SENSUIKAN!

(Type KD7 submarine scanned from "Submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy" by Polmar and Carpenter)

IJN Submarine I-177: Tabular Record of Movement

2001-2009 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

Revision 2


28 December 1942:
I-177 is completed at the Kawasaki's Kobe yard and registered in the Sasebo Naval District. Assigned to the Kure SubRon. LtCdr Nakagawa Hajime (former CO of I-4) is Commanding Officer.

25 February 1943:
Reassigned to SubDiv 22 in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral), the Marquis, Daigo Tadashige's (former CO of ASHIGARA), Kure SubRon.

15 March 1943:
Reassigned to SubDiv 22, SubRon 3 with I-178 and I-180.

30 March 1943:
Departs Kure for Truk with I-178.

7 April 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

10 April 1943:
Departs Truk on her first war patrol to patrol off the eastern coast of Australia with I-178 and I-180.

26 April 1943:
Australia. 20 miles SE of Cape Byron, near Brisbane. I-177 sinks 8,724-ton British freighter LIMERICK at 28-54S, 153-54E. LIMERICK was sailing in an escorted convoy and her escort drops two depth-charges, but they cause no damage.

14 May 1943:
24 miles ENE of North Stradbroke Island. I-177 is cruising on the surface E of Brisbane. At 0410, Cdr Nakagawa sets up and fires a torpedo at 3,222-ton hospital ship CENTAUR enroute from Sydney via Cairns to Port Moresby, New Guinea with 333 persons aboard. Set afire by the torpedo, CENTAUR sinks in only three minutes in 550 meters/1787 feet of water at 27-17S, 154-05E. I-177 surfaces nearby, but Cdr Nakagawa takes no action for or against the survivors.[1]

15 May 1943:
An Avro "Anson" search plane spots survivors clinging to debris. USS MUGFORD (DD-389) departs Brisbane and at 1400 rescues 64 survivors of CENTAUR. [2]

23 May 1943:
Returns to Truk.

14 June 1943:
Departs Truk to patrol the eastern coast of Australia on her second war patrol.

24 July 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul. Makes several supply runs to Lae and Sio, New Guinea.

30 June 1943:
Immediately after her arrival at the assigned area I-177 is redirected to the area between New Georgia and Santa Isabel to attack enemy landing forces off Rendova.

6 July 1943:
Arrives at her assigned patrol area.

20 July 1943:
SubRon 3 is reassigned to Southeast Area Fleet.

24 July 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

9 August 1943:
Arrives at Lae, New Guinea on her first supply mission there.

24 August 1943:
Arrives at Lae on her second supply mission.

30 August 1943:
Rabaul. That day, Cdr Nakagawa is relieved as Commanding Officer by LtCdr (later Captain, JMSDF) Orita Zenji (former CO of RO-101). Cdr Nakagawa later becomes CO of I-37.

1 September 1943:
Departs Rabaul for Lae on her third supply mission.

3 September 1943:
Arrives at Lae, disembarks her cargo and departs.

4 September 1943: Allied Operation "Postern" - The Invasion of Lae, New Guinea:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Daniel E. Barbey's Task Force 76 lands the Australian 9th Division on the Huon Peninsula near Lae.

5 September 1943:
Returns to Rabaul.

10 September 1943:
I-177 departs Rabaul on her fourth supply run to Lae.

13 September 1943:
Orita receives a signal ordering I-177 to attack enemy landing forces at Finschafen, New Guinea, but he makes no contact after arriving there. Orita heads for Lae.

14 September 1943:
Arrives at Lae that is under an Allied attack. I-177 unloads supplies. That evening, she is running on the surface when her soundman picks up the noises of the propellers of several American destroyers a few thousand yards away. Orita dives to I-177's test depth of 330 feet. He awaits depth charges, but none come.

On reflection, Orita thinks he evaded attack successfully because though the destroyers must have picked up I-177 on radar, they could not find her with their sonars due to her depth and temperature thermoclines.

15 September 1943:
After SubRon 3 is disbanded, SubDiv 12 is directly reassigned to the Sixth Fleet.

17 September 1943:
Returns to Rabaul after completing the last IJN supply run.

21 September 1943:
Departs Rabaul for Finschafen, New Guinea on her first supply run there.

22 September 1943:
En route, I-177 is redirected to attack enemy landing forces in Finschafen area. All deck cargo is dumped overboard.

23 September 1943:
Reconnoiters the landing area but fails to attack any vessels there.

24 September 1943:
Arrives at Finschafen at sunset and unloads the rest of her cargo between the lull of air attacks.

25 September 1943:
Prior to departure I-177 once again reconnoiters the landing area and makes several contacts with enemy vessels.

26 September 1943:
Returns to Rabaul.

2 October 1943:
Departs Rabaul on her first supply run to Sio.

4 October 1943:
Arrives at Sio and unloads her cargo.

10 October 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her second supply run , then returns to Rabaul.

12 October 1943: American Air Raid on Rabaul:
LtGen (later General) George C. Kenney's 5th Air Force makes the biggest raid in the Pacific war up to this time. Three hundred-forty nine aircraft, including 87 B-17 and B-24 bombers, 114 B-25 strafers, 12 RAAF "Beaufighters" and 125 P-38 "Lightning" fighters and others from New Guinea and Australia hit Rabaul's airfields and its Simpson harbor.

I-36, I-38, I-176, I-177, RO-105 and RO-108 are moored in deep water. When USAAF and RAAF aircraft bomb the harbor, I-177 and most of the other submarines submerge to safety, but I-180, moored at a pier undergoing repairs, is hit by a bomb, but not sunk.

The planes sink the transports KEISHO MARU, KOSEI MARU, lighters No.1 WAKAMATSU MARU and KUROGANE MARU and guardboat MISHIMA MARU. The destroyers MOCHIZUKI, MINAZUKI and TACHIKAZE are damaged as is the special service ship TSUKUSHI, oiler NARUTO and smaller vessels.

1 November 1943: American Operation "Shoestring II": The Invasion of Bougainville:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Theodore S. Wilkinson's Third Amphibious Force, Task Force 31, lands Lt Gen (later Gen/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Amphibious Corps at Cape Torokina, Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, Solomons.

21 October 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her third supply run.

28 October 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her fourth supply run.

4 November 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her fifth supply run.

11 November 1943
Arrives at Sio on her sixth supply run.

22 November 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her seventh supply run.

24-25 November 1943: The Battle off Cape St. George:
50 miles E of Cape St. George, New Britain. Destroyers AMAGIRI, YUGIRI, ONAMI, MAKINAMI and UZUKI, on a troop transport run to Buka, off Bougainville, are intercepted by Captain (later Admiral/CNO) Arleigh A. Burke's DesRon 23. YUGURI is sunk by gunfire by USS CHARLES AUSBURNE (DD-570), CLAXTON (DD-571) and DYSON (DD-572) at 04-44S, 154 E. The same three American destroyers, joined by SPENCE (DD-512) and CONVERSE (DD-509), sink MAKINAMI with torpedoes and gunfire and damage UZUKI. The Americans suffers no damage.

I-177 arrives from Rabaul and rescues 279 survivors (I-181 rescues another 11).

26 November 1943:
Cape St. George. A Lockheed PV-1 "Ventura" medium bomber of VP-138 attacks I-177.

5 December 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her eighth supply run there.

14 December 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her ninth supply run.

17 December 1943
Arrives at Sio on her tenth supply run.

18-20 December 1943:
Patrols S of Marcus Bay, New Britain.

25 December 1943:
Arrives at Sio on her eleventh supply run. After departure, LtCdr Orita sights several landing vessels NW of Buna, heading south.

30 December 1943:
Arrives at Garove.

2 January 1944: American Operation "Michaelmas"- The Invasion of Saidor, New Guinea:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Daniel E. Barbey's Task Force 76 lands LtGen (later General) Walter Krueger's Sixth Army's 126th Regimental Combat Team of the 32d Division at Saidor and by-passes the Japanese garrison at Sio, 75 miles to the east.

3 January 1944:
Departs Rabaul.

5 January 1944:
Reassigned to SubRon 1.

8 January 1944:
At sunset, arrives at Sio on her 12th supply run. I-177 establishes contact with ground troops at Sio. A Daihatsu barge arrives from shore and I-177, men begin unloading their cargo. A boat leaves the shore carrying LtGen Adachi Hatazo, Commanding General, 18th Army and Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kudo Kyuhachi (former CO of TENRYU), CO of the 7th Base Unit, and ten of their staff officers.

Suddenly, one of I-177's lookouts sights American PT boats! LtGen Adachi's boat, halfway to I-177, reverses course and makes for the shore.

Ensign J. R. McCafferty's PT-146, patrolling near Nambariwa, New Guinea, makes radar contact at about 5,000 yards. McCafferty and Lt J. K. Williams' PT-134 approach the contact and sight the surfaced submarine, but it dives immediately and contact is lost. Later, PT-boats make another radar contact only a mile away. At 200 yards, they spot I-177's periscope. Each PT drops two depth charges, but without results.

9 January 1944:
Sio. That night, I-177 returns submerged, but again sights PT boats in the area. Orita raises his radio antennae and signals Sio that he will return the next night to pick up his passengers. He requests assistance to fend off any intruding PT boats.

10 January 1944:
Sio. I-177 returns that night and surfaces, but shortly thereafter PT-320 and Ensign F. C. Feeser's PT-323 appear. I-177 and Daihatsu barges supported by several Sokoteis (armored barges fitted with tank gun turrets) engage the PT boats and drive them out of range. I-177 then embarks LtGen Adachi and Rear Admiral Kudo and their staffs and slips away undamaged.

11 January 1944:
Madang, New Guinea. Around noon, I-177 disembarks the flag officers and staffs and departs for Rabaul.

15 January 1944:
Arrives at Rabaul, but a few days before the IJN decided to abandon Rabaul as a submarine base. I-177 then departs for Truk.

18 January 1944:
Arrives at Truk.

20 January 1944:
Departs Truk for Sasebo.

27 January 1944:
Arrives at Sasebo.

23 February 1944:
LtCdr Watanabe Masaki assumes command from LtCdr Orita.

25 February 1944:
Reassigned to Northeast Area Fleet.

22 March 1944:
Departs Sasebo.

25 March 1944:
Arrives at Ominato.

11 April 1944:
Departs Ominato for the Aleutians.

27 May 1944:
Returns to Ominato.

8 June 1944:
Departs Ominato to patrol east of the Kuriles on her third war patrol.

22 June 1944:
Returns to Ominato.

23 June 1944:
Departs Ominato.

25 June 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

10 August 1944:
SubDiv 22 is disbanded. I-177 is reassigned to SubDiv 34.

15 September 1944: American Operation "Stalemate II" - The Invasion of the Palaus:
Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. Halsey's Third Fleet lands MajGen William H. Rupertus' veteran First Marine Division on Peleliu and the Army's MajGen Paul J. Mueller's untested 81st Division on Anguar Island.

19 September 1944:
I-177 departs Kure on her fourth war patrol with ComSubDiv 34, Captain Matsumura Kanji (former CO of I-21), embarked. I-177 is to patrol off the Palaus, Halmahera, NEI and Mindanao, Philippines.

24 September 1944:
Arrives at her assigned patrol area off Palau, but is redirected to reconnoiter Ulithi.

1 October 1944:
Palau Islands. I-177 is returning from Ulithi. In the evening, Lt Floyd H. Wardlow, Jr's PBM-3D Martin "Mariner" of VPB-16 makes radar contact on a submarine. When approached, the submarine crash-dives, but a positive identification is made. The PBM drops a Mark 24 "Fido" acoustic homing torpedo that damages I-177 severely. The PBM relays the target's location to a nearby hunter-killer group that searches for the submarine.

3 October 1944:
NNE of Angaur, Palaus. At 0311, Captain W. V. Saunders' USS HOGGATT BAY's (CVE-75) radar picks up a contact at 20,000 yards. Saunders detaches LtCdr H. G. Brousseau's SAMUEL S. MILES (DE-183) from his screen to investigate.

At 0440, MILES lookouts sight a surfaced submarine. Brousseau charges in as LtCdr Watanabe crash-dives. MILES acquires I-177 on sonar and attacks with a salvo of 24 ahead-thrown Mark 10 "hedgehog" projector charges. A second salvo sinks I-177 with all 101 men aboard at 07-48N, 133-28E, only about 12 miles from the PBM's first attack.

4 October 1944:
I-177 fails to reply to a radio signal call to return after completing the reconnaissance of Ulithi.

18 November 1944:
Presumed lost with all 101 hands in the Palaus area.

Captain Matsumura is promoted two ranks to Vice Admiral, posthumously and LtCdr Watanabe is promoted Commander, posthumously.

1 March 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.


Authors' Notes:
[1] Postwar, LtCdr Nakagawa denies sinking CENTAUR, but serves four years in the Sugamo Prison after pleading guilty to the machine-gunning of merchant crew survivors in the Indian Ocean while CO of I-37.

[2] On 20 December 2009, David Mearns, who in March 2008 discovered the wrecks of German Auxiliary Cruiser (Hilfskreuzer) HSK KORMORAN and Australian light cruiser HMAS SYDNEY, located the wreck of CENTAUR about 50 miles ENE of Brisbane in about 2 km of water. Mearns, on board Australian Defence Maritime Services support vessel SEAHORSE SPIRIT, found AHS CENTAUR using deep-sea side-scan sonar equipment and a remotely operated submersible vehicle. The wreck lies approximately 30 miles due east of the southern tip of Moreton Island (27-16.98' S, 153-59.22' E) at a depth of 6691.75 ft/2,059 m.

Thanks for help go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan.

Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.


Back to Submarine Page