Destroyer Fuyutsuki (Winter moon) escorts battleship Haruna from Manila to Sasebo in 1944, December.
Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff was aware of rising power of Naval aviation. That’s why it decided to work out project of an AA-ship which should protect high-speed aircraft carrier units. USA and Great Britain developed such ships too, and soon both countries started to produce new AA ships. They were light cruisers with strong AA armament. When Japanese obtained information about the beginning of building of Dido-class AA cruisers, they sped up their own AA ship development. These ships needed sufficient speed and range to escort carriers. That’s why admirals decided not to modify old Tenryu-class light cruisers. There were no new light cruisers which could be used as prototypes of AA ship. Also, building of such ships takes two years. But there was almost no time before the new war. That’s why it was decided to use large destroyers with 3000 tons displacement as AA ships. Their combat effectiveness were not worse than cruisers’. Less powerful armament compensated with higher speed and manoeuvrability. And destroyer was way cheaper than light cruiser.
At last new AA destroyer project was worked out. Ship carried 8 100-mm universal guns, good fire control systems and 4 torpedo tubes as a bonus. But the first ship of the class, Akizuki (Autumn moon) was built too late. She commissioned a week after the battle of Midway. Japan produced 12 ships of this class.
Fuyutsuki commissioned on May 25, 1944. Sakuma Eiji was assigned to command the ship. He was the commander of the destroyer Ayanami [link]
and participated in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. That time he attacked battleship USS Washington with consequences predictable for Ayanami.
Fuyutsuki was escorting vessels in Japanese waters before October of 1944, when she was hit on the bow by a torpedo fired from USS Trepang (SS-412). But in comparison with Japanese torpedoes American ones were not too powerful, so damage was fixed in several weeks. In late November Fuyutsuki escorted aircraft carrier Jun’you from Kure to Manila. In early December she escorted Jun’you and battleship Haruna (the picture represents this episode) from Manila to Sasebo.
On January 31, 1945 Fuyutsuki ran aground, repairs took two months.
On March 1 Sakuma got new assignment, and Yamano Hiru became new commander. He was the one who led ship into the hell. On April 6 operation Ten-Go began. Japanese gathered all fuel they could find and distributed it between battleship Yamato, light cruiser Yahagi [link]
and 8 destroyers. Task of this squadron was clear – break through to Okinawa which was under siege. But they have enough fuel only to reach Okinawa, they had no task to return. The squadron couldn’t spent even this insufficient quantity of fuel. Several hundreds of American planes send Japanese force into oblivion. Only 4 destroyers survived, and Fuyutsuki was between them. Crew had 12 dead and 12 wounded. Ship repaired in Sasebo, than was directed to Moji, where hit a mine on August 20. She surrendered unrepaired and without armament. The hull served as breakwater in Takamatsu, where it was completely disassembled.
By the way, NERV sub-commander from NGE was named after this destroyer: [link]