The battleship Mikasa was the flagship of the Japanese fleet during the battle of Tsushima (also called Battle of the Sea of Japan) in 1905. Built at Vickers shipyard in 1900, she was one of the finest ships of the era, and the largest warship in the world at the time of her completion.
The Mikasa was commanded by Admiral Togo during Tsushima. The battle started in the afternoon of the 14th of May, with the Japanese quickly sinking a Russian battleship, the Oslyabya, and damaging several others with explosive shells. Within a few hours, the Russians escaped thanks to heavy mist and smoke covering the area. At dusk the Mikasa caught up with the main group again, and quickly sank several more Russian ships, including the battleships The Emperor Alexander III and the Borodino.
Later that evening, Togo gave the command to cease shelling and had his 30 destroyers attack the remaining ships at close range with torpedoes. The result was utter destruction within the Russian fleet, including the sinking of several of the Russian's remaining battleships. By the end of the next day, almost all of the Russian fleet had either sunk, been scuttled by their crews, or had managed to escape back home. Total losses in the battle were 5,045 dead and 6,106 captured Russian sailors. 699 Japanese sailors also died in the battle.
The Mikasa came out of the battle relatively undamaged, despite being hit over 40 times by 6 and 12-inch shells. The majority of these were in the first 40 minutes of the battle. Whether the Mikasa's survival was a result of high quality armor or low quality Russian shells is debated by historians.
Shortly after this battle, Nicholas II of Russia agreed to peace negotiations, resulting in the Portsmouth Treaty of August 1905, wherein Japan was given control of the Kwantung Peninsula. The disconent resulting from this humiliating loss helped fuel the Russian Revolution.
On September 12, 1905 a magazine explosion killed 114 of her crew and sank the Mikasa at her moorings. The ship was refloated and repaired the next summer. After the Treaty of Washington was signed in 1922, the Mikasa was disarmed and became a commemorative ship in 1926: she is now anchored at Yokoshuka harbor.
Trivia: Mikasa is named after Mt. Mikasa. She was sunk during World War II by American bombers, but was raised and repaired.
You can see a few pictures of the ship at
(link current as of September 29, 2003).
- Displacement: 15,140 tons
- Max speed: 18 knots
- Guns: 4 12-inch and 14 6-inch guns