Hiroshima Insight

Kure Naval Arsenal

Advanced technology produced the battleship Yamato

The origins of the Kure Naval Arsenal as a naval base date back to 1889 when the Kure Naval District was established in the city of Kure. The arsenal was founded in 1903 when the two undertakings of building ships and manufacturing arms were combined.

After the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the Kure Naval Arsenal built Japan’s first large warship. Because the arsenal boasted advanced technology, it received an order from France to build a destroyer for that nation.

In 1937, when the Sino-Japanese War started, the arsenal began building the biggest battleship of all, dubbed Yamato. Completed on December 16, 1941, just after war in the Pacific broke out, the caliber of the warship’s main guns was 46 centimeters. The arsenal also produced manned torpedoes, called “Kaiten,” a kind of suicide vessel piloted by one man that was designed to attack enemy ships.

During the war, junior high school students and other female students were mobilized to work there. In an Allied air raid that took place on June 22, 1945, the Kure Naval Arsenal was targeted and the area where arms were manufactured was completely destroyed.

After the war, the arsenal was no longer used for a military purpose. Instead, the plants were turned into factories for such companies as IHI Marine United and Nisshin Steel.