraft from Task Group 38. 4's USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and FRANKLIN (CV-13) attack Force "C". A bomb hits FUSO, starts a fire and destroys her floatplanes. A bomb hits SHIGURE and MOGAMI is strafed. No other damage is inflicted on Nishimura's force and no further air attacks are made. That morning, MOGAMI launches a reconnaissance floatplane.
At 1235, MOGAMI's floatplane reports enemy battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, transports and PT boats ahead. Undaunted, Nishimura - well aware that Kurita will not make it to Leyte Gulf at the prescribed time - presses ahead at 18 knotsSurigao Strait. Captain Jesse G. Coward's picket Desron 54 lays in wait to launch a "hammer and anvil" torpedo attack. Desron 54's western section is Cdr Carter B. Jennings' USS McDERMUT (DD-677) and Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Charles K. Bergin's MONSSEN (DD-798). The eastern section is Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Barry K. Atkins' MELVIN (DD-680), Cdr Reid P. Fiala's REMEY (DD-688)(F) and Cdr (later Rear Admiral) William R. Cox's McGOWAN (DD-678). Cdr (later Captain) Selman S. Bowling’s thirty-nine PT boat Attack Force is arrayed along Surigao Strait in 13 sections of three boats each. At 2236, Section 1’s Ensign Peter R. Gadd’s PT-131 picks up two radar contacts to the NE. Gadd reports the sighting to Section 1’s Lt Weston C. Pullen in PT-152, but Pullen disobeys orders and fails to report the sighting to his superiors. Instead, he orders Section 1's PT-152, PT-131 and PT-139 to head toward the contacts at 24 knots. At 2250, lookouts aboard LtCdr Nishino Shigeru's destroyer SHIGURE spot the oncoming PT-boats and fires starshells over them. By 2254, Captain Coward's Desron 54's western section makes radar contact with Nishimura's Force. At 2256, SHIGURE's lookouts also sight MELVIN, REMEY and McGOWAN at 9,000 yards. YAMASHIRO probes with her searchlight, but the destroyers are too far away to be seen. At 2258, YAMASHIRO's 6-inch secondary armament opens fire on the attacking PT boats that are well-illuminated by SHIGURE's searchlights. Lt Joseph A. Eddins' PT-152 is hit, set afire and a gunner is KIA. A 6-inch shell hits Lt (j.g.) Ian D. Malcom's PT-130, but does not explode. Later, Malcom arrives N of Camaquin Island and passes information about the Japanese ships to Ensign Dudley J. Johnson aboard Section 2's PT-127.
25 October 1944: The Battle of the Surigao Strait:
At 0010, Malcom sends a contact report that is relayed to Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Jesse B. Oldendorf, CO of the Allied Forces's Battle Line aboard flagship, USS LOUISVILLE (CA-28) and finally arrives at 0026.
At about 0307, FUSO opens fire on the American destroyers with her main armament. At 0309, FUSO, making 17 knots, is hit starboard side by two of MELVIN's torpedoes, One hits below the No. 1 turret and the other hits aft in a boiler room starting a fire. The torpedoes tear huge holes in FUSO's ancient hull. Multiple failures of riveted seams occur and she takes on tons of water. FUSO soon slows, sheers to starboard out of formation and reverses course back down the strait making about 10 knots.
From 0310-0311, McDERMUT and MONSSEN each launch their torpedoes. At 0320, on the American right flank, Captain (later Rear Admiral) Kenmore M. McManes' DesRon 24 launches 15 torpedoes. Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Howard G. Corey of DesRon 24's USS KILLEN (DD-593) orders his Mark 15 torpedoes set at a depth of 22 feet to inflict maximum damage.
At 0320, one or more torpedoes hit destroyer YAMAGUMO portside; she blows up and sinks with all hands. At 0321, one of five torpedoes launched by KILLEN hits YAMASHIRO portside amidships. At 0322, another torpedo, probably launched ten minutes earlier by DesRon 54's MONSSEN, hits YAMASHIRO portside and starts a fire. YAMASHIRO's skipper Rear Admiral Shinoda orders turrets No. 5 and No. 6's magazines flooded which disables four of his main 14-inch guns. YAMASHIRO's speed falls off to a mere five knots, but by 0327 she is able to make 18 knots.
Another of McDERMUT's torpedoes hits and disables destroyer MICHISHIO that later sinks. Still another of McDERMUT's torpedoes hits destroyer ASAGUMO. She sinks in the morning.
From 0324-25, DesRon 24 and Captain (later Vice Admiral) Roland N. Smoot's Desron 56's fourteen destroyers launch more torpedoes at Force C.
Sometime about 0345, FUSO lists to starboard then sinks by the bow in the Surigao Strait at an undetermined location near Kanihaan Island in the Surigao Strait. Bunkered oil rises to the surface then catches fire. The flames engulf most of the survivors in the water.
At 0351, the American cruiser screen's USS PORTLAND (CA-33), MINNEAPOLIS (CA-36), COLUMBIA (CL-56), DENVER (CL-58), LOUISVILLE (CA-28)(FF), PHOENIX (CL-46)(F), BOISE (CL-47) and Australian SHROPSHIRE open fire. Between 0353-0359, arrayed behind the flanking cruisers, Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Jesse B. Oldendorf's Battle Line, old battleships USS WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48), CALIFORNIA (BB-33) and TENNESSEE (BB-43) also open fire. MARYLAND (BB-46), PENNSYLVANIA (BB-38) and MISSISSIPPI's (BB-41) are forced to withhold fire because their obsolete Mark 3 Fire Control System Radars cannot locate a target. At 0356, Captain H. J. Redfield's USS MISSISSIPPI joins WEST VIRGINIA and CALIFORNIA and opens fire, but probably at MOGAMI not YAMASHIRO.
YAMASHIRO is hit near the bridge by USS WEST VIRGINIA and her topside is hit repeatedly by 6 and 8-inch cruiser shells, but she manages to return fire from her main battery's turrets No. 1 and No. 2 and maintain 12 knots. 
At 0356, YAMASHIRO's turrets No. 1 and No. 2 target Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Russell S. Berkey's flagship USS PHOENIX, but her 14-inch shells are short. At the same time, YAMASHIRO's 4.7-inch secondary batteries open fire at the American destroyers engaging MOGAMI and destroyer ASAGUMO.
At 0401, YAMASHIRO's turrets No. 1 and No. 2 target Royal Navy Captain Charles A. Nichols' HMAS STROPSHIRE. The first Japanese shells fall short, but soon begin to get the range on the Australian heavy cruiser. At 0402, STROPSHIRE commences rapid return fire.
Between 0403 and 0405, Desron 56's USS NEWCOMB (DD-586), RICHARD P. LEARY (DD-664) and ALBERT W. GRANT (DD-649), on a parallel course to the right of the Japanese formation, launch thirteen Mark 15 torpedoes at a range of 6,300 yards.
Beginning at 0407, Cdr (later Captain) Terrel A. Nisewaner's GRANT takes seven hits from YAMASHIRO's starboard 6-inch guns and eleven hits by American 6-inch shells from Captain (later Rear Admiral) Thomas G. W. Settle's USS PORTLAND and Captain (later Rear Admiral) Albert M. Bledsoe's USS DENVER. At about the same time, YAMASHIRO is hit in her starboard engine room by a torpedo launched either by GRANT or Desron 56's Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Joshua W. Cooper's USS BENNION (DD-662).
At 0409, Rear Admiral Oldendorf orders "Cease-Fire" because American shells are hitting his own destroyers. YAMASHIRO takes advantage of the lull in fire, turns south and increases speed to 15 knots. At 0411, two torpedoes launched by Cdr (later Captain) Lawrence B. Cook's NEWCOMB catch YAMASHIRO and explode in her starboard beam.
At 0419, YAMASHIRO, a blazing wreck and listing very heavily to port, capsizes and sinks by the stern in the Surigao Strait at 10-22N, 125-21E. Three survivors are picked up by Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Miles H. Hubbard's destroyer USS CLAXTON (DD-571), but about 150 other Japanese sailors in the water do not want to be saved. One of the three survivors, an English-speaking warrant officer, confirms YAMASHIRO has been sunk. Ultimately, only ten survivors -two warrant officers and eight petty officers- live to return to Japan.
About 1,636 officers and men are lost including Vice Admiral Nishimura and YAMASHIRO's skipper Rear Admiral Shinoda. Shinoda is promoted Vice Admiral, posthumously. Also lost are Executive Officer, Captain Ozaki Toshiharu and Chief Engineer, Captain Motozawa Hanzo. Both are promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously.
15 November 1944:
BatDiv 2, Combined Fleet, is deactivated.
31 August 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.
The John Bennett Deep Ocean Research International Company locates a wreck it believes to be YAMASHIRO near her recorded sinking position in the Surigao Strait at a depth of about 600 feet. The wreck appears to be largely intact. 
25 November 2017:
Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and his team of researchers aboard R/V PETREL locate YAMASHIRO more than 650 feet (200 meters) below the surface of the Surigao Strait. She lies upside down, with the tip of the bow twisted back over the rest of the wreck. Allen and his team have found all 5 of the former IJN ships sunk in the Surigao Strait; battleships YAMASHIRO, FUSO and destroyers YAMAGUMO, MICHISHIO and ASAGUMO. The wrecks are in poor condition. They were damaged severely during the battle, their sinking and 73 years in relatively shallow water has contributed significantly to their degradation. The environment they rest in is consuming them and has provided a flourishing artificial reef abundant with marine life. Additional survey images, photos and videos of exploration and discovery work, according to Allen, are forthcoming.
|(Sonar scan © Navigea Ltd./R/V Petrel).|
- Bob Hackett.