Sōryū (1935)

Pre-War photo of Sōryū in the Kurile Islands , date unknown. Imperial Japanese Navy photo.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

Sōryū was a one-off design of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The third purpose-built Japanese carrier, Sōryū commissioned 29 December, 1937. Assigned to the 2nd Carrier Division for her whole career, after a brief period spent working up, Sōryū was deployed off the Chinese coast. She supported operations ashore by the Japanese Army, until December, 1938, then underwent a long period of training. Sōryū supported the occupation of French Indochina, and underwent a brief refit in late 1941, before joining the attack on Pearl Harbor. Her aircraft sank the target ship USS Utah, and damaged several others, while her fighters inflicted severe losses on the American airfields. While returning to Japan, Sōryū was detached to support the attack on Wake Island, which had stalled in the face of fierce resistance from the Marines stationed there. After securing Wake, Sōryū returned to Japan to replenish, before heading South. She supported the invasion of the Dutch East Indies, and participated in the raid on Darwin, Australia, before helping to mop up surviving American ships after the Battle of the Java Sea. Sōryū also participated in the foray into the Indian Ocean in April, which broke British sea power in the region, until the Italian Fleet could be neutralized in the Mediterranean. Sōryū returned to Japan, and received a hurried refit in anticipation of a fleet action with American carriers in June. The resulting Battle of Midway saw Sōryū's aircraft strike the namesake island in the early morning, but she was ambushed by American dive bombers around 10:30. Sōryū received three direct hits which set fires in her hangers, setting off the fueled and armed aircraft parked there. Within fifteen minutes, Sōryū was dead in the water, and her remaining crew were ordered to abandon ship. She was scuttled by the destroyer Isokaze in the evening. 711 of Sōryū's 1,103 crew went down with their ship.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Sōryū's captain chose to remain aboard and go down with the carrier. Some accounts claim that he was last seen on the bridge, singing the national anthem with sword drawn.