Tokyobling's Blog

Kure Shipyard – Birthplace of the Battleship Yamato

Posted in Places by tokyobling on October 5, 2015

The most famous ship to ever come out of the most famous shipyard in Japan, is without a doubt the mighty Battleship Yamato who launched on August 8th 1940. The Kure Shipyard (or the Kure Naval Arsenal as it was named at the time) had to undergo special modification to allow the biggest battleship ever built at the time. Today the huge dock is marked with the text “Birthplace of the Yamato” (a lose translation of the Japanese 大和のふるさと). The first ship to be launched from here was in 1898, a relatively small unprotected cruiser by the name of Myiyako. Today the old Naval Arsenal is the home of a commercial civilian constructor, the Japan Marine United, and as I passed I could see a couple of large ships being constructed, possible container ships, ferries, tankers or gas carriers. I have no idea really.

The Kure Shipyard is the focus point of the city of Kure in Hiroshima Prefecture in Western Japan. At one point the entire city was supplying labor to the giant shipyard and everyone around here had family members either serving in the Navy or building ships for them. During the construction of the Yamato, the workers and management took construction secrecy so seriously that houses having windows towards the shipyard were blocked out to prevent even accidental viewing of the ship.

70% of the shipyard and most of the remaining fleet of Japan was destroyed during a series of massive and completely pointless bombing raids in late July 1945, even though at that point the fleet was already out of commission due to fuel shortages. The USAAF lost 133 bombers in the attack from the concentrated anti-aircraft defenses in the area, the majority of all Third Fleet aircraft losses during the entire war.

If you pass Kure and want to see the birthplace of the Yamato yourself it is possible to either take a bus from the station or the Yamato museum, or you can simply walk up here, although it is a little far the city center.

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