1⁄1IJN Ship Mikasa
During a recent visit to Yokosuka, Japan, my wife was indulgent enough to allow me to spend some time at the Mikasa Battleship. Mikasa is a pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the late 1890s, and was the only ship of her class. She is the last remaining example of a pre-dreadnought battleship anywhere in the world. The ship served as the flagship of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō throughout the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war and the Battles of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima. Less than a week after the end of the war, Mikasa's magazine exploded and sank the ship. She was salvaged and her repairs took over two years to complete. The ship supported Japanese forces during the Siberian Intervention in the Russian Civil War. The ship was decommissioned on 23 September 1923 following the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and scheduled for destruction. However, at the request of the Japanese government, each of the signatory countries to the treaty agreed that Mikasa could be preserved as a memorial ship. On 12 November 1926, Mikasa was opened for display in Yokosuka in the presence of the Crown Prince, Prince Hirohito and Admiral Tōgō. Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, the ship deteriorated, but was restored after another campaign led by the Japan Times and Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz that allowed the ship to reopen in 1961. On 5 August 2009, the Mikasa was repainted by sailors from the USS Nimitz. She currently sits permanently encased in cement at the water’s edge of a park bearing her name in Yokosuka Harbor. Although much of the ship is inaccessible to visitors, many of the spaces have been converted into a museum commemorating the ship and the men who sailed her. The central gallery features a wide array of maritime memorabilia from the period, and one passageway has an extensive collection of scale models of every type and class of vessel to have served in Japan’s maritime forces.
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