I guess I'll go first. Hope I fare better than I did in the Ocean Liner challenge.
Fuji-class Heavy Cruiser
By the end of World War II, the Japanese heavy cruiser force had been annihilated. None of the pre-war-built cruisers had survived, and only one (Komaki
) remained of the four built during the war. With the U.S. Navy currently building one Baltimore
-class, eight Oregon City
-class, and twelve Des Moines
-class heavy cruisers of their own, the Naval General Staff wanted some ships to compensate. The resulting design was the Fuji
-class heavy cruisers. The ships took several design features from preceding ships, such as the bridge structure, which was modeled after those of the wartime-built battle cruisers.
The stack was modeled after the preceding Ibuki
-class, but was reworked so as to look like a single stack instead of two trunked together. The main armament was twelve 8-inch guns (four triple turrets) in a Japanese version of the U.S. Navy's Mark XVI guns carried by the upcoming Des Moines
-class ships. The secondary armament was sixteen 3.9-inch quick-firing guns (eight twin turrets) like those mounted on the Akizuki
-class DDs. The guns were a Mark II version of the wartime builds; they were now free of their short-life barrel problems, and proved to be excellent for antiaircraft defense.
The fire-control system was derived from the one fitted by the wartime cruisers and battleships, especially the Settsu
-class battleships then just entering service. Three Sikorsky "Dragonfly" helicopters were carried, and they had their own hangar below the quarterdeck. The first ship, Fuji
, was laid down at Kawasaki's Kobe Shipyard in mid-September 1949, and was launched in mid-October of the following year, entering service on 18 October 1951.
The fifth ship of the class, Mogami
, was commissioned in March 1955 and featured updated radars, a different foremast, and a new aircraft complement: two Sikorsky H-34s, which replaced the three Dragonflies carried by her sister ships.
In 1961, Mogami
received her first refit after six years in service, landing her 40-mm. guns and updating her radar suite and the fire control system for her main guns.
In the mid-1970s, Mogami
received another refit, again updating her radar suite and also replacing her H-34 helicopters with Sikorsky SH-3s.
and her sister ship Chikuma
were the only two ships of their class to retain their 'all-gun' arrangement for their entire careers. In the late 1980s, they received their last refit, giving them one last lease on life. The two ships received the Phalanx CWIS system and missiles, and two of their 3.9-inch secondary turrets were landed in order to install four quadruple-mount Harpoon and two quadruple-mount Tomahawk launchers.
-class ships served their country well, but not even refits could halt the passage of time. It was soon apparent that the cruisers were nearing the end of their active service lives, and one by one, they started leaving the fleet. Mogami
was the first to go, being decommissioned in May 1990. She was maintained in Reserve Status for the next twenty-five years, remaining there even after most of her sister ships had been towed away to the scrapyard. Being one of only two remaining all-gun Japanese heavy cruisers (the other, the wartime-built Komaki
, had become a museum in Yokosuka in 1983), she had strong support among her former crew members for her preservation once she was finally struck from the Navy List, which occurred in May 2015. Scrapyards made considerable bids for her, but a last-minute offer from the city of Mutsu in Aomori - where she had lain in Reserve for so long - saved her. After refurbishment accomplished by both former crew members and civilian volunteers, the cruiser opened to the public in September 2016.