Nachi (1927)

Nachi in late 1928 or early 1929. Original photo by the Imperial Japanese Navy, copyright expired.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

This is the heavy cruiser Nachi, the second of four Myōkō-class ships built in the 1920s. Laid down in 1924, she was one of Yuzuru Hiraga's brainchildren. He had to fight the General Staff to keep them from adding too much weight and making her top-heavy. She mounted ten 8" guns in twin turrets, and her geared steam turbines could make 36 knots. Nachi commissioned 28 November, 1928, although she was not nearly finished. Even so, she participated in the Coronation Naval Review of Emperor Hirohito six days later, after which she returned to the builders. Nachi completed in April, 1929, and hosted the Emperor for a cruise on the Inland Sea the following month. She covered the landing of Japanes Army troops during the First Shanghai Incident in February, 1932, before entering the reserve fleet in December. From 1933 through 1936, Nachi was upgraded, receiving new torpedo mounts and secondary guns. Nachi transported troops and covered landings in China in August, 1937, before beginning another modernization program, which added additional torpedoes and hull bulges for stability. Upon the outbreak of war with the US, Nachi covered the landings in the southern Philippines, before moving South, covering the invasions of the Dutch East Indies and Celebes. On 27 February, 1942, Nachi was escorting troopships when her recon planes spotted the warships of the Alied ABDA Command. Buring the ensuing Battle of the Java Sea, Nachi finished off the damaged Dutch cruiser Java with a torpedo. Two days later, she helped finish off the British cruiser HMS Exeter, and destroyer HMS Encounter. After a refit, Nachi was next employed in the North, and covered Japanese operations in the Aleutians. She was heavily engaged in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, where she suffered light damage, but the loss of fourteen crew. Nachi was hit by a dud torpedo from the submarine USS Halibut in October, and in 1944 her light AA guns were further increased. Nachi was part of the Southern Force during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but managed to escape the massacre in Surigao Strait, because her section was trailing the main unit by some twenty-five nautical miles. Nachi collided with the cruiser Mogami after the battle, and was attacked by US Navy aircraft in Manila Harbor while undergoing repairs on 5 November, 1944. Nachi's bow and stern were blown off, and she went down with the loss of 807 crew, many of whom were machine-gunned in the water by US aircraft. Her wreck was shallow enough to permit US Navy divers to recover her radar and code books in March, 1945.

Bonus Photos

Nachi going down on 5 November, 1944, after US air attacks severed her bow and stern. Photo in the collections of the US Navy History and Heritage Command.