Wako & Chinese Naval Battle

Wako & Chinese Naval Battle

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

The First Sino-Japanese War

From August 1, 1894, to April 17, 1895, the Qing Dynasty of China fought against the Meiji Japanese Empire over who should control late Joseon-era Korea, ending in a decisive Japanese victory. As a result, Japan added the Korean Peninsula to its sphere of influences and gained Formosa (Taiwan), the Penghu Island, and the Liaodong Peninsula outright.

This did not come without loss. Approximately 35,000 Chinese soldiers were killed or wounded in the battle while Japan only lost 5,000 of its fighters and service people. Worse yet, this would not be the end of tensions, the Second Sino-Japanese War started in 1937, part of the first actions of World War II.

Why China Is Looking To The History Books To Sink The U.S. Navy

Here's What You Need To Remember: Whether or not we accept Gu’s interpretations of history and his not-so-subtle critiques of current diplomacy on both sides of the Pacific, we can all at least agree that it is profoundly positive that scholars at China’s most prestigious universities are poring over this history in painstaking detail to gain insights into how and why great powers can unwittingly blunder into catastrophic wars.

Grave tensions in Russo-Turkish relations serve as a timely reminder that great power tensions can spiral downward all too rapidly. Diplomats in Washington, Ankara, Moscow and throughout Europe should be concentrating on how to keep the “new Cold War” from going hot. The troubling escalation spiral in the Black Sea region has echoes in East Asia, of course, where Beijing and Washington have been attempting with only limited success to manage intensifying great-power competition for the last two decades.

More than a few scholars have pointed out the importance of analogies in structuring elite perceptions and misperceptions concerning evolving rivalries. With the centenary of the First World War, a new research agenda has blossomed with bountiful comparisons between 1914 and the present era. In this column, I have made the case that it will be essential to try to understand Chinese perspectives on these analogies. Keeping the upcoming hundredth anniversary of the Jutland battle—the largest single naval engagement of World War I—close in mind, this edition of Dragon Eye will explore a Chinese analysis of the pre–World War I Anglo-German rivalry, and in particular the role of Berlin’s “big navy” [大海军] buildup in sparking the catastrophic bloodletting.

The author, Gu Quan from Peking University, of the article published in a mid-2015 edition of Asia-Pacific Security and Maritime Research [亚太安全与海洋研究] entitled “Prejudice, Distrust and Sea Power: Discussing the Reversal and Influence of Pre-WWI Anglo-German Relations” suggests numerous times at the outset that the historical lessons may well be applicable to contemporary U.S.-China relations. But he is somewhat reticent about making explicit and detailed comparisons. Rather, as is quite frequently the case in Chinese academic writing, certain threads are perhaps intentionally left untied, so that it is up to the reader to draw their own conclusions. Still, one plausible reading of this article is that it represents an impressively candid and rather dark appraisal of Beijing’s present foreign policy direction. However, a complete understanding of the paper’s argument illustrates the author’s appreciation that it is the complex intermingling of mounting “strategic prejudice” [战略偏见] on both sides of the Pacific that makes U.S.-China relations ever more precarious.

To be sure, the singular focus in the paper on Germany’s prewar naval buildup as the most severe irritant in the relationship most likely bespeaks a critique of the urgent striving increasingly evident in China’s shipyards over the last decade. In a seeming echo of recent Chinese strategic assessments, the author notes that the German Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz had bemoaned his country’s historical “neglect of sea power” [忽略海权]. Berlin’s big navy project reflected a turn away from the more cautious policies of Bismarck toward a new “daring” [敢] approach that might employ the threat of force or “blackmail” [敲诈] for the purpose of “yielding diplomatic victories,” that would also pay dividends in German domestic politics. Thus, Tirpitz’s grand fleet is interpreted in this Chinese rendering as the key enabler for Berlin’s new Weltpolitik [世界政策].

Gu demonstrates ample familiarity with the dynamics of the Anglo-German rivalry. The Chinese scholar relates how the naval arms race accelerated dangerously after Germany embarked on building its own Dreadnought-class battleship [无畏舰] in 1908–9. At that point, London was forced to rely more on the “quantity” [量] than the “quality” [质] of its vessels to outpace Berlin’s fleet development. A closely related strategic rebalance led the Royal Navy to enhance naval partnerships, not just with France, but with the United States and Japan as well, in order to ensure its quantitative superiority in home waters. England also pursued naval organizational reform and combat planning. All these measures caused Germany’s naval development to be “hard-pressed,” [吃紧] and “confronting the daily increasing threat posed by the British Navy, the German Navy diligently surmounted every kind of difficulty…” Still, Gu maintains that Germany’s crash naval building program was built on a variety of bogus premises, including especially “blind optimism” [盲目乐观]. Then, there was the mistaken belief in Berlin that France, Russia and Britain would never really succeed in cooperating. According to Gu, the Kaiser and other German leaders deluded themselves with grand naval visions, believing that “landing a big fish requires a long line” [放长线钓大鱼] and, further, that “time was on their side.”

On the other hand, this Chinese scholar does not place all the blame on Berlin, but sees London as also culpable for “strategic prejudice.” Gu observes that, to London’s credit, its approach to Berlin, at least initially, was not simply “meeting force with force” [硬碰硬], and even had elements of trying “to convert an enemy to a friend” [化敌为友]. Yet the “German threat theory” gradually gained adherents in Britain, nourished by thinkers like Eyre Crowe, the British diplomat discussed in some detail in the wise conclusion of Henry Kissinger’s tome On China. Underlining the importance of this analogy, by the way, is the interesting revelation from a citation in Gu’s article that the Crowe Memorandum has been translated into Mandarin by Guangxi Normal University and was published two years ago.

In 1909, writes Gu, London developed an acute case of “naval panic” [海军恐慌] as the Anglo-German rivalry became a “contest of life and death” [生死较量]. In this atmosphere, London not only took measures to strengthen the fleet, but energetically reinforced its alliance with France and Russia. However, Gu suggests that London went wrong in that it ceased to consider Germany’s actual intentions, and started to push its “Entente policy” [协约政治] as an end in itself rather than a means to an end. Moreover, Gu notes that the Royal Navy’s hypothetical role in a European great power military struggle was thought to include either blockading or bottling up the German fleet, thus limiting Britain’s exposure and constituting a form of “low-cost” [廉价] military intervention. Obviously, that line of thinking proved gravely inaccurate. Ultimately, this appraisal faults Britain for placing its alliances above all else and thus taking a myopic “one-size-fits-all” [一刀切] approach to great power diplomacy.

While the Chinese author does not take the next step and directly compare the historical policies elaborated above to contemporary diplomacy as practiced by Washington or Beijing within their nascent rivalry, some historical echoes are obvious. Perhaps U.S. leaders have fallen into a kind of spiral of “naval panic,” within which intensifying alliance diplomacy seems the only option, but that carries definite (if somewhat veiled) risks of escalation and entrapment? Even more likely, it seems logical that the piece is primarily intended as a critique of Beijing’s own readily apparent “big navy” strategy in support of Weltpolitik with Chinese characteristics.

Whether or not we accept Gu’s interpretations of history and his not-so-subtle critiques of current diplomacy on both sides of the Pacific, we can all at least agree that it is profoundly positive that scholars at China’s most prestigious universities are poring over this history in painstaking detail to gain insights into how and why great powers can unwittingly blunder into catastrophic wars. At a minimum, this tendency should inspire new interest in China’s proposed “new-type great power relations” [新型大国关系]—a concept unwisely rejected some time ago by the Washington foreign policy establishment.

The Chinese Navy's Missing Years

The Chinese Navy has gone global. Tasked with implementing a national security strategy focused on great power competition, U.S. naval strategists today are working to place China, the pacing maritime competitor, in historical context. Unfortunately, even well-informed U.S. observers often have an incomplete understanding of Chinese naval history.

While many U.S. observers know of Sun Tzu or the voyages of Zheng He, professional understanding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) largely begins in the 1980s during the tenure of PLAN Commander Liu Huaqing. Liu’s 2004 memoirs describe his dream of building an aircraft carrier, something China’s limited economic development made impossible during his service. 1 Nevertheless, Liu’s broad vision has earned him the sobriquet “father of the modern Chinese Navy,” with Admiral Wu Shengli, the opinionated and driving commander of the PLAN from 2006 to 2017, recalled as the workman who made the vision into reality. 2

Missing from this narrative are the decades between the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 and the start of Liu’s tenure. The image of the early PLAN as a limited coastal navy, hobbled by political purges, sporting Maoist green uniforms with no rank insignia, appears to have little relevance to the professional PLAN encountered at sea today. These years, however, were critical in forming the PLAN’s identity and institutional culture. Trying to understand the PLAN without reference to this period is akin to trying to understand the U.S. Navy without considering the Cold War or the Korean or Vietnam conflicts.

Born in Fire

While there were maritime operations during the Chinese Civil War, the conflict created little demand for an enduring communist naval force. As in most previous Chinese domestic conflicts, maritime combat in the Civil War focused on China’s extensive network of navigable rivers. The land and maritime domains were intertwined, and coastal waters represented a route for operational movement that typically favored the opposing Nationalist forces. When necessary, riverine forces were improvised from within the PLA.

On 23 April 1949, the PLA formally tasked the East China Military Command to establish a navy. On its first day in existence, the PLAN mustered three vehicles and 13 personnel. 3 Defecting Nationalist naval forces, however, quickly swelled the ranks of the new force. The limited successes of this first effort are recalled with pride by the PLAN as a work of improvisation and cast-iron determination.

The three decades following 1949 can be divided into three periods. The initial experience of the PLAN was one of continued combat operations. The Nationalist adversary survived because of its sea power advantage, evacuating forces to areas of relative safety—ultimately to an enduring bastion on Formosa. For decades after, they exploited the relative sanctuary of offshore islands to support raids on the mainland coast. The communists sought to isolate and seize these offshore Nationalist strongholds. This period also saw formal relations between the PLAN and the Soviet Navy, which provided training and technical assistance. By 1960, U.S. observers described the PLAN as “the largest and most capable indigenous naval force in East Asia.” 4

The Sino-Soviet split of 1960 marked the start of the second period of PLAN history. For PLAN leaders, the schism drove self-reliance and indigenous production. The PLAN also found itself enmeshed in social upheaval and the Cultural Revolution, with significant effects on personal and institutional outlooks that continue to the present.

By the early 1970s, Mao Zedong’s permanent revolution gave way to relative social stability, paving the way for the period of reform and opening up. The PLAN turned its efforts to perfecting the processes and structures that eventually would give the People’s Republic a true oceangoing navy. Through each of these periods, the influence of Mao, “the Great Helmsman” of the Chinese Communist Party, was direct and critical.

The Things They Carry

These three decades represent the formative professional experiences of the leaders who created the modern PLAN and of the generation that trained the current PLAN senior leadership. In these early years, they established the institutional roots of the navy U.S. forces encounter today. This legacy continues to affect the PLAN in ways both positive and problematic. Some of the most significant include:

1. A tradition of combat. It is common to hear U.S. observers note that the PLA has not engaged in significant combat since 1979. While true, the statement belies the PLAN’s considerable combat experience in its first three decades—experience that shaped its traditions and identity.

On the day it was founded, the PLAN joined a brutal armed struggle already more than 30 years old. The fledgling force could not prevent the Nationalists from using their remaining sea power to flee to Formosa. It did, however, eventually defeat the Nationalist blockade and end coastal raids and infiltration of special forces and agents. One of its key successes was protecting PRC coastal fishing, which routinely was harassed and seized by Nationalist Navy units.

While the communist leadership always kept strict political control of confrontation with the United States, the PLAN found itself trading fire with U.S. Navy forces repeatedly in its first decades. In 1954, PLAN aircraft escorting a Polish-flagged merchant vessel in PRC service attacked U.S. Navy aircraft over the South China Sea.5 During the Vietnam War, the PLAN did not confront U.S. forces in the Gulf of Tonkin, but when U.S. forces intruded into PRC territory, PLAN aircraft engaged. 6 Even when unsuccessful, these engagements are remembered for their audacity. One Western scholar observed that “the PLA Navy has never engaged in a major war at sea,” but the same scholar notes that the PLAN claims to have sunk or damaged 415 enemy ships and 205 aircraft between 1949 and 1988. 7 Current PLAN sailors do not feel a lack of battle honors when they reflect on their heritage.

2. Nascent joint operations. When Chinese President Xi Jinping announced sweeping reforms of the PLA command structure in December 2015, many assessed China was getting serious about joint operations, reforming military structures traditionally dominated by the ground forces. Most foreign commentary focused on how the PLA would cope with this new and unfamiliar joint collaboration. PLAN officers, however, routinely cite the 1950s island seizures conducted by the PLA as an early example of joint operations. Western scholars often dismiss these “rudimentary” joint operations, but contemporary U.S. military observers were more impressed. U.S. military advisers to Taiwan observing the 1955 PLA amphibious seizure of Yijiangshan Island reported “PRC forces had complete mastery of the air and generally conducted the complex operation in a flawless textbook fashion.” 8 Perfecting joint command and control remains a work in progress in the PLA, but it is clear PLAN officers believe joint warfighting is not foreign territory.

3. Expert over red. Throughout its history, the PLA has struggled to balance political loyalty and reliability (being “red”) and technical competence (being “expert”), mirroring tension across Chinese society. During the Civil War, PLA ground forces routed better-equipped and often larger Nationalist formations largely because PLA units kept their integrity and motivation throughout their campaigns. PLA leaders attributed this edge to ideological preparation and political commitment.

Because naval forces depend on technology in a way different from ground forces, the PLAN faced a special challenge in reconciling ideology and technical competence. The PLAN was built from a union of politically committed PLA cadre and technically competent defectors from the Nationalist Navy. Only these trained Nationalist sailors had the essential technical skill to repair and operate the captured and defecting ships that formed the early PLAN fleet. The PLAN created schools for the political training of former Nationalist officers and sailors in some cases, these officers remained in positions of trust for decades.

One of the best informed observers of the PLAN in its early years suggests that the navy maintained a culture that prized technical expertise in the face of the most severe “red” campaigns. While the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution shut universities and savaged the educated classes, the PLAN kept a competent core element relatively intact. This state of affairs could have occurred only with Mao’s influence. When founding PLAN commander Xiao Jingguang was criticized because of his Civil War ties to Lin Biao, power devolved to his staff, but he was never removed from his post. A previous PLAN political commissar, Su Zhenhua, was one of the first officials to be rehabilitated by Mao in 1972 and, more significantly, was simultaneously restored to power as PLAN deputy commander. 9

This complicated institutional heritage will be critical in the Xi Jinping era. Since 1999, rapid modernization and the challenge of high-tech warfare focused the PLA on technical competence. Xi has returned politics to the fore, using the imagery of the early days of the PLA to re-create what one Western expert has called the “Gutian spirit” (after the pivotal 1929 meeting that established the Communist Party’s primacy over the PLA). 10 His anticorruption campaign, officially intended to ensure a clean work style across party ranks, has removed or arrested hundreds of senior PLA officers. While the PLAN has endured and even prospered through periods of political rectification, current PLAN leadership will need to continue the delicate balancing act their predecessors mastered.

4. The significance of People’s War and the Maritime Militia. The PLAN inherited the larger PLA’s doctrine of People’s War. Adapting this concept to the maritime domain, the early PLAN enlisted the fishing fleet in the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia. This effort dovetailed with party efforts to establish political control over China’s large and mobile coastal populations. With units assigned to coastal sentry posts, the Maritime Militia provided an extended early warning system against Nationalist coastal incursions and raids.

Many Western observers have suggested that there is a long-standing tension between developing the Maritime Militia and a professional and technically competent PLAN. The early PLAN, however, invested both resources and prestige in the Maritime Militia and the People’s War narrative. With the PRC’s current focus on “maritime rights protection” in the South China Sea and against Japan, the narrative of People’s War continues to have power. An increasingly professional Maritime Militia structure remains as an acknowledged auxiliary of the PLAN and a friend of PRC fishermen in the face of foreign harassment. 11

5. Warfare as science. The impact of Soviet assistance to the PLAN was significant and complex. Even during the periods of closest cooperation, Chinese leaders maintained a strong independent streak, seeking technology transfer and indigenous production of military systems wherever possible. The most enduring Soviet influence, however, remains the Marxist-Leninist understanding of warfare that Soviet advisers and instructors inculcated in PLA leaders. That process began in the 1920s when Soviet advisers taught the first Chinese cadre at Whampoa Military Academy. Xiao Jingguang, the first commander of the PLAN, enrolled with the original Whampoa class and later studied in the Soviet Union. 12 The Soviet advisers who shaped the first PLAN leaders built on this legacy.

The Marxist-Leninist view of warfare focuses on military science where Western practitioners focus on military art, which creates an objective analytic approach to warfare. While the PLA has developed and adapted Marxist thinking in the almost century since the first Soviet instructors arrived, it still defines its basic approach to warfare as a “Marxist view of strategy with Chinese characteristics.” 13 The result is that the PLAN, like its Soviets predecessors, practices a style of warfare heavily based on what Westerners would call operations research. This focus has a real impact on PLAN forces and doctrine. For example, the belief that warfare has complex but discernible rules likely produces a military more accepting of automating command functions. 14

6. Always be defensive—offensively. “Active defense” has been a cornerstone of PRC military doctrine since its founding, with Deng Xiaoping formalizing the concept in 1979. 15 A touchstone of PRC identity is that the country has never engaged in aggressive warfare. It has, however, initiated the use of force on a number of occasions, actions that appeared to outside observers as offensive or preemptive. The doctrine of active defense asserts that the PRC may use force against actors with hostile intent or who have initiated hostilities in other domains—including the political domain.

The PLAN’s early actions in defense of the PRC contributed to this doctrine and developed the tactical habits that the PLAN still exercises. Faced with a Nationalist foe operating ships that were larger and individually more capable, the PLAN operated its smaller, faster coastal units to concentrate forces rapidly and strike unexpectedly at exposed units. In 1965, for example, the PLAN savaged three larger Nationalist units in successive ambushes. 16 The PLAN’s 1974 seizure of the South Vietnamese–held Paracel Islands followed a similar pattern, with PLAN forces rapidly establishing local superiority and initiating use of force. The result has been described as a “tactical mugging.”

This tradition of offensive action continues to color PLAN operations. While its platforms have more range and endurance and its weapons longer reach, the PLAN’s tactical mind-set flows from an assumption of relative weakness mitigated by aggressive tactical action—always in the service of a politically defensive campaign.

7. Improvise and do hard stuff. Despite starting in a poor and technically backward nation, the early PLAN aspired to technical programs and operations beyond any reasonable assessment of its capabilities. During the Cultural Revolution, a time when China could scarcely maintain the basic functions of society, the PLAN sustained a national-level ballistic-missile submarine program. “Program 401” began in 1968 and delivered a nuclear attack submarine in 1974. The Xia-class SSBN was delivered in 1981, the result of almost 25 years of research and development. In Western circles, this nuclear submarine program commonly is remembered as an example of wasted effort in the service of capricious political guidance. In PLAN circles, however, the program is remembered for its audacity even as its technical shortfalls are acknowledged—much in the way the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) or the Poseidon submarine-launched ballistic missile program is remembered within the U.S. Navy. 17

The PLAN’s tradition of audacity extends beyond technical developments. While routine PLAN operations before 1980 were limited in geographic range and duration, the Navy was capable of limited operations beyond its comfort zone. These “heroic” operations included sending a Romeo-class submarine into the Pacific in 1976. 18 The heroic period of PLAN development culminated in 1980, when 18 PLAN vessels deployed across the Pacific in support of a CSS-X-4 intercontinental ballistic-missile test. 19 This broad ocean area deployment anticipated the deployment of the counterpiracy task forces to the Middle East in 2008. Western analysts focused on the challenge of these unprecedented operations only to be astonished when the PLAN succeeded in meeting its tasking.

8. Keep a long-term outlook. The last element the PLAN established in its early years was a willingness to think long term. The PLAN grew up serving a party that made sweeping revolutionary claims about the trajectory of history. Long-term aspirations made sense because the revolutionary ideology asserted that the long-term future was ensured. Today, the Chinese Communist Party no longer asserts a revolutionary ideology. It does, however, make similar claims about the ultimate “Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.” 20 In this context, Liu Huaqing’s unattainable 1980s vision of a PLAN aircraft carrier or the 1960s attempts to build a nuclear submarine become turn points on a chart of a different scale.

The Dangers of Forgetting

The dangers of ignoring or dismissing the PLAN’s past are real and many. Analysts working to understand PLAN operations should understand the role of the Communist Party committee on board a PLAN vessel—and thus the influence of ideology in the service. They also should recall what a determined navy can achieve. In 2007, a U.S. Navy admiral offered to assist the PLAN in developing its aircraft carrier program, stating that the U.S. Navy “would, if [the Chinese] choose to develop [an aircraft carrier program], help them to the degree that they seek.” 21 The offer was grounded in senior U.S. Navy officers’ widespread belief that aircraft carrier operations were too difficult for a navy so primitive. Such an assessment was tenable only in ignorance of the PLAN’s record of determined accomplishment in the face of adversity. That ahistorical hubris continued to mark U.S. Navy assessments of PLAN current and future capabilities through the following decade, only recently crumbling in the face of continued demonstrations of PLAN technical capability, operational competence, and institutional determination.

Missing Years Only to Us

The United States’ PLAN counterparts, of course, do not labor under this ignorance. The first three decades of the PLAN are central to their culture, structure, and self-image. It was no coincidence that the first PLAN counterpiracy task force sailed for the Gulf of Aden on 26 December 2008—Mao’s birthday. 22 The Great Helmsman’s shadow remains over the People’s Navy. PLAN naval officers know this history and live with its consequences.

Battle of the Yalu River

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Articles such as this one were acquired and published with the primary aim of expanding the information on Britannica.com with greater speed and efficiency than has traditionally been possible. Although these articles may currently differ in style from others on the site, they allow us to provide wider coverage of topics sought by our readers, through a diverse range of trusted voices. These articles have not yet undergone the rigorous in-house editing or fact-checking and styling process to which most Britannica articles are customarily subjected. In the meantime, more information about the article and the author can be found by clicking on the author’s name.

Questions or concerns? Interested in participating in the Publishing Partner Program? Let us know.

Battle of the Yalu River, also called the Battle of the Yellow Sea, (17 September 1894), large naval engagement and decisive Japanese victory in the Korea Bay, part of the first Sino-Japanese War. In the second half of the nineteenth century, Japan and China put major resources into creating modern navies of armored steamships with guns firing explosive shells. Their battle at the Yalu River in 1894 revealed that the imperial Japanese navy had become a formidable fighting force.

China and Japan went to war over Korea. The Korean Joseon dynasty traditionally accepted the overlordship of Qing dynasty China. By the 1890s, however, Japan was seeking to bring Korea under its own domination.

In 1894, both China and Japan sent troops into Korea. The Koreans had the better of the land fighting, which moved up to the China-Korea border at the Yalu River. On 17 September, a Japanese naval force—under Admiral Sukeyuki Ito—attempted to intercept Chinese troopships heading into the river mouth. The Chinese northern fleet, commanded by Admiral Ting Juchang, was defending the troop landings. The rival warships, of roughly equal strength on paper, steamed into battle. It was one of the first naval engagements between such modern ships.

Combatants were stunned by the sheer violence of the gunfire as explosive shells rained down. The Japanese gunners had superior training, their munitions were of better quality, and their ships were handled with confidence and aggression. The Chinese had failed to grasp the need for anti-fire precautions, and the flammable paint on their ships ignited too easily. The Japanese flagship, Matsushima, was badly damaged when an onboard ammunition store exploded, but by nightfall the Chinese had lost five ships. Short of ammunition and shocked by the experience of modern naval warfare, the Japanese allowed Admiral Ting to escape with his surviving vessels to the fortified harbor of Weihaiwei.

Losses: Chinese, 5 ships lost, 1,350 casualties Japanese, no ships lost, 380 casualties.

The Battle of Tsushima Strait

During the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian Baltic Fleet is nearly destroyed at the Battle of Tsushima Strait. The decisive defeat, in which only 10 of 45 Russian warships escaped to safety, convinced Russian leaders that further resistance against Japan’s imperial designs for East Asia was hopeless.

On February 8, 1904, following the Russian rejection of a Japanese plan to divide Manchuria and Korea into spheres of influence, Japan launched a surprise naval attack against Port Arthur, a Russian naval base in China. It was the first major battle of the 20th century, and the Russian fleet was decimated. During the subsequent war, Japan won a series of decisive victories over the Russians, who underestimated the military potential of its non-Western opponent. In January 1905, the strategic naval base of Port Arthur fell to Japanese naval and ground forces under Admiral Heihachiro Togo, and in March Russian troops were defeated at Shenyang, China, by Japanese Field Marshal Iwao Oyama.

Respective Strengths

On paper, the Chinese advantage with big guns and armour was completed by the presence of Western naval advisors: Prussian Army Major Constantin von Hanneken, appointed to Admiral Ding Ruchang and W. F. Tyler, (Royal Navy Reserve) his assistant. Philo McGiffin (former U.S. Navy ensign, Weihaiwei naval academy instructor) appointed to Jingyuan as co-commander. It seems however that the gunners did not had sufficient practice, a result of a serious lack of ammunition. The fleet was arranged in a line facing southward, with the two battleships in the center. There was another group of four ships, that had to catch up and would not be ready before 14:30.

The Japanese Combined Fleet comprised, in addition of the flying squadron described above (Yoshino, Takachiho, Akitsushima, and Naniwa, under command of Tsuboi Kōzō), consisted in a main fleet: Cruisers Matsushima (flagship), Chiyoda, Itsukushima, Hashidate, ironclads Fusō and Hiei, under command of Admiral Itō Sukeyuki.

Japanese Ironclad Fuso (1877), after rebuilt at Yokosuka (July 1894). Slower, she was heavily engaged, hit many times by 6-inch (152 mm) shells, but none penetrated.

Three protagonists of the battle: Baron Tsuboi Kozo (Jap. combined fleet), Admiral Ding Ruchang (Beiyang Fleet) and co-commander Philo Mc Giffin (here at the hospital after the battle). He became a national celebrity in the US after the war.

Wako & Chinese Naval Battle - History

The U.S. naval presence in China dates from the earliest days of the republic: the 'Empress of China' arrived in Canton in 1784, the first ship flying the new U.S. flag to enter the China trade. Extensive interests in China have continued to form the heart of U.S. Pacific policy to this day.

The United States was not a participant in the mid-19th century wars against China, but it was quick to take advantage of China's undoing. Indeed, during the Second Opium War, in 1858, U.S. Commodore Josiah Tattnall justified open support of his British counterpart with the statement that "blood is thicker than water," ignoring the fact that the United States was not at war with China. And U.S. warships continued to follow their Royal Navy cousins on China's waterways.

The USS Susquehanna was the first U.S. warship to steam up the mighty Yangtze River, in 1853 a motley collection of ships followed over the years, typically those fit for no other duty. One was the USS Palos, the first gunboat to bear this name. Her arrival on the Yangtze in 1871 drew the scornful opinion of her fleet commander Rear Admiral T. A. Jenkins, that:

"she burns a great quantity of coal, is slow, and draws too much water to go to many places that a gunboat of her tonnage should be able to reach neither her appearance nor her battery is calculated to produce respect for her."

Until six river gunboats were designed and built in Shanghai in 1926, U.S. naval and diplomatic officers, businessmen, and missionaries in China made such remarks frequently.

Early in the 20th century, U.S. interests in China continued to increase, as businessmen and missionaries expanded their solicitation efforts. This accelerated activity in a China torn by revolt and unrest led to demands for increased naval presence, which was formalized in the creation of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet (and the Yangtze River Patrol) in December 1922. Service on the Yangtze, a river of 1,500 navigable miles marked by frequently shifting channels, sharp bends, and currents of more than 14 knots, demanded ships with maneuverability, speed, and sturdiness. An upper Yangtze River inspector sounded the common theme in 1924 "Vessels should be of adequate dimensions, speed, and have powerful haulage equipment" to combat the river's natural and manmade hazards.

The first "modern" U.S. warships arrived on the Yangtze only in 1903, when the USS Villalobos and USS Elcano arrived from the Philippines, where they had been captured from the Spanish in 1898. The ships were hot, dirty, and poorly ventilated. They also were underpowered, underarmed, and generally unsuitable for river duty but they patrolled the Yangtze for a quarter-century nonetheless.

By the turn of the century the China station was perhaps the most sought-after assignment in the USS Navy. Americans were above the law there, and most hedonistic pleasures were readily and cheaply available.

The Navy's General Board addressed river gunboat characteristics in almost every annual shipbuilding program from 1904 onward and frequently received design recommendations from naval officers in China. In 1910, board president Admiral George Dewey recommended a 3-foot draft, 14-knot speed, twin-screws, "several rudders for extreme handiness," combined coal- and oil-fueled boilers, bulletproof protection, and a battery of two 6-pounders, two 3-inch mounts, and six machine guns. He also suggested building these ships as double-enders - fitted with screws and rudders at both ends - since they had to operate in narrow channels.

The Navy succeeded in funding two new river gunboats in June 1912. The USS Monocacy and USS Palos were built to plans from Yarrow Company, a Scottish firm that had built gunboats for the Royal Navy. They were constructed at the Mare Island (California) Navy Yard, then broken down for shipment to China, where they were reassembled.

While describing the need for new river gunboats for China was easy enough, detailing their characteristics and gathering design information to get them funded was quite another matter. The Monocacy and Palos remained distinctive. The General Board noted in November 1917 that "gunboat no. 22" had been authorized by Congress but not appropriated for and requested that river gunboats be requested again in 1918. These craft were included in the General Board's shipbuilding programs for 1920 through 1924, but to no avail.

The Asiatic Fleet commander at the time, Admiral W. L. Rodgers, was of course a strong advocate of new gunboats. He also extolled the virtues of Shanghai's Kiangnan shipyard as a likely contractor for new gunboats, noting that the yard had British managers and previously had built freighters for the U.S. Army.

In a 21 February 1923 message, Rodgers said that a gunboat "speed 16 knots length 200 feet draft 5 feet can be built including all machinery except ordnance at Shanghai. Delivery 12 months cost $400,000." The admiral recommended "four replacements this year." The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Robert E. Coontz, also received a picture of a "TwinScrew Passenger & Cargo Steamer Specially Desined and Built for the Upper Yangtze Service Between Ichang & Chungking" by Kiangnan Dock and Engineering works of Shanghai, a supporting

U.S. And Chinese Carrier Groups Mass In The South China Sea

Destroyer Squadron 15&mdashPublic Domain

Tensions between China and its regional neighbors in the South China and Philippine Seas increased markedly this week. Naval exercises by both the United States and China have massed an unusual number of warships in the South China Sea at a time of renewed diplomatic friction as concerns over China’s territorial ambitions grow.

The uptick began late last week. The War Zone reported that China’s Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) maneuvered through the strategic Miyako Strait on Sunday, just southwest of Okinawa. Since then, a separate point of tension between China and the Philippines over a mass of fishing vessels identified as part of China’s People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) led to a series of heated diplomatic exchanges between Manila and Beijing.

Open-source intelligence analysts tracked the movements of the Liaoning carrier strike group this week as it appeared to traverse the Luzon strait, the body of water that, along with the Bohai Channel, separates the Philippines and Taiwan. This crucially strategic area is also the primary boundary between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea and connects the greater Pacific to the northern reaches of the South China Sea.

Revealed: China’s New Super Submarine Dwarfs Typhoon Class

For decades the Russian Navy’s mighty Pr.941 Typhoon Class submarine has been the largest ever built. And size is relevant, both for political messaging as well as military reasons. Giant submarines can have greater stealth (due to space for quieting), greater survivability, and can operate for longer.

But the Typhoon’s reign is over. The Chinese Navy’s (PLAN – People’s Liberation Army Navy) latest submarine is even larger.

Launched earlier today at the Bohai Shipyard in Huludao, China, the new submarine is believed to be the Type-100 ‘Sun Tzu’ class. The timing, together with its type number, appear to refer to the 100th year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The vessel is approximately 210 meters (690 feet) long and about 30 meters (100 feet) across. This compares to a paltry 175 meters (574 feet, sources vary) and 23 meters (75 feet) for the Typhoon Class. Although figures for the new submarine’s displacement are not known, it is almost certainly greater than the 48,000 ton Typhoon.

The Pr.941 Typhoon Class is widely known as the largest submarine in the world. But it’s reign has come to an end thanks to a new Chinese Navy submarine, the Type-100. Photo Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)

To put this into perspective, the new super submarine is three-to-four times the size of the U.S. Navy’s Ohio class boomer.

And while the Ohio class carries 24 ballistic missiles, the Chinese submarine can carry 48. The Typhoon class only carried 20 although that was partly a political decision. This undoubtedly makes the new class the most heavily armed in the world. It is possible that some of the missile silos will be used for carrier-killing anti-ship ballistic missiles.

In the bow are at least 8 Intercontinental nuclear-powered nuclear-armed hydrosonic torpedoes. These weapons are similar to the Russian Navy’s Poseidon weapon. These have an effectively unlimited range and will be very hard to counter with current weapons. Its development, so soon after Russia moved forward with Poseidon, suggests that Poseidon has been exported. Or that some degree of a technology transfer has taken place.

The shift to a massive submarine may hint, like Typhoon, at an Arctic role. China regards itself as a Near-Arctic country and may intend to use the ice cap to protect its at-sea nuclear deterrence.
Despite being the largest submarine in the world, its dimensions are just within the boundaries of Suezmax. This means that it is still small enough to squeeze through the Suez Canal. This will be critical as China increasingly looks to the Mediterranean as the frontier with Western powers.

On the back is an open hangar which is about the same size as a special submarine previously identified. The ‘sailless’ submarine (it’s official designation is not known) has been built in Shanghai. Possibly its purpose is to be carried by the Type-100.

One potential use for this is to provide layered self-defense for the host submarine. Another possibility is that it tis is for severing undersea internet cables in times of war. It has been suggested that this tactic could be used to bring about the immediate collapse of Western economies.

The new submarine is expected to be the centerpiece of a massive military paraded in Beijing as part of the CCP’s 100 years celebrations in July. More than anything, this previously unreported submarine is a sign of the changing times. April 1st 2021 will go down in history as the start of a new era in submarines.

Important Update: APRIL FOOLS’! The Type-100 submarine is fictional. This article is a joke in the tradition of April 1st being April Fool’s Day. We hope that you enjoyed it. All other articles on Naval News are serious news, we only do this once per year.

Watch the video: Daily training Chinese naval honor guard 1仪仗队的日常


  1. Toussaint

    This - is unbearable.

  2. Nico

    Completely I share your opinion. It is good idea. I support you.

  3. Numair

    Oddly enough, but it is not clear

  4. Somerset

    Of course, I apologize, but I propose to go the other way.

Write a message