Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima (Russian: Цусимское сражение,
Tsusimskoye srazheniye), also known as the
Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima Strait
and the Naval Battle of the Sea of
Japan (Japanese: 日本海海戦,
Nihonkai-Kaisen) in Japan, was a major naval battle fought between
Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. It was naval history's
only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship
fleets, and the first naval battle in which wireless telegraphy
(radio) played a critically important role. It has been characterized
as the "dying echo of the old era – for the last time in the
history of naval warfare, ships of the line of a beaten fleet
surrendered on the high seas".[attribution needed]
It was fought on 27–28 May 1905 (14–15 May in the Julian calendar
then in use in Russia) in the
Tsushima Strait between
southern Japan. In this battle the Japanese fleet under Admiral Tōgō
Heihachirō destroyed two-thirds of the Russian fleet, under Admiral
Zinovy Rozhestvensky, which had traveled over 18,000 nautical miles
(33,000 km) to reach the Far East. In London in 1906, Sir George
Sydenham Clarke wrote, "The battle of Tsu-shima is by far the greatest
and the most important naval event since Trafalgar"; decades later,
historian Edmund Morris agreed with this judgment. The destruction
of the Russian navy caused a bitter reaction from the Russian public,
which induced a peace treaty in September 1905 without any further
Prior to the Russo-Japanese War, countries constructed their
battleships with mixed batteries of mainly 152 mm (6-inch),
203 mm (8-inch), 254 mm (10-inch) and 305 mm (12-inch)
guns, with the intent that these battleships fight on the battle line
in a close-quarter, decisive fleet action. The Battle of Tsushima
conclusively demonstrated that battleship speed and big guns with
longer ranges were more advantageous in naval battles than mixed
batteries of different sizes.
The battle was also the first time that wireless telegraphy was used
in naval combat. The wireless telegraph had been invented during
the last half of the 1890s, and by the turn of the century nearly all
major navies were adopting this improved communications technology.
Nonetheless Tsushima would be "the first major sea battle in which
wireless played any role whatsoever".
1.1 Conflict in the Far East
1.2 Departure of the Second Pacific Squadron
1.3 Tsushima Strait
3.1 Naval tactics
3.2 First contact
3.3 Beginning of the battle
3.4 Daylight action
3.5 Night attacks
3.6 XGE signal and Russian surrender
4 Contributing factors
5 Impact of Telegraphy
6.1 Russian losses
6.1.3 Destroyers and auxiliaries
6.2 Japanese losses
6.3 Political consequences
Dreadnought arms race
8 On film
9 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Conflict in the Far East
On 8 February 1904 destroyers of the
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy launched a
surprise attack on the Russian Far East Fleet anchored in Port Arthur;
three ships – two battleships and a cruiser – were damaged in the
attack. The Russo-Japanese war had thus begun. Japan's first objective
was to secure its lines of communication and supply to the Asian
mainland, enabling it to conduct a ground war in Manchuria. To achieve
this, it was necessary to neutralize Russian naval power in the Far
East. At first, the Russian naval forces remained inactive and did not
engage the Japanese, who staged unopposed landings in Korea. The
Russians were revitalised by the arrival of Admiral
Stepan Makarov and
were able to achieve some degree of success against the Japanese, but
on 13 April Makarov's flagship, the battleship Petropavlovsk struck a
mine and sank; Makarov was among the dead. His successors failed
to challenge the Japanese Navy, and the Russians were effectively
bottled up in their base at Port Arthur.
By May, the Japanese had landed forces on the
Liaodong Peninsula and
in August began the siege of the naval station. On 9 August, Admiral
Wilgelm Vitgeft, commander of the 1st Pacific Squadron, was ordered to
sortie his fleet to Vladivostok, link up with the Squadron
stationed there, and then engage the
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in a
decisive battle. Both squadrons of the
Russian Pacific Fleet
Russian Pacific Fleet would
ultimately become dispersed during the battles of the Yellow Sea on 10
August and the Ulsan on 14 August 1904. What remained of Russian naval
power would eventually be sunk in Port Arthur.
Departure of the Second Pacific Squadron
Route taken by the Russian Second Pacific Squadron (in blue) from the
Baltic to the Battle of Tsushima. Dobrotvorsky unit[clarification
needed] (in orange), Nebogatov detachment [clarification needed] (in
red)[dubious – discuss]
With the inactivity of the First Pacific Squadron after the death of
Admiral Makarov and the tightening of the Japanese noose around Port
Arthur, the Russians considered sending part of their
Baltic Fleet to
the Far East. The plan was to relieve Port Arthur by sea, link up with
the First Pacific Squadron, overwhelm the Imperial Japanese Navy, and
then delay the Japanese advance into Manchuria until Russian
reinforcements could arrive via the
Trans-Siberian railroad and
overwhelm the Japanese land forces in Manchuria. As the situation in
the Far East deteriorated, the Tsar (encouraged by his cousin Kaiser
Wilhelm II), agreed to the formation of the Second Pacific
Squadron. This would consist of five divisions of the Baltic
Fleet, including 11 of its 13 battleships. The squadron departed the
Baltic ports of Reval (Tallinn) and Libau on 15-16 October 1904,
numbering 42 ships and auxiliaries under the command of Admiral Zinovy
The Second Pacific Squadron sailed through the Baltic into the North
Sea. The Russians had heard fictitious reports of Japanese torpedo
boats operating in the area and were on high alert. In the Dogger Bank
incident, the Russian fleet mistook a group of British fishing
trawlers operating near the
Dogger Bank at night for hostile Japanese
ships. The fleet fired upon the small civilian vessels, killing
several British fishermen and one trawler was sunk while another six
were damaged. In confusion the Russians even fired upon two of
their vessels, killing some of their men. The firing continued for
twenty minutes before Rozhestvensky ordered firing to cease; greater
loss of life was only avoided because the Russian gunnery was highly
The British were outraged by the incident and incredulous that the
Russians could mistake a group of fishing trawlers for Japanese
warships, thousands of miles from the nearest Japanese port. Britain
almost entered the war in support of Japan, with whom it had a mutual
defence agreement (but was neutral in the war, as their treaty
contained a specific exemption for Japanese action in China and
Korea). The Royal Navy sortied and shadowed the Russian fleet while a
diplomatic agreement was reached. France, which had hoped to
eventually bring the British and Russians together in an anti-German
bloc, intervened diplomatically to restrain Britain from declaring
war. The Russians were forced to accept responsibility for the
incident, compensate the fishermen, disembark officers who were
suspected of misconduct to give evidence to an enquiry, and banned
from using the Suez Canal. Forced to take a much
longer route to the Far East, the Russians sailed around Africa, and
by April and May 1905 had anchored at
Cam Ranh Bay
Cam Ranh Bay in French Indochina
(now Vietnam). The voyage took several months in rough seas, with
difficulty obtaining coal for refuelling – as the warships could not
legally enter the ports of neutral nations – and the morale of the
crews plummeted. The Russians needed 500,000 short tons
(450,000 t) of coal and 30 to 40 re-coaling sessions to reach Cam
Ranh Bay. This was provided by 60 colliers from the Hamburg-Amerika
The Russians had been ordered to break the blockade of Port Arthur,
but the city had already fallen (on 2 January) by the time they
arrived in the Far East. The objective was therefore shifted to
linking up with the remaining Russian ships stationed in the port of
Vladivostok, before bringing the Japanese fleet to battle.[citation
Map of the
Korea Strait and Tsushima Strait, either side of the
The Russians could have sailed through any one of three possible
straits to enter the Sea of
Japan and reach Vladivostok: La Pérouse,
Tsugaru, and Tsushima. Admiral Rozhestvensky chose Tsushima in an
effort to simplify his route. Admiral Tōgō, based at Busan, also
believed Tsushima would be the preferred Russian course. The Tsushima
Strait is the body of water eastward of the
Tsushima Island group,
located midway between the Japanese island of Kyushu and the Korean
Peninsula, the shortest and most direct route from Indochina. The
other routes would have required the fleet to sail east around Japan.
Combined Fleet and the Russian Second and Third Pacific
Squadrons, sent from the Baltic Sea, would fight in the straits
Japan near the Tsushima Islands.
Routes of the Russian and Japanese fleets in the days leading up to
Main article: Order of battle at the Battle of Tsushima
Because of the 18,000-mile (29,000 km) journey, the Russian fleet
was in relatively poor condition for battle. Apart from the four
newest Borodino-class battleships, Admiral Nebogatov's 3rd
Division consisted of older and poorly maintained warships.
Overall neither side had a significant maneuverability advantage.
The long voyage, combined with a lack of opportunity for maintenance,
meant the Russian ships were heavily fouled, significantly reducing
their speed. The Japanese ships could sustain 15 knots
(28 km/h), but the Russian fleet could reach just 14 knots
(26 km/h), and then only in short bursts.
Tōgō achieved "crossing the T" twice. Additionally, there were
significant deficiencies in the Russian naval fleet's equipment and
training. Russian naval tests with their torpedoes exposed major
technological failings. Tōgō's greatest advantage was that of
experience, being the only active admiral in any navy with combat
experience aboard battleships. (The others were Russian Admirals
Oskar Viktorovich Stark, who had been relieved of his command
following his humiliating defeat in the Battle of Port Arthur, Admiral
Stepan Makarov, killed by a mine off Port Arthur, and Wilgelm Vitgeft,
who had been killed in the Battle of the Yellow Sea.)
Battleships, cruisers, and other vessels were arranged into divisions,
each division being commanded by a Flag Officer (Admiral). At the
battle of Tsushima, Admiral Tōgō was the officer commanding in the
battleship Mikasa (the other divisions being commanded by Vice
Admirals, Rear Admirals, Commodores, Captains and Commanders for the
destroyer divisions). Next in line after Mikasa came the battleships
Shikishima, Fuji and Asahi. Following them were two armoured
Admiral Tōgō, by using reconnaissance and choosing his position
well, "secured beyond reasonable hazard his strategic objective of
bringing the Russian fleet to battle, irrespective of speeds."
When Tōgō decided to execute a turn to port in sequence, he did so
to preserve the sequence of his battleline, with the flagship Mikasa
still in the lead (which could indicate that Admiral Tōgō wanted his
more powerful units to enter action first).
Turning in sequence meant that each ship would turn one after the
other whilst still following the ship in front. Effectively each
vessel would turn over the same piece of sea (this being the danger in
the maneuver as it gives the enemy fleet the opportunity to target
that area). Tōgō could have ordered his ships to turn "together",
that is, each ship would have made the turn at the same time and
reversed course. This maneuver, the same one effected by the
French-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, would be quicker but would have
disrupted the sequence of the battleline and caused confusion by
altering the battle plans and placing the cruisers in the lead. This
was something Tōgō wished to avoid.
Departure of the Combined (Japanese) Fleet.
Because the Russians desired to slip undetected into Vladivostok, as
they approached Japanese waters they steered outside regular shipping
channels to reduce the chance of detection. On the night of 26/27 May
1905 the Russian fleet approached the Tsushima Strait.
In the night, thick fog blanketed the straits, giving the Russians an
advantage. At 02:45
Japan Standard Time (JST), the Japanese auxiliary
cruiser Shinano Maru observed three lights on what appeared to be a
vessel on the distant horizon and closed to investigate. These lights
were from the Russian hospital ship Orel, which, in compliance with
the rules of war, had continued to burn them. At 04:30, Shinano
Maru approached the vessel, noting that she carried no guns and
appeared to be an auxiliary. The Orel mistook the Shinano Maru for
another Russian vessel and did not attempt to notify the fleet.
Instead, she signaled to inform the Japanese ship that there were
other Russian vessels nearby. The Shinano Maru then sighted the shapes
of ten other Russian ships in the mist. The Russian fleet had been
discovered, and any chance of reaching
Vladivostok undetected had
Wireless telegraphy played an important role from the start. At 04:55,
Captain Narukawa of the Shinano Maru sent a message to Admiral Tōgō
Masampo that the "Enemy is in square 203". By 05:00, intercepted
wireless signals informed the Russians that they had been discovered
and that Japanese scouting cruisers were shadowing them. Admiral
Tōgō received his message at 05:05, and immediately began to prepare
his battle fleet for a sortie.
Beginning of the battle
At 06:34, before departing with the Combined Fleet, Admiral Tōgō
wired a confident message to the navy minister in Tokyo:
In response to the warning that enemy ships have been sighted, the
Combined Fleet will immediately commence action and attempt to attack
and destroy them. Weather today fine but high waves.
The final sentence of this telegram has become famous in Japanese
military history, and has been quoted by Japanese Prime Minister
At the same time the entire Japanese fleet put to sea, with Tōgō in
his flagship Mikasa leading over 40 vessels to meet the Russians.
Meanwhile, the shadowing Japanese scouting vessels sent wireless
reports every few minutes as to the formation and course of the
Russian fleet. There was mist which reduced visibility and the weather
was poor. Wireless gave the Japanese an advantage; in his report on
the battle, Admiral Tōgō noted the following:
Though a heavy fog covered the sea, making it impossible to observe
anything at a distance of over five miles, [through wireless
messaging] all the conditions of the enemy were as clear to us, who
were 30 or 40 miles distant, as though they had been under our very
At 13:40, both fleets sighted each other and prepared to engage. At
around 13:55, Tōgō ordered the hoisting of the Z flag, issuing a
predetermined announcement to the entire fleet:
The Empire's fate depends on the result of this battle, let every man
do his utmost duty.
By 14:45, Tōgō had 'crossed the Russian T' enabling him to fire
broadsides, while the Russians could only reply with their forward
Russian battleship Oslyabya, the first warship sunk in the battle
The Russians sailed from south southwest to north northeast;
"continuing to a point of intersection which allowed only their bow
guns to bear; enabling him [Tōgō] to throw most of the Russian
batteries successively out of bearing."  The Japanese fleet
steamed from northeast to west, then Tōgō ordered the fleet to turn
in sequence, which enabled his ships to take the same course as the
Russians, although risking each battleship consecutively. Although
Tōgō's U-turn was successful, Russian gunnery had proven
surprisingly good and the flagship Mikasa was hit 15 times in five
minutes. Before the end of the engagement she was struck 15 more times
by large caliber shells. Rozhestvensky had only two alternatives,
"a charge direct, in line abreast", or to commence "a formal pitched
battle."  He chose the latter, and at 14:08, the Japanese flagship
Mikasa was hit at about 7,000 metres, with the Japanese replying at
6,400 meters. Superior Japanese gunnery then took its toll, with
most of the Russian battleships being crippled.
Commander Vladimir Semenoff, a Russian staff officer aboard the
flagship Knyaz Suvorov, said "It seemed impossible even to count the
number of projectiles striking us. Shells seemed to be pouring upon us
incessantly one after another. The steel plates and superstructure
on the upper decks were torn to pieces, and the splinters caused many
casualties. Iron ladders were crumpled up into rings, guns were
literally hurled from their mountings. In addition to this, there was
the unusually high temperature and liquid flame of the explosion,
which seemed to spread over everything. I actually watched a steel
plate catch fire from a burst." 
Ninety minutes into the battle, the first warship to be sunk was the
Russian battleship Oslyabya from Rozhestvensky's 2nd Battleship
division. This was the first time a modern armoured warship had been
sunk by gunfire alone.
A direct hit on the Russian battleship Borodino's magazines by
Japanese battleship Fuji
Japanese battleship Fuji caused her to explode, which sent smoke
thousands of metres (yards) into the air and trapped all of her crew
on board as she sank. Rozhestvensky was knocked out of action by a
shell fragment that struck his skull. In the evening, Rear Admiral
Nebogatov took over command of the Russian fleet. The Russians lost
the battleships Knyaz Suvorov, Oslyabya, Imperator Aleksandr III and
Borodino. The Japanese ships suffered only light damage.
At night, around 20:00, 21 destroyers and 37 Japanese torpedo boats
were thrown against the Russians. The destroyers attacked from the
vanguard while the torpedo boats attacked from the east and south of
the Russian fleet. The Japanese were aggressive, continuing their
attacks for three hours without a break, as a result during the night,
there were a number of collisions between the small craft and Russian
warships. The Russians were now dispersed in small groups trying to
break northwards. By 23:00, it appeared that the Russians had
vanished, but they revealed their positions to their pursuers by
switching on their searchlights – ironically, the searchlights had
been turned on to spot the attackers. The old battleship Navarin
struck a mine and was compelled to stop; she was consequently
torpedoed four times and sunk. Out of a crew of 622, only three
survived, one to be rescued by the Japanese and the other two by a
British merchant ship.
The battleship Sissoi Veliky was badly damaged by a torpedo in the
stern, and was scuttled the next day. Two old armoured cruisers –
Admiral Nakhimov and Vladimir Monomakh – were badly damaged, the
former by a torpedo hit to the bow, the latter by colliding with a
Japanese destroyer. They were both scuttled by their crews the next
morning, the Admiral Nakhimov off Tsushima Island, where she headed
while taking on water. The night attacks had put a great strain on the
Russians, as they had lost two battleships and two armoured cruisers,
while the Japanese had only lost three torpedo boats.
XGE signal and Russian surrender
During the night action, Tōgō had deployed his torpedo boat
destroyers to destroy any remaining enemy vessels, chase down any
fleeing warships, and then consolidate his heavy units. At 09:30 on 28
May, what remained of the Russian fleet was sighted heading
northwards. Tōgō's battleships proceeded to surround Nebogatov's
remaining squadron south of the island of
Takeshima and commenced main
battery fire at 12,000 meters. Realising that his guns were out
ranged by at least one thousand metres (yards) and that he could be
destroyed at Tōgō's leisure, Nebogatov ordered the six ships
remaining under his command to surrender. XGE, an international signal
of surrender, was hoisted; however, the Japanese navy continued to
fire as they did not have "surrender" in their code books and had to
hastily find one that did. Still under heavy fire,
Nebogatov then ordered white table cloths sent up the mastheads, but
Tōgō having had a Chinese warship escape him while flying that flag
during the 1894 war did not trust them, and continued to fire his main
Russian cruiser Izumrud
Russian cruiser Izumrud then lowered her XGE surrender
flag and attempted to flee. Running out of options, Nebogatov
Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy flag up the mastheads and all
engines stopped. When Japanese flags began showing up in 12-inch
gun range finders, Tōgō gave the cease fire and accepted Nebogatov's
surrender. Nebogatov surrendered knowing that he could be shot for
doing so.[nb 1] He said to his men:
You are young, and it is you who will one day retrieve the honour and
glory of the Russian Navy. The lives of the two thousand four hundred
men in these ships are more important than mine.
Neither Nebogatov nor Rozhestvensky were shot when they returned home
to Russia. However, both were placed on trial. Rozhestvensky claimed
full responsibility for the fiasco; but as he had been wounded and
unconscious during the last part of the battle, the Tsar commuted his
death sentence. Nebogatov, having surrendered the fleet at the end of
the naval engagement, was imprisoned for several years and eventually
pardoned by the Tsar. Both men's reputations were ruined.[citation
Until the evening of 28 May, isolated Russian ships were pursued by
the Japanese until almost all were destroyed or captured. Three
Russian warships reached Vladivostok. The cruiser Izumrud, which
escaped from the Japanese despite being present at Nebogatov's
surrender, was scuttled by her crew after running aground near the
The Japanese fleets had practised gunnery regularly since the
beginning of the war, using sub-calibre adapters in their guns and
gaining more experience than the Russians. The Japanese also used
mostly high-explosive shells with shimose (melinite), which was
designed to explode on contact and wreck the upper structures of
ships. The Russians used armour-piercing rounds with small
guncotton bursting charges and unreliable fuses. Japanese hits
caused more damage to Russian ships relative to Russian hits on
Japanese ships, setting the superstructures, the paintwork and the
large quantities of coal stored on the decks on fire. (The Russian
fleet often bought low-quality coal at sea from merchant vessels on
most of their long voyage due to the lack of friendly fuelling
Japanese fire was also more accurate because they were using the
latest issued (1903)
Barr and Stroud
Barr and Stroud FA3 coincidence rangefinder,
which had a range of 6,000 yards (5,500 m), while the Russian
battleships were equipped with Liuzhol rangefinders from the 1880s,
which only had a range of about 4,000 yards (3,700 m). And
finally, by 27 May 1905, Admiral Tōgō and his men had two battleship
fleet actions under their belts, which amounted to over four hours of
combat experience in battleship-to-battleship combat at Port Arthur
and the Yellow Sea
Impact of Telegraphy
Akiyama Saneyuki had been sent to the United States as a
naval attaché in 1897. He witnessed firsthand the capabilities of
radio telegraphy and sent a memo to the Navy Ministry urging that they
push ahead as rapidly as possible to acquire the new technology.
The ministry became heavily interested, however it found the cost of
Marconi wireless system, which was then operating with the Royal
Navy, to be exceedingly expensive. The Japanese therefore decided to
create their own radio sets by setting up a radio research committee
under Professor Shunkichi Kimura, which eventually produced an
acceptable system. In 1901, having attained radio transmissions of up
to 70 miles (110 km), the navy formally adopted radio telegraphy.
Two years later, a laboratory and factory were set up at Yokosuka to
produce the Type 36 (1903) radios, and these were quickly installed on
every major warship in the
Combined Fleet by the time the war
Alexander Stepanovich Popov
Alexander Stepanovich Popov of the Naval Warfare Institute had built
and demonstrated a wireless telegraphy set in 1900, and equipment from
Germany was adopted by the Imperial Russian
Navy. Although both sides had early wireless telegraphy, the Russians
were using German sets and had difficulties in their use and
maintenance, while the Japanese had the advantage of using their own
Battle damage to the cruiser Zhemchug. Note the shell hole in the
Battle damage to the cruiser Oleg, in
The battle was humiliating for Russia, which lost all its battleships
and most of its cruisers and destroyers. The battle effectively ended
Russo-Japanese War in Japan's favour. The Russians lost 4,380
killed and 5,917 captured, including two admirals, with a further
The Russians lost eleven battleships, including three smaller coastal
vessels, either sunk or captured by the Japanese, or scuttled by their
crews to prevent capture. Four ships were lost to enemy action during
the daylight battle on 27 May: Knyaz Suvorov, Imperator Aleksandr III,
Borodino and Oslyabya. Navarin was lost during the night action, on
27–28 May, while the Sissoi Veliky, Admiral Nakhimov and Admiral
Ushakov were either scuttled or sunk the next day. Four other
battleships, under Rear Admiral Nebogatov, were forced to surrender
and would end up as prizes of war. This group consisted of only one
modern battleship, Oryol, along with the old battleship Imperator
Nikolai I and the two small coastal battleships General Admiral Graf
Apraksin and Admiral Seniavin. The small coastal battleship
Admiral Ushakov refused to surrender and was scuttled by her crew.
The Russian Navy lost four of its eight cruisers during the battle,
three were interned by the Americans, with just one reaching
Vladivostok. Vladimir Monomakh and Svetlana were sunk the next day,
after the daylight battle. The cruiser Dmitrii Donskoi fought against
six Japanese cruisers and survived; however, due to heavy damage she
was scuttled. Izumrud ran aground near the Siberian coast. Three
Russian protected cruisers, Aurora, Zhemchug, and Oleg escaped to the
U.S. naval base at Manila in the then-American-controlled
Philippines where they were interned, as the United States was
neutral. The armed yacht (classified as a cruiser), Almaz, alone was
able to reach Vladivostok.
Destroyers and auxiliaries
Russia also lost six of its nine destroyers in the battle,
had one interned by the Chinese, and the other two escaped to
Vladivostok. They were – Buyniy ("Буйный"), Bistriy
("Быстрый"), Bezuprechniy ("Безупречный"), Gromkiy
("Громкий") and Blestyashchiy ("Блестящий") – sunk
on 28 May, Byedoviy ("Бедовый") surrendered that day. Bodriy
("Бодрый") was interned in Shanghai; Grosniy ("Грозный")
and Braviy ("Бравый") reached Vladivostok.
Of the auxiliaries, Kamchatka, Ural and Rus were sunk on 27 May,
Irtuish ran aground on 28 May, Koreya and Svir were interned in
Shanghai; Anadyr escaped to Madagascar. The hospital ships Orel and
Kostroma were captured; Kostroma was released afterwards.
The Japanese lost three torpedo boats (Nos. 34, 35 and 69), with 117
men killed and 500 wounded.
Imperial Russia's prestige was badly damaged and the defeat was a blow
to the Romanov dynasty. Most of the Russian fleet was lost; the fast
armed yacht Almaz (classified as a cruiser of the 2nd rank) and the
destroyers Grozny and Bravy were the only Russian ships to reach
Vladivostok. In The Guns of August, the American historian and
Barbara Tuchman argued that because Russia's loss destabilized
the balance of power in Europe, it emboldened the
Central Powers and
contributed to their decision to go to war in 1914.
The battle had a profound cultural and political impact upon Japan. It
was the first defeat of a European power by an Asian nation in the
modern era. It also weakened the notion of white superiority
that was prevalent in some Western countries. The victory
Japan as the sixth greatest naval power while the
Russian navy declined to one barely stronger than that of
In The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles, the British historian
Geoffrey Regan argues that the victory bolstered Japan's increasingly
aggressive political and military establishment. According to Regan,
the lopsided Japanese victory at Tsushima:
...created a legend that was to haunt Japan's leaders for forty years.
A British admiral once said, 'It takes three years to build a ship,
but 300 years to build a tradition.'
Japan thought that the victory
had completed this task in a matter of a few years ... It had all been
too easy. Looking at Tōgō's victory over one of the world's great
powers convinced some Japanese military men that with more ships, and
bigger and better ones, similar victories could be won throughout the
Pacific. Perhaps no power could resist the Japanese navy, not even
Britain and the United States.
Regan also believes the victory contributed to the Japanese road to
later disaster, "because the result was so misleading. Certainly the
Japanese navy had performed well, but its opponents had been weak, and
it was not invincible... Tōgō's victory [helped] set
Japan on a path
that would eventually lead her" to the Second World War.
Isoroku Yamamoto, the future Japanese admiral who would go on to plan
the attack on Pearl Harbor and command the Imperial Japanese Navy
through much of the Second World War, served as a junior officer
(aboard Nisshin) during the battle and was wounded by Russian gunfire.
Dreadnought arms race
Main article: Dreadnought
Britain's First Sea Lord, Admiral Fisher, reasoned that the Japanese
victory at Tsushima confirmed the importance of large guns and speed
for modern battleships; in October 1905 the British started
the construction of HMS Dreadnought, which upon her launching in
1906 began a naval arms race between Britain and
Germany in the years
before 1914. The British and Germans were both aware of the
potentially devastating consequences of a naval defeat on the scale of
Tsushima. Britain needed its battle fleet to protect its empire, and
the trade routes vital to its war effort. Winston Churchill, then
First Lord of the Admiralty, described British Admiral John Jellicoe
as "the only man who could lose the war in an afternoon".[this quote
needs a citation] German naval commanders, for their part, understood
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Kaiser Wilhelm II attached to his navy and the
diplomatic prestige it carried. As a result of caution, the British
and German fleets met in only one major action in World War I, the
indecisive Battle of Jutland.
Aurora, preserved as a museum ship in Saint Petersburg, Russia
The battleship Mikasa, Admiral Tōgō's flagship at the battle of
Tsushima, preserved as a memorial in Yokosuka, Japan
27 May 1905 (JST)
04:45 The Shinano Maru (Japan) locates the Russian
Baltic Fleet and
sends a wireless signal.
05:05 The Japanese
Combined Fleet leaves port and sends a wireless
signal to Imperial Headquarters: "Today's weather is fine but waves
are high. (Japanese: 本日天気晴朗なれども波高し)".
13:39 The Japanese
Combined Fleet gains visual contact with the
Russian Baltic Fleet, and sends up the battle flag.
13:55 Distance (Range): 12,000 meters. The Mikasa sends up 'Z' flag.
(Z flag's meaning: The Empire's fate depends on the result of this
battle, let every man do his utmost duty.).
14:05 Distance (Range): 8,000 meters. The Japanese Combined Fleet
turns their helm aport (i.e. starts a U-turn).
14:07 Distance (Range): 7,000 meters. The Mikasa completes her turn.
Baltic Fleet opens fire with their main batteries.
14:10 Distance (Range): 6,400 meters. All Japanese warships complete
14:12 Distance (Range): 5,500 meters. The Mikasa receives her first
hit from the Russian guns.
14:16 Distance (Range): 4,600 meters. The Japanese Combined Fleet
begins concentrating their return fire on the Russian flagship, the
14:43 The Oslyabya and Knyaz Suvorov are set on fire and fall away
from the battle line.
14:50 The Imperator Aleksandr III starts turning to the north and
attempts to leave the battle line.
15:10 The Oslyabya sinks, and the Knyaz Suvorov attempts to withdraw.
18:00 The two fleets counterattack each other (distance (range): 6,300
m), and begin exchanging main battery fire again.
19:03 The Imperator Aleksandr III sinks.
19:20 The Knyaz Suvorov and Borodino sink.
28 May 1905 (JST)
09:30 The Japanese
Combined Fleet locates the Russian Baltic Fleet
10:34 Admiral Nebogatov signals "XGE", which is "I surrender" in the
International Code of Signals used at the time.
10:53 Admiral Tōgō accepts the surrender.
Crossing the T: Japanese are in white, the Russians in red
The Knyaz Suvorov, Oslyabya, Imperator Aleksandr III, and Sissoi
Veliky breaking off from the main battle
The first and second Japanese fleets sandwiching the Russian fleet
The Russian ships fleeing
The 1969 film The Battle of the
Japan Sea (日本海大海戦,
Nihonkai-DaiKaisen) depicts the battle.
Title: The Battle of the
Release date: 1969
Directed by Seiji Maruyama
Toshiro Mifune as the Admiral Tōgō
Music by Masaru Sato
Special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
Naval history of Japan
Nicholas II of Russia
^ During Nebogatov's court martial, his defense for surrendering his
battle fleet was because his guns were out ranged by the Japanese guns
^ 100 Battles, Decisive Battles that Shaped the World, Dougherty,
Martin, J., Parragon, pp. 144–145
^ Sterling, Christopher H. (2008). Military communications: from
ancient times to the 21st century. ABC-CLIO. p. 459.
ISBN 1-85109-732-5. The naval battle of Tsushima, the ultimate
contest of the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War, was one of the most
decisive sea battles in history.
^ Naval War College Press (U.S.), ed. (2009). Joint Operational
Warfare Theory and Practice and V. 2, Historical Companion. Government
Printing Office. p. V-76. ISBN 1-884733-62-X. In retrospect,
the battle of Tsushima in May 1905 was the last "decisive" naval
battle in history.
^ Brown p. 10
^ Semenoff (1907) p. ix
^ Morris, Edmund (2001). Theodore Rex. ISBN 0-394-55509-0.
^ Massie pp. 470–480
^ Semenoff (1907) pp. 124, 135
^ a b c Evans & Peattie 1997, p. 84.
^ Busch pp. 137–138
^ Sondhaus 2001, p. 188.
^ Forczyk p. 48
^ Forczyk pp. 26, 54
^ Sondhaus 2001, p. 189.
^ Busch p. 214
^ a b c d Sondhaus 2001, p. 190.
^ a b Willmott 2009, p. 112.
^ Forczyk p. 66
^ a b Forczyk p. 33
^ Forczyk, p. 32
^ In one such trial, of the seven torpedoes fired, one jammed in the
tube, two veered ninety degrees to port, one went ninety degrees to
starboard, two kept a steady course but went wide of the mark, and the
last went round in circles 'popping up and down like a porpoise',
causing panic throughout the fleet." Regan, Geoffrey; The Guinness
Book of Decisive Battles, "The
Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima 1905", p. 176
^ Forczyk pp. 8, 43, 73 & back cover
^ Mahan p. 456
^ Watts p. 22
^ Translated by Andrew Cobbing in Shiba Ryotaro, Clouds Above the
Hill, volume 4, p. 212. Routledge, 2013.
^ "After Terrible GDP Report,
Japan Is Getting Ready To Calling A Snap
Election". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
^ Admiral Tōgō's report on the Battle of Tsushima, as published by
the Japanese Imperial Naval Headquarters Staff, September 1905;
^ Koenig, Epic Sea Battles, p. 141.
^ Semenoff (1907) p. 70
^ Mahan pp. 457–58
^ Regan; The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles-The Battle of Tsushima
1905, pp. 176–77
^ a b c d e Regan; The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles-The Battle of
Tsushima 1905, p. 177
^ a b Mahan p. 458
^ Busch pp. 150, 161, 163
^ Sondhaus 2001, p. 191.
^ Semenoff (1907) pp. 62–63
^ Busch pp. 159–160
^ The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide.
Credo Reference. ISBN 9781849727167.
^ Busch p. 179
^ Busch p. 184
^ Busch p. 186
^ Semenoff (1907) p. 63
^ Semenoff (1907) p. 56
^ Forczyk pp. 56–57
^ Forczyk pp. 43, 73
^ a b c d Regan; The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles – The Battle
of Tsushima 1905, p. 178
^ a b c d Willmott 2009, p. 118.
^ a b Willmott 2009, p. 119.
^ Forczyk back cover
^ Pleshakov p. xvi
^ "the Impact of the
Russo-Japanese War in Asia". The American Forum
for Global Education. Archived from the original on 2003-01-06.
^ a b Sondhaus 2001, p. 192.
^ Massie, pp. 471, 474, 480
^ Busch p. 215
^ The Rivalry of
Germany and England, Edward Raymond Turner, The
Sewanee Review, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr., 1913), pp.
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Battleship vs Japanese Battleship,
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Evans, David C; Peattie, Mark R (1997). Kaigun: strategy, tactics, and
technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887–1941. Annapolis,
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Tsushima.
History.com— This Day In History: The
Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima Strait
Battlefleet 1900—Free naval wargame rules covering the
pre-dreadnought era, including the Russo-Japanese War.
Russojapanesewar.com—Contains a complete order of battle of both
fleets. It also contains Admiral Tōgō's post-battle report and the
account of Russian ensign Sememov.