Indic Ocean

Assault force

Before the success of the operations in Dutch Indian, the Japanese fleet received command from assaulting the English mercantile traffic in the Indic Ocean accomplishing simultaneously raids air of bombardment on the English bases in Ceylon.

After of the collapse of the English battleships Repulse and Prince of Wales in December of 1941, the English improvised a battle fleet, based on Ceylon. The fleet was compounded by old five battleships drawn from the Mediterranean, two large air carrier and small other, with old and obsolete planes only capable of operating unopposed air, and the corresponding escort ships. Conscious the English of his inferiority, was limited to the convoys escort toward the Gulf of Bengal.

The Japanese split its forces in two groups. One to the north integrated by the carrier Ryujo, the cruisers Mogami and Suzuya and six destroyers, with command of assaulting the traffic. Another more on south composed by the carriers Akagi, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku, the battleships of the class Kongo, the heavy cruisers of the class Myoko and fourteen destroyers, with orders of destroying the British fleet.

Around the end of March of 1942, the Japanese penetrated in the Indic Ocean and begin their operations. While the group of the north, to the command of Mikawa, began the convoys search, that received the command from be dispersed, the group of the south, to the command of Nagumo and Kondo, were approximated for Ceylon waiting to locate to the English.

The British fleet, that was knowing the operation, was waiting the assault navigating by the Ceylon's coasts but, by an appraisal error in the dates of the assault, was withdrawn to refuel to his anchoring-place in the Islands Maldives when the Japanese were starting his raid.

The day April 5 a recognition plane detects the approximation of the fleet of Nagumo and the English, being found removed, highlighted two heavy cruisers that yet was found in Ceylon to intercept them. That same day a Japanese planes swarm unglued of the carriers assaulting the port of Colombo, letting to his pass destruction Stella.

The English cruisers that was approximated, awaiting power to assault at night, they were located, being demolished by a bombardiers pack in stung that threw them to steep in few minutes. Nagumo continued marauding by Ceylon waiting that

the English battle fleet made act of presence. However, the time was elapsing and the recognition planes were not detecting anything.

The English fleet had abandoned his anchoring-place awaiting located in assault position on dusk to attempt an nocturnal torpedo assault with the slow and old planes Albacore relying on the scarce air protection and detection difficulty on the darkness. The few speed of the battleships were making un-hopeless slow the approximation with the obvious risk of be detected and assaulted. During four days Nagumo marauded by Ceylon without sighting to the English fleet; conscious of his superiority and believing that the English were continuing sounded in its bases, sorted the assault against the port of Tricomalee causing important damages in its facilities. As gratuity its planes detected to the light carrier Hermes that it was sunk together with its escort in a fulminating assault.

The intensity of the Japanese assaults convinced English command of the uselessness of risking the fleet that received command from returning to the Maldives to stay during the war in defensive operations. After this operation the Japanese fleet of air carriers did not return to operate in the Indic Ocean.

© 1998- Francisco José Díaz y Díaz and Luis Alberto Gómez Muñoz. Leon. Spain