port of newcastle

IJN Hatsuse steaming through the open swing bridge, at Newcastle Upon Tyne. Around 1899-1901.

Built at the Armstrong-Whitworth, Elswick Works.

Hatsuse was a Shikishima Class Battleship and her story began immediately after completion in 1901. When sailing for Japan she was to represent the Meji Emperor, at the funeral of Queen Victoria.

Hatsuse was not to wait long before seeing battle, for just three years after her completion, began the Russo-Japanese War. At the Battle of Port Arthur Hatsuse was to take two direct hits, loosing seven crew and seventeen injured.

It was on May the 14th, 1904 that disaster would strike the Hatsuse. For acting as flagship, with Admiral Nashiba aboard, Hastsuse along with the Yashima (posted earlier) and several smaller ships, made for Port Arthur to relieve a Japanese blockading force. But Hatsuse hit first, one mine, which disabled her steering, to which Yashima responded and subsequently struck a mine. The Hatsuse then drifted into a second mine igniting a magazine, killing 496 crew and sinking the ship. The Captain of the Hatsuse and the Admiral and 334 crew were however saved by the Tatsuta and Kasagi, who came to their aid.

IJN Battleship Yashima

Seen steaming past the swing bridge at Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1896, after being constructed and fitted out by Armstrong-Whitworth at their Elswick site.

Yashima went on to see action during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 where it took part in the Battle of Port Arthur in May of 1904. It was to strike a mine on the 15th of May and sank whilst under tow and after the crew had disembarked.

Australia is one of the world’s major coal exporters, but the Abbott government is working hard to avoid any new commitments on climate change. Prime minister Abbott will not attend Ban Ki-Moon’s climate summit this week, unlike 125 other heads of government. He has also indicated that climate change will not be on the agenda of the G20 meeting, when Australia hosts global leaders in Brisbane this November.

Canberra is also reluctant to provide the necessary funds to assist developing countries to transition towards new energy systems. Last year, at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Abbott government announced it would not contribute to the new Green Climate Fund, an innovative global mechanism to provide finance for developing countries to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

If Abbott won’t go to New York to hear the concerns of young islanders, they’ll bring the message to him.

For months, members of the Pacific Climate Warriors network – from Vanuatu, Tokelau, Kiribati, Tonga and the Federated States of Micronesia – have been building canoes. They’ll be arriving soon in Australia to highlight the role played by successive Australian governments in blocking stronger international action on greenhouse gas emissions.

On 17 October, canoes crewed by the Climate Warriors will blockade the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle, to highlight the contribution of Australia’s fossil fuel industry to global warming. These young islanders have defiantly rejected the image of Pacific peoples as victims of sea level rise. In their own words: “We are not drowning. We are fighting.”