(Type B1 submarine - colorized photo by Irootoko Jr)
IJN Submarine I-17: Tabular Record of
© 2001-2017 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
18 April 1938:
Laid down at Yokosuka Navy Yard as Submarine No. 38.
19 July 1939:
Launched as I-17.
1 June 1940:
Cdr (later Captain) Nishino Kozo (48)(current CO of I-5)
is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer of I-17 as an additional duty.
24 January 1941:
Completed and attached to Yokosuka Naval District.
Assigned to SubDiv 1, SubRon 1, Sixth Fleet, with I-15 and I-16. Cdr Nishino
Kozo is the Commanding Officer. 
5 August-9 September 1941:
I-17 is designated the temporary flagship
of SubDiv 1, replacing I-15 in that capacity.
11 November 1941: Operation "Z":
Reassigned to the Advance Force with
Captain Imazato Hiroshi's SubDiv 1 in Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomu's SubRon 1. 
Admiral Shimizu convenes a meeting of all his commanders aboard his
flagship, light cruiser KATORI. Cdr Nishino and the other commanders are briefed
on the planned attack on Pearl Harbor.
21 November 1941:
I-17 departs Yokosuka for the Hawaiian Islands on
her first "war" patrol in company of I-15.
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). Mt. Niitaka, located in
Formosa (now Taiwan), is then the highest point in the Japanese Empire.
7 December 1941: The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
I-17 patrols northeast of
Oahu during the attack on Pearl Harbor, forming a patrol line with I-9, I-15 and
I-25. Their mission is to reconnoiter and attack any ships that try to sortie
from Pearl Harbor.
9 December 1941:
I-6 reports sighting a LEXINGTON-class aircraft
carrier and two cruisers off Oahu heading ENE. Vice Admiral Shimizu in KATORI at
Kwajalein orders all of SubRon 1's boats, except the Special Attack Force, to
pursue and sink the carrier. I-17 sets off at flank speed after the carrier.
10 December 1941:
While running surfaced, I-17's lookouts spot an
American flying boat and the submarine crash-dives immediately. While
resurfacing, I-17 is attacked by a land-based aircraft, but escapes damage.
I-17 surfaces and sets off at flank speed after the carrier.
14 December 1941:
After their unsuccessful pursuit of the carrier,
I-17 and the other submarines joined by I-10 and I-26, are ordered to
the West Coast of the United States to attack shipping. I-17 is assigned to
patrol off Cape Mendocino, California.
Imperial General Headquarters orders the IJN to shell the United States
West Coast. Vice Admiral Shimizu issues a detailed order on the targets. I-17,
I-9, I-10, I-15, I-19, I-21, I-23, I-25 and I-26 are each to fire 30 shells on
the night of 25 December. Rear Admiral Sato, aboard I-9, is charged to execute
18 December 1941:
12 miles off Cape Mendocino, California. Just before
dawn the surfaced I-17 spots the 1997-ton lumber steamer SAMOA (ex-LAKE PEPIN)
en route to San Diego. In the pre-dawn haze the submarine switches on her 30-cm
searchlight and then fires several shells from the 5.5-in deck gun. One of them
explodes mid-air, showering the steamer with fragments. SAMOA cranks up full
speed and heads for San Diego. Still surfaced, I-17 fires one 6th Year Type
torpedo, which passes below SAMOA's keel and explodes at a safe distance.
SAMOA escapes without sustaining any damage. In port a Navy
investigation team collects a number of shell fragments from her decks. 
20 December 1941:
8 miles W of Cape Mendocino (approximate position
34-30N, 124-50W). Around 1345 (Pacific Coast Time), the lookouts on the surfaced
I-17 spot the 6,912-ton Socony-Vacuum Oil Company tanker EMIDIO (ex-HAMMAC) en
route from Seattle to Ventura in ballast. Having sighted the submarine closing
up from astern, about 10 miles landward, EMIDIO cranks up full speed and turns
toward Eureka, transmitting the SOS signal.
Despite the choppy seas, I-17 overtakes the fleeing tanker, firing six
shells and scoring five hits in rapid succession. One of them topples the ship's
radio antenna; another strikes a lifeboat, blowing 3 sailors over the side.
Another boat capsizes after getting caught in the discharge of the ship's
condenser. Within 30 minutes most survivors have cleared the now stationary
tanker in two lifeboats and one workboat.
All of a sudden, I-17 crash-dives. Two Army bombers arrive and one of
them drops two depth charges at the submarine; both miss. At 1435, after the
aircraft have departed, the submerged I-17 fires two 6th Year Type torpedoes;
one of them hits EMIDIO's starboard side at the stern, killing two sailors in
the engine room. In all, one officer and four sailors are lost in the attack.
EMIDIO becomes the first casualty of the IJN submarine campaign off the Pacific
Cdr. Nishino observes the tanker settling rapidly by the stern and later
reports her sinking. I-17 is again attacked by a passing Navy bomber, but
receives no damage.
22 December 1941:
Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, CINC, Combined Fleet,
postpones the Christmas Eve attack until 27 December.
23 December 1941:
80 miles SW of Eureka, California. Around 0310 the
surfaced I-17 opens fire at the 7,038-ton Richfield Oil Company tanker LARRY
DOHENY sighted on her starboard beam, 3,060 yds away. After four shell hits
smoke is observed rising from her bridge area. A patrol plane arrives and I-17
crash-dives, returning to periscope depth 15 minutes later. At 0329 Cdr Nishino
fires a torpedo, followed by an explosion 90 seconds later. While Nishino claims
the tanker as sunk, in reality his torpedo exploded prematurely, blowing off the
tanker's chart room portside door.
27 December 1941:
Most I-boats off the coast have depleted their fuel
reserves. Vice Admiral Shimizu cancels the shelling.
2 January 1942:
500 miles E of Hawaii. At 0300 (JST), I-17 spots a
convoy of five transports, escorted by one cruiser and one destroyer. Both I-17
and I-15 are detached to intercept the convoy, but fail to locate it again.
11 January 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein. Cdr Nishino is credited with
sinking two enemy merchants. That same day, LtCdr J. H. Willingham's USS TAUTOG
(SS-191) spots three IJN subs going into Kwajalein, one of which may have been
31 January 1942:
I-17 finishes preparations for her second war
patrol to the Northern Line Islands area (Palmyra and Johnston atolls).
1 February 1942:
Vice Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. Halsey
Jr's Task Force 8 (USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) raids Kwajalein and Wotje in the
Marshall Islands. ENTERPRISE's Douglas SBD "Dauntlesses" of VB-6 and VS-6 make
the first attack followed by a second wave of TBD "Devastator" torpedo planes of
Halsey's planes sink a transport and damage light cruiser KATORI,
flagship of the Sixth Fleet's (Submarines) Commander, Vice Admiral Shimizu
Mitsumi (former CO of ISE). Shimizu himself is wounded. I-23, submarine depot
ship YASUKUNI MARU, and several other important ships are also damaged in the
I-17 is caught on the surface while being moored alongside YASUKUNI MARU
and fires at the attacking aircraft with her twin 25-mm AA guns. After the first
attack she submerges and settles on the bottom at the depth of 120 ft until a
signal to re-surface is received from KATORI. She departs at 0625 (JST) in
company of I-15, I-19 and I-23 to chase the retiring Task Group 8. 1 off Wotje.
That same day, I-17 is reassigned to SubDiv 2.
3 February 1942:
I-15, I-19, I-23 and I-26 are recalled to Kwajalein.
I-17, I-9 and I-23 are ordered to proceed to the area S of Hawaii.
7 February 1942:
I-17, I-9 and I-23 arrive 200 miles S of Hawaii. I-17
is detached to raid American communications off the West Coast of the United
States. From the following day on she sights several American patrol aircraft,
but escapes without being spotted. 20 February 1942:
I-17 arrives off San
21 February 1942:
Around midnight while recharging batteries, a patrol
vessel is sighted to port. I-17 increases speed and moves away from it. When the
vessel appears to be following the submarine, I-17 finally submerges to escape
22 February 1942:
Cdr Nishino decides to move north in search of
better targets. Later that day he receives an order from the CinC, Sixth Fleet,
to shell a shore target of his own choice around the sunset of 23 February in
order to create panic along the West Coast.
An ad hoc pow-wow is convened in officers' quarters to choose a suitable
target, using a list of West Coast locations drafted prior to the aborted
Christmas Eve shelling last year. The waterfront of San Francisco and the town
of Castroville are among the rejected objectives. Lt Yamazaki Atsuo,
engineering officer of I-17, finally suggests they bombard Ellwood's oilfields
off Santa Barbara. His suggestion is approved, since it provides an easy access
and escape route.
23 February 1942:
Ellwood City, 12 miles N of Santa Barbara. At dawn
the submerged I-17 arrives off the north end of the Santa Barbara channel to
conduct periscope reconnaissance. Two suitable targets are sighted, a pair of
oil storage tanks and a building identified as the oil refinery.
A few minutes before sunset I-17 surfaces and commences the run-in,
entering the channel. At 1910 (Pacific War Time) the first shell is fired at the
oil tanks, dimly visible in the fading light. After firing seven AP rounds, the
gunners claim several hits, but there is no fire. Aim is shifted to the oil
refinery and ten more shells are fired, exhausting the entire ready use
ammunition locker supply. By that time, several cars are sighted on shore and a
siren is heard. At 1935, Cdr Nishino orders check fire and heads for the open
sea. At 2030, several eyewitnesses see the submarine exiting the south end of
the Santa Barbara channel.
Three aircraft and two destroyers give chase, but fail to locate retiring
Of 17 rounds fired, three strike near the Bankline Co. Oil refinery. One
explodes near an oil well, causing about $500 in damage to a catwalk and some
pumping equipment. One shell overshoots the target by three miles, landing at
Tecolote ranch. Another shell lands on the nearby Staniff ranch, digging a hole
five feet deep. The shelling does only minor damages to a pier and an oil well
derrick, but creates "invasion" fears along the West Coast. 
1 March 1942:
SW of San Francisco. Around 1800 (PWT), I-17 attacks the
8,298-ton Standard Oil Co. tanker WILLIAM H. BERG at 37-25N, 123-28W. I-17 fires
a salvo of several torpedoes. Nishino hears one explosion and orders
battle-surface to finish off his target, but the tanker returns fire. After an
approaching destroyer is sighted by the lookouts, I-17 dives again, heading
north. WILLIAM H. BERG escapes undamaged. Imperial HQ, nevertheless, announces
the sinking of a 10,000-ton tanker off the California coast on 16 March.
2 March 1942:
Off Cape Mendocino. Around 1700 (PWT), I-17 attacks a
7000-ton merchant and reports it as sunk.
6 March 1942:
Arrives off Cape Blanco, Oregon. Heads back toward the
San Francisco area that same day.
12 March 1942:
Around 1630 (PWT), I-17 departs the San Francisco
area, heading for Yokosuka.
16 March 1942:
Vice Admiral, the Marquis, Komatsu Teruhisa
(former CO of CA NACHI) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines)
replacing wounded Vice Admiral Shimizu who returns to Japan to convalese. Later,
he is reassigned as Commander of the First Fleet.
30 March 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka for an overhaul. Cdr Nishino is
credited with sinking two American oilers.
15 May 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for Ominato, northern Honshu.
17 May 1942:
Arrives at Ominato.
19 May 1942:
Departs Ominato on her third war patrol.
20 May 1942:
Reassigned to Northern Force.
27 May 1942:
Reconnoiters the Holtz Bay area, Attu Island, carrying
out a four-hour periscope observation of the possible landing areas from a
distance of 3,280 yds. Cdr Nishino sights a building with a red roof, probably a
29 May 1942:
I-17 is reassigned to the Forward Patrol Unit of Rear
Admiral Kakuta Kakuji's 2nd Carrier Striking Force.
5 June 1942: Operation "AL" - The Invasion of the Western Aleutians:
Twenty ships of the Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro's Fifth Fleet, including light
cruisers KISO and TAMA, three destroyers, three corvettes, three minesweepers
and four transports land Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Omori Sentaro's
Occupation Force on Attu, Aleutians without opposition.
7 June 1942:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ono Takeji's Occupation
Force occupies Kiska, also without opposition.
11 June 1942:
I-17, heading towards Unimak Island on the surface, is
spotted by a PBY-5A "Catalina" from VP-43, piloted by Pilot Machinist Leland L.
Davis. Davis commences a bombing run just when the submarine is diving and drops
two depth charges immediately ahead of the wake left by I-17. He observes a
large oil slick spreading from each side of the submarine’s hull and claims it
as sunk. 
In reality, I-17 is buffeted by explosions, but the damage is minor. The
oil leak is repaired by the following morning.
13 June 1942:
Reconnoiters the S coast of Unimak Island, Aleutians.
25 June 1942:
Off Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island. After sundown the
submerged I-17 spots a destroyer and commences an attack. Just before the launch
of the torpedoes another destroyer is sighted, closing in from dead astern. Cdt
Nishino orders an emergency turn to port, but the destroyer still strikes a
grazing blow, causing slight damage to I-17's catapult and the bow buoyancy
tank. I-17 dives to 260 ft and escapes without being chased.
29 June 1942:
Reassigned to Advance Force. Departs her patrol area.
7 July 1942:
Returns to Yokosuka.
14 July 1942:
I-17 is in SubRon 1's SubDiv 2 with I-15 and I-19.
15 July 1942:
LtCdr (promoted Cdr 1 November 1942; Captain,
posthumously) Harada Hakue (52)(former CO of I-165) is appointed the Commanding
7 August 1942 - 9 February 1943: 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. Vandergrift's 1st Marine Division on
Guadalcanal opening a seven-month campaign to take the island.
15 August 1942:
Departs Yokosuka to patrol in the Solomons area on her
fourth war patrol.
23 August 1942: Operation KA: The Destruction of the American Fleet and
the Recapture of Guadalcanal:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's
(former CO of KONGO) Second Fleet, Advanced Force's CruDiv's 4 and 5, CarDiv
11's seaplane tender CHITOSE, DesRon 4's light cruiser YURA and nine destroyers
arrive off Truk from Japan. Kondo joins Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi's Third
Fleet's CarDiv 1's SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU, CarDiv 2's RYUJO, BatDiv 11, CruDiv 7
and 8 and Desron 10's light cruiser NAGARA and destroyers for operations in the
N of Stewart Islands (now Sikaiana), Solomons, at 06-48S, 163-20E. At
0745, surfaced I-17, while proceeding on course 200 (T) to join the patrol line
E of Malaita, is spotted by two VS-5 SBD-3 "Dauntlesses" from USS ENTERPRISE
(CV-6), The dive-bombers, piloted by Lt. Stockton B. Strong and Ensign John F.
Richey, bounce the diving submarine, but all their bombs miss. At 0815, I-17
surfaces again and is repeatedly strafed by the same aircraft before diving
again. As a result of multiple attacks she receives 4 bullet hits to her
starboard main ballast tank cover.
24 August 1942: The Battle of the Eastern Solomons:
Vice Admiral Frank
J. Fletcher's Task Force 61's USS SARATOGA (CV-3) and ENTERPRISE launch aircraft
that find and sink light carrier RYUJO. In turn, SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU launch
aircraft that find and damage ENTERPRISE. That evening, aircraft from SARATOGA
During the battle, LtCdr Harada's submarine is caught running on the
surface by Lt Turner Caldwell of ENTERPRISE. Caldwell bombs I-17, but misses and
inflicts no damage.
25 August 1942:
At 0030, LtCdr Harada spots one carrier escorted by
27 August 1942:
At 0130, I-17 reports sighting ENTERPRISE, retiring to
the south at 20 knots. Fifteen minutes later the American Task Force is sighted
by I-15 stationed 13 miles south. Cdr Ishikawa of I-15 tries to contact I-17 to
conduct a coordinated attack, but fails to make contact.
28 August 1942:
Harada reports the sighting of a carrier, escorted by
a battleship and four cruisers. I-17 is depth-charged by two destroyers at the
depth of 265 feet, but escapes without damage.
15 September 1942:
Reassigned to the 1st Picket Unit. Receives the
order to proceed to the southern entrance of the Indispensable Strait at flank
20 September 1942:
LtCdr Harada spots a lone destroyer. Departs her
25 September 1942:
Arrives at Truk.
5 October 1942:
Reassigned to the 2nd Picket Unit. Departs Truk for
8 October 1942:
Arrives at Shortland. LtCdr Harada participates in a
conference with the staff officers of the 11th Air Flotilla.
9 October 1942:
Departs Shortland to rendezvous with an Aichi E13A1
Jake floatplane of the
11th Air Flotilla at Indispensable Strait instead of damaged tender KUNIKAWA
13 October 1942:
Enroute to the rendezvous point, LtCdr Harada sights
USS HORNET. After reporting his sighting, I-17 is redirected to intercept the
carrier but fails to find it. That same day, I-17 is reassigned to the "A"
18 October 1942:
I-17 arrives at the Indispensable Strait and spends
three hours on the surface, waiting on the "Jake's" arrival. The plane does not
arrive as the mission was cancelled earlier.
22 October 1942:
Rear Admiral Mito Hisashi assumes command of SubRon
1 from Rear Admiral Yamazaki. I-17, I-15 and I-26 are assigned to patrol west
of San Cristobal and prevent enemy reinforcements from landing on Guadalcanal.
31 October 1942:
Reassigned to "B" patrol unit.
11 November 1942:
I-17 is patrolling SW of San Cristobal with I-15 and
I-26. Early in the morning her crew witnesses heavy depth-charging sounds coming
from the area 15 miles N where I-15 is sunk by USS SOUTHARD (DMS-10).
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, CINC, Combined Fleet to organize a supply system for the IJA's
17th Army garrison on Guadalcanal.
9 November 1942:
Arrives at Shortland.
22 November 1942:
I-17's 140-mm deck gun is removed. Departs
Shortland with I-19 for the first supply mission to Guadalcanal.
24 November 1942:
Arrives at Kamimbo Bay, Guadalcanal with I-19.
Debarks 11 tons of supplies.
25 November 1942:
I-17 departs with 8 tons of supplies still aboard.
She also evacuates seven passengers, including Cdr Sakuma Eiji (former CO of DD
AYANAMI), midget submarine crews and sick soldiers.
30 November 1942:
Returns to Truk.
2 December 1942:
Departs Truk for Yokosuka.
8 December 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka for an overhaul.
3 January 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Truk.
9 January 1943:
Arrives at Truk.
17 January 1943:
Departs Truk for Rabaul.
20 January 1943:
Arives at Rabaul.
24 January 1943:
Departs Rabaul for Guadalcanal on her second
supply run there.
28 January 1943:
Off Kamimbo, I-17 releases 10 tons of cargo in supply
drums. Some of the cargo cannot be debarked. On that day she is tactically
attached to Rear Admiral Komazawa Katsumi's Submarine Force "A". I-17 receives
the order to proceed N of Rennel Island.
29 January 1943: The Battle of Rennel Island:
Vice Admiral Komatsu
deploys the I-17, I-25, I-26 and I-176 to support the attackers. At night, I-17
surfaces near the battle area but crash-dives when the sound of destroyer screws
30 January 1943:
I-17 and I-176 are ordered to intercept "two damaged
heavy cruisers" in the battle area.
31 January Operation "KE" - The Evacuation of Guadalcanal:
force of units of the Second and Third Fleets from Truk steams north of the
Solomons as a feint to cover Rear Admiral Hashimoto Shintaro's (former CO of
HYUGA) destroyer force from Rabaul. The IJN begins to evacuate the starving IJA
troops from Guadalcanal.
1 February 1943:
I-17 sights a lone retiring destroyer, possibly USS
2 February 1943:
Rear Admiral Komazawa, after receiving the
information that an American carrier task force is at sea 100 nautical miles SE
of San Cristobal Island, orders his submarines to proceed to intercept the
carriers, but they do not make contact.
8 February 1943:
Air reconnaissance spots American naval forces 150
miles SSE of Rennel Island. Komazawa orders his submarines to proceed to this
location. I-18 and another submarine discover and engage the Americans, but then
they lose contact. Admiral Komazawa orders all the submarines, except I-11 and
I-17 to return to Truk.
9 February 1943:
The IJN completes successfully the evacuation of
11,700 troops from Guadalcanal.
13 February 1943:
Harada sights a cruiser and a destroyer heading
south at 14 knots.
27 February 1943:
Coral Sea. Reconnoiters Frederick Reef.
4 March 1943: Operation "RO-81" (The Battle of the Bismarck Sea):
March, a convoy under Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kimura Masatomi (former
CO of CA SUZUYA) is en route to Lae, New Guinea with troops of the IJA's 51st
(Utsunomiya) Division embarked. Over the next three days, the convoy is bombed
and strafed repeatedly by USAAF and RAAF planes. All of the eight transports and
cargo vessels in the convoy and four of the eight escorting destroyers are sunk.
The Japanese in lifeboats, rafts and in the water are strafed by planes and PT
I-17, returning from Coral Sea, is redirected from the area E of Lae.
5 March 1943:
25 miles NE from Cape Ward Hunt. About 0500, Lt J.
Baylis' USS PT-143 and Lt R. Hamachek's PT-150 discover I-17 and three
lifeboats: a large one with more than 100 soldiers and two smaller ones with
about 20 soldiers in each. The men are survivors of the Bismarck Sea battle. The
submarine is taking them aboard. Each PT fires a torpedo. PT-143’s runs
erratically. PT-150’s runs true, but misses as the submarine crash dives. The
PTs strafe the conning tower as I-17 submerges, then they sink the three boats
with machine gun fire and depth charges.
Four hours and 45 minutes later, I-17 resurfaces and picks up 34
soldiers, one of whom later dies of his wounds.
6 March 1943:
Despite air and PT attacks, I-17 rescues another 118
soldiers and four sailors.
12 March 1943:
I-17 arrives at Lae and disembarks her 151 passengers.
8 April 1943:
Arrives at Truk. Reassigned to Submarine Force "B".
Departs Truk sometime thereafter to reconnoiter Phoenix Island and intercept a
converted PT tender whose arrival is predicted by the Combined Fleet's
16 April 1943:
The I-17 approaches the anchorage and fires two
torpedoes at a moored vessel from 3,280 yards (3,000 meters), but both torpedoes
pass under the keel of the target.
18 April 1943:
I-19, I-25 and I-32 are ordered to raid enemy
communications in the Fiji-Samoa area.
24 May 1943:
75 miles S of Noumea, New Caledonia. I-17 sets up and
torpedoes 10,138-ton Panamanian-flagged armed tanker STANVAC MANILA en route
from New York to Noumea. The tanker carries fuel and 150 tons of machinery for
the Navy and, as deck cargo, six PT boats of TorpRon 10. At 0407, a torpedo hits
the tanker in the port quarter. The engine room and fire room are flooded, all
power and communications are lost and MANILA begins to sink by the stern.
"Abandon Ship" is sounded. At 1205, MANILA corkscrews to starboard as her bow
heaves up and sinks at 23-44S, 166-30E.
PT-165 and PT-173 are lost with the ship, along with eight merchant
sailors, three Armed Guards and one torpedo boat sailor. About 1300, light
minelayer USS PREBLE (DM-20) arrives and takes PT-167, PT-171 and PT-174 in tow.
PT-172 makes it to Noumea under her own power. The other boats arrive the
12 June 1943:
Returns to Truk.
4 July 1943:
Admiral Koga Mineichi (former CO of ISE), C-in-C,
Combined Fleet aboard the flagship MUSASHI orders the C-in-C, Sixth Fleet, Vice
Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo (former CO of MUTSU) to conduct
recce flights over Espiritu Santo, Fiji and Noumea. I-11, I-17, I-19 and I-25
are slated for the mission.
25 July 1943:
I-17 departs Truk to reconnoiter Espiritu Santo, New
Hebrides and Noumea, New Caledonia and raid enemy communications. She carries a
Yokosuka E14Y1 Glen
floatplane for this mission.
10 August 1943:
The Glen's pilot reports the presence of several
battleships and carriers in the harbor. LtCdr Harada sends a report with the
results of the reconnaissance flight over Espiritu Santo. This is the last
message received from I-17.
19 August 1943:
55 miles SSE from the Phare Amedee lighthouse, off
Noumea. Around 1400, the submerged I-17 spots a small convoy en route from
Noumea to Espiritu Santo. LtCdr Harada commences an approach.
Minesweeper HMNZS TUI of the Royal New Zealand Navy 25th Minesweeping
Flotilla, providing ASW escort to cargo ship USS TAGANAK (AG-45) and Liberty
ship WILEY POST, makes an ASDIC contact bearing east, 3,400 yds away. The convoy
makes an emergency turn to starboard and commences zigzagging.
TUI makes three runs over the position of the contact, dropping four
depth charges. The target is lost. TUI carries out another ASDIC sweep, fails to
regain the contact and rejoins the convoy at 1555.
Lt (j.g.) Robert J. Clinton's Chance-Vought OS2N-1 "Kingfisher" of
Scouting Squadron VS-57 is on a routine ASW sector search. Clinton overflies
HMNZS TUI and receives a visual message indicating that she has made a submarine
contact. He lands his floatplane alongside TUI, verifies the contact and takes
off again, soon sighting the periscope's "feather" cutting the water. Lt(j.g.)
Clinton dives and drops two depth charges ahead of the periscope. Another
"Kingfisher" drops two more DCs. Two of them explode close enough to I-17 to
cause several leaks. A trail of air bubbles and an oil slick appears in the
water. At 1629 (local), the Kingfishers mark the submarine's location with smoke
I-17's bilge pumps fail and she has to surface. She breaks the water bow
first, at a steep angle. Clinton strafes the deck of the submarine with his
single .30-cal machine gun to keep the crew from manning their guns, but it
jams. At 1715, I-17's crew reaches their 25-mm twin AA mount and opens fire
while the submarine is running at 18 knots. Clinton climbs out of range and
calls for assistance. Four more "Kingfishers" soon arrive. The submarine is
maneuvering at the best possible speed, firing from her AA guns.
LtCdr Harada orders a message be sent to C-in-C, Sixth Fleet: "I am under
fire, breaking through to Noumea harbor!" His signal is not received at Truk.
Lt R. L. Gittings' "Kingfisher" attacks from astern and drops two depth
charges, but neither explodes. Lt(j.g.) Knut W. Lee drops a depth charge that
explodes 30 feet aft of the conning tower. Harada first orders I-17 to dive and
immediately thereafter orders all his men to the upper deck. He and eleven
sailors remain within the corkscrewing submarine.
Lt Gittings makes another pass and drops a charge that hits within 10
feet of the submarine's starboard beam. The blast sends water upward 50 feet. In
less than a minute, I-17 sinks at 23-26S, 166-50E. Ninety-seven crewmen are
lost. Later, HMNZS TUI rescues six survivors.
24 October 1943:
Presumed lost with all hands off Australia.
1 December 1943:
Removed from the Navy List.
 According to a widespread theory, in case of I-17 the locations of
the hangar/catapult and the deck gun were reversed. This notion is not supported
by photographic evidence or eyewitness accounts, all indicating that I-17 had
the same layout as the other submarines of her class.
 "Advance Force" was the tactical designation of SubRons 1-3 for the
duration of the Pearl Harbor operation.
 In various sources SAMOA's attacker has been identified as I-7, I-10
or I-19. In reality. none of them made an attack in that area at that time.
 EMIDIO did not sink immediately, but drifted 85 miles northward until
she ran up on Steamboat Rock near the Battery Point Lighthouse. The hulk
remained there for the next 18 years and was then towed to Long Beach for
 Capt Bernard Hagen, US Army, was wounded when the fuse of one of the
recovered shells exploded as a result of the deactivating effort. He received
the Purple Heart for his wounds.
 Pilot Machinist Leland L. Davis and his five crewmembers were killed
in a plane crash three days later. He received a Navy Cross posthumously.
Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan, Steve Eckardt of
Australia and Andrew Obluski of Poland.
– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
Back to Submarine