Battle of Port Arthur

The naval Battle of Port Arthur thus ended inconclusively.

The Russians took 150 casualties to around 90 for the Japanese. Although no ship was sunk on either side, several took damage. However, the Japanese had ship repair and drydock facilities in Sasebo with which to make repairs, whereas the Russian fleet had only very limited repair capability at Port Arthur.

It was obvious that Admiral Dewa had failed to press his reconnaissance closely enough, and that once the true situation was apparent, Admiral Togo's objection to engage the enemy under their shore batteries was justified.

The formal declaration of war between Japan and Russia was issued on 10 February 1904, a day after the battle. The attack, conducted against a largely unassuming and unprepared enemy in peacetime, has been widely compared to the Battle of Pearl Harbor.

Since no arrangements had been made to preserve communication with the destroyer flotilla attacking Port Arthur, the results of the first attack were quite unknown. By 0500 hrs on the morning of the 9th, the now re-concentrated destroyer flotillas were clearing Round Island and heading for Asan. Admiral Togo was some 20 miles to the northward of Chifu with the rest of the Japanese fleet. It was now time for the main battle fleet to play its part. Togo altered course for Liau-ti-shan. At 0800 hrs Admiral Dewa was sent ahead with his four cruisers to look into the Port Arthur anchorage. His only instructions were that if he met a strong Russian force at sea he was to try and draw it towards Togo's heavy divisions, which would steer for a point south of Encounter Rock (about 20 miles S.E. of Port Arthur).

At 0900 hrs Admiral Dewa was near enough to Port Arthur to make out the Russian fleet through the morning mist. There were 12 battleships and cruisers, three or four of which seemed to have a bad list or to be aground. Also there were some destroyers, gunboats, and mining vessels outside the harbor entrance, apparently huddled together in no particular order. Dewa held course till he was within 8,200 yards of the harbor, but no notice was taken of the Japanese cruisers. Closing to about 7,500 yards he leisurely made his reconnaissance. Still, not a shot was fired nor any movement made that he could see. Convinced by what he observed that the destroyer attack was a success and that the Russians were thoroughly demoralized he sped off to report to Togo. Since Dewa had pushed no nearer than 3nm it is no wonder that his conclusion was wrong. The Russians had steam up and were lying ready for action with battle flags flying.