Ship's wheel from HIJMS 'Ibuki'

Place Asia: Japan
Accession Number RELAWM08238
Collection type Technology
Object type Maritime vessel or watercraft
Physical description Brass, Wood
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Australia Goes To War: The AIF Dispatched
Maker Kure Naval Arsenal
Place made Japan: Kure
Date made c 1907
Conflict Period 1920-1929
First World War, 1914-1918

Circular wooden spoked wheel, with eight carved balustered spokes, reinforced around its front and rear circumferences with brass banding. There appear to be Japanese markings on this band. The central axle nave and plate are also of brass; the plate is impressed with the number 3.

History / Summary

This is the ship's wheel from the Japanese battle cruiser HIJMS 'Ibuki'. A ship's wheel, together with the rest of the steering mechanism, forms part of the ship's helm.

The ship was built at the Kure Naval Arsenal, Japan and launched on 31 October 1907. With a crew of 844 and armament comprising four 305 mm guns, eight 203 mm guns, fourteen 120 mm guns and four 80 mm guns, the Ibuki was a powerful battle cruiser capable of 21 knots. The ship saw service during the First World War protecting allied shipping and troop convoys in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. Following the war the Ibuki was sunk under the terms of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. A number of items were stripped off the ship prior to its sinking.

In 1925, a model of the Ibuki was made in 1925, following a number of direct representations throughout 1924 from the Australian War Memorial to Japanese Naval authorities. Requests were made via both the Australian Prime Minister and directly to Admiral Saito, the commander of the Japanese Training Squadron which visited Sydney in January 1924, for relics of the 'Ibuki' (suggestions included a ship's wheel, bell or flag). The Japanese responded in January 1925 by instructing their Ministry of Marine to construct 'a small model of the 'Ibuki' and a cigar box to be made of wood from the ship'. The model was delivered by the SS 'Mishima Maru', arriving in Sydney on 8 June 1925.

In his speech at the handover of the model on 12 June 1925, the Japanese Acting Consul-General, Mr Yamasaki, stated he hoped the gift would be accepted 'as undeniable evidence that the same friendly and cordial relations will remain unchanged between the Commonwealth and Japan, and are as strong as when the 'Ibuki' conveyed the brave Anzacs to the battle front, there to gain imperishable renown for their patriotism and courage. I feel confident that the action of Japan in this instance will counterbalance and set-off some of the unkind words which misinformed people occasionally indulge in regarding the intentions of Japan towards Australia'.

The model was made at the Naval Dockyards at Kobe from wood and other material salvaged from the 'Ibuki' after it was scrapped. A newspaper report of the ceremony mentions that 'a similar model was presented to New Zealand through the Government agent, Mr W.R. Blow'. The model was publicly exhibited in Sydney at the Memorial's exhibition centre at Prince Albert Park. The 'Ibuki's wheel and one of the ship's bells (see RELAWM08239) were delivered to HMAS 'Brisbane' on the occasion of that ship's visit to Yokohama, Japan in May/June 1925, and were landed at Sydney in late November 1925. They joined the exhibit at Albert Park. All three relics remained on display in Sydney until the centre closed in 1935 when they were moved to the new building in Canberra.