Seiichi Ito

Combined Fleet

For Carrier Striking Task Force, please see that article.
For Imperial Japanese Navy, please see that article.

The was the main ocean-going component of the Imperial Japanese Navy, analogous to the German High Seas Fleet. Before World War II, the Combined Fleet was not a standing force, but a temporary force formed for the duration of a conflict or major naval maneuvers from various units normally under separate commands in peacetime.

History

Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)

The Combined Fleet was formally created on 18 July 1894 by the merger of the Standing Fleet and the Western Fleet. The Standing Fleet (also known as the Readiness Fleet) contained the navy’s most modern and combat-capable warships. The Western Fleet was a reserve force consisting primarily of obsolete ships deemed unsuitable for front-line combat operations, but still suitable for commerce protection and coastal defense. Vice-admiral Itoh Sukeyuki was appointed the first Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet. for the duration of the first Sino-Japanese war against China.

Russo-Japanese War (1904-05)

The Combined Fleet was re-formed during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 to provide a unified overall command for the three separate fleets in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The IJN 1st Fleet was the main battleship force, which formed the backbone of the navy and was intended to be used in a traditional line-of-battle showdown with an equivalent enemy battleship fleet (kantai kessen). The IJN 2nd Fleet was a fast, mobile strike force with armored cruisers and protected cruisers. The IJN 3rd Fleet was primarily a reserve fleet of obsolete vessels considered too weak for front-line combat service, but which could still be used in the operation to blockade Port Arthur. Admiral Togo Heihachiro was commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War.

Interwar Years

The Combined Fleet was not a permanent organization, but was temporarily created when necessary - either during wartime or during fleet maneuvers. Thus, during the period from 1905-1924, the Combined Fleet was created only sporadically as the occasion or circumstances dictated, and disbanded immediately afterwards.

In 1924, the Imperial Japanese Navy declared in an edict on fleet organization that 'for the time being' the Combined Fleet would be a permanent organization consisting of the IJN 1st Fleet and IJN 2nd Fleet. As the commander of IJN 1st Fleet concurrently directed the Combined Fleet, the Combined Fleet did not have a Headquarters staff of its own.

From 1933, with the Manchurian Incident and the increasing tension with China, a permanent HQ staff for the Combined Fleet was established. By the late 1930s, it included most of Japan's warships - only the base units, the Special Naval Landing Forces, and the China Area Fleet lay outside the Combined Fleet.

World War II

The Combined Fleet came under command of the Imperial General Headquarters from in 1937. With the start of the Pacific War with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Combined Fleet was almost synonymous with the Imperial Japanese Navy. It included the battleships, aircraft carriers, aircraft, and essentially the components that made up the bulk of the surface fleet. It was the main Japanese force during the Battle of the Coral Sea and Battle of Midway. However, after the losses at Midway and in the Solomon Islands campaign, the Navy re-organized into a number of “Area Fleets” for local operational control of various geographic zones, and the Combined Fleet evolved into more of an administrative organization.

As the war situation continued to deteriorate for the Japanese, and the territories controlled by the “Area Fleets” fell one after another to the United States Navy, the Imperial General Headquarters and the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff aced to force the American fleet into a “decisive battle” in the Philippines per the kantai kessen philosophy. In the resultant Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese fleet was effectively annihilated. Remnants of the Combined Fleet fled to Okinawa, but with inadequate fuel, air cover or reserves, by the time of the final suicide mission of the battleship Yamato in Operation Ten-Go, the Combined Fleet had effectively ceased to exist as an effective combat force. The Combined Fleet was formally dissolved on 10 October 1945.

Commanders of the IJN Combined Fleet

Commander in chief
Rank Name Date
1 Vice Admiral Itoh Sukeyuki 18 Jul 189411 May 1895
2 Vice Admiral Arichi Shinanojo 11 May 189516 Nov 1895
3 Vice Admiral Togo Heihachiro 28 Dec 190320 Dec 1905
4 Vice Admiral Ijuin Goro 8 Oct 190820 Nov 1908
5 Vice Admiral Motaro Yoshimatsu 1 Nov 191513 Dec 1915
6 Vice Admiral Motaro Yoshimatsu 1 Sep 191614 Oct 1916
7 Admiral Motaro Yoshimatsu 1 Oct 191722 Oct 1917
8 Admiral Yamashita Gentaro 1 Sep 191815 Oct 1918
9 Admiral Yamashita Gentaro 1 Sep 191815 Oct 1918
10 Admiral Yamashita Gentaro 1 Jun 191928 Oct 1918
10 Admiral Yamaya Tanin 1 May 192024 Aug 1920
11 Admiral Tochinai Sojiro 24 Aug 192031 Oct 1920
12 Admiral Tochinai Sojiro 1 May 192131 Oct 1921
13 Vice Admiral Takeshita Isamu 1 Dec 192227 Jan 1924
14 Admiral Suzuki Kantaro 27 Jan 19241 Dec 1924
15 Admiral Okada Keisuke 1 Dec 192410 Dec 1926
16 Vice Admiral Hiroharu Kato 10 Dec 192610 Dec 1928
17 Admiral Naomi Taniguchi 10 Dec 192811 Nov 1929
18 Vice Admiral Eisuke Yamamoto 11 Nov 19291 Dec 1931
19 Vice Admiral Seizo Kobayashi 1 Dec 193115 Nov 1933
20 Vice Admiral Nobumasa Suetsugu 15 Nov 193315 Nov 1934
21 Vice Admiral Sankichi Takahashi 15 Nov 19341 Dec 1936
22 Vice Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai 1 Dec 19362 Feb 1937
23 Admiral Osami Nagano 2 Feb 19371 Dec 1937
24 Vice Admiral Zengo Yoshida 1 Dec 193730 Aug 1939
25 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto 30 Aug 193918 Apr 1943
26 Admiral Mineichi Koga 21 May 194331 Mar 1944
27 Admiral Soemu Toyoda 3 May 194429 May 1945
26 Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa 29 May 194510 Oct 1945

Chief of staff xx

Rank Name Date
1 Captain Samejima Kazunori 19 Jul 189417 Dec 1894
2 Captain Dewa Shigeto 17 Dec 189425 Jul 1895
3 Captain Kamimura Hikonojo 25 Jul 189516 Nov 1895
4 Captain Shimamura Hayao 28 Dec 190312 Jan 1905
5 Rear Admiral Kato Tomosaburo 12 Jan 190520 Dec 1905
6 Rear Admiral Fujii Koichi 20 Dec 190522 Nov 1906
7 Captain Yamashita Gentaro 22 Nov 190610 Dec 1908
8 Captain Takarabe Takeshi 10 Dec 19081 Dec 1909
9 Rear Admiral Nomaguchi Kaneo 1 Dec 190911 Mar 1911
10 Captain Akiyama Saneyuki 11 Mar 191124 May 1912
11 Captain Isamu Takeshita 1 Dec 191224 May 1913
X X Vacant 23 May 19131 Dec 1913
12 Rear Admiral Sato Tetsutaro 1 Dec 191317 Apr 1914
13 Captain Kazuyoshi Yamaji 17 Apr 19141 Dec 1914
14 Rear Admiral Shibakichi Yamanaka 1 Dec 191413 Dec 1915
15 Rear Admiral Saburo Horiuchi 13 Dec 19151 Dec 1917
16 Rear Admiral Hanroku Saito 1 Dec 19171 Dec 1918
17 Rear Admiral Kajishiro Funakoshi 1 Dec 19181 Dec 1919
18 Rear Admiral Hansaku Yoshioka 1 Dec 19191 Dec 1921
19 Rear Admiral Kumazo Shirane 1 Dec 19211 Dec 1923
20 Rear Admiral Bekinari Kabayama 1 Dec 192310 Nov 1924
21 Captain Kanjiro Hara 10 Nov 19241 Dec 1925
22 Rear Admiral Naotaro Ominato 1 Dec 19251 Nov 1926
23 Rear Admiral Sankichi Takahashi 1 Nov 19261 Dec 1927
24 Rear Admiral Eijiro Hamano 1 Dec 192710 Dec 1928
25 Rear Admiral Ken Terajima 10 Dec 192830 Oct 1929
26 Rear Admiral Koichi Shiozawa 30 Oct 19291 Dec 1930
27 Rear Admiral Shigetaro Shimada 1 Dec 19301 Dec 1931
28 Rear Admiral Zengo Yoshida 1 Dec 193115 Sep 1933
29 Rear Admiral Soemu Toyoda 15 Sep 193315 Mar 1935
30 Rear Admiral Nobutake Kondo 15 Mar 193515 Nov 1935
31 Rear Admiral Naokuni Nomura 15 Nov 193516 Nov 1936
32 Rear Admiral Yasutaro Iwashita 16 Nov 193618 Feb 1937
33 Rear Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa 18 Feb 193715 Nov 1937
34 Rear Admiral Ibo Takahashi 15 Nov 19375 Nov 1939
35 Captain Shigeru Fukutome 5 Nov 193910 Apr 1941
36 Rear Admiral Seiichi Ito 10 Apr 194111 Aug 1941
37 Rear Admiral Matome Ugaki 11 Aug 194122 May 1943
38 Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukutome 22 May 19436 Apr 1944
39 Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka 6 Apr 194424 Jun 1945
40 Rear Admiral Shikazo Yano 24 Jun 194525 Sep 1945

References

Notes

Books

  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X.
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1.

External links

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