SENSUIKAN!

HIJMS Submarine I-18: Tabular Record of Movement

2001-2010 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

Revision 2


31 January 1941:
Sasebo Navy Yard. I-18 is completed and registered in the Yokosuka Naval District in SubRon 1's SubDiv 2, Sixth Fleet. Cdr (later Captain) Otani Kiyonori is the Commanding Officer.

15 November 1941:
I-18 is in Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (former CO of ISE) Sixth Fleet's Advance Expeditionary Fleet is in Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomu's SubRon 1 in Captain Imiazumi Yoshijiro's SubDiv 2 with I-19 and I-20.

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

18 November 1941:
The Special Attack Unit departs Kure for the Kamegakubi Naval Proving Ground. At Kamegakubi each of submarines embarks a top secret 46-ton 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). [1]

7 December 1941: The Attack on Pearl Harbor:
At 0215, I-18 is about 13 miles from the harbor entrance. She launches her midget submarine under Lt (j. g.) Furuno Shigemi and PO1C Yokoyama Shigenori . Each of the other of the Special Attack Unit's "mother" submarines also launches their midget. Their orders are to attack any ships that attempt to sortie from the harbor.

Furuno and Yokohama's midget is depth charged and sinks in the Keehi Lagoon just off Pearl Harbor. [2]

All five of the Special Attack Unit's midgets fail to return to their mother submarines.[3]

12 December 1941:
Departs the Hawaii area.

22 December 1941:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

4 January 1942:
I-18, with Captain Imiazumi embarked, departs Kwajalein for Hawaiian waters with I-22 and I-24.

9 January 1942:
550 miles W of Hawaii. At 0630, Cdr Otani reports sighting Vice Admiral Wilson Brown Jr's (later President Roosevelt's Naval Aide) Task Force 11's USS LEXINGTON (CV-2).

10 January 1942:
130 miles NE of Johnston Island. I-18 sights two SBD "Dauntless" dive-bombers heading west. Cdr Otani calculates the approximate location of their carrier and forwards the information to ComSubRon 1.

24 January 1942:
Cdr Otani carries out a periscopic observation of Midway.

25 January 1942:
I-18 and I-24 surface off Midway Island to shell U.S. Marine positions. I-24 fires six shells, but the Marines return the fire and force I-24 to abandon shelling and submerge. I-18 is taken under fire before she can open fire and forced to submerge.

27 January 1942:
240 miles W of Midway. LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Elton W. Grenfell's USS GUDGEON (SS-211) receives an "Ultra" special intelligence message advising of the approach of I-18, I-22 and I-24. Instead, Grenfell torpedoes and sinks I-73 that is on the same route, but he does not see or engage the others.

2 February 1942:
Returns to Yokosuka with I-18 and I-24.

16 March 1942:
Vice Admiral, the Marquis, Komatsu Teruhisa (former CO of CA NACHI) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines). I-18 departs Kure.

27 March 1942:
The German naval staff requests the IJN to launch operations against Allied convoys in the Indian Ocean.

8 April 1942:
The Japanese formally agree to dispatch submarines to the East Coast of Africa. The 1st Division of SubRon 8 is withdrawn from its base at Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.

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

At Hashirajima, Hiroshima Bay. Vice Admiral Komatsu, Captain Ishizaki their staffs and midget submarine crews pay a courtesy call on the CINC, Combined Fleet, Admiral Yamamoto aboard his flagship, 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 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-18, I-16, I-10, I-20 and I-30 to proceed NE, passing N of the Bonin Islands to intercept TF 16, but they are unsuccessful.

27 April 1942:
-18 arrives at Penang with the A detachment. I-16, I-18 and I-20 are joined by 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:
I-18 departs with the A detachment (less the I-30) and sorties westward in the Indian Ocean under the command of Captain Ishizaki in I-10. I-10 is to reconnoiter selected points on the East African coast for possible attack. 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 AIKOKU and HOKOKU MARUs.

17 May 1942:
I-18's port diesel is flooded in heavy seas and four cylinders seize. As a result, she fails to reach the launch area in time.

20 May 1942:
The I-10 catapults her Yokosuka E14Y Glen floatplane to reconnoiter Durban, South Africa. During the week, the Glen reconnoiters East London, Port Elizabeth and Simonstown.

29 May 1942:
At night, I-10's floatplane reconnoiters the harbor at Diego Suarez. The plane sights HMS RAMILLIES, an old 29,150-ton ROYAL SOVEREIGN-class battleship, at anchor in the bay. Also in the harbor are destroyers HMS DUNCAN and ACTIVE, corvettes HMS GENISTA and THYME, troopship HMS KARANJA, hospital ship ATLANTIS, tanker BRITISH LOYALTY, 10,799-ton merchant LLANDAFF CASTLE and an ammunition ship.

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

30 May 1942:The Attack on Diego Suarez:
10 miles from Diego Suarez. I-16 and I-20 launch their midget submarines to attack RAMILLIES, but I-18's midget under Lt (j. g.) Ota Masaharu with PO1C Tsubokura Daiseiki suffers engine failure and cannot be launched.

At 2025, I-20's midget torpedoes and heavily damages RAMILLIES. British corvettes drop depth charges, but at 2120 the same midget from I-20 torpedoes and sinks 6,993-ton BRITISH LOYALTY in shallow water. (She is later refloated and sunk off Addu Atoll).

8 June 1942: Commerce Raiding in the Mozambique Channel, Indian Ocean:
I-18 shells and sinks 2,158-ton Norwegian merchant WILFORD at 20-20S, 36-47E.

9 June 1942:
I-18 dumps her disabled midget overboard.

1 July 1942:
I-18 shells 1,805-ton Dutch merchant DE WEERT that sinks two days later at 25-12S, 35-56E.

2 July 1942:
I-18 attacks 7,406-ton British merchant THEMIS, but her torpedoes explode prematurely. THEMIS fires at I-18's periscope, but misses.

6 July 1942:
Indian Ocean. S of St. Lucia Bay, Natal, South Africa. The I-18 torpedoes, shells and sinks 7, 341-ton British India Steam Navigation Company's merchant MUNDRA at 28-45S, 32-20E. She was carrying survivors from other ships. 155 men survive her sinking. Despite many sorties, aircraft of the South African Air Force and the RAF make no contact with the Japanese.

20 July 1942:
Indian Ocean. I-18 reconnoiters Rodrigues Island.

31 July 1942:
Indian Ocean. I-18 reconnoiters Diego Garcia.

2 August 1942: Off Penang, I-18 is stalked by an unknown submarine, probably British. Arrives at Penang, then departs for Japan.

23 August 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka for an overhaul.

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.

1 December 1942:
Cdr Muraoka Tomiichi is assigned as Commanding Officer.

17 December 1942:
Departs Kure for Shortland via Truk to participate in supply missions to Guadalcanal.

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

3 January 1943:
S of New Britian. I-18 is attacked by LtCdr Edward D. Stephan's USS GRAYBACK (SS-208). Undamaged I-18 dives and escapes. Stephan later claims a sinking, but his unreliable Mark-14 torpedoes probably exploded prematurely.

5 January 1943:
Delivers 15-tons of cargo in supply drums to Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal.

11 January 1943:
Delivers 25-tons of cargo in supply drums to Cape Esperance.

22 January 1943:
Departs Truk on another supply mission to Cape Esperance, carrying a 18 tons of cargo in a supply container.

26 January 1943:
Arrives at Cape Esperance and transfers the cargo.

28 January 1943:
The I-18 is tactically attached to Rear Admiral Komazawa Katsumi's (former CO of CVS NISSHIN) Submarine Force "A". The I-18 completes her supply run to Guadalcanal and is deployed directly from there N of Rennel Island and S of Guadalcanal. She waits for the American Naval forces with I-11, I-16, I-17, I-20, I-25, I-26, I-32 and I-176.

31 January 1943: Operation "KE" - The Evacuation of Guadalcanal:
A task force of units of the Second and Third Fleets from Truk including carriers ZUIKAKU, ZUIHO and JUNYO, Bat Div 3's KONGO and HARUNA, CruDiv 4's ATAGO, TAKAO, CruDiv 5's HAGURO and 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. The IJN begins to evacuate the starving IJA troops from Guadalcanal.

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. Rear Admiral Komazawa orders I-18 and the other submarines to proceed to this location. I-18 and another submarine discover and engage the Americans. Then, Force A loses contact. Admiral Komazawa orders all his submarines, except his flagship I-11 and I-17 to return to Truk.

9 February 1943:
The IJN completes successfully the evacuation of 11,700 troops from Guadalcanal.

11 February 1943:
Coral Sea. 200 miles S of San Cristobal. I-18 reports sighting an American task force. An OS2U "Kingfisher" from VCS-9 of light cruiser USS HELENA (CL-50) spots a submarine about nine miles from the task force. The floatplane drops a smoke marker and calls the nearby USS FLETCHER (DD-445) in to attack. FLETCHER gains sonar contact at 2,900 yards on the bow. At 1527, she drops a pattern of depth charges At 1539, large oil and air bubble breaks the surface. Four minutes later a heavy explosion follows. Three additional depth charges are dropped in center of the diesel oil area. After 1546, wreckage, cork, wood and other gear surface in very large oil slick. I-18 sinks at 14-15S, 161-53E with all 102 hands.[4]

On that same day, I-18 is declared MIA.

1 April 1943:
Removed from the Navy List.


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

[2] On 13 June 1960, the I-18's midget is discovered in the Keehi Lagoon in 75 feet of water. On 6 July 1960, she is raised by submarine rescue ship USS CURRENT (ARS-22). No human remains are found aboard. At the request of the Japanese Government, the midget is returned to Japan. She is now on display at the Naval Tactical School No. 1 at Eta Jima, Hiroshima, one of four such Type A midgets on display around the world.

[3] On 6 March 1942, all of the Pearl Harbor midget crews, except POW Sakamaki, are promoted two ranks, posthumously.

[4] JANAC and some other sources claim the submarine sunk by FLETCHER at this time and place was RO-102, but this is clearly erroneous since RO-102 made patrols from Rabaul and reported to that base until 9 May 1943.

Special thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan. Thanks also go to Mr. Jan Visser ("Visje") of the Netherlands.

Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.


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