Warship Wednesday, Aug 22
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steampunk navies of the 1866-1938 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
- Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, Aug 22
Here we have the brand new protected cruiser Unebi of the Imperial Japanese Navy leaving the harbor of Le Harve.
The Imperial Japanese government, only just recently opened to outside trade, was fast arming itself to become a regional power. With shipbuilding industry in its infancy, the Japanese government contracted for warships all over the world. The Unebi was designed and built in France by Forges et Chantiers de la Gironde. Unebi was named after the 199.2 meter tall Mount Unebi in Nara prefecture, located near the ancient capital of Asuka. Per Meiji period State Shinto mythology, this mountain was home to Japan’s first Emperor, Jimmu Tenno.
She was relatively fast and nimble for her time, and could do over 18-knots. This would be the equivalent of almost 40knots today, and few ships on the water could catch her or outrun her. With a huge armament of 10-inch and 6-inch naval rifles, she had large teeth to go along with her fast legs.
Too bad for Japan, who only seven years later could have used her against Chinese warships in the 1894 Sino-Chinese War, or against the Russians in 1904, the Unebi went missing on her delivery trip to her homeland from France.
She was last seen leaving Singapore in December 1886 with 76 French civilian sailors commanded by a French merchant captain. Seven Japanese naval officers were on board to observe while her Japanese crew awaited her safely in Yokohama.
None wreckage of her was ever found. None of the men were ever recorded. The sea is yet to give her location up and she remains one of the greatest mysteries of naval history.
After watching for her to appear for ten months, the Japanese Navy struck her name from the register and declared her missing. Unebi is the only case of a ship vanishing without a trace in the annals of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Displacement: 3,615 long tons (3,673 t)
Length: 98 m (321 ft 6 in) w/l
Beam: 13.1 m (43 ft 0 in)
Draught: 5.72 m (18 ft 9 in)
Propulsion: 2-shaft VTE, 9 boilers, 5,500 hp (4,100 kW), 700 tons coal
Speed: 18.5 knots (21.3 mph; 34.3 km/h)
Armament: • 4 × BL 10 inch gun Mk I – IV guns
• 7 × BL 6 inch gun Mk II – VI guns
• 2 × QF 6 pounder Hotchkiss
• 10 × quad 1-inch Nordenfelt guns
• 4 × Gatling guns
• 4 × 356 mm (14.0 in) torpedo tubes
Armour: Deck: 62 mm (2.4 in)
Upper belt: 125 mm (4.9 in)
Barbette, Turret, Casement: 150 mm (5.9 in)