HIJMS Submarine I-16: Tabular Record of Movement

2001-2003 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

Revision 1

30 March 1940:
The I-16 is constructed at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, Kobe, then towed to the Kure Navy Yard where she is completed and commissioned in the IJN. She is based in the Yokosuka Naval District.

15 November 1941:
The I-16 is in Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (former CO of ISE) Advance Expeditionary Fleet (Sixth Fleet) under Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomu's SubRon 1 in Captain Imazato Hiroshi's SubDiv 1. LtCdr Yamada Kaoryu is the Commanding Officer.

17 November 1941: Operation "Z":
For Operation Z, the I-16 is assigned to Captain (later Rear Admiral) Sasaki Hankyu's Special Attack Unit with the I-18, -20, -24 and the flagship, the I-22. The officers of the Special Attack Unit are briefed on the Hawaii Operation at the Kure Naval Club.

18 November 1941:
The Special Attack Unit departs Kure for the Kamegakubi Naval Proving Ground. At Kamegakubi each of the unit's submarines embarks a top-secret two-man Type A midget submarine, code-named "Mato".

19 November 1941:
At 0215, all five of the Special Attack Unit's submarines depart for the Hawaiian Islands. They use a direct route, passing Midway.

2 December 1941:
The coded signal "Niitakayama nobore (Climb Mt. Niitaka) 1208" is received from the Combined Fleet. It signifies that hostilities will commence on 8 December (Japan time).*

7 December 1941: The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
Seven miles SSW of the harbor entrance. At 0042, the I-16 launches a Type-A midget submarine under Lt (j.g.) Yokoyama Masaharu with PO2C Ueda Sadamu.** It is the first of five midgets released by the Special Attack Unit. Their orders are to attack any ships that attempt to sortie from the harbor.

The I-16 patrols west of Lanai, Hawaii. At 2241, she receives a "Tora, tora, tora!" message from Lt Yokoyama about the successful air attack.

8 December 1941:
At 0051, the I-16 receives another message from her midget that says "unable to navigate." All five of the Special Attack Unit's midgets fail to return to their "mother" submarines.

12 December 1941:
Departs her patrol area for Kwajalein.

20 December 1941:
Arrives at Kwajalein in company of the I-20. The I-16 is recalled to Kure to participate in tests of the connecting trunk to enable to launch the midgets underwater

25 December 1941:
Departs Kwajalein for Yokosuka.

3 January 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka, later transfers to Kure.

16 March 1942:
Vice Admiral, the Marquis, Komatsu Teruhisa (former CO of NACHI) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines).

16 April 1942:
The I-16 is in Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ishizaki Noboru's (former CO of HYUGA) SubRon 8, in the KO ("A") Detachment with the I-10, I-18, I-20, I-30 and their support ships, the auxiliary cruisers/supply ships AIKOKU MARU and the HOKOKU MARU.

Hashirajima, Hiroshima Bay. Vice Admiral Komatsu, Captain Ishizaki their staffs and midget submarine crews pay a courtesy call on the CINC, Combined Fleet, Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku aboard his flagship, the new battleship YAMATO. At 1100, the A Detachment departs for Penang, Occupied British Malaya.

18 April 1942: The First Bombing of Japan:
Vice Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. ("Bull") Halsey's Task Force 16 USS HORNET (CV-8), cruisers, destroyers and an oiler accompanied by the ENTERPRISE, cruisers, destroyers and another oiler approach Japan. The cruisers and the carriers come to within 668 nautical miles of Japan.

Led by LtCol (later Gen/Medal of Honor) James H. Doolittle, 16 North American B-25 "Mitchell" twin-engine bombers of the 17th Bomb Group take off from Captain (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's carrier HORNET and strike targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya and Kobe.

Vice Admiral Komatsu orders the I-16, -10, -18, -20 and the I-30 to proceed NE, passing N of the Bonin Islands to intercept TF 16, but they are unsuccessful.

27 April 1942: The I-16 arrives at Penang with the A detachment. The I-16, -18 and the I-20 are joined by the seaplane tender NISSHIN that had been converted to carry Type A midget submarines. Each of the three "mother" submarines is loaded with a midget

30 April 1942:
The I-16 departs with the A Detachment (less the I-30) and sorties westward in the Indian Ocean under the command of Captain Ishizaki in the flagship I-10. The I-10 is to reconnoiter selected points on the East African coast for possible attack. The I-30 is assigned a similar reconnaissance mission and departs in advance.

5, 10 and 15 May 1942:
The A Detachment refuels at sea from the AIKOKU MARU and the HOKOKU MARU.

17 May 1942:
I-16's port diesel is flooded in heavy seas but she is able to continue her mission.

20 May 1942:
The I-10 catapults her Yokosuka E14Y "Glen" floatplane to reconnoiter Durban, South Africa.

29 May 1942:
About 2230, the I-10's floatplane reconnoiters the harbor at Diego Suarez (now Antseranana). The plane sights the HMS RAMILLIES, an old 29,150-ton ROYAL SOVEREIGN-class battleship, at anchor in the bay. Also in the harbor are the destroyers HMS DUNCAN and ACTIVE, corvettes HMS GENISTA and THYME, troopship HMS KARANJA, hospital ship ATLANTIS, tanker BRITISH LOYALTY, merchant LLANDAFF CASTLE and an ammunition ship.

Captain Ishizaki orders a midget submarine attack for the next night.

30 May 1942:
10 miles E of Diego Suarez. At 1740 (JST), the I-16 launches her midget submarine under Ensign Iwase Katsusuke with PO2C Takada Kozo to penetrate the harbor. At 2025, the midget from the I-20 torpedoes and heavily damages the RAMILLIES. British corvettes drop depth charges, but at 2120 the same midget torpedoes and sinks the 6,993-ton BRITISH LOYALTY in shallow water. (She is later refloated and sunk off Addu Atoll). Ensign Iwase and PO2C Takada are MIA.

Ten days later, the RAMILLIES makes for Durban, Union of South Africa.

2 June 1942:
The body of an unidentified IJN sailor (presumably Iwase or Takada) is found on a beach off Diego Suarez.

6 June 1942:
Indian Ocean. The I-16 torpedoes, shells and sinks the 3,889-ton Yugoslav merchant SUSAK at 15-42S, 40-58E.

8 June 1942:
Indian Ocean. The I-16 shells and sinks the 4,847-ton Greek merchant AGHIOS GEORGIOS IV at 16-12S, 41-00E.

12 June 1942:
Indian Ocean. The I-16 torpedoes and sinks the 3,748-ton Yugoslav merchant SUPETAR at 21-49S, 35-50E.

1 July 1942:
Indian Ocean. The I-16 torpedoes and sinks the 5,243-ton Swedish merchant EKNAREN at 17-00S, 40-00E.

26 July 1942:
Indian Ocean. The I-16 reconnoiters Diego Garcia.

10 August 1942:
Arrives at Penang, then departs for Japan.

26 August 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka for an overhaul.

7 October 1942:
A midget submarine base is established at Marovovo, Guadalcanal.

17 October 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for Shortland.

2 November 1942:
Arrives at the Shortland Islands anchorage.

4 November 1942:
At 1300 the I-16 embarks the midget submarine HA-30 that was brought down from the Empire aboard the tender (later carrier) CHIYODA. The I-16, -20 and the I-24 form an attack group under Captain Ota Nobunosuke.

The I-16 departs Shortland with the I-24 for Indispensable Strait, Guadalcanal.

7 November 1942:
At 0600, the I-16 arrives at her midget launch area at Guadalcanal.

11 November 1942:
At 0200, Lt(j.g.) Yamaki Teiji and PO1C Hashimoto Ryoichi embark their midget.

At 0349, the surfaced I-16 sights a PT-boat and dives.

At 0421, the HA-30 is launched 10.8 miles from Cape Esperance. During the launch her rudder is damaged and three minutes later the craft loses steering. Lt(j.g.) Yamaki surfaces and aborts the mission. En route to Kamimbo Bay, the crew sights two enemy aircraft and then scuttles their midget.*** Around 1900, both sailors reach the shore at Marovovo.

13 November 1942:The First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal:
En route to Shortland, LtCdr Yamada receives an order to locate and scuttle the HIEI if she is still afloat. The I-16 reaches the area, but fails to find the HIEI.

16 November 1942:
Truk. Vice Admiral Komatsu convenes a meeting of his submarine captains. He announces that the submarine force has been ordered by Admiral Yamamoto to organize a supply system for the IJA's 17th Army garrison on Guadalcanal.

At Shortland, the I-16 embarks the HA-10 and then departs for a midget attack at Lunga Point, Guadalcanal.

28 November 1942:
21 miles from Savo Island. At 0255, the I-16 launches her midget piloted by Lt(j.g.) Hoka Hiroshi and PO Inokuma Shinsaku.

3,000 yards NE from Lunga Point. At 0816, the HA-10 torpedoes and damages the 6,198-ton American freighter ALCHIBA (AK-23), after penetrating the screen of destroyers. The ALCHIBA is beached to avoid sinking and continues to burn for four days. Lt(j.g.) Hoka and PO Inokuma remain MIA. LtCdr Yamada returns to Shortland.

December 1942:
At Shortland, the I-16 embarks the HA-22 and then departs for another attack off Guadalcanal.

3 December 1942:
10 miles off Savo island. At 0448, the I-16 launches the HA-22 piloted by Lt(j.g.) Kado Yoshimi and PO Yahagi Toshio.

At dawn, Lt(j.g.) Kado sights the hospital ship USS SOLACE (AH-5) off Lunga Point. Next he fires both torpedoes at a destroyer heading for the same area but fails to score. The HA-22 is scuttled and her crew escapes to Cape Esperance.

18 December 1942:
LtCdr (later Cdr) Nakamura Shozo (former CO of I-6) assumes command from LtCdr Yamada.

1 January 1943:
The I-16 is in Rear Admiral Ishizaki Noboru's SubRon 8 in SubDiv 1 with the I-18, -20, -21 and the I-24.

6 January 1943:
Departs Truk to participate in supply missions to Guadalcanal and Lae.

13 January 1943:
Arrives at Cape Esperance, carrying a cargo of supply drums. Because enemy planes patrol over the area, no Daihatsu barge is dispatched to meet her. All cargo is abandoned and the I-16 departs for Rabaul.

25 January 1943:
Arrives at Cape Esperance on her second supply run to Guadalcanal, carrying 18-tons in supply containers.

31 January 1943: Operation "KE-Go" - The Evacuation of Guadalcanal:
A task force of units of the Second and Third Fleets from Truk including the carriers ZUIKAKU, ZUIHO and the JUNYO, Bat Div 3's KONGO and the HARUNA, CruDiv 4's ATAGO and the TAKAO, CruDiv 5's HAGURO and the MYOKO, DesRon 4's light cruiser NAGARA, DesRon 10's light cruiser AGANO and destroyers 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.

During the operation, the I-16 patrols SE of Guadalcanal with the I-11, I-25 and the I-32.

9 February 1943:
Operation KE-Go is completed. The Japanese successfully evacuate 11,700 troops from Guadalcanal.

1 April 1943:
Arrives at Lae, carrying 40-tons of cargo (including 30 supply drums).

2 April 1943:
Returning from Lae, the I-16 is damaged in an underwater collision with the I-20.

Early April 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul, then departs for Yokosuka.

16 April 1943:
Returns to Yokosuka for repairs and refit. The I-16's deck gun is removed and the number of torpedoes she normally carries is reduced to two.

21 September 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Truk.

17 October 1943:
Arrves at Sio, New Guinea on a supply mission.

17 October 1943: Arrves at Sio, New Guinea on a supply mission.

25 October 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her second supply run to New Guinea.

2 November 1943:
Arrives at Sio, carrying 30 soldiers of the 85th Guard Unit on her third supply run to New Guinea.

9 November 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her fourth supply run to New Guinea.

20 November 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her fifth supply run to New Guinea.

24 November 1943:
At Rabaul. The I-16 embarks the newly-appointed C-in-C, Ninth Fleet Vice Admiral Endo Yoshikazu (former CO of CL KINU) with his staff and cargo.

27 November 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her sixth supply run to New Guinea, unloads her cargo.

30 November 1943:
Arrives at Wewak, the HQ of the Ninth Fleet. Vice Admiral Endo and his staff leave the submarine. The I-16 departs for Rabaul.

15 December 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her seventh and final supply run to New Guinea.

25 December 1943:
At Rabaul. Sustains light damage in an air attack. Departs for Yokosuka on the same day via Truk.

1 January 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka for repairs. Drydocked.

Early February 1944:
Repairs are completed.

15 February 1944:
LtCdr Takeuchi Yoshitaka (former CO of I-158) assumes command from LtCdr Nakamura.

17 March 1944:
Departs Yokosuka for Truk.

April 1944:
Based at Truk.

14 May 1944:
At 0800, the I-16 departs Truk on a supply mission to Buin, Bougainville, carriyng rice in 75-lb rubber bags. Takeuchi signals ComSubRon 7 at Saipan that his ETA at Buin is 2000, 22 May. His signal is intercepted by FRUPAC (Fleet Radio Unit, Pacific) at Honolulu and passes through channels to Commander Escort Division 39, at Tulagi Harbor, Florida Island near Guadalcanal, Solomons.

ComCortDiv 39, Commander H. Plains, issues orders to his USS GEORGE (DE-697) and RABY (DE-698) and Escort Division 40's ENGLAND (DE-635) that is under his tactical command.

18 May 1944:
That afternoon, LtCdr Walton B. Pendelton's USS ENGLAND (DE-635) departs Purvis Bay, off Florida Island with the RABY and the GEORGE as a hunter-killer group and begin heading toward 5-10S,158-10E as designated in the FRUPAC message to rendezvous with the 1-16.

That same day, the Americans intercept radio traffic that indicates the Japanese have established a new submarine picket "NA line" between Truk and the Admiralty Islands to intercept American carriers.

19 May 1944:
140 miles NE of Cape Alexander, Solomons. An American patrol plane sights the I-16 running on the surface and signals its position. So alerted, the ENGLAND, RABY and the GEORGE conduct a line-abreast sonar sweep. At 1335, the ENGLAND finds the I-16 on her sonar.

At 1341, LtCdr Pendelton begins the first of five attacks - each with a barrage of twenty-four throw-ahead Mark 10 "hedgehog" projector charges. The hedgehogs hit on the second and fifth attacks. At 1435, after the fifth attack, a huge underwater explosion lifts the ENGLAND's fantail out of the water by 6-inches as the I-16 explodes and sinks at 05-10S, 158-10E.

The explosion must have been at 500 feet or deeper because it is 20 minutes before the first debris appears. Shreds of cork, deck planking, pieces of cabinets and other objects appear. Finally, a sealed rubber container with a bag of rice inside surfaces. Almost an hour later, a small oil slick appears. By the following day, the slick is three miles wide and six miles long.

25 June 1944:
Presumed lost with all 107 hands in the Solomons.

10 October 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Notes:
*Mt. Niitaka, located in Formosa (now Taiwan), was then the highest point in the Japanese Empire.

**On 6 March 1942, the crews of all the Pearl Harbor midgets (except POW Ensign Sakamaki) are posthumously promoted two ranks.

***On 7 May 43, the submarine rescue vessel USS ORTOLAN (ASR-5) (formerly AM-45) salvages a Japanese midget submarine off the N coast of Guadalcanal, tows her to Kukum Bay, Guadalcanal in May and then in June '43 delivers her to Noumea, New Caledonia. Some sources identify the midget as the HA-8, others the HA-10 and still others the HA-30. Whichever she truly is, the "Guadalcanal midget" is displayed at the Nautilus Memorial Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, CT, one of four such Type A midgets on display around the world.

Special thanks for help in preparing this TROM go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan. Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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