Early on the 21 November 1944, USS Sealion II (SS-315) torpedoes and sinks Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) destroyer Urakaze and battlecruiser Kongō.
Kongō has been around for a while, being laid down at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering all the way back on 17 January 1911, designed by British naval architect George Thurston, as the last of Japan`s capital ships built abroad. After serious modifications during the 1930s, she has been one of the IJN`s most active surface combatants as the lead of a formerly four-ship class after Kirishima and Hiei were sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 and 15 November 1942 (the fourth, Haruna is currently at Kure undergoing repair after a bomb hit during the Battle of the Philippine Sea).
Most recently, Kongō joined Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita`s `Center Force` in the naval engagements around Leyte Gulf, which we covered in detail in our 23-26 October posts.
Following Kurita`s withdrawal, the fleet docked at Brunei, where they remained until a U.S. air raid convinced them to sail back to Kure, Japan, on 16 November.
Yesterday, this fleet, consisting of Yamato, Nagato, and Kongō, the cruiser Yahagi, and the destroyers Hamakaze, Isokaze, Urakaze, Yukikaze, Kiri, and Ume, entered the Formosa Strait and headed north.
At 0020 hours today, USS Sealion II makes radar contact with the Japanese formation. Positioning herself ahead, Sealion fires a spread of six torpedos at Kongō at 0256 and three at Nagato at 0259.
At 0300 hours, three torpedos strike Kongō`s port side, flood two of her boiler rooms. Nagato dodges the torpedos, which smash into Urakaze, detonating the destroyer`s magazine and sinking her with all hands.
Kongō, while damaged, maintains a speed of 16 knots (30 km/h) for some time but, by 0500 hours, slows further and is ordered to break off and head to the port of Keelung in Formosa, escorted by Hamakaze and Isokaze. However, by 0518, the ship lists 45 degrees to port and loses all power.
At 0524, with the evacuation underway, her forward main magazine explodes, killing 1,200 of the crew.
Picture: Kongō on sea trials, off the coast of Tateyama, 14 November 1936
Source: Wikimedia Commons