(Type KD5 submarine-colorized photo by Irootoko Jr)

HIJMS Submarine I-166: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2016 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
Revision 12

8 November 1929:
Laid down at Sasebo Navy Yard.

2 June 1931:

1 December 1931:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Tsuruoka Nobumichi (43) (former CO of I-59) is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer (CEO).

10 November 1932:
I-66 is completed and attached to Sasebo Naval District. Assigned to SubDiv 30. LtCdr Tsuruoka is the Commanding Officer.

15 November 1933:
LtCdr (later Capt) Abe Shinobu (42)(former CO of I-121) is appointed the CO.

1 June 1934:
LtCdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Matsumura Midori (48) (former CO of I-124) is appointed the CO.

1 November 1934:
Placed in reserve at Sasebo. LtCdr (later Capt) Matsuo Yoshiyasu (47)(former CO of I-52) is appointed the CO.

15 November 1934-25 November 1936:
LtCdr Matsuo Yoshiyasu is appointed the CO of I-65 as additional duty.

1 December 1936:
LtCdr (later Captain) Shichiji Tsuneo (49)(former CO of KIKUZUKI) is appointed the CO.

1 December 1937:
Placed in reserve at Sasebo. LtCdr (later Captain) Yokota Minoru (51)(current CO of I-67) is appointed the CO of I-66 as additional duty.

4 July 1938:
Lt (later Cdr) Kono Masamichi (52)(current CO of RO-65 and RO-67) is appointed the CO of I-66 and I-67 as additional duty.

30 July 1938:
LtCdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Togami Ichiro (former CO of RO-68) is appointed the CO of I-66 and I-67 as additional duty.

15 November-15 December 1938:
LtCdr Togami is appointed the CO of I-65 as additional duty.

20 March 1939:
LtCdr Kono Masamichi (52) is appointed the CO of I-65, I-66 (until 28 March; his second tour as the CO of that boat) and I-67 (until 28 March) as additional duty.

28 March 1939:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Kurokawa Hideyuki (54)(former torpedo officer of I-124) is appointed the CO of I-66 and I-67 as additional duty.

1 June 1939:
LtCdr Kono Masamichi (current CO of I-65) is appointed the CO of I-66 as additional duty (his third tour as the CO of that boat).

5 July 1939:
Lt (Cdr, posthumously) Taoka Kiyoshi (55)(current CO of RO-66) is appointed the CO of I-65 and I-66 as additional duty.

27 July 1939:
LtCdr Togami Ichiro is appointed the CO of I-65 and I-66 as additional duty (his second tour as the CO of that boat).

1 September 1939:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Yajima Yasuo (51)(former CO of RO-63) is appointed the CO.

11 October 1940: Imperial Naval Review:
Yokohama. I-66 and 97 warships are spread across Tokyo Bay. Vice Admiral (later Admiral of the Fleet, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku (former CO of AKAGI), CINC, Combined Fleet, accompanies Emperor Hirohito (Showa) aboard battleship HIEI for the Emperor's annual review of the fleet. 527 aircraft also participate. HIEI, escorted by cruisers TAKAO, KAKO and FURUTAKA, then passes among the fleet's ships.

21 October 1941:
Saeki Bay. Early in the morning, I-66 and I-7 collide during maneuvers, but the damage is minor.

20 November 1941:
LtCdr (later Cdr) Yoshitome Zennosuke (52)(former CO of RO-67) is appointed the CO.

26 November 1941:
I-66 is in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral), the Marquis, Daigo Tadashige's SubRon 5 under Captain Teraoka Masao's (later CO of CA SUZUYA) SubDiv 30 with I-65.

I-66 departs Sasebo for Palau with Admiral Daigo's flagship, the light cruiser YURA and SubDivs 30 and 29. Enroute, SubRon 5 is diverted to Samah, Hainan Island, China.

28 November 1941:
SubDiv 30 is reassigned to the Southern Force.

2 December 1941:
SubDiv 30 arrives at Samah.

5 December 1941:
Departs Samah with I-65, I-62 and others on her first war patrol.

8 December 1941: Operation "E"- The Invasion of Malaya:
South China Sea. I-66 forms a patrol line with I-57, I-58, I-62 and I-64 in the area of Trengganu, Malaya. Japanese forces land on the Kra Isthmus of Thailand and NE Malaya.

15 December 1941: Operation "B" -The Invasion of Sarawak (British Borneo):
A Japanese amphibious force seizes Brunei Bay, then Miri (17 December) and Kuching, capital of Sarawak (23 December) and occupy it the next day.

I-66 and I-65 are detached to reconnoiter the approaches to Kuching. Their skippers receive a warning about the presence of Allied submarines in that area.

24 December 1941:
60 miles NW of Kuching, Borneo. At daybreak I-65 surfaces and departs her patrol area at flank speed. LtCdr Yoshitome prepares likewise to surface to recharge the batteries. While scanning the horizon at 1015, he sights a surfaced fleet type submarine on starboard bow, distance 5,500 yards. It is Dutch K-XVI under LtCdr Louis J. Jarman, victor of the IJN destroyer SAGIRI, on its first patrol against Japanese shipping.

I-66 commences a submerged approach. At 1028, Yoshitome fires a single torpedo. K-XVI breaks in two and sinks with all 36 hands at 02-26N, 109-49E. [1]

25 December 1941:
Reassigned to B patrol unit.

27 December 1941:
Arrives at Camranh Bay, Indochina.

5 January 1942:
Departs Camranh for the area S of Lombok Strait, Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal on her second war patrol.

11 January 1942:
Java Sea, 10 miles SW of the Lombok Strait. At 0415, I-66 torpedoes the 6,211-ton U.S. Army Transport LIBERTY, en route from Tanjong Priok (Batavia), carrying rubber from the NEI in her holds, and explosives originating from the Philippines as deck cargo. The heavily damaged freighter goes dead in the water at 08-54S, 115-28E. USS PAUL JONES (DD-230) and the Dutch destroyer Hr.Ms. VAN GHENT attempt to tow her to Singaraya, N Bali, but due to the steadily increasing flooding USAT LIBERTY is finally beached off Tulamben, NE Bali. She capsizes on 14 January.

21 January 1942:
Andaman Sea, Preparis North Channel. At 1516, I-66 torpedoes the 3,193-ton Panamanian-flagged merchant NORD (ex-HAI SHANG) en route from Calcutta to Rangoon, Burma, with 2,500 tons of coal. NORD sinks at 15-28N, 94-36E. There are no casualties.

22 January 1942:
Bay of Bengal, SW of Bassein, Burma. At 0525, I-66 torpedoes the 2,358-ton British passenger-cargo steamer CHAK SANG sailing independently from Madras to Rangoon in ballast. LtCdr Yoshitome battle-surfaces on the crippled merchant and sinks it with gunfire at 15-42N, 95-02E. Five sailors are lost, 61 survivors are rescued later.

29 January 1942:
Arrives at Penang, Malaya.

4 February 1942:
ComSubDiv 30 transfers his flag to I-66.

9 February 1942:
Departs Penang on her third war patrol to an area off Ceylon.

14 February 1942:
Indian Ocean, E of Trincomalee. At 0817, I-66 torpedoes and shells the British Straits Steamship Company's 2,076-ton steamer KAMUNING in 08-35N, 81-44E. Based in Singapore, she was en route from Rangoon to Colombo, Ceylon, with a cargo of rice. The crippled steamer sinks while being towed to Trincomalee at 08-35N, 81-26E. Six sailors are lost, but 63 survivors are rescued by HM trawler BALTA (T.50) and landed at Trincomalee.

2 March 1942:
Returns to Penang.

15 March 1942:
Departs Penang for Sasebo.

28 March 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

5 May 1942:
LtCdr (promoted Cdr on 1 November 1942; Captain, posthumously) Tanaka Makio (52)(former CO of RO-68) is appointed the CO.

15 May 1942:
Departs Sasebo for Kwajalein.

20 May 1942:
I-66 is renumbered I-166.

24 May 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

26 May 1942:
Departs Kwajalein on her fourth war patrol.

26 June 1942:
Returns to Sasebo for an overhaul.

10 July 1942:
SubRon 5 is disbanded. SubDiv 30 is attached to the Southwest Area Fleet.

22 July 1942:
Departs Sasebo.

6 August 1942:
Arrives at Penang.

11 August 1942:
Departs Penang to raid enemy communications in the Indian Ocean on her fifth war patrol.

16 August 1942:
LtCdr Tanaka reports the sinking of an Allied merchant.

17 August 1942:
LtCdr Tanaka reports the sinking of another Allied merchant.

31 August 1942:
Returns to Penang.

18 September 1942:
Departs Penang for the Indian Ocean on her sixth war patrol.

29 September 1942:
I-166 attacks an unidentified Allied merchant, but fails to hit her.

1 October 1942:
Off Calcutta. I-166 lands three Indian National Army insurgents. That same day, at 1310, I-166 shells and damages the 1,201-ton Panamanian-flagged armed merchant CAMILA (ex-BULUSAN) at 08-10N, 77-41E. The burning merchant is beached, but becomes a total loss.

11 October 1942:
Returns to Penang.

5 November 1942:
Departs Penang for the Indian Ocean on her seventh war patrol.

13 November 1942:
Arabian Sea. I-166 attacks an Allied merchant, but fails to hit her.

23 November 1942:
Arabian Sea, S of Cape Comorin. I-166 torpedoes the 5,332-ton British armed merchant CRANFIELD (ex-WAR VERBENA) independently enroute from Calcutta to Suez. CRANFIELD sinks at 08-26N, 76-42E. Nine sailors are lost, but 64 sailors and 3 gunners reach the coast of Travancore, India.

28 November 1942:
Returns to Penang.

5 December 1942:
Departs Penang for the NW coast of Australia on her eighth war patrol. Soon after departure, the submarine is diverted to shell Cocos Island.

25 December 1942:
Indian Ocean. I-166 bombards Cocos Island.

27 December 1942:
Arrives at Surabaya, later departs for Sasebo.

19 January 1943:
Returns to Sasebo. Drydocked.

3 February 1943:
Cdr Tanaka is appointed the CEO of I-39 as additional duty.

16 March 1943:
Lt (Cdr, posthumously) Nakayama Denshichi (61)(former CO of RO-67) is appointed the CO of I-166 and I-165 as an additional duty.

15 May 1943:
Lt (promoted LtCdr on 1 November 1943) Nakayama assumes full-time command of I-166.

Early July 1943:
Departs Sasebo for Surabaya.

Mid-July 1943:
Arrives at Surabaya. Departs for Fremantle-Lombok Strait area on her ninth war patrol.

10 September 1943:
Arrives at Balikpapan, departs on the following day for Singapore.

13 September 1943:
Arrives at Singapore. Reassigned to Southwest Area Fleet.

23 September 1943:
Departs Singapore for Penang.

25 September 1943:
Arrives at Penang to take up station as her new operating base from which to raid enemy communications in the Indian Ocean.

9 October 1943:
Departs Penang for Sabang to refuel; next departs for the Indian Ocean on her tenth war patrol.

Late October 1943:
Off Colombo. I-166 attacks an unidentified Allied merchant, but fails to hit her.

13 November 1943:
Returns to Penang.

7 December 1943:
Departs Penang for the Indian Ocean on her eleventh war patrol, combined with a special assignment.

24 December 1943 - Operation YO: Landing of Indian National Army agents on Ceylon:
Early in the morning, I-166 lands six Indian National Army agents at Kirinda, West coast of Ceylon. Departs to patrol in the Eight Degree Channel area. [2]

9 January 1944:
Returns to Penang.

7 February 1944:
Departs Penang for the Indian Ocean-Bay of Bengal on her twelveth war patrol.

19 February 1944:
LtCdr Nakayama attacks the 6,943-ton British armed tanker BRITISH FUSILIER, but misses her with two torpedoes.

13 March 1944:
Returns to Penang.

25 March 1944:
SubDiv 30 is reassigned to SubRon 8.

27 April 1944:
Departs Penang on a supply mission (Operation RI).

15 May 1944:
Lt (Cdr, posthumously) Suwa Koichiro (64)(former torpedo officer of I-27) is appointed the CO.

1 June 1944:
Returns to Penang.

13 July 1944:
Cdr William D. A. King's submarine HMS TELEMACHUS (P.321) arrives in her prescribed sector off One Fathom Bank (now Permatang Sedepa) to intercept Japanese traffic between Penang and Singapore. [3]

16 July 1944:
On the afternoon I-166 departs Penang for Singapore to rendezvous with Vice Admiral Kurita Takeo's First Diversion Attack Force at Lingga Roads. Together with I-37, I-166 is selected to act as ASW target for the Second Fleet's destroyers.

17 July 1944:
Straits of Malacca. Patrolling at periscope depth 7 miles SE from One Fathom Bank, at 0708, TELEMACHUS' watch officer sights an incoming Japanese submarine four miles ahead, bearing 325. Sound contact is established soon thereafter. Cdr King commences an approach despite limited visibility, estimating the speed of I-166 at 18 knots. Due to the narrowness of the channel, I-166 cannot zigzag and Lt Suwa evidently intends to navigate it at best possible speed.

At 0720, Cdr King fires six new type torpedoes at 1,500 yards. Their warheads are heavier than previous types and his sub broaches briefly. Ninety-two seconds after the launch one torpedo hits the stern of I-166, causing a violent explosion. The submarine sinks in 130 feet of water at 02-48N, 101-03E.

88 sailors are killed in the explosion; ten others, including Lt Suwa and the navigating officer, are blown overboard. Seven hours later they are picked up by Malayan fishermen.

The 15th Special Base Unit at Penang dispatches two torpedo boats and converted minelayer Wa-4 to hunt down the British submarine. They are assisted by a Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" bomber from the 62nd Hiko Sentai. Wa-4 drops 12 depth charges at TELEMACHUS, the bomber drops two 60-kg GP bombs. The submarine receives no damage.

10 September 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

4 October 2011:
60 miles NW of Kuching, Borneo. A group of Australian divers from MV EMPRESS of Singapore, locate and dive the wreck of Dutch submarine K-XVI. She lies broken in half in 50m of water. Years earler, divers also located the wreck of IJN destroyer SAGIRI sunk by K-XVI.
Authors' Notes:
[1] Different sources suggest no less than three different locations for the area where K-XVI was lost. The data above are taken from I-66's own wartime report.

[2] This group, trained by the Penang-based IJA Hikari Kikan spy unit and tentatively designated as "Pawnbroker" by British counterintelligence, consisted of six natives of Ceylon, including Tudor Gunaratne, Vernon Fernando, Edwin Jayakody and Joseph Jayakody. "Pawnbroker" was tasked with providing information about British-Indian naval build-up in the Ceylon area. All six agents were caught by the British soon after landing and later executed.

[3] The last of the WW2 submarine skippers, Cdr William Donald "Bill" King (DSO & Bar, DSC) passed away on 21 September 2012 at age 102 in Ireland. At the time of his death he was one of the three oldest surviving World War II submarine skippers (the other two being LtCdr Connell "Con" Percy Thode, RNZVR, and Korvettenkapitän Reinhard Hardegen, Kriegsmarine). See for much more on Cdr King.

Special thanks go to Japanese humanitarian and businessman Tsurukame Akira of Lomita, California. Using the original version of this TROM from 2001, Mr. Tsurukame started research on the fate of his late father, Chief Machinist Tsurukame Tsuruichi, who perished aboard I-166. In 2007, he published a book entitled "In Search of My Father Beneath the Blue Sea – Three families, three nations, and a journey of reconciliation," describing his findings regarding the intertwined fates of three submarines mentioned above. Mr. Tsurukame Akira gracefully agreed to share his research with all readers of this TROM.

Thanks also go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan, and to Kevin Delay of Australia for info on the finds of K-XVI and SAGIRI, as well as to our readers Messrs. Bernhard Schaefer of Germany and Gus Mellon.

– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp

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