Shinano Maru (1900)

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Shinano Maru in 1905
Empire of Japan
NameShinano Maru
Ordered1904 Fiscal Year
BuilderW. Henderson Co, Glasgow
Launched31 January 1900
CompletedApril 1900
General characteristics
Displacement6,388 long tons (6,491 t)
Length135.635 m (445 ft 0 in)
Beam14.996 m (49 ft 2.4 in)
Draught7.89 m (25 ft 11 in)
Speed15.4 knots (28.5 km/h; 17.7 mph)
Armament2 × 6 in (152 mm) guns

Shinano Maru (信濃丸) was a 6,388 GRT merchantman operated by the Nippon Yusen K.K Shipping Company (NYK). She was built by W. Henderson Co in Glasgow, for the express purpose of serving NYK's Japan to Seattle route. NYK originally intended that she be built at the Mitsubishi Nagasaki shipyards in Japan; however, Mitsubishi had experienced problems in the completion of Hitachi Maru, which had led to considerable delays. NYK chose not to wait, and Shinano Maru was ordered to Scotland. She was completed in April 1900. During the Russo-Japanese War Shinano Maru was converted into an armed merchantman. She has the distinction of discovering the Russian Fleet near Tsushima Strait on the eve of the Battle of Tsushima. After the war Shinano Maru reverted to civilian use, being scrapped in 1951.

Early civilian service

Shinano Maru, with a length of 135.6 metres (444 ft 11 in), was designed to carry 238 passenger (26 first class, 20 second class, 193 third class), and her accommodations were regarded as modern and comfortable at the time of her completion. Initially, Shinano Maru was placed in service on Nippon Yusen routes between Australia and Japan.[1]

Later in her early service with Nippon Yusen, Shinano Maru was reassigned to North Pacific routes to North America, making regular voyages between

SS Empress of Japan on June 3, 1902. The novelist Kafū Nagai
was a passenger in 1903.

Battle of Tsushima

With the start of the Russo-Japanese War in February 1904, Shinano Maru was one of the first ships requisitioned by the

Russian Baltic Fleet, which had been dispatched around the world to relieve the Japanese blockade of Port Arthur

On the night of May 26–27 Shinano Maru,

Jeju-do.[5] At 2:45 Shinano Maru sighted a suspicious ship, but the rising moon prevented proper identification.[3] Shinano Maru steamed ahead and properly sighted the opponent at 4:30.[3] It was an apparently unarmed hospital ship, communicating signals to other enemy ships, invisible in the morning haze.[3] The sighted ship turned out to be the Russian hospital transport Orel.[6] The rest of the Russian fleet had already sailed past Orel, undetected by the Japanese.[3] Morikawa settled to search and seize Orel and closed in, only to notice half a dozen other Russian ships nearby.[7] He fled the scene and broadcast the report of the sighting on the wireless.[7] However, grid coordinates reported by Shinano Maru were incorrect by 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 km), owing either to Morikawa's errors in dead reckoning or to his misunderstanding of Orel's position in the Russian order of battle.[7] The Japanese Third Squadron hurried to the grid square reported by Morikawa, but could not find the trace of the enemy.[8]

At 6:05 Shinano Maru reestablished visual contact with the Russian fleet, and continued shadowing it at 4 to 5 miles (6.4 to 8.0 km) distance.

Izumi.[9] Confusion caused by Morikawa's first report was resolved, and now the Combined Fleet had precise information on the Russian advance.[10] This intelligence ultimately led to the decisive Battle of Tsushima

In the aftermath of the battle Shinano Maru and Dainan Maru located the sinking


Post-war civilian service

Shinano Maru returned to civilian service in 1906, on Nippon Yusen's routes to

Nichiro, which converted it into a floating factory ship supporting the fishing fleets in the North Pacific processing salmon off the coast of Kamchatka Peninsula

Pressed back into service as a transport in the

during the final days of the war.

Shinano Maru was so obsolete and rusted that noted manga artist Shigeru Mizuki wrote in his diary that the iron of the hull was so rusted and thin that he considered it miraculous that the ship remained afloat, and that even the wake of a torpedo would be enough to sink it. After the surrender of Japan, it was used as a repatriation vessel bringing back Japanese former prisoners-of-war from Siberia. One of those returning to Japan on Shinano Maru was the future novelist Shōhei Ōoka. At the beginning of the Korean War, the ship was used as a mother ship for landing operations of the U.S. Navy.[12] Shinano Maru was sold for scrap in 1951.


  1. ^ "THE SHINANO MARU". The Argus. Melbourne. 23 October 1900. p. 4. Retrieved 30 December 2012 – via National Library of Australia..
  2. ^ Corbett, p. 154.
  3. ^ a b c d e Corbett, p. 222.
  4. ^ Corbett, p. 218.
  5. Jeju-do
  6. battleship of the same name
  7. ^ a b c d Corbett, p. 223.
  8. ^ a b Corbett, p. 224.
  9. ^ Idzumi in Corbett, p. 226.
  10. ^ Corbett. p. 226.
  11. ^ Corbett, p. 308.
  12. ^ Field, p. 291


External links