was the lead ship
of the Fuji-class
of early pre-dreadnought battleships
of the Imperial Japanese Navy
, and one of the six battleships (Shikishima
, and Mikasa
) that formed the main Japanese battle line
in the Russo-Japanese War
of 1904-1905. It was named after Japan's famed Mount Fuji
and her sister-ship Yashima
were the first two battleships built for Japan
. As the Japanese were still incapable of building modern steel warships themselves, Fuji
was ordered from the Thames Iron Works
in 1894. The work was supervised by a team of over 240 engineers and naval officers from Japan, including by future Prime Ministers Saito Makoto
(then a captain) and Kato Tomosaburo
(then a lieutenant).
After completion, Fuji participated in a naval review marking the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Victoria before departing for Japan via the Suez Canal.
Fuji arrived at Yokosuka on 1897-10-31, too late for combat in the First Sino-Japanese War, and was designated as a 1st class battleship. During trials off of Kobe on 1898-11-19, it had the honor of hosting Emperor Meiji
Fuji helped form the core of the Japanese fleet during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. She was hit twice during the bombardment of Port Arthur on 1904-02-09, and also when she again bombarded that port on 22 March, this time so severely that she was forced to return to Japan for repairs. On 1904-08-10, Fuji fought at the Battle of the Yellow Sea. In the Battle of Tsushima on 1905-05-27 Fuji suffered 11 hits, but in return scored the fatal hit on the Russian battleship Borodino, causing that ship to explode with the loss of all but one of her crew of 830.
After the Russo-Japanese War ended, Fuji refitted by having her fighting tops removed and new boilers installed. Fuji was part of the Japanese escort for the American Great White Fleet on the portion of its round-the-world voyage through Japanese waters. In 1910, her British-made main battery was replaced with Japanese-made guns, and she was de-rated to a first-class Coastal defence ship. The development of the Dreadnaught class battleships had made the Fuji obsolete, and she was assigned to training duties for gunners and seamen.
Far too obsolete for combat service in World War I, Fuji spent the entire war at Kure as a training vessel.
In 1922, Fuji was disarmed and stricken under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, but retained as an accommodation ship. Her propellers, main turrets, and all guns were removed, large wooden deckhouses were added to the superstructure, and flat drill platforms covered her main deck. Her hulk remained as a floating barracks and training center at Yokosuka, for over two decades.
From 1944, the old hulk was also used as a development center and observation post to test the effectiveness of various camouflage schemes on 1-meter long models of Japanese aircraft carriers. She suffered from American air raids, but remained afloat, and was broken up for scrap at Uraga Dock Company in 1948.
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