Murakumo-class destroyer

IJN Kagero at Kure Taisho 9.jpg
Murakumo-class destroyer Kagerō at Kure, 1920
Class overview
Name: Murakumo class
Builders: John I. Thornycroft & Company Chiswick, England
Operators:  Imperial Japanese Navy
Preceded by: none
Succeeded by: Akatsuki class
In commission: December 1898 - June 1925
Planned: 6
Completed: 6
Lost: 1
Retired: 5
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
  • 275 long tons (279 t) normal
  • 360.5 long tons (366.3 t) full load
  • 208 ft (63 m) waterline,
  • 210 ft (64 m) overall[1]
Beam: 19.5 ft (5.9 m)
Draught: 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Depth: 13.5 ft (4.1 m)
Propulsion: 2-shaft reciprocating, 3 boilers, 5,800 ihp (4,300 kW)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)
Complement: 50

The Murakumo-class destroyers (叢雲型駆逐艦, Murakumo-gata kuchikukan) ("Gathering Clouds") were a class of six torpedo boat destroyers (TBDs) of the Imperial Japanese Navy, built in Britain in 1897-99. The class is also sometimes referred to as the Shinonome-class destroyers (東雲駆逐艦, Shinonome-gata kuchikukan)("Daybreak").[2] All were named after celestial phenomena.


In the First Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese navy came to understand the combat effectiveness of small, fast torpedo equipped warships over larger, slower ships equipped with slow-loading and often inaccurate naval artillery. The Murakumo-class vessels were the first class of destroyers to be procured by the Imperial Japanese Navy,[3] but were purchased almost simultaneously with the Ikazuchi class. Four ships were ordered under the 1896 fiscal year budget (Murakumo and Shinonome on 15 January 1897, and Yūgiri and Shiranui on 7 May 1797), and an additional two under the 1897 budget (Kagerō and Usugumo on 6 May 1898). All were ordered from John I. Thornycroft & Company in Chiswick, England.[4] The last two were slightly (7½ tons) heavier than the first four, and thus had 1½ inches greater draught.[5]


The design of the Murakumo-class destroyers was based on Thorneycroft's two-stack destroyers for the Royal Navy (from 1913 known as the D class) also known as the "Thirty Knotters". Although slightly smaller than the Ikazuchi class, they had the same armaments.

All Murakumo-class vessels had a flush deck design with a distinctive "turtleback" forecastle that was intended to clear water from the bow during high speed navigation, but was poorly designed for high waves or bad weather. The bridge and forward gun platform were barely raised above the bow, resulting in a wet conning position. More than half of the small hull was occupied by the boilers and the engine room. With fuel and weaponry, there was little space left for crew quarters.

All were powered by triple expansion steam engines for 5,800 shaft horsepower (4,300 kW) and had coal-fired water-tube boilers. Armament was one QF 12-pounder gun on a bandstand on the forecastle, five QF 6 pounder Hotchkiss guns (two sited abreast the conning tower, two sited between the funnels and one on the quarterdeck) and 2 single tubes for 18-inch (460 mm) torpedoes.[6]

Operational history

All six Murakumo-class destroyers arrived in Japan in time to be used during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. All were present at the Battle of the Yellow Sea and the final crucial Battle of Tsushima.

The Murakumo-class vessels reclassified as third-class destroyers on 28 August 1912, and were removed from front-line combat service. Usugumo was wrecked in a typhoon in July 1913, but was salved and restored to service; Shinonome was lost when she broke in two during a typhoon off Taiwan on 23 July 1913 and not recovered.[7]

The five surviving vessels were again used in combat with the start of World War I, during the Battle of Tsingtao[8] and in the operations to seize German colonial possessions in the South Pacific.

After the war, Murakumo and Yūgiri were demilitarized, and used as depot ships in 1919–20, and then as auxiliary minesweepers in 1920. Shiranui and Kagerō served as tenders to the torpedo school in 1918, and were for disposal at Kure in April 1922 (broken up in 1923). Usugumo was similarly struck from the Navy List in 1922, and was broken up in 1927.

List of ships

Kanji Name
Builder Laid down Launched Completed Fate
叢雲 Murakumo
"Gathering Clouds"
Thornycroft, Chiswick, UK 1 October 1897 16 November 1898 29 December 1898 depot vessel 1 April 1919, auxiliary minesweeper 1 July 1920; dispatch vessel 1 April 1922, scuttled 4 June 1925
東雲 Shinonome
"Dawn Cloud"
1 October 1897 14 December 1898 1 February 1899 wrecked off Taiwan 23 July 1913; written off 6 August 1913
夕霧 Yūgiri
"Evening Mist"
1 November 1897 26 January 1899 10 March 1899 depot vessel 1 April 1919, auxiliary minesweeper 1 July 1920; Broken up 1 April 1922
不知火 Shiranui
"Phosphorescent Foam"
1 January 1898 15 March 1899 13 May 1899 minesweeper 1 April 1922, dispatch vessel 1 August 1923; Broken up 25 February 1925
陽炎 Kagerō
1 August 1898 23 October 1899 31 October 1899 Dispatch vessel 21 April 1922; Broken up 25 February 1925
薄雲 Usugumo
"Thin Clouds"
1 September 1898 16 January 1900 1 February 1900 minesweeper 1 April 1922, dispatch vessel 1 August 1923; scuttled 29 April 1925


  1. ^ Lyon, The Thornycroft List
  2. ^ Jentsura, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945
  3. ^ Lyon, The Thornycroft List
  4. ^ Howarth, The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun
  5. ^ Lyon, The Thornycroft List
  6. ^ Cocker, Destroyers of the Royal Navy
  7. ^ Nishida, Imperial Japanese Navy
  8. ^ Halpern. A Naval History of World War I


  • Cocker, Maurice (1983). Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893-1981. Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-1075-7.
  • Evans, David (1979). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-192-7.
  • Halpern, Paul G (1994). A Naval History of World War I. Routledge. ISBN 1-85728-498-4.
  • 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.
  • Jane, Fred T. (1904). The Imperial Japanese Navy. Thacker, Spink & Co. ASIN: B00085LCZ4.
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. US Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X.
  • Lyon, David (1981). The Thornycroft List. Greenwich: National Maritime Museum.
  • Stille, Mark (2016). The Imperial Japanese Navy of the Russo-Japanese War. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4728-1119-6.
  • Watts, Anthony John (1971). The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. ISBN 0-356-03045-8.

External links

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