Mikasa (1900)

Mikasa in Kure, c.February, 1905. Photo in the Sakai City Maritime History Science Museum Collection.

Laid Down

Built by Vickers to a Japanese order, Mikasa was the last of six battleships ordered in the wake of the First Sino-Japanese War. Laid down 24 January, 1899, Mikasa was a one-off design, based on the British Formidable-class. She commissioned in 1902, and was one of the primary ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy when the Russo-Japanese War broke out two years later. Mikasa became famous as the flagship of Admiral Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō during the War, although she saw little success in the early engagements, frequently receiving more damage than she inflicted. At the Battle of Tsushima, 27 May, 1905, Mikasa performed much better. While she suffered at least forty hits, only one Russian shell did any appreciable damage, knocking out a 6" (152mm) gun. A shell exploded in the bore of one of Mikasa's forward 12" (305mm) guns, which was the main damage she suffered during the Battle, disabling both guns. In September, Mikasa was sunk in the port of Sasebo when a fire set off her magazine, a common problem with Japanese warships. Raised the following August, Mikasa was repaired and put back into service with an upgraded armament. By the time World War I came about, Mikasa was relegated to a coast defense role, but she also supported the Allied intervention in Siberia during the Russian Civil War. Decommissioned 23 September, 1923, Mikasa was converted into a museum ship, berthed in a concrete tub, with her hull partially filled with concrete. She became badly in need of repair from neglect during the 1940s, but restoration work began in the late 1950s, and Mikasa reopened in 1961, and is the only remaining pre-Dreadnought battleship left in the world.

Bonus Photos

Mikasa's armor and battery layout in JANE'S FIGHTING SHIPS 1906-07.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: One of the men responsible for Mikasa's restoration in the 1950s was American Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet during World War II. In 2009, Mikasa was repainted by sailors from the USS Nimitz.