(Type B1 submarine - colorized photo by Irootoko Jr)
HIJMS Submarine I-37:
Tabular Record of
© 2001-2010 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp Revision 2
7 December 1940:
Laid down at Kure Navy Yard as Submarine No.
22 October 1941:
Launched and renumbered I-49.
1 November 1941:
I-49 is renumbered I-37.
20 December 1942:
Cdr (later Captain) Otani Kiyonori (49)(former CO
of I-18) is appointed the Chief Eqyuipping Officer (CEO).
10 March 1943:
Kure. I-37 is completed, commissioned, and attached to
Kure Naval District. Assigned to Kure SubRon. Cdr Otani Kiyonori is the
13 March 1943:
Navigates Iyo Nada Sea.
22 March 1943:
Inspected by the staff of Kure SubRon.
26 March 1943:
Participates in a torpedo practice with I-38, RO-104
1 April 1943:
Reassigned to SubDiv 11 for working-up.
2 April 1943:
Arrives at Kure for the repairs of the attack periscope
and the retractable short-wave antenna.
Participates in Unkato cargo container towing tests in the
Inland Sea. A Type 22 surface-search radar is installed.
23 May 1943:
I-37 is reassigned to the Sixth Fleet in SubRon 8's
25 May 1943:
Departs Kure for Penang, Malaya.
4 June 1943:
Arrives at Penang.
8 June 1943:
Departs Penang for her first war patrol in the Indian
Ocean. Her patrol area extends from the Chagos Archipelago to the Persian Gulf.
16 June 1943:
Indian Ocean, SE of Chagos Archipelago. I-37 torpedoes
the 8,078-ton British armed motor tanker SAN ERNESTO, independently en route
from Sydney to Abadan, in ballast. After the crew has left the ship in position
09-18S, 80-20E, the submarine briefly shells the tanker, but fails to sink her.
The master and 22 sailors are picked up by the American cargo ship ALCOA
Twenty-eight days later twelve sailors from another boat land on Fanhandu
Island, Maldives. Two sailors and 2 gunners are lost. The derelict hull drifts
some 2,000 miles before running aground on west side of Nias Island, Sumatra
19 June 1943:
Indian Ocean, SW of Maldives. At 1850 I-37 torpedoes
the 7,176-ton American Liberty-ship HENRY KNOX at 01-00N, 71-15E. Independently
en route from Fremantle to Bandar Shapur, she is carrying 8,200 tons of
Lend-Lease supplies (fighter planes, tanks, and explosives) destined for the
HENRY KNOX receives one hit to her port side, which detonates the cargo
of explosives in No. 3 hold. The cords of burning explosive shower the vessel
from stem to stern, setting the deck cargo and catwalk in fire. The Liberty-ship
goes dead in the water and at 1907 the order to abandon ship is given.
A total of 25 merchant sailors and Armed Guards gunners perish during the
torpedo attack, the ensuing fire and shark attacks after abandoning their ship.
HENRY KNOX finally sinks by the bow around 2200, following several explosions.
I-37 surfaces and her navigator orders the chief mate's boat alongside.
He questions the survivors about their cargo, route, destination, and the Allied
vessels encountered in the vicinity. Following the interrogation, various items
of gear are passed over to the stationary submarine on a handline. The boat's
sails, charts, some rations, and a flashlight are confiscated. Personal gear,
matches, and liquor are returned. 
The survivors set off for the Maldives in several groups. A total of 13
of 42 merchant sailors and 13 of 25 Armed Guards perish before the last
survivors make landfall on 30 June.
1 July 1943:
In Advance Force with Rear Admiral Ishizaki Noboru's
(former CO of HYUGA) SubRon 8 with I-8, I-10, I-27 and I-29 based at Penang.
9 July 1943:
Reconnoiters the coast of the Persian Gulf.
17 August 1943:
Returns to Penang.
19 August 1943:
ComSubRon 8 Rear Admiral Ishizaki Noboru is relieved
by Rear Admiral Ichioka Hisashi (former CO of CL YURA).
22 August 1943:
Departs Penang for Singapore.
5 September 1943:
Departs Singapore for Penang.
12 September 1943:
Reassigned to the Southwest Area Fleet.
Departs Penang for a patrol in the Indian Ocean.
Soon after departure one sailor goes down with appendicitis and I-37 returns to
base, aborting the patrol.
20 September 1943:
Departs Penang for her second war patrol in the
Mozambique Channel-Mombasa area. I-37 carries an E14Y1 "Glen" floatplane.
28 September 1943:
The British Admiralty sends a warning based on an
ULTRA intercept from 25 September regarding the possibility of Japanese
submarine-based seaplane recce flights in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and in
the area extending from 15S to 01-30N, west of 54E.
11 October 1943:
The "Glen" from I-37 conducts a recce flight over
Diego Suarez, Madagascar (now Antsiranana). Its pilot, WO Imaizumi Jinzo,
reports that the anchorage is heavily guarded.
23 October 1943:
Indian Ocean, NW of Madagascar. I-37 torpedoes and
sinks 3,404-ton Greek merchant FANEROMENI.
4 November 1943:
Mozambique Channel, SE of Pemba Island. In the
morning I-37 attacks an Allied merchant (probably the 2,850-ton Norwegian
steamer HALLBYØRG, ex-CANADIAN VOYAGEUR) and misses her with one torpedo.
5 November 1943:
Mozambique Channel, SE of Pemba. On the afternoon
I-37 attacks another Allied merchant and again misses it with one torpedo. 
17 November 1943:
The "Glen" from I-37 piloted by WO Imaizumi
conducts a recce flight over Kilindini harbor, Mombasa.
27 November 1943:
Indian Ocean, SW of Addu Atoll, Maldives. At 1240
(Z), just after the sundown, I-37 torpedoes 9,972-ton Norwegian armed tanker
SCOTIA detached from the convoy PB.64 and now independently en route from
Bahrein with a cargo of diesel oil to Melbourne, Australia. After a hit to her
starboard quarter the tanker soon develops a 15-degree list to that side. The
steering gear is disabled and SCOTIA goes dead in the water. The crew abandons
ship while the first engineer and the radio operator remain aboard to transmit
the SSSS signal.
Around 1255, SCOTIA receives another torpedo hit to starboard engine room
and breaks in two. The stern sinks immediately at 03S, 69-08E, while the bow
remains afloat. I-37 surfaces and scuttles it with gunfire. SCOTIA's master
Captain Karl Hjalmar Hansen is taken aboard the submarine as a prisoner.
31 survivors are rescued by HMS OKAPI on 29-30 November. According to the
testimony given by one Norwegian sailor, his boat was machine-gunned from a Bren
gun and a total of 8 officers and sailors were killed.
5 December 1943:
I-37 returns to Penang.
12 December 1943:
Departs Penang for Singapore.
13 December 1943:
Arrives at Singapore for an overhaul at Seletar
15 December 1943:
Dry-docked at Seletar. SubDiv 14 is deactivated.
I-37 is directly attached to the Eighth Fleet.
18 December 1943:
Undocked. Embarks provisions at Singapore.
27 December 1943:
Singapore. Cdr Nakagawa Hajime (50)(former CO of
I-177) is appointed the CO.
12 January 1944:
Departs Singapore for Penang.
15 January 1944:
Arrives at Penang.
Early February 1944:
Most key officers of I-37 are rotated.
10 February 1944:
Departs Penang on her third war patrol in the area
off Madagascar. I-37 carries an E14Y1 "Glen" floatplane.
14 February 1944:
Indian Ocean, S of Ceylon. At 0030, I-37 spots an
Allied merchant and chases it on the surface until 0100 the following day, but
fails to overtake the vessel, making at least 16 knots.
Indian Ocean, SW of Addu Atoll, Maldives. At 1030 I-37 attacks 7,118-ton
British armed steam tanker BRITISH CHIVALRY, independently enroute from
Melbourne to Abadan in ballast. BRITISH CHIVALRY receives two torpedo hits to
starboard, disabling her engines and killing six sailors.
I-37 surfaces 660 yards away from BRITISH CHIVALRY and scuttles the
abandoned tanker with gunfire at 00-50S, 68-00E, firing a total of 17 shells.
Two lifeboats with survivors are ordered alongside. The survivors are
interrogated by I-37's medical officer and BRITISH CHIVALRY's master Captain
Walter Hill is taken aboard the submarine. He surrenders his briefcase,
containing some fifty diamonds and sapphires.
Cdr Nakagawa orders the crew of I-37's floatplane and two sailors to open
fire at the survivors. A total of 13 British sailors are killed and 5 wounded.
Thirty-seven days later 29 sailors and 9 gunners are rescued by the British
merchant DELANE. 
26 February 1944:
Arabian Sea, 200 miles W of Diego Garcia. At 2030,
the lookouts of I-37 sight an unescorted merchant on starboard bow. It is
5,189-ton British armed motor vessel SUTLEJ, detached from a convoy enroute from
Kosseir to Fremantle with a cargo of 9,700 tons of rock phosphates and mail.
Shortly after sundown, I-37 fires two torpedoes from the distance of
2,190 yards. SUTLEJ receives one torpedo hit to the port side between holds Nos.
1 and 2 and sinks in four minutes at 08S, 70E. The survivors escape in a
lifeboat and several rafts.
I-37 surfaces and illuminates the surrounding area with a searchlight.
One of the survivors, a teenage Indian boy is found clinging to the submarine's
rudder and taken aboard.
I-37's medical officer attempts to identify SUTLEJ's master, who
apparently died in the explosion. After receiving information about the ship's
cargo and destination, Cdr Nakagawa orders his crew to open fire on the
survivors. A total of 41 sailors and 9 gunners are lost.
Eleven sailors and a gunner are rescued after 46 days adrift by HM sloop
FLAMINGO. Another ten sailors and a gunner are rescued after 42 days on a raft
by HM whaler SOLVRA. SUTLEJ's 3rd engineer, Arthur S. Bennett is awarded the
Lloyd's War Medal for bravery at sea.
29 February 1944:
Indian Ocean, 800 miles NW of Diego Suarez. At 1130,
I-37 fires two torpedoes at 7,005-ton British armed cargo steamer ASCOT,
independently enroute from Calcutta to Port Louis, Mauritius, with 9,000 tons of
general cargo. After one hit to her engine room the steamer goes dead in the
water at 05S, 63E; four sailors are killed in the blast. Fifty-two survivors
board a lifeboat and a raft.
I-37 surfaces starboard of the abandoned steamer and her medical officer
attempts to identify ASCOT's skipper and the chief officer. When the survivors
claim that all senior officers had been killed, several warning shots are fired
from the submarine. ASCOT's master, Capt James Fawcett Travis identifies himself
in an attempt to prevent any casualties.
Travis and his chief officer Claude Blackett are taken aboard the
submarine and then both dismissed following a brief interrogation. I-37 first
scuttles the wreck of ASCOT by shellfire and then sinks the lifeboat with all
its occupants. Only 4 sailors and 3 gunners are rescued on 3 March by Dutch
steamer STRAAT SOENDA.
3 March 1944:
Early in the morning the "Glen" from I-37 piloted by
Ens Takahashi Kazuo conducts a recce flight over Chagos Archipelago. On this
occasion, the floatplane carries two 132-lb bombs on makeshift racks. After no
ships are sighted, the bombs are dumped during the return flight. I-37 next
heads for Diego Suarez, Madagascar.
9 March 1944:
At 2300, I-37 stops an Indian junk en route from
Colombo to Capetown. After it is found to carry some hundred women and children,
Cdr Nakagawa decides to let the junk to pass undisturbedly.
14 March 1944:
150 miles NE of Diego Suarez. After 1700, the sound
operator of I-37 picks up destroyer screw noises. After a consultation with his
officers Cdr Nakagawa decides against an attack in order to proceed with the
recce flight scheduled for the next day.
15 March 1944:
After sundown the "Glen" from I-37 piloted by Ens
Takahashi conducts a recce flight over Diego Suarez. He reports the presence of
an aircraft carrier, two heavy cruisers, and three destroyers. I-37 next heads
18 March 1944:
An unescorted Allied merchant is sighted, but Cdr
Nakagawa decides against an attack. On 22 March and 1 April two more merchants
are let past.
5 April 1944:
In the afternoon, I-37 arrives 50 miles E of Pemba
Island, S of Mombasa. A heavy swell is observed in the area, preventing the
launch of the plane. By midnight the weather deteriorates further and Cdr
Nakagawa decides to postpone the flight.
7 April 1944:
Despite of the bad weather the "Glen" conducts a
nightly recce flight over Pemba Island and Mombasa. Ensign Takahashi counts over
60 merchants in the port of Mombasa. I-37 next heads for Penang.
10 April 1944:
I-37 passes the area 5 miles S of Ceylon.
20 April 1944:
At 0430, returns to Penang.
27 April 1944:
At 0500, I-37 departs Penang for Singapore, escorted
by her E14Y1 "Glen" floatplane. Around 0800, when I-37 arrives about 20 miles S
of Penang, an explosion occurs off the submarine's port bow, 110 yards away.
I-37 is badly shaken, the lights go out and an electrical switchboard shorts,
but there seem to be no other damage. The submarine settles to the bottom at
shallow depth and returns to Penang by the morning of the following day. The
berthside inspection reveals damage to the valves of two ballast tanks on the
port side. 
3 May 1944:
Departs Penang for Singapore.
5 May 1944:
Arrives at Singapore for repairs at Seletar.
10 May 1944:
Cdr Kono Masamichi (52)(former CO of I-155) is appointed
21 July 1944:
Lingga anchorage. Between 0900 and 1330 (JST), I-37
acts as ASW target for Vice Admiral Kurita Takeo's fleet.
9 September 1944:
Arrives at Kure for overhaul and refit. I-37's
hangar, catapult and deck gun are removed and she is configured to carry four
15 September 1944: American Operation "Stalemate II" - The Invasion of
Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. Halsey's Third Fleet
lands the First Marine Division on Peleliu and the Army's 81st Division on
Anguar Island. The islands are taken in a bitterly fought month-long campaign.
11 October 1944:
LtCdr (promoted Cdr 15 October; Captain,
posthumously) Kamimoto Nobuo (56)(former CO of I-156) is appointed the CO.
7 November 1944: The First Kaiten Mission:
Otsujima Kaiten Naval Base,
Tokuyama Bay. Vice Admiral Miwa Shigeyoshi, Commander, Sixth Fleet (Submarines)
advises crewmen of the plans for a kaiten attack on the American Third Fleet's
anchorage at Ulithi Atoll.
Embarks four kaitens.
8 November 1944: Operation "Kikusui" (Floating Chrysanthemum) - Tokko
(suicide) attack on Palau-Ulithi anchorage:
I-36, I-37 and I-47 depart
Otsujima. I-37 carries four kaiten to attack enemy shipping at Palau, piloted by
Lt Kamibeppu Yoshinori, Lt (j.g.) Murakami Katsutomo, Ensign Kondo Kazuhiko and
Ensign Utsunomiya Hideichi.
19 November 1944:
Kossol Roads, Palau. At 0858, some twelve hours
before I-37 is scheduled to launch her kaiten, she is sighted at the western
entrance of the Kossol Roads by USS WINTERBERRY (AN-56), laying a torpedo net
across the entrance. Twenty seconds later the submarine surfaces again at a
steep angle in approximately the same position and then disappears again. USS
WINTERBERRY alerts minesweeper YMS-33 and the Port Director of Kossol Passage.
YMS-33 fails to locate the submarine.
At 0915, LtCdr Edmund L. McGibbon's USS CONKLIN (DE-439) and LtCdr Edwin
K. Winn's McCOY REYNOLDS (DE-440) are ordered to find and destroy I-37. Navy
planes are also dispatched from Peleliu to assist. The ships begin a sonar
Around 1504 both destroyer escorts obtain a sound contact. At 1539, McCOY
REYNOLDS commences the first attack, firing two patterns of Mark 10 "Hedgehog"
projector charges. I-37 descends to 350 feet and commences evasive maneuvers.
After her third Hedgehog attack McCOY REYNOLDS loses contact at a depth of 400
feet or more.
At 1603, CONKLIN relocates I-37 and commences her first Hedgehog attack
at 1615. Twenty-five seconds later a single underwater explosion is heard. Ten
minutes later CONKLIN fires the second pattern of projector charges; 28 seconds
later another explosion is heard. Nevertheless, I-37 continues to maneuver and
manages to turn inside CONKLIN's pattern immediately prior to her third attack,
during which no hits are recorded.
LtCdr Winn, Officer in Tactical Command, now orders CONKLIN to stand by
and at 1645 McCOY REYNOLDS drops 12 depth charges set to the depth of 450 feet.
An air bubble about 25 feet in diameter arises at least 5 feet above the
surface, followed by a heavy underwater explosion. At 1700, just after the
contact has been regained, another massive explosion shakes the destroyer escort
violently, temporarily disabling her sound gear. A minute later, a huge air
bubble appears on the starboard bow at 08-07N, 134-16E.
Several smaller explosions follow and no further contacts can be
established. Sudden gushes of debris and oil emerge in a large area around both
ships. By sundown a whaleboat from McCOY REYNOLDS retrieves a number of items,
including wood stenciled with Japanese characters, polished pieces of instrument
cases and deck planking. A piece of human flesh with bits of steel embedded in
it is likewise retrieved. By darkness the oil slick expands over several square
miles and new debris continue to appear.
6 December 1944:
I-37 is presumed lost off Palau with all 113 hands.
10 March 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.
 The occupants of the boat later confirmed the presence of
a hangar and degaussing coil on I-37. According to their testimonies the diesel
engines of the submarine started without a splutter which appeared to indicate
their excellent condition and the high quality of the fuel used. The submarine
was reported to have been fitted with a stereoscopic camera with some type of
filtering apparatus mounted to the conning tower.
 It has been suggested that I-37 actually attacked HALLBYØRG twice,
firing three torpedoes on both occasions. I-37's own radio messages from that
period indicate that she attacked two different vessels in one and the same
location. More details regarding the attack on HALLBYØRG and the subsequent loss
of SCOTIA can be found on Siri Lawson's Norwegian Fleet website
 According to the testimony of a former crewmember of I-37, prior to
departure Cdr Nakagawa was authorized by ComSubRon 8 to carry out actions
against the Allied armed merchant crews as a retaliation for the alleged
slaughter of Japanese merchant ship crews by Allied submarines.
In January 1947, Cdr Nakagawa pleaded guilty for his wartime crimes
before the International Military Tribunal in Tokyo. He was sentenced to 8 years
of hard labor. Nakagawa actually served six years and was released on probation
after the end of the Allied Occupation.
 The damage was apparently caused by a premature explosion of a Mark
13 mine laid by Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers of the 10th Air
Force's 7th Bomb Group. Alternatively, the mine could have been laid by British
submarine HMS TAURUS.
Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan.
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