SENSUIKAN!

(Type J1 submarine - colorized photo by Irootoko Jr)

IJN Submarine I-4:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2012 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
Revision 5


17 April 1926:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki's ship yard as a Type J-1 submarine.

22 May 1928:
Launched.

12 April 1929:
Renumbered I-4.

15 May 1929:
Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Takatsuka Seigo (38)(former CO of I-54) is assigned as Chief Equipping Officer.

24 December 1929:
Kobe. I-4 is completed and attached to the Yokosuka Naval District. Cdr Takatsuka is appointed the Commanding Officer. Assigned to SubDiv 7, SubRon 2, in the Second Fleet.

1 April 1930:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Kouda Takero (41)(former CO of I-51) assumes command.

1 August 1930:
Reassigned to SubDiv 8.

1 December 1931:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral, posthumously) Nakaoka Nobuki (45)(former CO of RO-63) assumes command. LtCdr. Koda is promoted Commander and later assigned as ComSubDiv 13.

14 June 1932:
Off Mishima Island, Kyushu. About 1406, I-4 participating in a simulated group attack against BatDiv 1 units, surfaces just ahead of a column of zigzagging battleships. HYUGA, steaming at 12 knots, avoids a collision at the last minute, grazing her bow against the stationary submarine. HYUGA receives minor damage to her hull plating.

5 October 1932:
LtCdr (later Captain) Teraoka Masao (46) is appointed CO. LtCdr Nakaoka is reassigned as CO of I-57.

15 November 1935:
LtCdr (later Captain) Mizobata Sadakazu (46) (former CO of I-122) is appointed CO. LtCdr Teraoka is promoted Cdr and later assigned as Chief Equipping Officer of I-7.

30 June 1936:
LtCdr (later Captain) Minaguchi Hyoe (46) (former CO of I-71) is appointed CO. LtCdr Mizobata is later assigned as CO of I-53.

1 December 1936:
LtCdr Minaguchi is promoted Cdr.

21-23 August 1937:
East China Sea. Submarines I-4, I-1, I-2, I-3, I-5 and I-6 provide distant cover for BatDiv 1's NAGATO, MUTSU, BatDiv 3's HARUNA and KIRISHIMA and light cruiser ISUZU ferrying troops from Tadotsu, Shikoku, to the Shanghai area.

1 December 1937:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral, posthumously) Kobayashi Hajime (48)(former CO of I-62) assumes command. Cdr. Minaguchi is later assigned as CO of I-56.

15 November 1938:
Lt. Cdr. (later Rear Admiral, posthumously) Emi Tetsuhiro (50)(former CO of I-67) is appointed CO. LtCdr Kobayashi is promoted Cdr and reassigned as CO of I-3.

15 November 1939:
LtCdr Emi is promoted Cdr.

15 November 1940:
SubRon 2 is reassigned to Sixth Fleet.

7 January 1941:
I-4 is appointed the flagship of SubDiv 8.

31 October 1941:
Cdr Nakagawa Hajime (50) (former CO of I-58) is appointed CO. Cdr Emi is reassigned as the CO of I-8.

10 November 1941: Operation "Z":
Saeki Bay. I-4 is in Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (former CO of ISE) Sixth Fleet (Submarines) in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Yamazaki Shigeaki's (former CO of old CA YAKUMO) SubRon 2 in Captain Takezaki Kaoru's SubDiv 8 with I-5, I-6 and the squadron's flagship, I-7. LtCdr (later Cdr) Nakagawa Hajime (former CO of I-60 and I-58) is I-4's Commanding Officer.

Admiral Shimizu convenes a meeting of all his commanders aboard his flagship, light cruiser KATORI. LtCdr Nakagawa and the other commanders are briefed on the planned attack on Pearl Harbor.

16 November 1941:
SubDiv 8 departs Yokosuka for the Hawaiian Islands.

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:
Off Hawaii. SubRon 2 is arrayed NE and NW of Oahu. Its mission is to reconnoiter and attack any ships that try to sortie from Pearl Harbor. I-4 is deployed off the NE coast of Oahu, next to I-6.

14 December 1941:
29 miles ENE of Cape Makapuu, Oahu. Around 0355, Cdr Nakagawa attacks 4,858-ton Norwegian freighter HØEGH MERCHANT, en route from San Francisco to Manila (later re-routed to Honolulu) with 7,500 tons of general cargo, including one hundred tons of explosives. I-4 torpedoes HØEGH MERCHANT and hits her starboardside. A fire breaks out. Ten minutes later, I-4 fires another torpedo, which hits near the same location. At 0533, HØEGH MERCHANT goes down; her crew and passengers are rescued by minesweeper USS TREVER (DMS-16) and later transferred to Coast Guard cutter CG-403 and taken to Honolulu. [2]

9 January 1942:
Departs her patrol area to join the hunt for USS LEXINGTON (CV-2), detected by I-18.

22 January 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

24 January 1942:
Departs Kwajalein for Yokosuka.

2 February 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

8 February 1942:
I-4 is assigned to the Dutch East Indies Invasion Force in RAdm (later VAdm) Ichioka Hisashi's (former CO of YURA) SubRon 2 with I-1, I-2, I-3, I-6 and flagship I-7.

11 February 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for Palau.

17 February 1942:
Arrives at Palau.

18 February 1942:
Departs Palau for Staring Bay, SE Celebes (now Sulawesi).

22 February 1942:
Arrives at Staring Bay.

23 February 1942:
Departs Staring Bay for the area S of Java on her second war patrol.

28 February 1942:
Indian Ocean, SW of Bali. About 1615, I-4 sinks an unidentified Allied steamer. [3]

3 March 1942:
I-4 shells Cocos Island.

8 March 1942:
At 1250 (JST), arrives at Penang.

16 March 1942:
Vice Admiral, the Marquis, Komatsu Teruhisa (former CO of CA NACHI) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet. Vice Admiral Shimizu is later reassigned as the CINC, First Fleet.

March 1942: Operation "C" - The Raids in the Indian Ocean:
At Penang, Malaya. Headquarters, Combined Fleet orders that the western coasts of India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) be reconnoitered before the commencement of Operation C." All of SubRon 2's boats, except I-I, participate in the operation.

28 March 1942:
Departs Penang with ComSubDiv 8 aboard to reconnoiter the Eight Degree Channel and Colombo areas on her third war patrol.

5 April 1942: Operation "C":
Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi's Carrier Striking Force ("Kido Butai") attacks the British naval base on Columbo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They wreck the base's facilities, destroy 27 aircraft and sink several ships. A floatplane finds Vice Admiral James Somerville's Eastern Fleet's cruisers HMS CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE at sea. Nagumo's airmen sink both ships, but are unsuccessful in their search for the rest of Somerville's fleet.

6 April 1942:
Western entrance to the Eight Degree Channel. Around 1555 I-4 fires two Type 96 torpedoes at the 6,617-ton US steamer WASHINGTONIAN (ex-WILLZIPO) en route from Suez to Colombo. After a torpedo has been sighted 500 yards away, bearing down on the port side, the steamer commences a slow turn, but then receives two hits. The fuel tanks are set in fire and flames engulf the entire ship. At 1605, with the ship listing 25 degrees to port, 10 officers, 29 men and two passengers clear the ship in two lifeboats. In less than a day they reach the Maldives. [4]

9 April 1942: Operation "C":
The Striking Force attacks the British naval base at Trincomalee, Ceylon. They wreck the base's facilities and shoot down nine planes. A floatplane spots old light carrier HMS HERMES and Australian destroyer HMAS VAMPIRE at sea. The Striking Force sinks both. Nagumo's aircraft also find and sink several smaller ships.

10 April 1942:
Off Colombo. After 0100 I-4 battle-surfaces on an 200-ton Maldivian buggalow in the area 07N, 79E and fires 14 rounds from her deck guns, reporting the target heavily damaged.

16 April 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

21 April 1942:
Departs Singapore for Yokosuka.

1 May 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

5 June 1942: Operation "AL"- The Invasion of the Western Aleutians:
Twenty ships of the Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro's (former CO of MUTSU) 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 (former CO of ISE) Occupation Force on Attu, Aleutians without opposition.

7 June 1942:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ono Takeji's Occupation Force occupies Kiska, also without opposition.

10 June 1942:
Reassigned to the Northern Unit with I-1, I-2, I-3, I-5, I-6 and I-7.

11 June 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for the Aleutians in company of I-1, I-2, I-3 and I-7 on her fourth war patrol.

20 June 1942:
Joins the K patrol line with I-1 and I-2, patrolling along 178W longitude, 48 to 50N latitude until 3 July.

20 July 1942:
I-4 is reassigned to the Advance Unit. On the same day she receives an order to depart her patrol area for Yokosuka.

1 August 1942:
Returns to Yokosuka for an overhaul.

7 August 1942: 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. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal opening a seven-month campaign to take the island.

15 August 1942:
LtCdr Kawasaki Michio (51) (former CO of I-171) is appointed CO. Cdr Nakagawa is later assigned as CO of the new I-177.

20 August 1942:
SubDiv 8 is disbanded. I-4 is reassigned to SubDiv 7.

8 September 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for Truk.

15 September 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

19 September 1942:
Departs Truk for the area S of San Cristobal on her fifth war patrol.

29 September 1942:
12 miles SW of Cape Sidney, San Cristobal. At 2330 when patrolling surfaced, the lookouts of I-4 report a 7,000-ton cargo ship on the port bow heading ESE at 13 knots, escorted by a solitary destroyer. I-4 dives and starts an approach at 5 knots. At 2344, LtCdr Kawasaki fires two Type 96 torpedoes at the freighter, set at 10 feet. Seven minutes later, a hit to stern is observed, followed by a column of water and a plume of fire. The second torpedo hits the target, but fails to explode.

Cdr Charles B. Hunt’s 7,447-ton USS ALHENA (AK-26) escorted by USS MONSSEN (DD-436), en route from Guadalcanal to Espiritu Santo, is hit by a torpedo in the vicinity of No. 5 hold, opening a 45-foot hole on both sides of the stern. Several fires break out and ALHENA goes dead in the water at 10-47S, 161-16E. She develops a 10-degree stern list. Six sailors and 24 Marines are killed or MIA. Considering his target doomed, Kawasaki dives to 165 feet and departs the area at 3 knots. [4]

30 September 1942:
After 0025 the contact with USS MONSSEN is lost. At 0047, the sound operator of I-4 reports a contact with another destroyer, which is lost soon thereafter. At 0145, I-4 surfaces and at 0432 reports the "sinking" to ComSubRon 3 and the C-in-C, Sixth Fleet.

5 October 1942:
I-4 is reassigned to the "A" patrol group.

10 October 1942:
I-4 and I-7 are directly attached to the Advance Unit. Redirected to Espiritu Santo area.

13 October 1942:
I-4 is reassigned to A patrol group.

14 October 1942:
Following the cancelation of a submarine-launched raid on Espiritu Santo, I-4 and I-7 are ordered to bombard the airfield on that island. Approaching from the east, I-4 cannot locate the target in limited visibility and is redirected northwards to patrol in "Torpedo Junction" on the 16th.

25 October 1942:
100 miles W of Espiritu Santo. Around 2110 LtCdr Kawasaki sights one American battleship (probably USS WASHINGTON of TG 17.8) and two destroyers on a westerly course, but the target is soon lost in a rain squall.

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.

3 November 1942:
Returns to Truk. Converted to carry a water-proofed Daihatsu barge between 4 and 16 November.

6 November 1942:
LtCdr Ueno Toshitake (56 (former CO of I-123) is appointed CO.

15 November 1942:
Reassigned to the "B" patrol unit.

20 November 1942:
Departs Truk for Rabaul.

23 November 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul, embarks a Daihatsu barge.

25 November 1942: Departs Rabaul for Shortland Islands, off Bougainville. LtCdr Ueno is briefed regarding the procedure of Guadalcanal supply operations.

26 November 1942:
Arrives at Shortland.

28 November 1942:
Departs Shortland on her first supply run to Guadalcanal, carrying 20 tons of food and medicine.

30 November 1942:
Arrives off Kamimbo, unloads her cargo, then departs for Rabaul.

3 December 1942:
Returns to Rabaul.

5 December 1942:
At 1600 departs Rabaul on her second supply run to Guadalcanal, carrying 20 tons of food and medicines.

8 December 1942:
Arrives off Kamimbo, unloads her cargo, then departs for Shortland.

10 December 1942:
Arrives at Shortland.

12 December 1942:
Departs Shortland for Rabaul.

14 December 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

16 December 1942:
Departs Rabaul on an urgent supply run to Buna, New Guinea.

18 December 1942:
At 2215 I-4 arrives off the mouth of Mambare River, but is detected by torpedo boats PT-121 and -122. Two torpedoes are fired at the surfaced submarine, both miss. Chased away, I-4 returns a few hours later, but fails to contact the Japanese units.

LtCdr Ueno decides to abort his mission and return to Rabaul. He reports his ETA at Rabaul as 1000 hours (JST) on 21 December.

21 December 1942:
St. George's Channel, off New Ireland. At 0620 LtCdr William E. Ferrall's USS SEADRAGON (SS-194), alerted by an "Ultra" message, sights an "I-68" class submarine on a northerly course at the southern entrance of St. George's Channel. The submarine, making 14 knots, is painted black and carries a white "4" on her conning tower.

Ferrall commences an approach. At 0637, he fires three Mark 10-3 torpedoes at a range of 850 yards. The lookouts on I-4 apparently spot the incoming torpedoes and the submarine attempts to comb their wakes. As a result of a gyro malfunction, the first torpedo misses ahead; the second explodes 18 seconds after firing, but the third hits the submarine in the stern, causing a large ball of flame and much smoke. I-4 sinks by the stern, with her bow in a vertical position, at 05-02S, 152-33E.

Aboard SEADRAGON the premature explosion of the second torpedo initiates one of the loaded torpedoes to hot run, which has to be fired to prevent an accident. [4]

5 January 1943:
Presumed lost with all 90 hands off Rabaul.

1 March 1943:
Removed from the Navy List.


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

[2] Some oil barrels from HØEGH MERCHANT’s cargo evidently drifted ashore at Kauai days after the sinking.

[3] I-4's victim has been sometimes identified as the 1,693-ton Singapore-based merchant steamer BAN HO GUAN (ex-Dutch DE HAAN). Given her slow speed, it is doubtful that BAN HO GUAN could have reached that position by the time of I-4's attack.

[4] Author Jurgen Rohwer credits I-5 with sinking WASHINGTONIAN, but this is not substantiated by Japanese records.

[5] USS ALHENA drifted throughout the night and the next day until she was first taken under tow by MONSSEN and later by fleet tug USS NAVAJO (AT-64), arriving at Espiritu Santo on 7 October. Following major repairs at Sydney, Australia, ALHENA was converted to an attack cargo ship (AKA-9). DANFS credits I-16 with torpedoing ALHENA, but by that time that sub was being overhauled at Yokosuka.

[6] There seems to be some confusion about the actual date I-4 was sunk by USS SEADRAGON. While several sources suggest 20 December, SEADRAGON’s own report gives the following day.

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan, Matthew Jones of the USA, Rob Stuart of Canada and Michael Peter of New Zealand. .

– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.


Back to Submarine Page