Mikasa is a
pre-Dreadnought battleship, formerly of the Imperial Japanese Navy,
launched in Britain in 1900. She served as the flagship of Admiral
Tōgō Heihachirō during the Battle of the Yellow Sea on 10 August
1904, and the Battle of Tsushima on 27 May 1905 during the
Russo-Japanese War. Currently, she is preserved as a museum ship at
Yokosuka. Mikasa is the last remaining example of a pre-dreadnought
battleship anywhere in the world. She was named after Mount Mikasa
in Nara, Japan.
Following the 1894–1895 First Sino-Japanese War, and the forced
return of the Liaodong Peninsula to China under Russian pressure,
Japan began to build up its military strength in preparation for
further confrontations. In particular, Japan promulgated a ten-year
naval build-up program, with the construction of six battleships and
six armored cruisers at its core.
One of these battleships, Mikasa, was ordered from the Vickers
shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, United Kingdom at the end of 1898,
for delivery to Japan in 1902. She took three years to complete, at
the great cost of £880,000 (8.8 million yen).
That same year Japan also secured diplomatic and strategic support,
by concluding the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance with the world's
strongest naval power. The United Kingdom shared Japan's wish to
contain Russian expansionism in the Far East, especially to protect
its interests in China and India.
A state of the art battleship
At the time of her delivery, Mikasa was a state of the art vessel of
the pre-dreadnought era, achieving an unprecedented combination of
firepower and protective strength. She was adapted from the Royal
Navy's latest Majestic class design, with increased displacement
(15,140 tonnes against 14,900), improved speed (18 knots against
17), slightly stronger armament (two more 6 inch guns), and much
stronger armour: she kept the same armour thicknesses but used high
performance Krupp armour, around 50% stronger compared to the Harvey
armour used by the Majestic class.
Ordered: 26 September 1898
Builder: Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness, United Kingdom
Laid down: 24 January 1899
Launched: 8 November 1900
Commissioned: 1 March 1902
Decommissioned: 20 September 1923
Status: Transformed as a memorial ship