(I-11's crew exercising on deck in 1942)

IJN Submarine I-11:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2016 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
Revision 7

10 April 1939:
Laid down at Kawasaki's Kobe Yard as the A1 class submarine No. 138.

5 February 1941:
Provisionally attached to Kure Naval District.

28 February 1941:
Launched and designated I-11.

20 February 1942:
Cdr (later Captain) Shichiji Tsuneo (49)(former CO of I-5) is appointed Chief Equipping Officer.

16 May 1942:
Kobe. I-11 is completed and attached to Kure Naval District. She is designated the new flagship of Rear Admiral Kono Chimaki's SubRon 3, replacing the I-8, damaged in a friendly fire incident. Cdr Shichiji Tsuneo is the Commanding Officer.

Late May 1942:
Transferred to Kure for working-up. Embarks a Yokosuka E14Y1 "Glen" Type 0 floatplane, transferred from the 11th Naval Air Arsenal to conduct launch and recovery exercises.

7 June 1942:
Departs Kure for Kwajalein.

16 June 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein. Continues floatplane launch and recovery exercises. One of I-11's sailors is injured as a result of catapult malfunction.

8 July 1942:
Rear Admiral Kono transfers his flag from tender YASUKUNI MARU to I-11. The submarine also embarks a war correspondent from the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

9 July 1942:
I-11, with Rear Admiral Kono and his six-man staff embarked, departs Kwajalein for the east coast of Australia on her first war patrol. [1]

20 July 1942:
15 miles off Jervis Bay, New South Wales. At 2301 (Eastern Standard Time), I-11, running on the surface, torpedoes the 5,482-ton Greek steamer GEORGE S. LIVANOS with a cargo of 87 Army motor vehicles. After receiving one hit she sinks in seven minutes at 35-00S, 151-00E.

21 July 1942:
10 miles off Jervis Bay. At 0204, I-11, still running on the surface, fires two torpedoes at the 3,290-ton American armed merchant COAST FARMER (ex-POINT ARENA). After receiving two hits amidships, COAST FARMER goes down in 20 minutes at 35-23S, 151-00E. I-11 briefly examines the lifeboats, illuminating them with a searchlight, then proceeds southwest along the coast.

22 July 1942:
25 miles E of Twofold Bay lighthouse, New South Wales. At 0545, I-11, running on the surface, fires three torpedoes at the 7,176-ton American "Liberty" ship WILLIAM DAWES with a cargo of 82 jeeps, 72 half-ton pickups, 60 one-ton trailers and scores of trucks, ambulances and half-track vehicles. After receiving two hits the burning ship goes down around 1630 at 36-47S, 150-16E. Four Naval Armed Guards and a soldier are killed and four wounded.

Later that evening a RAAF Bristol "Beaufort" from Nowra attacks a submarine (probably I-11) off Tathra Head, but fails to inflict any damage. [2]

24 July 1942:
Around 1200 the lookouts on I-11 report the sighting of a convoy with 8 transports, escorted by two light cruisers and two destroyers. The distance is excessive and Cdr Shichiji gives up the chase.

27 July 1942:
30 miles N of Cape Howe. At 0406, the surfaced I-11 fires one torpedo at the 2,197-ton Australian merchant COOLANA, but misses. Cdr Shichiji prepares to shell her with deck gun, but in rough seas the aiming proves to be exceedingly difficult. When COOLANA sends out an SOS, the submarine dives to fire another torpedo, missing again. COOLANA escapes undamaged.

29 July 1942:
Disaster Bay, 22 miles NE of Gabo Island. Around 0500 in the morning the surfaced I-11, heading south at 7 kts, is attacked by a "Beaufort" (A9-42) of RAAF No. 100 Squadron from Mallacoota. The plane's bomb bay doors stick and I-11 is able to crash-dive before the "Beaufort" can drop its six 250-lb bombs. Although F/O George Avery claims a kill, I-11 is not damaged. After surfacing numerous bomb fragments are recovered from her afterdeck.

3 July 1942:
Tasman Sea. At 2330 the lookouts on the surfaced I-11 report a convoy escorted by several minor vessels dead ahead. I-11 commences a chase.

31 July 1942:
Tasman Sea, 15 miles SW of Cape Everard lighthouse. At 0250, I-11 attacks the convoy, firing two torpedoes at overlapping targets. One explosion is heard. The escorts counterattack, but are not able to locate the submarine.

1 August 1942:
I-11 reaches the eastern entrance of Bass Strait (the southernmost limit of her patrol area) and commences her return voyage.

7 August 1942: American Operation "Watchtower" - The Invasion of Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's Amphibious Task Force 62, covered by Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher's Task Force 61 and Rear Admiral (later Admiral) John S. McCain's Task Force 63's land-based aircraft, lands Maj Gen (later Gen/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal opening a seven-month campaign to take the island.

11 August 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

20 August 1942:
Departs Truk on her second war patrol to patrol in the Santa Cruz-Solomons area.

31 August 1942:
Coral Sea, 146 miles SE of Tulagi Island. At 0405 (local), Cdr Shichiji attacks a 10,000-ton transport escorted by a destroyer and claims two torpedo hits.

6 September 1942:
NW of Espiritu Santo (13-20S, 162-40E). At 1149, the soundman of the I-11, patrolling submerged, detects an enemy task force. Cdr Shichiji commences the approach and manages to penetrate the destroyer screen unobserved. After coming to periscope depth again, Shichiji sights an ENTERPRISE class fleet carrier passing dead ahead at 765 yds. At 1249 he fires a snap shot from four bow tubes and then dives to 200 ft, rigging for silent running. Two heavy explosions are heard three minutes later.

Rear Admiral George D. Murray's Task Force 17 with USS HORNET (CV-8), battleship NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55), two heavy cruisers, one light AA cruiser, and six destroyers is conducting a sweep toward the southern Solomons. At 1251, Ens. John Cresto from VT-6, piloting one of the three Grumman TBF-1 "Avengers" on inner air patrol, spots an object resembling the submarine conning tower break the surface between a plane guard destroyer and USS NORTH CAROLINA. Almost simultaneously lookouts aboard HORNET report a torpedo wake off her starboard quarter.

Ens. Cresto drops a 325-lb depth charge on what he thinks is the conning tower, causing two incoming torpedoes to detonate one after another. HORNET initiates a hard left turn, avoiding the last torpedo which passes within 400 yds of NORTH CAROLINA's port side as she is swinging to starboard.

At 1452, USS RUSSELL (DD-414) locates a submerged target and attacks it with six 600-lb depth charges. At 1513, her lookouts sight an oil slick one mile by one-half mile wide, but the contact is lost at 700 yds.

The soundman on I-11, now proceeding at the depth of 100 ft, belatedly reports approaching screw noises and the submarine commences a dive to 200 ft. Depth charges exploding close to the boat wreck 80 per cent of her batteries, cause a minor leak through the propeller shaft glands and temporarily disable the sound gear. The forward compartments are filled with chlorine gas and I-11 descends to 490 ft before the boat returns to even keel. Donning gas masks and rewiring the intact batteries, the crew manages to partially restore electrical power.

Seven hours after the attack I-11 surfaces to assess the damage. Although the leak at the stern can be patched, the submarine is unable to dive. Cdr Shichiji orders to head for Truk at the best possible speed.

7 September 1942:
NE of Santa Isabel Island, Solomons (07-12S, 163-14E). In the afternoon the surfaced I-11 is attacked by a PBY-5 "Catalina" patrol seaplane from VP-11. The submarine returns fire from her 140-mm deck gun, four 25-mm AA guns, three Type 38 carbines and her floatplane's machine gun, lashed to the bridge railing. The "Catalina" drops three bombs and scores a near miss, but inflicts no further damage.

8 September 1942:
Between 1400 and 1415, I-11 is attacked by a single PBY-5 "Catalina" which makes several strafing attacks and scores a near hit with a bomb.

11 September 1942:
Returns to Truk where the flag of SubRon 3 is transferred to YASUKUNI MARU. Makeshift repairs are conducted.

15 September 1942:
Departs Truk for Kure, proceeding surfaced during the entire voyage.

23 September 1942:
Arrives at Kure for repairs. The floatplane - still flyable despite depth-charging - is returned to the 11th Naval Air Arsenal.

9 January 1943:
Departs Kure for Truk.

15 January 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

18 January 1943:
I-11 is designated the flagship of Rear Admiral Komazawa Katsumi's (former CO of CVS NISSHIN) Submarine Force "A".

19 January 1943:
Departs Truk for an area S of Guadalcanal and N of Rennel Island on her third war patrol, carrying a Yokosuka E14Y1 "Glen" floatplane. She waits to intercept American naval forces with I-16, I-17, I-18, I-20, I-25, I-26, I-32 and I-176.

23 January 1943:
Diverted to the area E of San Cristobal.

31 January Operation "KE" - The Evacuation of Guadalcanal:
A task force of units of the Second and Third Fleets from Truk steams north of the Solomons as a feint to cover Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hashimoto Shintaro's (former CO of HYUGA) destroyer force from Rabaul. The IJN begins to evacuate the starving IJA troops from Guadalcanal.

2 February 1943:
After receiving information that an American carrier task force is at sea 100 miles SE of San Cristobal Island, Rear Admiral Komazawa orders his submarines to proceed to intercept the carriers.

7 February 1943:
Around 1000, I-11 spots an American carrier (possibly USS SUWANNEE/CVE-27), steaming on a southerly course. Cdr Shichiji commences an approach, but the attack is foiled by an inaccurate depth setting of the torpedoes.

Later that day, I-11 is redirected to New Caledonia area to reconnoiter the Nouméa anchorage and local airfields while using her floatplane.

21 February 1943:
The E14Y1 "Glen" from I-11 conducts a recce flight over the American fleet anchorage at Nouméa. One aircraft carrier, two battleships and several smaller vessels are sighted in the harbor.

1 March 1943:
The E14Y1 "Glen" from I-11 conducts a recce flight over the airfields on Chesterfield Reefs, New Caledonia. During the recovery the floatplane is damaged.

10 March 1943:
Returns to Truk.

10 April 1943:
Departs Truk to raid enemy communications off the east coast of Australia on her fourth war patrol with ComSubRon 3, Rear Admiral Komazawa Katsumi and his staff embarked. I-177, I-178 and I-180 depart for the Australian coast on that same day.

27 April 1943:
70 miles N of Gabo Island. I-11 unsuccessfully attacks the convoy O.C.90 traveling from Melbourne to Newcastle.

29 May 1943:
150 miles NE of Sydney. Attacks the 7176-ton American Liberty ship SHELDON JACKSON, missing her with two torpedoes.

10 June 1943:
Returns to Truk.

1 July 1943:
Departs Truk on her fifth war patrol off New Caledonia, carrying a Yokosuka E14Y1 "Glen" floatplane. Her new skipper is Cdr (later Captain) Tagami Meiji (51)(former CO of I-25), officially appointed the CO of I-11 on 7 July.

20 July 1943:
Off San Cristobal, Solomons. At sunset, British Vice Admiral Victor A.C. Crutchley's Task Force 74 is proceeding to Espiritu Santo. The weather is clear with extreme visibility. The darkened light cruiser HMAS HOBART (ex-HMS APOLLO) is steaming in column at 23 kts some 600 yds astern of heavy cruiser HMAS AUSTRALIA (F). USS RADFORD (DD-446), NICHOLAS (DD-449) and O'BANNON (DD-450) are screening the cruisers. All ships are zigzagging.

At a range of 10 miles, Cdr Tagami fires two Type 95 torpedoes at the heavy cruiser HMAS AUSTRALIA, but underestimates her speed and misses. At 1845, one torpedo hits HOBART's port quarter at 15-07S, 163-43E. The explosion breaks her back, blowing two propellers off and lifting the 'Y' turret off its seating. HOBART loses all power and steering control and takes on a list to port. She makes Espirtu Santo the next day with 13 dead and seven badly injured seamen aboard. After temporary repairs, HOBART makes Sydney under her own power, but permanent repairs to the extensively damaged ship take 17 months.

25 July 1943:
After sundown the E14Y1 "Glen" from I-11 conducts a recce flight over Nouméa, observing cruisers and other vessels in the harbor.

11 August 1943:
Off Nouméa. I-11 torpedoes the 7,176-ton American Liberty ship MATTHEW LYON at 22-30S, 165-59W. She receives one hit to her No. 3 hold, tearing a 35-foot-long hole to her port side; one sailor is injured. The crippled vessel manages to reach Espiritu Santo under her own power. [3]

13 September 1943:
Returns to Truk.

15 September 1943:
SubRon 3 is disbanded. I-11 is reassigned as the new flagship of SubRon 1.

18 September 1943:
Departs Truk for Kure.

26 September 1943:
Arrives at Kure for repairs.

10 October 1943:
Cdr (Captain, posthumously) Izu Juichi (51)(former CO of I-29) is appointed CO.

4 December 1943:
Departs Kure for Truk.

Mid-December 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

21 December 1943:
Departs Truk on her sixth war patrol to raid enemy communications in Ellice, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga areas, followed by a reconnaissance of Funafuti, Ellice Islands. She is carrying a Yokosuka E14Y1 "Glen" floatplane.

31 December 1943:
Conducts submerged reconnaissance of Funafuti atoll, Ellice islands. Two battleships, two cruisers and two large warships resembling battleships are observed in the harbor.

11 January 1944:
After completing her Funafuti mission, I-11 makes her final report. Cdr Izu is ordered to attack enemy shipping in Ellice-Samoa area and conduct another reconnaissance of Funafuti atoll in early February.

20 March 1944:
Presumed lost in the area S of Funafuti.

30 April 1944:
Removed from the Navy List. [4]

Authors' Note:
[1] According to the Advance Force Detailed Action Report No. 9 (12 June-8 Aug 1942), I-11 was originally scheduled to depart in company of I-175 on 8 July. The reason for the delay is not known.

[2] The Advance Force DAR No. 9 confirms that during her first war patrol I-11 was attacked twice by the RAAF aircraft (cf. the entry for 29 July).

[3] After extensive repairs MATTHEW LYON was recommissioned as the net cargo ship USS ZEBRA (AKN-5).

[4] Post-war Japanese studies suggest I-11 may have struck a mine laid by USS TERROR (CM-5).

Rohwer and Hümmelchen in their "Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945" credit USS NICHOLAS (DD-449) with the sinking of I-11 on 17 February 1944, probably confusing her with I-175.

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan. Special thanks also go to Steve Eckardt of Australia for providing new information for revision 1.

– Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp.

Back to Submarine Page