The Urakaze class destroyers was a class of two destroyers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy by Yarrow Shipbuilders of Scotland. These were the last Japanese destroyers ordered from overseas shipyards
The failure of Japanese shipbuilders with the Umikaze-class destroyers left the Japanese navy without a large destroyer capable of extended blue ocean operations. The Parsons steam turbines of the Umikaze-class were plagued with maintenance issues, as well as tremendous fuel consumption. The navy then returned to its previous mainstay for new technology and equipment, Yarrow shipyards in the United Kingdom, ordering two vessels to a new design in the 1911 fiscal budget.
However, Yarrow, along with other British shipyards, had a large backlog of orders, and it was not until 1915 that the new vessels could be completed, and due to the outbreak of World War I, not until 1919 before Urakaze was turned over to Japan.
The Urakaze class vessels made use of oil-fired Brown-Curtiss turbine engines, and had the distinction of being the first vessels built for Japan to be designed for use without coal. The initial design called for diesel engines, however, due to the outbreak of World War I, Yarrow could not obtain necessary gear components from Germany.
Armament was slightly less than that of the Umikaze classes, with a single QF 4.7 inch Gun Mk I – IV mounted on a small shelter forward and four QF 3 inch 12 pounder guns, two amidships, one of the stern, and one mounted on a tall pedestal just aft of the smokestacks. The Urakaze class was also the first Japanese class of destroyers to use the 533-mm diameter torpedoes.
Urakaze was turned over to the Imperial Japanese Navy too late to see combat service in World War I. It was used for many years in patrols on the Yangzi River. It was retired in 1936, and used as a training vessel for the Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Forces. It was sunk in an air attack by United States Navy aircraft on July 18, 1945. It should not be confused with the later Kagero class destroyer Urakaze of World War II.
Due to a strong request from the British government, Kawakaze was sold by Japan prior to completion to the Regia Marina of Italy. Italy was one of the Allies of World War I, and faced a severe shortage of modern warships. Kawakaze was completed as Audace, and later renamed San Marco, and saw considerable combat service in the Mediterranean. During World War II, it was captured by the German Kriegsmarine, and renamed TA20. It was sunk on November 11, 1944 near Venice in the Adriatic Sea. It should not be confused with the later Shiratsuyu class destroyer Kawakaze of World War II.