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Japanese cruiser Chokai
|Armament:||ten 8" guns, eight 5" guns, sixteen torpedo tubes|
Chokai was a Takao-class heavy cruiser, armed with ten 8" guns, eight 5" guns, sixteen torpedo tubes and assorted anti-aircraft guns. Chokai was designed with the Imperial Japanese Navy strategy of the Decisive Battle in mind, and built in 1932 by Mitsubishi's shipyard in Nagasaki.
At the start of the Pacific War, Chokai supported the invasion of Malaya and participated in the pursuit of the Royal Navy's Force Z. During January and February of 1942, the Chokai was involved in operations to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies and the island of Borneo. Steaming near Cape St. Jacques , the Chokai struck a reef, sustaining hull damage on February 22 1943. On the 27th, she reached Singapore for repairs.
After repairs, Chokai was once again tasked with a supporting role in an invasion, this time the landings at Iri, Sumatra and the invasion of the Andaman Islands and the seizure of Port Blair a few days later. Afterwords, Chokai pulled into Mergui , Burma.
On April 1, 1942, Chokai left Mergui to participate in Operation C , a raid on merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean. Chokai torpedoed and sank the American freighter Bienville and later the British steamship Ganges on April 6. Her role in the operation successfully concluded, Chokai returned to Yokosuka on April 22.
By mid-July, Chokai was the new flagship of Vice Admiral Mikawa Gunichi and his Eighth Fleet. It proceeded towards Rabaul. On August 7, Guadalcanal having been invaded by the Americans, Chokai headed for Guadalcanal, Vice Admiral Mikawa aboard. In the battle of Savo Island Mikawa's squadron inflicted a devastating defeat on an Allied squadron, sinking three cruisers and damaging other ships. However, Chokai sustained several hits from Quincy and Astoria, blowing off one of her turrets and killing 34 men. Chokai returned to Rabual for temporary repairs. For the rest of the Guadalcanal campaign, Chokai would pull an assortment of duties, sustaining varied, but minor, damage.
Relieved as Eighth Fleet flagship shortly after the final evacuation of Guadalcanal, Chokai headed back to Yokosuka on February 20, 1943. Tasked with various minor duties for the remainder of 1943 and first half of 1944, Chokai was made flagship of Cruiser Division Four on August 3, 1944. She survived a harrowing submarine attack on October 23, becoming the only undamaged ship of Cruiser Division Four. Chokai was then transferred to Cruiser Division Five, where she survived another vicious attack on October 24, this time by aircraft. On the morning of October 25, Chokai, supporting many other cruisers and battleships, engaged an American force of escort carriers, destroyers and destroyer escorts in the battle off Samar. Taken under 5-inch gunfire by the destroyers and destroyer escorts, the Chokai was hit amidships, starboard side, most likely by the USS Kalinin Bay. A secondary explosion caused by the armed torpedoes on her decks knocked out the engines and rudder. Chokai dropped out of formation.
Within minutes, an American aircraft dropped 500 lb a bomb on her forward machinery room. Fires began to rage around the Chokai and she went dead in the water. Later that day she was scuttled by torpedoes from the destroyer Fujinami .
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