The Fumitsuki was a Mutsuki Class Destroyer built in 1926, 320ft/97m long with a gross tonnage of 1,913 tons normal, and 1,590 tons light after reconstruction. She was driven by 2-shaft Parsons geared turbines and 4 Kampon boilers. She could carry a complement of 150 officers and crew. She was one of only two real Japanese Navy combat ships sunk in Truk Lagoon. She was capable of over 33.5 knots fully loaded, but was under repair at the time of her demise. The name translates as “the 7th month of the moon calendar when rice/flowers ripen.”
The Fumitsuki was one of 12 vessels ordered under the new Reinforcement Program of 1923 as part of the third ‘Minekaze’ group. These new Kamikaze type destroyers were also rated as minesweepers and minelayers. Following the outbreak of war on December 7th 1941, new Fubuki class destroyers would take over the front line duties as Fleet destroyers and the Fumitsuki was retrofitted as a Mutsuki class fast transport destroyer.
Over the next 3 years, the Fumitsuki played a very active role in Japan’s war effort. She participated in the Apparri and Lingayen (Philippines) invasion forces, the Western Java invasion force, the ‘Tokyo Express’ troop evacuations runs from Guadalcanal, the assault on Rendova Island, landings near Torokina in Bougainville, and numerous troop transport roles in support of various Japanese operations. She suffered numerous attacks and damage from aerial attacks in 1942 and 1943, including April 2, 1942 near Kavieng, October 8th 1942 off Buka, and November 2nd 1942 at Rabaul. On January 4th 1944 together with a fellow destroyer, the Fumitsuki shot down 10 enemy planes while receiving only light damage off Rabaul with a loss of 4 men killed and 20 wounded. On February 6th 1944 she arrived in Truk for repairs.
At approximately 1430 hours on February 17th, a USS Enterprise TBF plane piloted by Ensign Jewell dropped four 500-lb bombs on her as she tried to evade. The TBF crew reported 2 direct hits and a probable third hit. The ship was engulfed in flames and began to sink and list to port. She dropped anchors, but went down by the next morning. She rests on an even keel with a slight list to port, with the deck being at 100ft/30m and the sea bottom at 125ft/38m. There is a bow gun near the forecastle, Long Lance torpedo launchers between the forecastle and bridge, and aft gun and winches, cables and depth charge throwers are on the stern. With a beam of just 30ft/9m it’s easy to imagine this sleek fast Japanese attack warship cutting through the ocean.