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Battle of Tsushima

Battle of Tsushima
Date of battleMay 27, 1905
ConflictRusso-Japanese War
Site of BattleStraits of Tsushima,
between Japan and Korea
Combatant 1Japan
CommandersRear Admiral Heihachiro Togo
Strength31 cruisers and battleships
Combatant 2Russia
CommandersVice Admiral
Zinovi Petrovich Rozhdestvenski,
Second Pacific Squadron
Rear Admiral Nikolai Nebogatov,
Third Pacific Squadron
Strength12 battleships
8 cruisers
ResultDecisive Japanese victory;
much of Russian Baltic fleet sunk
Casualties(1) 117 dead, 583 injured
(2): 4,380 dead, 5,917 injured
4 battleships sunk
Five ships captured
The Battle of Tsushima was the decisive sea battle of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905. It was fought on May 27-May 28 , 1905 (May 14-15 by old Julian calendar, used in Russia before the Russian Revolution). In this battle the Japanese fleet under Admiral Heihachiro Togo destroyed 2/3 of the Russian fleet under Admiral Zinovi Petrovich Rozhdestvenski.

The Japanese combined fleet and the Russian Baltic Fleet, sent over from Europe, fought in the straits between Korea and Japan near the island of Tsushima. Earlier, the Russian Pacific Fleet had been destroyed at the Battle of Shantung on August 10, 1904. The Baltic Fleet sailed through the North Sea, caused a diplomatic incident off Dogger Bank when they attacked the British fishing fleet there, and then proceeded around Africa and touched port in Indochina. The voyage was long and the crews grew less efficient and discontented. The Russians were deputed to break the blockade of Port Arthur (Lushun), but the city had already fallen before the arrival of the ships and so they tried to reach Vladivostok.

The Russians could have sailed through one of three possible straits to reach Vladivostok: La Perouse, Tsugaru, and Tsushima. Admiral Rozhedestvensky chose Tsushima in an effort to simplify his route. Admiral Togo, based at Pusan, Korea also believed Tsushima would be the preferred Russian course.

The Russian fleet was sighted when two trailing hospital ships were discovered by the Japanese cruiser fleet. The Russians sailed from south-south-west to north-north-east; the Japanese fleet from west-north-east. Admiral Togo ordered the fleet to turn in sequence (see Naval tactics), which enabled his ships to take the same course as the Russians, though risking each battleship in turn.

The two lines of battleships stabilized their distance at 6,200 meters and exchanged gunfire. The Japanese fleets had practiced gunnery continually since the beginning of the war, using sub caliber adaptors for their cannon. The Japanese had superior gunners, and hit their targets more. Furthermore, the Japanese used a different combination of gunpowder, one designed to wreck the upper works of ships. The Russians used armor-piercing rounds.

The Japanese ships could reach 16 knots, but the Russians fleet could reach only 8 knots. Togo was able to use this maneuver to "cross the T" twice.

Admiral Rozhdestvenski was knocked out of action with a shell fragment in his skull. The Russians fleet lost the Suvarov, the Oslyabya, the Alexander III, and the Borodino on May 27. Five other battleships under Admiral Nebagatov were forced to surrender the next day. Three cruisers made it to the United States naval base at Manila and were interned.

Nearly the entire Baltic fleet was lost in the battle in the Tsushima Straits.

See: History -- Military history -- List of battles -- History of Japan -- History of Russia

External links and references