Imperial Japanese Navy Heavy Cruiser Chokai
The Japanese cruiser Chōkai was a Takao-class heavy cruiser, armed with ten 20 cm (8 in) guns, four 12 cm (5 in) guns, eight tubes for the Type 93 torpedo, and assorted anti-aircraft guns.Chōkai was designed with the Imperial Japanese Navy strategy of the great “Decisive Battle” in mind, and built in 1932 by Mitsubishi’s shipyard in Nagasaki. She was sunk in the Battle off Samar in October 1944. Chōkai was named for Mount Chōkai.
At the start of the Pacific War, Chōkai supported the invasion of Malaya and participated in the pursuit of the Royal Navy’s battleship Force Z. During January and February 1942, Chōkai was involved in operations to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies and the island of Borneo. Steaming near Cape St. Jacques, Chōkai struck a reef, sustaining hull damage on 22 February 1942. On 27 February, she reached Singapore for repairs.
Chōkai was then transferred to Cruiser Division Five, where she survived another attack on 24 October 1944, this time by aircraft. On the morning of 25 October, Chōkai, as a part of a large war fleet of IJN battleships, cruisers, and destroyers engaged an American force of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts in the Battle off Samar, the Philippines, as part of the huge Battle of Leyte Gulf. During her approach to the US escort carriers, Chōkai was hit amidships, starboard side, most likely by the sole 5 in (130 mm) gun of the carrier White Plains.While the 20 lb (9.1 kg) payload of the shell could not pierce the hull, it set off the deck-mounted eight Japanese Type 93 “Long Lance” torpedoes, which were especially volatile because they contained pure oxygen, in addition to their 1,080 lb (490 kg) warheads. The explosion resulted in such severe damage that it knocked out the rudder and engines, causing Chōkai to drop out of formation. Within minutes, an American aircraft dropped a 500 lb (230 kg) bomb on her forward machinery room. Fires began to rage and she went dead in the water. Later that day, she was scuttled by torpedoes from the destroyer Fujinami,which also rescued some of her crew. Two days later Fujinami was itself sunk with the loss of all hands, including the Chōkai survivors, which makes Chōkai one of the largest vessels to be sunk with all hands aboard during World War II. This is also one of the deepest shipwrecks, possibly the deepest known, at a depth of approximately 8100 meters (26,600 ft).