The Shirakumo-class destroyers were ordered under the 1900 fiscal budget as a follow-on to the earlier Murakumo class. Both were ordered from the yard of John I. Thornycroft & Company in Chiswick, England. These were amongst the last destroyers purchased by Japan overseas; most subsequent destroyers in the Imperial Japanese Navy were either prizes of war, or were built in Japan. Both Shirakumo-class destroyers arrived in Japan in time to be used in combat service during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904?1905 and were assigned to the 4th Destroyer Squadron under Admiral Dewa Shigeto. Both played an especially distinguished role in the crucial Battle of Tsushima. On 28 August 1912, both vessels were re-classified as third-class destroyers and were removed from front line combat service. They were converted to auxiliary minesweepers on 1 April 1922, but were used for only a year until converted to unarmed utility vessels.