Published Resources Details Book

Watts, A J and Gordon, B G
The Imperial Japanese Navy
Macdonald, London, 1971, pp. Ix-xix, 219, 221-228 pp

Accession No.1567


"To fight the Russians in Manchuria command of the sea was essential to enable the Japanese to carry their reinforcements to the mainland. Since 1898 Russia had been building up her naval strength in the Far East and in January 1904 the Russian Pacific Fleet had a strength of seven battleships with another one (Osliba) en route from the Mediterranean. With five powerful battleships completing it could have reached thirteen by the end of 1905. In addition the Trans-Siberian Railway would soon be completed, allowing the Russians to send reinforcements to the Far East in much less time.

The Japanese fleet had six modern battleships and no more were scheduled for completion in 1905, so Japan was more or less forced to declare war in 1904 in order to destroy the Russian Pacific Fleet, before it could be reinforced by the new battleships and warships of the Baltic Fleet, which were being refitted for service in the Far East.

The first move was to attack the Russian Pacific Fleet in Port Arthur, the attack being carried out on the night of February 8, 1904 by ten destroyers. Two days after the attack, Japan declared war, this was the second time she had attacked a country before declaring war. Port Arthur was blockaded, and with the Russian Fleet neutralised the Japanese Army was free to wage war against Russia.