ROCS Yat Sen

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Hey guys today I’ll be suggesting the ROCN Yat Sen


The ship

In the early 1930’s the Chinese Nationalist government once again gave orders to jiangnan shipyard to construct a new ship. The head of the project was again, Ye ZaiFu who designed many of the Nationalist ships beforehand. This new ship would be bigger and more complex than ships previous, because of this the name “Yat Sen” was chosen after the founding father of modern China Sun Yat-Sen.

Construction officially began on April 4, 1930 and because it was named after Sun Yat Sen the admiralty wanted to launch the ship on his birthday, November 12 of that year in honor of him. Less than half a year later her hull was indeed completed on November 12 of 1930 and a large celebration ceremony took place at her launch. Keeping with tradition of the previous ships launch a “godmother” was chosen for the ship. Originally Sun Yat-Sen’s daughter in law Chen Shuying was chosen, however she fell ill and could not make it to the launch and so her daughter Sun SuiYing went in her place. At 5:15 pm she smashed a bottle of champagne against the hull and the Yat Sen was launched into the HuangPu river. Yat Sen would stay at Jiangnan shipyard dock for follow up work and weapons installment until May 15 1931 where she would set sail for her first trial.

After her successful sea trial she officially became a ship of the Nationalist navy on June 1 1931. She became part of the first fleet tasked with coastal defense a far cry from her intended role as sea defense.


Chen Shaokan laid the first rivet on the keel of the “Yat Sen”

Chen Shaokuan (the third person from the left in the front row) at the site of the keel laying of the “Yat Sen” ship.

The "Yat Sen” after the hull plate was sealed this photo was taken on the main deck. At this time the deckhouse has not yet been built and the first floor of “Yat Sen” can be seen at the far end of the photo.
“Yat Sen” before entering the water

“Yat Sen’s” launching

Photo of the “Yat Sen” entering the dock of Jiangnan Shipyard for maintenance.

The guns

Yat Sen’s guns had to be acquired from foreign sources as at the time China did not have the naval cannons to spare nor had the ability to make the ones required. So Chen Shaokan ordered Lin Xian Xuan director of the ordinance department of the admiralty (who had stayed in Germany during the late Qing dynasty) to order weapons for the Yat Sen.He naturally chose to order 1 x 150mm and 6 x 75mm Anti-air guns from Krupp. However because of the treaty of Versailles prevented Germany from making and selling weapons abroad, the order was transferred from Germany to the Netherlands where the arms company Hollandsche Industrieen Handelmaatschappij (H.I.H) took the order over. There they made 1 x 150mm HIH Siderius No. 8 L/50 and 6 x 75mm L40 gun for the Yat Sen and were delivered to China in 1930. According to the original design of the ship a 120mm gun was also meant to be installed at the back of the ship, however a Japanese 14 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval gun was installed instead which angered Ye ZaiFu as this threw off his stability calculations for the ship.

The 150mm gun was installed at the front of the ship and 1 x 75mm AA gun was installed on the deck behind it. 2 x 75mm AA guns were installed in the middle of the ship as well as one at the back of the ship. The 140mm gun was installed at the rear of the ship. A 47mm hotchkiss made by jiangnan shipyard was installed on each side of the ship along with 2 maxim machine guns with shields on both sides of the open-air command platform behind the top of the deckhouse on the main deck. The two “wings” of the conning tower also had a maxim machine gun each. There were 2 more maxim machine gun positions but it’s unknown where they’re located.

The 150mm caliber main gun equipped on the bow of the “Yat Sen” ship. In the photo you can also see the “Maxim” machine gun installed on the fly bridge and the "Hotchkiss” machine gun on the side.
The 75mm caliber H.I.H anti-aircraft gun equipped on the “Yat Sen” ship
Sailors of the “Yixian” ship were practicing the operation of the H.I.H anti-aircraft gun during a naval exercise.

Pre-war service

View of the bow of the “Yat Sen”

After launch Yat Sen’s service was fairly uneventful. She was mainly tasked with patrolling part of the Yangtze River between Nanjing and Jiujiang.

On July 5 1932, while on patrol near Nantong, she came across the merchant ship “Da Xi” which had hit a reef and was taking on water. Because the water was too shallow for Yat Sen to get near “Da Xi” she sent her small motorboats to rescue the crew and passengers of the ship. They were offloaded in batches onto the Japanese merchant ship “Nanyo Maru” which was sailing by at the time and were transported to Shanghai.

In early April she was sent to Jiangyin to join the first fleet for combat exercises near WuSongKou. After this the Yat Sen sailed southward with a brigade of warships to Ma Wei, Fujian province. There she conducted anti piracy patrols along the Fujian coast.

Around mid 1933 she returned to the Yangtze River and was then sent northwards to the Bohai Sea on August 5. There she stayed in Dagu for a while before heading southwards to Yantai and Weihai for exercises. She then went to Qingdao before finally returning the Yangtze.

In late 1933 she was sent back to Fujian to suppress the Fujian Uprising.

Afterwards in 1934 and 1935 she returned to patrolling the north and southern coasts of China along with several other warships.

In 1935 she took the Fujian provincial governor, Chen Yi, to Keelung, Taiwan where she took part in the 40th anniversary of the Japanese rule of Taiwan at the invitation of the Governor-General of Japan. Her being there was supposed to bring some comfort to the Chinese living under Japanese rule in Taiwan.

In 1936 she fell into some controversy when a sailor was caught smuggling 10 tons of white sugar. He was caught and put to trial, however public opinion was still soured as the admiralty’s investigation and trial of the incident left much to be answered. The captain of “Yat Sen” Qiu Shizhong was replaced by Chen Bingqing because of this incident.

Later around the same time an officer of the “Yat Sen” argued to the media that 10 tons of sugar was on “Yat Sen” and was supposed to be for the ships use and the ones that were smuggled by the sailors were given to their families.

Service in the 2nd sino Japanese war

Aerial photo of “Yat Sen” after being bombed.

Yat Sen’s service during the second sino-Japanese war was relatively short. After the capital ships of the ROCN Ning Hai and Ping Hai were put out of action the Yat Sen became the flagship of the ROCN. This did not last long however as on September 25 1937 she was attacked by Japanese aircraft. Type 92 bombers began their attack on her and only 1 out of 6 60kg bombs hit her damaging her left stern. As they pulled out “Yat Sen’s” 150mm main gun fired and shot down one of the planes.
She began to take on water from the bomb hit and the hole caused by it couldn’t be plugged. She was then run aground and was abandoned. Her crew were rescued by nearby warships and all of her machine guns and smaller cannons were taken off before abandonment. Overall 3 crew were killed in the attack and 8 were injured.

In 1938 the Japanese salvaged her and brought her to Kure, Japan to be repaired and reconstructed. Her mast and bridge were reconstructed, her conning tower removed, and her poop deck was raised one floor for additional living quarters. Her armaments were changed to 3 high angle 8 cm guns and 2 double 13 mm machine guns. She also received radar and sonar capabilities and was given a new name “Atada”. Her new purpose was to be used as a training ship for the Naval college of Edajima as a replacement for the old gunboat Ohihaya.


Japanese army aerial photo of the “Yat Sen”. The 150mm gun is still on the ship however it’s cover fell into the water and the anti aircraft guns and machine guns have been dismantled.

Imgur: The magic of the Internet

The “Yat Sen” ship, which was photographed before the Japanese salvage, was completely overturned.

“Yat Sen” after being transformed into “Atada”

Postwar service

The bridge and deck of “Atada” (Yat Sen) post war.

After the war she was given back to China and renamed Yat Sen. She received new Japanese armament (1 x 4.7 inch main gun, 2 x 40mm cannons, 5 x 25mm cannons and 6 x 7.7mm machine guns) and had some luxury furnishings taken from the cruiser Yakumo installed before being handed back.

In 1947 she was assigned to the 3rd division of 1st coastal defense fleet stationed in Qingdao. Around this time the Chinese civil war resumed and she participated in the blockade of the northern ports and regular patrols along the coast.

In late 1948 she was transferred to the 2nd coastal defense fleet and helped to give supporting fire to the retreating national army forces in Yantai, Huludao, and Qinhuangdao.

After the Nationalist army lost northern China she was transferred to the Yangtze River as part of the 2nd coast guard fleet. There she guarded the mouth of the Yangtze to Jiangyin.

On April 21 1949 the People liberation army (PLA) attempted to cross the Yangtze River. In the battle “Yat Sen” and “Xin Yang” captured a few PLA soldiers and destroyed dozens of their crossing boats. “Yat Sen” was hit by a PLA gun and Zhang Guihua, a first class soldier was killed in battle.

On April 22 Song Changzhi, captain of the “Yat Sen” received a telegram from Jiangyin fortress to surrender. The fortress had fell into the communists hands and knowing his ship couldn’t withstand the firepower of the fortress, ordered a white flag to be hung on the mast. However he had no plans to surrender, a fake mutiny was stationed on the ship and Song Chnagzhi urgently contacted naval headquarters about his situation. The commander in chief of the navy Gui Yongqing order him to escape when an opportunity opens.

When nightfall came “Xin Yang” and “Yat Sen” (with gunboat “cannon 50” in tow) made a dash for the Yangtze River mouth. They were immediately bombarded by the PLA’s guns however because it was nighttime very few shells hit their target and the ships escaped relatively intact.

She continued to serve the ROCN as a frigate harassing shipping and fishing boats off the coast of China and in 1953 encountered the “Kaifeng” (ex-HMS clover) ship of the PLAN off the coast of Zhejiang.

On December 31 1958 she was finally retired from ROCN service and a year later was sold for scrap.

Decription of “Atada” (Yat Sen) from a postwar report about all naval vessels the Japanese had at the end of the war.

In game

The Yat Sen would be a great addition to the Chinese coastal tech tree. It’s 150mm and 140mm main guns would be hard hitters against other coastal vessels and it’s suite of 76mm, 47mm, and 7.62mm AA guns would give her some reasonable protection against aircraft. They would also help out damaging any water craft getting too close. Her post war configuration would also be quite good as she has 1 hard hitting 120mm cannon along with 40mm and 25mm cannons that would tear up any small coastal vessels she may come across.

1947, students of the official naval academy training in the North China Sea the ship in front of them is the “Yat Sen” ship.


Armament (original)

1 x 150mm HIH Siderius No. 8 L/50

1 x 14 cm/50 3rd Year Type

2 x 47mm Hotchkiss guns

4 x 76mm 3rd year type guns

6 x maxim machine guns

Armament (Post-war)

1 x 120mm gun

2 x 40mm guns

5 x 25mm guns

6 x 7.7 machine guns


Length: 270 ft (82m)

Beam: 34 ft (10m)

Draught: 12.4 ft (3.8m)

Displacement: 1550-1650 tons

Armor: conning tower was armored, hull is made of soft steel

Engine: 3-cylinder 3-expansion vertical steam engines, equipped with 3 “Thornycroft” boilers, two 4-blade copper propellers, and a rudder of cork and outsourced steel plates. 4,000 HP.

Cruise speed: 12 knots

Max speed: 19 knots

Yat Sen during her sea trials

Video showing Yat Sen



作者 (author): 陈悦 著

Japan Administrative Division, 2nd Demobilization Bureau (April 25, 1947) “Japanese Naval Vessels at the End of War”
This is official document about Japanese warships to report to USA. (2nd Demobilization Bureau is former Ministry of Navy)
This document published at this website: 桜と錨の海軍砲術学校−史料展示室『終戦時の日本海軍艦艇』(第2復員局 昭和22年4月)

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+1 for the post war variant. It’d be a competitive gunboat with decent AA.

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Very cool , will you also write one about the Tatong(大同) class light cruiser ? they are my favorite one (their look)

Yes, maybe sometime in the future

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