IJN battleship “Mikasa”, c. 1910.
“This is the Japanese greatest admiral …”, Admiral Togo, 1906.
“Mikasa is a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the late 1890s, and was the only ship of her class. Named after Mount Mikasa in Nara, Japan, the ship served as the flagship of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō throughout the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war and the Battles of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima.
“During the Battle of Tsushima, Mikasa was the focus of the Russian fire as the leading ship in the Japanese column, and was hit more than 40 times by large 12- and 6-inch shells but none did serious damage to her structure.
“Six days after the Treaty of Portsmouth ended the Russo-Japanese War, Mikasa sank at her moorings after a fire and magazine explosion at Sasebo on the night of 11/12 September 1905 that killed 251 crewmen. She was refloated, reconstructed and repaired at Sasebo. During World War I, Mikasa served on coast-defence duties, based at Maizuru. The ship supported the Japanese intervention in Siberia during the Russian Civil War during 1921 and was reclassified on 1 September 1921 as a first-class coast-defence ship.
“Mikasa was decommissioned on 23 September 1923 following the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and scheduled for scrapping. However, at the request of the Japanese government, each of the signatory countries to the treaty agreed that Mikasa could be preserved as a memorial ship with her hull fully encased in concrete.
“On 12 November 1926, Mikasa was opened for display in Yokosuka in the presence of the then-Crown Prince Hirohito and retired Admiral Tōgō.
“Following the surrender of Japanese forces in 1945, the museum ship deteriorated under control of the Occupation forces, but was restored after another campaign led by the Japan Times and retired US Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz that allowed the ship to reopen in 1961.
“Now one of three World Memorial Ships (along with HMS Trafalgar and USS Constitution), Mikasa is the last remaining example of a pre-Dreadnought battleship anywhere in the world.”
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