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Japanese destroyer Shirakumo (1927)
Shirakumo on September 5, 1931.
Career Naval Ensign of Japan.svg
Owner: Empire of Japan
Operator: Imperial Japanese Navy
Ordered: 1923 Fiscal Year
Builder: Fujinagata Shipyards, Japan
Yard number: Destroyer No.42
Laid down: October 27, 1926
Launched: December 27, 1927
Commissioned: July 28, 1928
Struck: March 31, 1944
Fate: torpedoed March 16, 1944
General characteristics
Class & type: Fubuki-class destroyer
Type: Destroyer
  • 1,750 long tons (1,780 t) standard
  • 2,050 long tons (2,080 t) re-built
  • 111.96 m (367.3 ft) pp
  • 115.3 m (378 ft) waterline
  • 118.41 m (388.5 ft) overall
  • Beam: 10.4 m (34 ft 1 in)
    Draft: 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)
    • 4 × Kampon type boilers
    • 2 × Kampon Type Ro geared turbines
    • 2 × shafts at 50,000 ihp (37,000 kW)
    Speed: 38 knots (44 mph; 70 km/h)
    Range: 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)
    Complement: 219
    Service record
    Operations: Second Sino-Japanese War
    Battle of Malaya
    Battle of Midway
    Indian Ocean raid
    Solomon Islands campaign

    Another view of Shirakumo.

    Shirakumo (白雲 ”White Cloud”?)[1] was a Fubuki-class destroyer and the eighth in a class of twenty-four vessels built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world.[2] They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.


    Construction of the advanced Fubuki-class destroyers was authorized as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's expansion program from fiscal 1923, intended to give Japan a qualitative edge with the world's most modern ships.[3] The Fubuki-class had performance that was a quantum leap over previous destroyer designs, so much so that they were designated Special Type destroyers (特型 Tokugata?). The large size, powerful engines, high speed, large radius of action and unprecedented armament gave these destroyers the firepower similar to many light cruisers in other navies.[4] Shirakumo, built at the Fujinagata Shipyards in Osaka was laid down on October 27, 1926, launched on December 27, 1927 and commissioned on July 28, 1928.[5] Originally assigned hull designation “Destroyer No. 42”, she was completed as Shirakumo.

    Operational history[]

    On completion, Shirakumo was assigned to Destroyer Division 11 under the IJN 2nd Fleet. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Shirakumo was assigned to patrols of the southern China coast, and participated in the Invasion of French Indochina in 1940.

    World War II history[]

    At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Shirakumo was assigned to Destroyer Division 12 of Destroyer Squadron 3 of the IJN 1st Fleet, and had deployed from Kure Naval District to the port of Samah on Hainan Island.[6] From 4 December 1941 to the end of the year, Shirakumo covered the landings of Japanese troops in Malaya and in "Operation B" (the invasion of British Borneo).[7] She rescued survivors from the torpedoed destroyer Sagiri on 23 December.[6]

    In February 1942, Shirakumo was part of the escort for the heavy cruiser Chōkai during "Operation L" (the invasion of Banka and Palembang in the Netherlands East Indies.[8] On 14 February she sank a British cable-laying ship off Singapore.[6]

    Subsequently, Shirakumo was assigned to "Operation J" (the invasion of Java) and on 1 March at the Battle of Sunda Strait she assisted in the sinking of the Australian cruiser HMAS Perth (D29) and the American cruiser USS Houston (CA-30).[9] On 10 March, Shirakumo was reassigned to Destroyer Division 20 of Destroyer Squadron 3 of the IJN 1st Fleet, and subsequently was involved in "Operation T" (the invasion of northern Sumatra) on 12 March[8] and "Operation D" (the invasion of the Andaman Islands on 23 March.[10] On 6 April during the Indian Ocean raids, Shirakumo, together with Kumano and Suzuya sank the British Steamships Silksworth, Autolycus, Malda and Shinkuang and the American Steamship Exmoor.[6][11] From 13–22 April Shirakumo returned via Singapore and Camranh Bay to Kure Naval Arsenal, for maintenance.[6]

    During the Battle of Midway, Shirakumo was part of "Operation AL" - the diversionary invasion of the Aleutian islands. In July 1942, Shirakumo sailed from Amami-Ōshima to Mako Guard District, Singapore, Sabang and Mergui for a projected second Indian Ocean raid. The operation was cancelled due to the Guadalcanal campaign, and Shirakumo was ordered to Truk instead. In August, Shirakumo was used for “Tokyo Express” high speed transport missions in the Solomon Islands. On 28 August, after having aborted a troop transport mission to Guadalcanal, Shirakumo suffered heavy damage in an attack by American dive bombers, and was left dead in the water with a direct hit to her engine room, although only two crewmen were wounded. She was towed by Japanese destroyer Amagiri, followed by Japanese minelayer Tsugaru to Shortland Island, and by the tanker Koa Maru back to Truk for emergency repairs, which enabled her to limp back to Kure by 8 October.[12]

    After repairs were completed by 1 April 1943, Shirakumo was reassigned to Destroyer Division 9 of Destroyer Squadron 1 in the IJN 5th Fleet, for patrols and escort missions off Hokkaidō and the Chishima Islands. On 6 June 1943, she collided with Numakaze in heavy fog off Paramushiro, and was forced to put into Hakodate for repairs, which were not completed to the end of September, when she resumed her patrol and escort duties.

    On 16 March 1944, after departing Kushiro in northern Hokkaidō with a troop convoy for Uruppu Island, Shirakumo was torpedoed by the US submarine USS Tautog (SS-199) 170 nautical miles (310 km) east of Muroran at position 42°25′N 144°55′E / 42.417°N 144.917°E / 42.417; 144.917Coordinates: 42°25′N 144°55′E / 42.417°N 144.917°E / 42.417; 144.917. She sank instantly; there were no survivors.[13]

    On 31 March 1944, Shirakumo was struck from the navy list.[5]


    • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
    • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
    • Howarth, Stephen (1983). The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The Drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895–1945. Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-11402-8. 
    • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
    • Nelson, Andrew N. (1967). Japanese–English Character Dictionary. Tuttle. ISBN 0-8048-0408-7. 
    • Watts, Anthony J (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday. ASIN B000KEV3J8. 
    • Whitley, M J (2000). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-521-8. 

    External links[]


    1. Nelson. Japanese-English Character Dictionary. Page 635, 942
    2. "IJN Fubuki class destroyers". 
    3. Fitzsimons, Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare p.1040
    4. Peattie & Evans, Kaigun page 221-222.
    5. 5.0 5.1 Nishidah, Hiroshi (2002). "Fubuki class 1st class destroyers". Materials of the Imperial Japanese Navy. 
    6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Nevitt, Allyn D. (1997). "IJN Shirakumo: Tabular Record of Movement". Long Lancers. 
    7. L, Klemen (1999-2000). "The Invasion of British Borneo in 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
    8. 8.0 8.1 L, Klemen (1999-2000). "The Japanese Invasion of Sumatra Island". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
    9. Visser, Jan (1999-2000). "The Sunda Strait Battle". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
    10. L, Klemen (1999-2000). "The capture of Andaman Islands, March 1942". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
    11. L, Klemen (1999-2000). "Allied Merchant Ship Losses in the Pacific and Southeast Asia". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942. 
    12. D’Albas. Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II.
    13. Brown. Warship Losses of World War II

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