For the "Carrier Striking Task Force", see Kido Butai.

Combined Fleet (聯合艦隊, Rengō Kantai) was the main ocean-going component of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Until 1933, Combined Fleet was not a permanent organization, but a temporary force formed for the duration of a conflict or major naval maneuvers from various units normally under separate commands in peacetime.

聯合艦隊
Rengo Kantai
Combined Fleet
(Imperial Japanese Navy)
Naval ensign of the Empire of Japan.svg
Active1894–1945
Country Empire of Japan
Allegiance Emperor of Japan
Branch Imperial Japanese Navy
TypeSea-going component of Imperial Japanese Navy
EngagementsFirst Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
World War I
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Isoroku Yamamoto
Tōgō Heihachirō
Hiroyasu Fushimi
and many others
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg
Imperial Seal of Japan and Seal of the Imperial Japanese Navy

HistoryEdit

Sino-Japanese War (1894–95)Edit

Combined Fleet was formally created for the first time on 18 July 1894 by the merger of the Standing Fleet and the Western Fleet. The Standing Fleet (also known as the Readiness Fleet) contained the navy's most modern and combat-capable warships. The Western Fleet was a reserve force consisting primarily of obsolete ships deemed unsuitable for front-line combat operations, but still suitable for commerce protection and coastal defense. Vice-admiral Itō Sukeyuki was appointed the first Commander-in-Chief of Combined Fleet[1] for the duration of the first Sino-Japanese War against China.

Russo-Japanese War (1904–05)Edit

Combined Fleet was re-formed during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 to provide a unified overall command for the three separate fleets in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The IJN 1st Fleet was the main battleship force, which formed the backbone of the navy and was intended to be used in a traditional line-of-battle showdown with an equivalent enemy battleship fleet (kantai kessen). The IJN 2nd Fleet was a fast, mobile strike force with armored cruisers and protected cruisers. The IJN 3rd Fleet was primarily a reserve fleet of obsolete vessels considered too weak for front-line combat service, but which could still be used in the operation to blockade Port Arthur. Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō was commander-in-chief of Combined Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War.

Interwar yearsEdit

Combined Fleet was not maintained as a permanent organization, but was temporarily created when necessary during fleet maneuvers or when called for by extraordinary circumstances. Thus, during the period from 1905–1924, Combined Fleet was created only sporadically as the occasion or circumstances dictated, and disbanded immediately afterwards.

In 1924, the Imperial Japanese Navy declared in an edict on fleet organization that "for the time being" Combined Fleet would be a standing organization consisting of the IJN 1st Fleet and IJN 2nd Fleet. As this was not intended to be "permanent" and since the commander of IJN 1st Fleet concurrently directed Combined Fleet, Combined Fleet was not given a Headquarters staff of its own.

From 1933, with the Manchurian Incident and the increasing tension with China, a permanent HQ staff for Combined Fleet was established. By the late 1930s, it included most of Japan's warships—only the base units, the Special Naval Landing Forces, and the China Area Fleet lay outside Combined Fleet.

World War IIEdit

 
Admiral and commander-in-chief of Combined Fleet Isoroku Yamamoto

Combined Fleet came under direct command of the Imperial General Headquarters in 1937. With the start of the Pacific War with the attack on Pearl Harbor carried out by Combined Fleet's Kido Butai (1st Air Fleet), Combined Fleet became almost synonymous with the Imperial Japanese Navy. It comprised the battleships, aircraft carriers, aircraft, and the components that made up the main fighting strength of the IJN. It was first mobilized on the whole for the Battle of Midway. After the devastating carrier losses at Midway and in the Solomon Islands campaign, the navy re-organized into a number of "Area Fleets" for local operational control of various geographic zones. Combined Fleet then evolved into more of an administrative organization.

As the war situation deteriorated for the Japanese and the territories controlled by the "Area Fleets" fell one after another to the United States Navy, the Imperial General Headquarters and the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff acted to force the American fleet into a "decisive battle" in the Philippines per the kantai kessen philosophy. In the resultant Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf the Japanese fleet was severely depleted. The remnants of Combined Fleet fled to Okinawa, but further operations were hindered by lack of fuel and air cover. By the time of the final suicide mission of the battleship Yamato in Operation Ten-Go, Combined Fleet had ceased to exist as an effective combat force.

Commanders of the Combined FleetEdit

1st Creation (First Sino-Japanese War)Edit

Note: Both Commanders-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet also exercised direct command over the Standing Fleet

Commander-in-Chief Dates Previous Post Next Post Notes
1   Vice-Admiral
Itō Sukeyuki
伊藤雋吉
18 July
1894
11 May
1895
Commander-in-chief
Standing Fleet
Chairman
Navy General Staff
2   Vice-Admiral
Arichi Shinanojō
有地品之允
11 May
1895
16 November
1895
Commander-in-chief
Kure Naval District
Reserved

2nd Creation (Russo-Japanese War)Edit

Note: All Commanders-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet also exercised direct command over the 1st Fleet from Tōgō Heihachirō until Yamamoto Isoroku.
Direct command over the 1st Fleet was separated and passed to Takasu Shirō on 11 August 1941 while Admiral Yamamoto retained command of the Combined Fleet as a whole.

Commander-in-Chief Dates Previous Post Next Post Notes
3   Vice-Admiral
Tōgō Heihachirō
東郷平八郎
28 December
1903
20 December
1905
Commander-in-chief
Standing Fleet
Chairman
Navy General Staff
Promoted to Admiral 6 June 1904

Temporary Creations (1908-1921)Edit

Commander-in-Chief Dates Previous Post Next Post Notes
4   Vice-Admiral
Ijūin Gorō
伊集院五郎
8 October
1908
20 November
1908
Commander-in-chief
1st Fleet
5   Vice-Admiral
Yoshimatsu Shigetarō [ja]
吉松茂太郎
1 November
1915
13 December
1915
Commander-in-chief
1st Fleet
1 September
1916
14 October
1916
Admiral 1 October
1917
22 October
1917
6   Admiral
Yamashita Gentarō
山下源太郎
1 September
1918
15 October
1918
Commander-in-chief
1st Fleet
1 June
1919
28 October
1919
7   Admiral
Yamaya Tanin
山屋他人
1 May
1920
24 August
1920
Commander-in-chief
1st Fleet
Commander-in-chief
Yokosuka Naval District
8   Admiral
Tochinai Sojirō [ja]
栃内曽次郎
24 August
1920
31 October
1920
Vice-Minister of the Navy Commander-in-chief
1st Fleet
1 May
1921
31 October
1921
Commander-in-chief
1st Fleet

3rd Creation (1922-1945)Edit

Commander-in-Chief Dates Previous Post Next Post Notes
9   Vice-Admiral
Takeshita Isamu
竹下勇
1 December
1922
27 January
1924
Commander-in-chief
1st Fleet
Commander-in-chief
Kure Naval District
Promoted to Admiral 3 August 1923
10   Admiral
Suzuki Kantarō
鈴木貫太郎
27 January
1924
1 December
1924
Commander-in-chief
Kure Naval District
Naval Councilor
11   Admiral
Okada Keisuke
岡田啓介
1 December
1924
10 December
1926
Naval Councilor Commander-in-chief
Yokosuka Naval District
12   Vice-Admiral
Katō Hiroharu
加藤寛治
10 December
1926
10 December
1928
Commander-in-chief
Yokosuka Naval District
Naval Councilor Promoted to Admiral 1 April 1927
13   Admiral
Taniguchi Naomi [ja]
谷口尚真
10 December
1928
11 November
1929
Commander-in-chief
Kure Naval District
Commander-in-chief
Kure Naval District
14   Vice-Admiral
Yamamoto Eisuke [ja]
山本英輔
11 November
1929
1 December
1931
Commander-in-chief
Yokosuka Naval District
Naval Councilor Promoted to Admiral 1 March 1931
15   Vice-Admiral
Kobayashi Seizō
小林躋造
1 December
1931
15 November
1933
Vice-Minister of the Navy Naval Councilor Promoted to Admiral 1 April 1933
16   Vice-Admiral
Suetsugu Nobumasa
末次信正
15 November
1933
15 November
1934
Commander-in-chief
2nd Fleet
Commander-in-chief
Yokosuka Naval District
Promoted to Admiral 30 March 1934
17   Vice-Admiral
Takahashi Sankichi
高橋三吉
15 November
1934
1 December
1936
Commander-in-chief
2nd Fleet
Naval Councilor Promoted to Admiral 1 April 1936
18   Vice-Admiral
Mitsumasa Yonai
米内光政
1 December
1936
2 February
1937
Commander-in-chief
Yokosuka Naval District
Minister of the Navy
19   Admiral
Nagano Osami
永野修身
2 February
1937
1 December
1937
Minister of the Navy Naval Councilor
20   Vice-Admiral
Yoshida Zengo
吉田善吾
1 December
1937
30 August
1939
Commander-in-chief
2nd Fleet
Minister of the Navy
21   Vice-Admiral
Yamamoto Isoroku
山本五十六
30 August
1939
18 April
1943
Vice-Minister of the Navy Killed in Action Promoted to Admiral 15 November 1940
Promoted to Marshal-Admiral posthumously
Vacant 18 April
1943
21 May
1943
22   Admiral
Koga Mineichi
古賀峯一
21 May
1943
31 March
1944
Commander-in-chief
Yokosuka Naval District
Killed in Action
Promoted to Marshal-Admiral posthumously
Vacant 31 March
1944
3 May
1944
23   Admiral
Toyoda Soemu
豊田副武
3 May
1944
29 May
1945
Commander-in-chief
Yokosuka Naval District
Chairman
Navy General Staff
24   Vice-Admiral
Ozawa Jisaburō
小沢治三郎
29 May
1945
10 October
1945
Vice-Chairman
Navy General Staff
Reserved
Fleet was surrendered
Navy would be dissolved a month later.


Chief of staff

Rank Name From To
1 Captain Samejima Kazunori 19 July 1894 17 December 1894
2 Captain Dewa Shigeto 17 December 1894 25 July 1895
3 Captain Kamimura Hikonojo 25 July 1895 16 November 1895
4 Captain Shimamura Hayao 28 December 1903 12 January 1905
5 Rear Admiral Kato Tomosaburo 12 January 1905 20 December 1905
6 Rear Admiral Fujii Koichi 20 December 1905 22 November 1906
7 Captain Yamashita Gentaro 22 November 1906 10 December 1908
8 Captain Takarabe Takeshi 10 December 1908 1 December 1909
9 Rear Admiral Nomaguchi Kaneo 1 December 1909 11 March 1911
10 Captain Akiyama Saneyuki 11 March 1911 24 May 1912
11 Captain Isamu Takeshita 1 December 1912 24 May 1913
Vacant 23 May 1913 1 December 1913
12 Rear Admiral Satō Tetsutarō 1 December 1913 17 April 1914
13 Captain Kazuyoshi Yamaji 17 April 1914 1 December 1914
14 Rear Admiral Shibakichi Yamanaka 1 December 1914 13 December 1915
15 Rear Admiral Saburo Horiuchi 13 December 1915 1 December 1917
16 Rear Admiral Hanroku Saito 1 December 1917 1 December 1918
17 Rear Admiral Kajishiro Funakoshi 1 December 1918 1 December 1919
18 Rear Admiral Hansaku Yoshioka 1 December 1919 1 December 1921
19 Rear Admiral Kumazo Shirane 1 December 1921 1 December 1923
20 Rear Admiral Bekinari Kabayama 1 December 1923 10 November 1924
21 Captain Kanjiro Hara 10 November 1924 1 December 1925
22 Rear Admiral Naotaro Ominato 1 December 1925 1 November 1926
23 Rear Admiral Sankichi Takahashi 1 November 1926 1 December 1927
24 Rear Admiral Eijiro Hamano 1 December 1927 10 December 1928
25 Rear Admiral Ken Terajima 10 December 1928 30 October 1929
26 Rear Admiral Koichi Shiozawa 30 October 1929 1 December 1930
27 Rear Admiral Shigetarō Shimada 1 December 1930 1 December 1931
28 Rear Admiral Zengo Yoshida 1 December 1931 15 September 1933
29 Rear Admiral Soemu Toyoda 15 September 1933 15 March 1935
30 Rear Admiral Nobutake Kondō 15 March 1935 15 November 1935
31 Rear Admiral Naokuni Nomura 15 November 1935 16 November 1936
32 Rear Admiral Yasutaro Iwashita 16 November 1936 18 February 1937
33 Rear Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa 18 February 1937 15 November 1937
34 Rear Admiral Ibo Takahashi 15 November 1937 5 November 1939
35 Captain Shigeru Fukudome 5 November 1939 10 April 1941
36 Rear Admiral Seiichi Ito 10 April 1941 11 August 1941
37 Rear Admiral Matome Ugaki 11 August 1941 22 May 1943
38 Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome 22 May 1943 6 April 1944
39 Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka 6 April 1944 24 June 1945
40 Rear Admiral Shikazo Yano 24 June 1945 25 September 1945

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

BooksEdit

  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X.
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941–1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1.

External linksEdit