Tenryu, a 3230-ton light cruiser built at Yokosuka, Japan, was commissioned in November 1919. She served as a destroyer flotilla leader until 1925, visiting the coasts of Siberia and China as well as operating in Japanese home waters. After a year in reserve, Tenryu returned to China in 1927, during the civil war then raging in the Shanghai area. She was again a flotilla leader during 1928, then was guard and training ship at Kure until October 1931, when she rejoined the active fleet off China. The cruiser generally operated in Chinese waters for the rest of the decade, with brief intervals of duty as a training ship and in reserve. Plans to convert her to an anti-aircraft ship were cancelled in 1939, and she spent the next two years as a training ship at Maizuru Naval Station and on a cruise through the central Pacific in mid-1941.
When the war with the United States began in December 1941, Tenryu was first employed in the operation to capture Wake Island. In January-April 1942, she participated in the capture of New Ireland, New Britain, northeastern New Guinea, Bougainville and the Admiralty Islands. During the early May Battle of the Coral Sea, Tenryu supported the abortive operation to seize Port Moresby. In July and August 1942, following an overhaul in Japan, she served as an escort for transports in the New Britain and New Guinea areas, and also took part in the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August. Over the next four months, she was actively engaged in the unsuccessful campaigns to capture Milne Bay, in eastern New Guinea, and retake Guadalcanal. She was damaged by a bomb on 2 October, made two transport runs to Guadalcanal in early November and covered the 14 November bombardment of Henderson Field. While participating in operations off Madang, New Guinea, on 18 December 1942, Tenryu was torpedoed and sunk by the U.S. submarine Albacore (SS-218).
This page features our only image of the Japanese light cruiser Tenryu.
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Photo #: NH 42260
Tenryu (Japanese Light Cruiser, 1919)
Heavily retouched photograph, taken during the ship's first years of service.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.
Online Image: 89KB; 740 x 585 pixels
Page made 24 October 2001