♡♡
- THE BATTLE OF THE SIBUYAN SEA -
The Complete Timeline

Logo - The Battle of the Sibuyan Sea
Battle of the Sibuyan Sea - The Timeline

On 18 Oct 1944
Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita engaged in Operation Sho-Go
by taking a powerful surface fleet that included both of the Yamato-class battleships:

The YAMATO & MUSASHI
The fleet sailed into the Sibuyan Sea west of Leyte of the Philippine Islands, aiming to hit the vulnerable American transports on the other side of the island.

At 0810 on 24 Oct 1944
an aircraft from carrier USS Intrepid spotted the fleet.
One of the ships in the Center Force was the IJNS Musashi, sister ship of the mighty Yamato which was also in the force.

By 1018
Musashi's lookouts reported about 30 incoming hostile aircraft.
As the aircraft came closer the main guns of the Musashi fired but ceased fire as the aircraft drew closer.

At 1027
the battle began

Helldiver dive bombers plunged downward at the ships of the Center Force and F6F Hellcat fighters unopposed by enemy fighters conducted strafing runs as TBF Avenger torpedo bombers dropped their deadly loads at the Musashi.


"I couldn't believe how enormous they were!"
recalled SB2C Helldiver gunner Joe Anderlik of carrier Franklin, speaking of the two Yamato-class ships.

"Musashi was huge!"
said gunner Russ Dustan also of Franklin,
"I had never seen anything as big in my entire life. It was a magnificent sight"

Because the air cover was inadequate, the Japanese ships were left to fend for themselves.

Musashi's anti-aircraft weapons helped setting up an intense umbrella of flak above the fleet, while her 18-in guns fired into the water to make huge geysers aimed at knocking down American torpedo bombers.

"Running into one of these geysers would be like running into a mountain"
recalled TBF Avenger pilot Jack Lawton,

"I felt the muzzle blast each time they fired.
I could swear the wings were ready to fold every tie these huge shockwaves hit us."

Without adequate air cover, however powerful Musashi was, she was helpless against multiple waves of attacking aircraft.

After the final attack ended at 1530, MUSASHI suffered hits by:

19 direct hits by torpedoes
17 bombs
and 18 near misses


Efforts to correct the worsening list failed, and Inoguchi, the Rear Admiral, gave the order to
"standby to abandon ship" at 1915;
by this time, the list was at 15 degrees.

Immediately after this order, Inoguchi retired to his cabin with the intention to go down with the ship;
he was never seen again.

At 1930
with the list now 30 degrees Captain Kato gave the order to abandon ship and soon with the list increasing further men began to slide across the decks being crushed in the process.

Panic broke out among the crew which had been assembled by divisions and Captain Kato ordered
„every man for himself.“

At 1936
the Musashi capsized and port and went down by the bow sinking in 4,430 feet of water in the Visayan Sea at:

13°07′N 122°32′E
(last known position)
Note:
This last position is not yet confirmed by Paul G. Allen and his Crew (Date: March2, 2015)
But we speak about the Sibuyan Sea already.

The destroyers Kiyoshimo, Isokaze and Hamakaze rescued 1,376 survivors including Captain Kato, but 1,023 of Musashi’s 2,399 man crew were lost including her skipper, Rear Admiral Inoguchi who was promoted Vice Admiral, posthumously.

The rest of the Center Force under Kurita turned around to get out of range of the aircraft, passing the crippled Musashi as his force retreated.

Kurita’s retreat was temporary and Kurita waited until 17:15 before turning around again to head for the San Bernardino Strait hoping to find it empty of American ships.

His force was still battle worthy because the majority of the 259 sorties were directed on Musashi and the Heavy Cruiser Myōkō which retired heavily damaged.

The Southern Force which had also been hit by American carrier air strikes also continued its push toward Surigao Strait.

The Americans lose 18 planes shot down.

25 October 1944:
At 0230, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message that reads: ”Completed Musashi – BB rescue operations at 0215 on the 25th. Following numbers of personnel rescued: Hamakaze: Executive officer and 800 men (of which 30 were officers). Isokaze: 30 officers and 410 men. Escorts arrive Coron at 1730.”

MUSASHI's survivors are taken to Corregidor Island at the entrance to Manila Bay because their arrival at Manila would have acknowledged MUSASHI's loss. They are given the designation "Kato Regiment" after the name of their surviving second in command, Captain Kato.

Later, most are then sent home, about 200 on carrier JUNYO and some on YAMATO. When they reach Japan these survivors are sent to the Kurihama Paratroop Regiment barracks at Kure.

On 23 Nov ’44,
420 survivors are embarked on MANJU MARU (ex-SANTOS MARU) at Corregidor along with about another 2,000 soldiers, but on 25 Nov ’44, USS ATULE (SS-403) sinks MANJU MARU and about 700 soldiers, including about 50 MUSASHI survivors, are KIA. When they reach Japan, the MUSASHI survivors who were rescued after MANJU MARU’s sinking are confined to one of the smaller islands in the Inland Sea.

The remaining 709 survivors are divided between defending IJN units. 42 at Corregidor (Mizuho) Island, 320 at Clark Field, 35 at Gunkan Island, 39 at Yamato Island and 35 at Fuso Island. An unknown number served at Cavite Naval Base, Fort Drum in Manila Bay, the Caraballo Mountains and the Cabaruan Hills, many of whom probably died of illnesses or wounds.

146 survivors are incorporated into the Special Naval Landing Force of Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Iwabuchi Sanji's (former CO of KIRISHIMA) 31st Naval Base Force. 117 are listed as KIA or MIA defending Manila.

31 August 1945:

Removed from Navy List.