100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

America Secretly Sends Aid To Japanese Warship

Japanese cruiser Asama

Japanese cruiser Asama

The Asama is an early class of armored cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy launched in 1898. The ship provided support for Japanese forces in China during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and participated in the Russo-Japanese War (1905) as part of the second squadron of the Second Fleet. It played a leading role in the opening Battle of Chemulpo Bay in the sinking of the Russian cruiser Varyag and in the Battle of Tsushima.

At the beginning of hostilities in Europe, Japan was allied by treaty to support Britain. Japan formally declared war on Germany in August 1914. The British Admiralty formally requested that the Japanese Government provide naval assistance “. . . to hunt down and, if possible, destroy the armed German merchant cruisers which were in the Far East attacking British commerce.” In 1914 the Asama was involved in the capture of German colonies in the South Pacific -Caroline Islands, Mariana Islands, and Palau and then was ordered to sail to the Americas to protect Allied trading routes and hunt for German warships. The Japanese has set up a base of operations was to be an isolated bay, half way up the Baja California peninsula, known as Puerto San Bartolome. On January 31, 1915, the Asama on January 31, 1915 while making a straight run into the harbor of Puerto San Bartolome in moderately heavy seas, the Asama struck a submerged rock. The captain’s attempts to extricate the warship were unsuccessful and the ship’s boiler room has become completely flooded, The American Navy is informed of the accident but since the US is striving to remain neutral in the European war, it cannot be seen as aiding a belligerent warship.

On February 3, 1915 under a cloak of secrecy and a strict press blackout, the Commander of the Pacific Fleet reported that he had ordered the cruiser Raleigh to Puerto San Bartolome in Baja California to aid the Asama and it’s 600 man crew.


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