Heavy Cruiser Mikuma

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IJN heavy cruiser Mikuma

Mikuma (三隈) was the second vessel in the four-vessel Mogami-class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN Nihon Kaigun). It was named after the Mikuma river in Oita prefecture, Japan. Commissioned in 1935, it participated in the Battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942 and the Battle of Midway in June 1942. It was sunk the last day of the battle, June 6.

Mikuma was completed at Mitsubishi’s Nagasaki shipyards on 29 August 1935 and suffered reconstruction in 1939.Mikuma participated in the occupation of Cochinchina, French Indochina, after Japan and Vichy French authorities reached an understanding on use of its air facilities and harbors from July 1941, from its forward operating base on Hainan. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mikuma was assigned to cover the invasion of Malaya as part of Cruiser Division 7 under Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa’s First Southern Expeditionary Fleet, providing close support for landings of Japanese troops at Singora, Pattani and Kota Bharu.

In December 1941, Mikuma was tasked with the invasion of British Borneo, together with Mogami, covering landings of Japanese troops at Miri and Kuching. In February 1942,Mikuma was tasked with covering landings of Japanese troops in Sumatra and Java. She was also involved in the Battle of Sunda Strait and the battle of Midway.

This resulted in a collision in which Mogami rammed Mikuma’s portside, below the bridge. Mogami’s bow caved in and she was badly damaged. Mikuma’s portside oil tanks ruptured and she began to spill oil, but otherwise her damage was slight.The following morning, 6 June 1942, Mikuma and Mogami were heading for Wake Island when they were attacked by three waves of SBD Dauntless dive-bombers from USS Enterprise and USS Hornet comprising 31 aircraft. Arashio and Asashio were each hit by a bomb. Mogami was hit by six bombs. Mikuma was hit by at least five bombs in the forecastle, bridge area and amidships and set afire. The hit on the forecastle put the forward guns out of commission. The hit near the bridge area set off some AA shells and caused considerable damage to the bridge and personnel. The hit amidships set off several torpedoes and the resultant explosions destroyed the ship. Captain Sakiyama was severely wounded. Mikuma turned on her portside and sank at 29°20′N 173°30′EAsashio rescued Captain Sakiyama, who was transferred to Suzuya for medical attention, but he died 4 days later. Mogami, Asashio and Arashio rescued 240 survivors, but 650 men went down with the ship. On 9 June 1942, the submarine USS Trout rescued two survivors from Mikuma and took them to Pearl Harbor as POWs.


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