(Type B1 submarine - colorized photo by Irootoko Jr)

IJN Submarine I-28: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2002-2017 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

Revision 2

25 September 1939:
Laid down at Mitsubishi's Kobe Shipyard as I-31.

17 December 1940:
Launched. [1]

1 November 1941:
Renumbered I-28.

20 November 1941:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Yajima Yasuo (51)(former CO of I-66) is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer (CEO).

6 February 1942:
Completed and attached to Kure Naval District. Assigned directly to the Sixth Fleet (Submarines). LtCdr Yajima Yasuo is the Commanding Officer.

24 February 1942:
Reassigned to SubDiv 14 with I-27 as flagship of ComSubDiv 14, Captain Katsuta Haruo.

10 March 1942:
SubDiv 14 is reassigned to SubRon 8.

31 March 1942:
Reassigned to Advance Force, B unit (Eastern Advanced Detachment) with I-27 and I-29. I-29 is appointed the flagship of SubDiv 14.

10 April 1942: Operation "C" - The Raids in the Indian Ocean:
Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku (former CO of AKAGI), CinC, Combined Fleet, orders all submarine units to reconnoiter the enemy's fleet bases in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, destroy the enemy's maritime commerce and support the Port Moresby (MO) Operation.

11 April 1942:
I-28 is in Captain Katsuta Haruo's SubDiv 14 with the I-27 and I-29. They are assigned to Captain (later Rear Admiral) Sasaki Hankyu's Eastern Advanced Detachment composed of Sasaki's SubDiv 3's I-21, I-22 and I-24 and SubDiv 14. All 11 submarines of SubRon 8 complete extensive exercises in the Inland Sea.

15 April 1942:
SubRon 8 arrives at Hashirajima. Admiral Yamamoto addresses the captains of the Eastern Detachment's submarines. Departs Kure for Truk.

18 April 1942: The First Bombing of Japan:
Vice Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. ("Bull") Halsey's Task Force 16's USS HORNET (CV-8), cruisers, destroyers and an oiler accompanied by USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), cruisers, destroyers and another oiler approach to within 668 nautical miles of Japan. Led by Lt Col (later Gen/Medal of Honor) James H. Doolittle, 16 Army North American B-25 "Mitchell" twin-engine bombers of the 17th Bomb Group takeoff from Captain (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's carrier HORNET and strike targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya and Kobe.

E of the Bonin Islands. That same day, I-28 is en route to Truk with I-21, I-22, I-24, I-27 and I-29. Headquarters, Combined Fleet orders the submarines to intercept Task Force 16, but they are unable to make contact.

24 April 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

30 April 1942:
Departs Truk to support the capture of Port Moresby, joining the patrol line SW of Guadalcanal until 5 May.

4 May 1942: The Battle of the Coral Sea:
Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi's Port Moresby Attack Force departs Rabaul towards the Jomard Pass in the Louisiade Archipelago with DesRon 6's light cruiser YUBARI, four destroyers and a patrol boat escorting Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Abe Koso's (former CO of HIEI) Transport Force of 12 transports and a minesweeper.

That same day, Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher's Task Force 17 attacks Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Shima Kiyohide's (former CO of CL OI) Tulagi Invasion Force. Douglas SBD "Dauntless" dive-bombers and TBD "Devastator" torpedo-bombers from USS YORKTOWN (CV-5) sink a destroyer, three minesweepers and damage four other ships.

5 May 1942: Operation "MO" - The Invasions of Tulagi, Solomons and Port Moresby, New Guinea:
Fletcher's force turns N to engage Vice Admiral Takagi Takeo's Carrier Strike Force. SBDs and TBDs from the YORKTOWN and the LEXINGTON (CV-2) sink Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Goto Aritomo's (former CO of MUTSU) light carrier SHOHO off Misima Island. In turn, Japanese planes damage oiler USS NEOSHO (AO-23) and sink destroyer SIMS (DD-409).

8 May 1942:
SBDs from YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON damage Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo's (former CO of MUTSU) carrier SHOKAKU and force her retirement. ZUIKAKU's air group suffers heavy losses. Japanese carrier bombers and attack planes attack Task Force 17 and damage YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON that is further damaged when gasoline vapors are ignited, triggering massive explosions that cause her to be abandoned. Later, LEXINGTON is scuttled by the destroyer PHELPS (DD-360). This Battle of the Coral Sea halts the Japanese thrust toward Port Moresby and they are forced to cancel Operation MO.

11 May 1942:
Vice Admiral Komatsu's headquarters orders I-28 to return to Truk with I-22 and I-24. The order is picked up by American code-breakers. [2]

16 May 1942:
At 0630 (JST) when 250 miles NNE of Rabaul, I-28 reports trouble with a diesel engine. No further messages are received from her. I-28 is presumed lost with all 88 hands from that date.

17 May 1942:
S of Truk, Caroline Islands. LtCdr Joseph H. Willingham's USS TAUTOG (SS-199) is ordered to intercept ships returning from the Battle of the Coral Sea, including damaged carrier SHOKAKU. After 0534, TAUTOG sights two I-class submarines (probably I-22 and I-24) separately heading towards Truk. Willingham fires at one at 0648, but misses.

At 1050, two miles W of Royalist Reef, TAUTOG sights a third Japanese submarine making 12 knots, on the same northerly track with an "I-28" marking visible on its conning tower. At 1101, Willingham fires two Mark XIV torpedoes. One hits and disables I-28. Her diesels stop and the submarine takes a heavy list to starboard, which is soon checked. At least 15 officers and sailors appear on the bridge; the OOD and two lookouts attempt to locate the attacking submarine using binoculars.

Willingham closes the range to 800 yards and fires another torpedo at 1107, hitting right under the conning tower. I-28 sinks with all hands at 06-30N, 152-00 E.

For 15 minutes about 40 sharp cracking noises are heard, one of them a single tremendous explosion, which shakes TAUTOG considerably. The water over the area of sinking is aeriated and brownish. [3]

15 June 1942:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Notes:
[1] Different sources give different dates for I-28's launch. 17 December 1940 appears in authoritative "Showa Zosenshi" shipbuilding history, while other sources suggest 18 or 28 December.

[2] Just like I-27, I-28 was slated for conversion to embark a Type A midget submarine for an attack on Sydney.

[3] In his report report Willingham concluded that the first torpedo might have passed under the keel of I-28, exploding off her starboard side and rupturing some main ballast tanks in that area.

Several sources state that I-28 attempted to torpedo TAUTOG as well, firing two "fishes" from her aft tubes. TAUTOG’s own report in fact mentions water disturbance sighted aft of I-28, "presumably impulse bubbles". Nevertheless, no I-15 (B-1) class submarine was fitted with aft tubes.

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan.

– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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