Admiral Yi’s Mighty Turtle Ships

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In July of 1592, the Japanese commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi remained confidant, as his aggressive invasion of Korea was proceeding on all fronts; a force of more than 160,000 Japanese samurai had captured Pusan, Korea’s main port, then marched north and seized the capital city of Seoul. 

The truculent, Japanese warlord was well on his way to extending his dominion to include Korea and using that foothold to conquer China. The only blotch on the invasion’s record of triumphs, occurred when an unusually aggressive Korean admiral named Yi Sun-shin, had caught and destroyed several dozen Japanese vessels.

Soon after, Yi had been sighted by the Japanese sailing into Sacheon Bay and Hideyoshi immediately ordered his men to attack. As expected, the Koreans immediately retreated. The Japanese eagerly pursued, but in a surprise move, the Korean fleet suddenly turned about and headed back toward the Japanese. (The Principle of Manuever.) This brilliant tactic was used to lure the Japanese ships further into open water.

Once there, a terrifying sight emerged: A dragon’s head spitting smoke and flame connected to a strange, bulky, low-lying body. The creature had a curved, humped back, formed from interlocking hexagonal plates with sharp, tapering spines.

Then suddenly from small holes along its sides, cannons began discharging a deadly hail. This ‘monster’ which had now been unmasked to reveal itself as a never before seen battle ship, plunged into the midst of the Japanese ships, spewing death and destruction. While the ‘creature’ wreaked havoc and confusion, the rest of the Korean fleet, stood at a distance and bombarded the Japanese with cannons and arrows. The battle turned into a slaughter, with the confused Japanese ships, trapped between the guns of the impregnable Turtle Ship and the storm of missiles from the Korean ships that surrounded them.

Over the next decade, Yi and his turtle ships would play a key role in defeating Japan’s numerous efforts to invade Korea and Yi’s actions would establish him as one of the greatest admirals of all time.


Look for the potential ‘Turtle Ships’ waiting to be discovered and developed in your organization.