(Type KD6 submarine - colorized photo by Irootoko Jr)

IJN Submarine I-169: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2016 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
Revision 5

22 December 1931:
Laid down at Mitsubishi's Kobe Yard.

15 February 1934:
Launched as I-69.

15 January 1935:
LtCdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Miyazaki Takeji (46)(former division officer of SATA) is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer (CEO).

28 September 1935:
Kobe. I-69 is completed and attached to Kure Naval District. Assigned to SubDiv 12. LtCdr Miyazaki Takeji is the Commanding Officer.

1 December 1936:
LtCdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Horinouchi Miyoshi (50)(former torpedo officer of I-53) is appointed the CO.

1 December 1937:
LtCdr (later Captain) Shichiji Tsuneo (49)(former CO of I-66) is appointed the CO.

20 February 1939:
LtCdr (later Captain) Iura Shojiro (51)(former damage control officer of YAKUMO) is appointed the CO.

24 April 1939:
LtCdr (later Captain) Otani Kiyonori (49)(former CO of I-52) is appointed the CO.

1 May 1939:
Placed in reserve at Kure. LtCdr (later Cdr) Kono Masamichi (52)(current CO of I-65) is appointed the CO of I-69 as an aditional duty.

1 June 1939:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Izu Juichi (51)(current CO of I-70) is appointed the CO of I-69 as an additional duty.

24 August 1939:
LtCdr (later Captain) Inaba Michimune (51)(current CO of I-70) is appointed the CO of I-69 as an additional duty.

1 September 1939:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Inada Hiroshi (51)(former CO of RO-58) is appointed the CO.

12 May 1941:
Yokosuka. I-69 is involved in a collision with her sister I-70, receives damage to bow.

31 July 1941:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Watanabe Katsuji (55)(former CO of RO-33/RO-34) is appointed the CO.

November 1941: Operation "Z":
I-69 is assigned to Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (former CO of ISE) Advanced Expeditionary Force (Sixth Fleet) in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Miwa Shigeyoshi's (former CO of KINU) SubRon 3 in Captain (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Nakaoka Nobuki's (later CO of ATAGO) SubDiv 12 with I-68 and I-70.

11 November 1941:
I-69 departs Saeki with ComSubDiv 12, Captain Nakaoka embarked on her first war patrol in company with the I-68, I-70, I-71, I-72 and I-73.

23 November 1941:
Departs Kwajalein.

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).[1]

7 December 1941: The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
I-69 and I-68 are ordered to lay off the entrance to Pearl Harbor to rescue midget submarine crews. At 2101, LtCdr Watanabe witnesses "a massive explosion in Pearl Harbor. There are several explosions, followed by high columns of fire (probably a detonating warship magazine). This must have been some capital ship sunk by our midget submarines".

Later that night, I-69 locates a destroyer SSE of Barbers Point and fires a torpedo at her. The destroyer probably spots the wake because she turns away. I-69 is depth-charged.

8 December 1941:
I-69 and I-68 lay off Pearl Harbor awaiting midget submarine crews, but none return.

9 December 1941:
S of Oahu, Hawaii. I-69 attacks a cargo ship unsuccessfully, then is depth-charged.

Off Barber's Point, Hawaii. I-69 entangles herself in an anti-submarine net. LtCdr Watanabe's crew struggles for hours and finally breaks free, but damages a periscope. After remaining submerged about 39 hours, all hopes of rescuing shot-down aircrews are abandoned.

27 December 1941:
Returns to Kwajalein.

12 January 1942:
Departs Kwajalein on her second war patrol to reconnoiter Midway Island.

21 January 1942:
Arrives off Midway.

8 February 1942:
Around 1805 I-69 surfaces less than 1,000 yards S of the mouth of Brooks Channel and targets the radio station on Sand Island with her 10-cm deck gun. One of her shells strikes a concrete ammunition magazine. The 5-inch "A" battery returns fire from ashore, forcing the submarine to dive after three rounds are fired.

10 February 1942:
Off Midway. Around 1758 I-69 again surfaces S of the mouth of Brooks Channel in a second attempt to shell Sand Island, but is spotted by two Marine F2A-3 Brewster "Buffaloes" of VMF-221 patrolling overhead. Two rounds are fired before 1/Lt John F. Carey and his wingman 2/Lt Philip R. White drop their bombs on the submarine, both scoring near misses. I-69 is also briefly strafed before submerging.

17 February 1942:
Returns to Kwajalein.

18 February 1942:
Departs Kwajalein on her third war patrol.

20 February 1942:
Vice Admiral Wilson Brown Jr's (later President Roosevelt's Naval Aide) Task Force 11's USS LEXINGTON (CV-2) is en route to attack Rabaul. Brown's task force is spotted by a Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" flying boat of the Yokohama Kokutai. Since surprise is lost, the attack is cancelled.

After the aborted raid on Rabaul, I-69 is diverted to the E of Wake Island.

5 March 1942:
Arrives at Kure for an overhaul.

15 April 1942:
I-69 departs Kure on her fourth war patrol to form a patrol line in the Wake Island area.

9 May 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

20 May 1942:
I-69 is renumbered I-169.

24 May 1942: Operation "MI" - The Battle of Midway:
I-169 is in Rear Admiral Kono Chimaki's SubRon 3 with I-168, I-171, I-174 and I-175 (the "A" group). SubRon 3 departs Kwajalein to deploy between 20N, 166-20W and 23-30N, 166-20W and take up positions along the American reinforcement route from Hawaii.

31 May 1942:
I-169 arrives at her assigned area.

20 June 1942:
Returns to Kwajalein.

9 July 1942:
Departs Kwajalein on her sixth war patrol to reconnoiter New Caledonia and New Hebrides with the new ComSubDiv 12, Captain Okamoto Yoshisuke aboard.

July 1942:
I-169 reconnoiters the Bay of St. Vincent, New Caledonia.

25 July 1942:
75 miles SE of Nouméa, New Caledonia. I-169 torpedoes the 9,227-ton Dutch freighter TJINEGARA, operated by the U.S. Army as a troopship. She is en route from Rockhampton, Queensland to Nouméa. TJINEGARA sinks after several hits at 23-18S, 165-25E.

4-5 August 1942:
Reconnoiters Port Vila/Efate. I-169 is chased by two destroyers and has to leave the area.

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/MOH/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal opening a seven-month campaign to take the island.

15 August 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

17 August 1942:
Departs Truk.

24 August 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

31 August-15 October 1942:
LtCdr Watanabe is appointed the CO of I-168 as an additional duty.

2 September 1942:
Transferred to Sasebo for overhaul.

18 September 1942:
I-169 arrives at Truk with Subron 3's I-8, I-168, I-171, I-172, I-174 and I-175 to participate in the Guadalcanal campaign.

16 November 1942:
Truk. Vice Admiral Komatsu convenes a meeting of his submarine captains. He announces that the submarine force has been ordered by the CINC, Combined Fleet, Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku (former CO of AKAGI), to organize a supply system for the IJA's 17th Army garrison on Guadalcanal.

3 January 1943:
Returns to Kure.

15 January 1943:
Departs Kure for a supply mission to Kiska, Aleutians.

15 February 1943:
Departs Kure with I-171 for Kiska, Aleutians, carrying a Type A midget, its torpedoes and IJA soldiers. I-169 is reassigned to the Fifth Fleet for the duration of the Aleutian operations.

26 February 1943:
Arrives at Kiska and disembarks her cargo.

27 February 1943:
Departs Kiska.

28 February 1943:
I-169 sights an enemy cruiser escorted by a destroyer. She is also spotted and depth-charged.

20 March 1943:
TEIYO MARU refuels I-169, I-31, and I-171

21 March 1943:
TEIYO MARU refuels I-169.

22 March 1943:
Departs Paramushiro, Kuriles to form a patrol line.

25 March 1943:
Aleutians. I-169 performs scouting line duties at 53-59N, 174E.

April 1943:
I-169 is in Rear Admiral Kouda Takero's SubRon 1 with the I-2, I-7, I-31, I-34, I-35, I-168 and I-171 (Northern District Force, Fifth Fleet). SubRon 1 is given the mission to reinforce and resupply the isolated Japanese garrisons in the Aleutian Islands.

5 April 1943:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Toyama Zenshin (59)(former torpedo officer of I-21) is appointed the CO.

9 April 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka for an overhaul.

11 May 1943: American Operation "Sandcrab"- The Invasion of Attu, Aleutians:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Thomas C. Kinkaid's Task Force 16, covered by Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell's Task Force 51, lands the Army's Seventh Division that captures Attu Island.

21 May 1943: Operation "KE" - The Evacuation of Kiska:
The Imperial General Headquarters decides to evacuate the garrison at Kiska Island, Aleutians.

24 May 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for a supply mission to Kiska carrying 1,440 rifles with ammunition and 2 tons of food.
Enroute, she is ordered to form a scouting line in Attu area with I-171 and I-175.

5 June 1943:
Reconnoiters Kuluk Bay, Adak.

9 June 1943:
Arrives at Kiska, unloads her cargo and embarks 60 passengers.

10 June 1943:
Departs Kiska for Paramushiro. While charging batteries on the surface I-169, is attacked and shelled by a radar-equipped destroyer.

14-15 June 1943:
Returns to Paramushiro. Embarks new cargo from the tender HEIAN MARU. TEIYO MARU refuels I-169.

Late June 1943:
Departs Paramushiro for another supply run to Kiska.

21 June 1943:
Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo (former CO of MUTSU) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines). Vice Admiral Komatsu is later appointed President of the Etajima Naval Academy.

27 June 1943:
Oiler TEIYO MARU refuels I-169 and I-36.

10 August 1943:
Arrives at Kure for an overhaul.

17 July 1943:
I-169 and I-21 receive the order to shell the enemy air base at Constantine, Amchitka. Nine hours later the order is canceled.

22 July 1943:
S of Amchitka, I-169 makes a sound contact with Rear Admiral Robert C. Giffen's TG 16.21 but is unable to attack because of dense fog. Her sighting report is received by I-2.

10 August 1943:
Arrives at Kure for an overhaul.

25 September 1943:
Departs Kure.

3 October 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

14 October 1943:
Departs Truk.

20 October 1943:
A report is received from I-36 that a large convoy sighted south of the Hawaiian Islands is headed west. I-169, I-19, I-35 and I-175 are ordered to intercept it.

19 November 1943:
I-169, under LtCdr Toyama, is patrolling between Hawaii and the Marshall Islands. Vice Admiral Takagi orders I-169, I-19, I-35, I-39 and I-175 to proceed to Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands.

20 November 1943: American Operation "Galvanic" - The Invasion of the Gilberts:
The Americans invade Tarawa and Makin Islands. The invasion fleet of 200 ships includes 13 battleships and 11 carriers.

26 November 1943:
Vice Admiral Takagi orders I-169, I-19, I-40 and RO-38 to form a picket line N of Makin Island.

1 December 1943:
Running on the surface, I-169 is detected by an American plane. LtCdr Toyama dives and escapes. While running submerged, I-169 makes sound contact on a heavily escorted enemy convoy. Toyama is unable to break through the screen and attack.

9 December 1943:
I-169 arrives at Truk.

13 December 1943:
Truk. HEIAN MARU transfers torpedoes to I-169 and I-32.

29 December 1943:
Truk. HEIAN MARU transfers torpedoes to I-169 and stores to I-171.

1 January 1944:
I-169 is assigned to Subron 3's SubDiv 12 with 1-171, I-74, I-75 and 1-176 based at Truk.

6 January 1944:
Truk. HEIAN MARU transfers torpedoes to I-169.

9 January 1944:
Truk. HEIAN MARU transfers torpedoes to I-169 and I-36.

24 January 1944:
Truk. HEIAN MARU transfers stores and torpedoes to I-169.

27 January 1944:
Departs Truk for Rabaul.

31 January 1944:
Departs Rabaul for a supply mission to Buka and Buin.

12 February 1944:
Lt (later Captain, JMSDF) Oba Saichi (62)(former CO of RO-105) is appointed the CO.

15 February 1944:
Lt (Cdr, posthumously) Shinohara Shigeo (62)(former CO of I-122) is appointed the CO.

17-18 February 1944: American Operation "Hailstone" - The Attack on Truk Lagoon:
Task Force 58's five fleet carriers and four light carriers, supported by six battleships, ten cruisers and 28 destroyers, launch air attacks on Japanese ships in the lagoon, airfields and shore installations. They sink 31 transports and 10 naval vessels (two cruisers, four destroyers and four auxiliary vessels), destroy nearly 200 aircraft and damage severely about 100 more.

11 March 1944:
I-169 arrives at Truk.

18 March 1944:
Departs Truk.

22 March 1944:
Returns to Truk.

4 April 1944:
NW of Dublon Island, Truk. I-169 is replenishing supplies at her anchorage in the lagoon. In addition to her crew some workmen are also aboard, but the CO and 20 other sailors are at Dublon.

About 0900 (JST) an air raid warning is issued. The watch officer orders I-169 to dive immediately, although most deck hatches are still open. I-169 submerges to avoid the first wave of PB4Y "Liberator" bombers. Since the main induction valve is not secured, the aft compartments flood immediately despite a desperate attempt to re-surface.

The submarine settles in 125 feet of water. The rest of the crew seals off the flooded area. After the raid, an unsuccessful attempt is made to contact I-169. Only then is it realized that she is in trouble. A diver is sent down who contacts the survivors, tapping on the hull.

5 April 1944:
Headquarters, Sixth Fleet issues an order to rescue the survivors. A repair ship with a 30-ton crane and tug FUTAGAMI are dispatched to hoist the bow to the surface. At first, they fail to locate the submarine. Once they find her they attempt a lift, but the flooded submarine is too heavy and the crane's cable breaks.

Tapping comes only from the aft compartment. Air hoses are lowered and holes are drilled in the ballast tanks, but it is impossible to signal the crew to open the air valves to the ballast tanks. By 2300 hours, there are no further responses from the entombed crew. All suffocate. Night bombing raids interrupt further investigation.

Lt Shinohara, who was not aboard, survives the sinking. Later, the Japanese informally name I-169 the "Shinohara".

April 1944:
In the next weeks, 32 bodies are recovered from the forward compartments.

17 April 1944:
At 2232, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message that reads: "Interim report about the I-169 incident. 1. The bodies of the Army officers have been recovered and the causes of the accident have been investigated. It is regrettably the case that, as far as can been seen, the hatchway and outboard ---- were closed, but the cover of the engine room was left open. Compressed air was driven thence through the storm ventilator -----. Through some mistake or other the flood - controller there was left open, for that reason ---- [blanks] --- the engine room and after torpedo compartment hatchway was open."

May 1944:
With the threat of invasion imminent, the wreck is bombarded with depth charges to prevent the submarine's technology from falling into American hands. The bow and conning tower are heavily damaged by the depth charges.

10 June 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

February 1972:
The wreck is rediscovered. Six divers enter the sub and film its interior.

August 1973:
The remains and personal effects of I-169's crew are returned to Japan where they are cremated as part of Shinto rites. I-169's bell is displayed at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

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

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan. Thanks also go to John Whitman of the USA for info on CNO intercepts of Japanese messages and to reader Gus Mellon for correction in Rev 5.

– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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