The "Hotel" Sinks
By: Evan Mei
Yamato, 1945, Operation Ten-Go --- Kyo Tobayashi knew that this was a trip to the slaughter. Since he joined the Japanese Navy, he had had time to himself. All he worried about aboard the Yamato during the war was how he would party tomorrow. So far, Yamato had never seen the battlefield. But now that the Yamato had finally arrived on the front lines, battleships were basically useless. They were inaccurate with their guns, slow, clumsy, and just about everything that made them ideal targets for incoming planes. The only purpose they served now was to be a floating anti-aircraft battery.
The people nicknamed Yamato “The Hotel” for its inactivity. Tobayashi knew the last time any two battleships were slugging it out on each other was in 1941, in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Now Germany was knocked out, and Italy was long gone, leaving the Japanese to fend for themselves. Now every ship in the Navy was here in the Pacific, ready to go full kamikaze on the Americans. Tobayashi saw no point in poking around with America; it was a sleeping giant that wasn’t waking up soon.
Japan just poured a bucket of ice on a sleeping America Tat Pearl Harbor. At first, Japan made a break for it and put some ground between itself and America, capturing islands while the US was still trying hastily to put together an army. But all America had to do was wrestle with its blanket for a few moments as it tried to fully gain consciousness, and it would catch up to Japan and snap its neck. Now, Japan was dangerously close to the neck-snapping phase. Tobayashi thought about Japan. He wanted to go home, not be in the middle of a war. The ship was doomed. If it didn’t sink, he knew that he better kiss the ocean and thank the gods.
Suddenly, he heard a hum. Staring up, he saw the Americans swoop over them like angry bees. The Japanese had sent their fighters for kamikaze missions, so now the Yamato was to fend for itself. Tobayashi stared at the planes, and fired as accurately as he could. But it was no good; for he never actually fired at a live plane. He managed to clip the wing of one. The plane stumbled, but quickly regained control. He saw the plane go low. Very low. He knew what it was. A torpedo bomber. With no time to warn anyone, he dove to the side.
A column of water erupted into the air and shot up like a geyser. Soon enough, the plane was gone. The Yamato was tough. She wasn’t going down yet. But Tobayashi knew that she couldn’t take hits like that forever. Struggling to the guns, he managed to shoot another plane. But this time, it didn’t even flinch. He saw it release a bomb well away from where he was. He saw a man nearly fall overboard, and a hole in the deck. Now he was really nervous.
The ship began to tilt, but the crew managed to return to a 1 degree list. A boiler room was knocked out, so now they were slightly slower. A bit too slow for comfort. After a while, Tobayashi saw a wall of torpedo bombers. Up top, he saw dive bombers. They were completely surrounded. There was no way they could escape this. He tried to shoot as many as he could, but his efforts were in vain; there were simply too many to shoot down.
When he attempted to shoot the bombers, he looked one pilot right in the eye. The pilot looked back. Their eyes were locked on each other, one trying desperately to shoot the other, and the other trying to get into position. The moment was brief. Right when Tobayashi saw the man, a pillar of water erupted, and the plane was gone.
Three more torpedoes hit the ship, and the list grew to 15 degrees. While still not in danger of sinking, it did incapacitate the main turret, which is not good for any ship. Even more torpedoes hit the ship, and it was so bad that the ship wasn’t able to stop turning to the right. The list was increasing, turrets were falling overboard, and there were numerous fires in danger of exploding the magazines.
Long before the order was given to abandon ship, Tobayashi jumped and swam as far as he could. He was happy he did, because when it did sink, the suction was so strong it brought some people underwater with it. He and some others were picked up by destroyers, and were returned to Japan. He never stopped looking for the pilot, but he knew that from now on, he was never going on a cruise ship, for it was a sinking hotel at sea.