Battle of the Yellow Sea

Battle of the Yellow Sea
Part of the Russo-Japanese War
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Location of the battle.
Date10 August 1904
LocationYellow Sea, off Shandong (Shantung) Peninsula, China
(37°57.83′N 122°15.49′E / 37°57.83′N 122°15.49′E / 37.96383; 122.25817
ResultTactically inconclusive
Strategic Japanese victory
Belligerents
 Empire of Japan Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Empire of Japan Tōgō Heihachirō
Empire of Japan Dewa Shigetō
Russian Empire Wilgelm Vitgeft 
Russian Empire Pavel Ukhtomsky
Strength
4 battleships,
4 armored cruisers,
8 protected cruisers,
18 destroyers,
30 torpedo boats
6 battleships,
4 protected cruisers,
14 destroyers
Casualties and losses
2 battleships severely damaged,
1 battleship slightly damaged, 1 protected cruiser slightly damaged,
226 killed and wounded
1 battleship severely damaged,
5 battleships slightly damaged,
340 killed and wounded
Several ships interned in neutral ports

The Battle of the Yellow Sea (Japanese: 黄海海戦 Kōkai kaisen; Russian: Бой в Жёлтом море) was a major naval engagement of the Russo-Japanese War, fought on 10 August 1904. In the Russian Navy, it was referred to as the Battle of 10 August.[1] The battle foiled an attempt by the Russian fleet at Port Arthur to break out and form up with counterparts from Vladivostok, forcing them to return to port. Four days later, the Battle off Ulsan similarly ended the Vladivostok group's sortie, forcing both fleets to remain at anchor.

Background

The Imperial Russian Navy's First Pacific Squadron, commanded by Admiral Wilgelm Vitgeft, had been trapped in Port Arthur since the Imperial Japanese Navy's blockade began on 8 February 1904 with the Battle of Port Arthur. Throughout late July and early August, as the Imperial Japanese Army laid siege to Port Arthur, relations between Admiral Vitgeft and Russian Viceroy Yevgeni Alekseyev increasingly soured. Viceroy Alekseyev, a former admiral, favored an aggressive sortie so as to enable the First Pacific Squadron to link up with the Vladivostok Squadron and thereby create a naval force powerful enough to challenge the Japanese fleet. Admiral Vitgeft believed in a fleet in being,[2] which simply stayed at anchor, while at the same time contributing some of his weaponry to the land battle as the safest course to follow. Although passive, Vitgeft's preference was actually more in keeping with the Russian Navy's doctrine,[2] which was building up strength (waiting for the arrival of the Baltic Fleet, also known as the 2nd Pacific Squadron), and then engaging the Japanese navy in decisive battle.

Alekseyev appealed to St. Petersburg, and Tsar Nicholas II replied that he fully shared the Viceroy's opinion. Faced with an Imperial writ and threat of legal action, Admiral Vitgeft was ordered to sail for Vladivostok immediately.[3] By 06:15 hours, on 10 August 1904, Admiral Vitgeft, flying his flag in the battleship Tsesarevich, began leading his battleships from the harbor.

Midship view of the Russian flagship, Tsesarevich.