(I-54 in 1944 -digitally colorized by Irootoko, Jr)

IJN Submarine I-54: Tabular Record of Movement

2001-2016 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
Revision 2

1 July 1942:
Laid down at Yokosuka Navy Yard as Submarine No. 627.

4 May 1943:
Launched and numbered I-54. Provisionally attached to Kure Naval District.

20 January 1944:
Cdr Nakamura Shozo (54)(current CO of I-16) is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer (CEO) of I-54 as an additional duty.

10 February 1944:
Cdr (Captain, posthumously) Ohashi Katsuo (53) (former CO of I-181) is appointed the CEO.

31 March 1944:
Completed and attached to Kure Naval District. Assigned to Rear Admiral Ishizaki Noboru's SubRon 11 in Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo's (former CO of MUTSU) Sixth Fleet (Submarines) for working-up. Cdr Ohashi Katsuo is the Commanding Officer.

13 June 1944: Operation "A-GO" - The Defense of the Marianas:
In Tokyo, the CINC, Combined Fleet, Admiral Toyoda Soemu, (former CO of HYUGA), activates "A-Go" and orders Vice Admiral Takagi to redeploy his boats. From his headquarters on Saipan, Takagi orders all available submarines to deploy E of the Marianas.

15 June 1944: American Operation "Forager" - The Invasion of Saipan:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's Task Force 52 lands Marine LtGen Holland M. Smith's V Amphibious Corps and the invasion begins.

Communications between akagi's Advance Expeditionary Force (Sixth Fleet) are disrupted by the invasion. Command of the Sixth Fleet passes to Rear Admiral Owada Noboru (former CO of YAMASHIRO), ComSubRon 7 at Truk. He orders most of the Sixth Fleet's submarines to withdraw from the Marianas.

7 July 1944:
Departs Yokosuka, towing an "Unpoto" cannon carrier to Saipan.

On that day, codebreakers at the USN Fleet Radio Unit, Melbourne (FRUMEL), Australia, provide the following information:

"Submarines I-54 and I-55 are to be withdrawn from patrol in Mariannes (sic) waters and are to evacuate Naval Air personnel from Tinian. I-54 arrives Tinian on 14th July."

9 July 1944:
Organized Japanese resistance ceases on Saipan. After Saipan falls, I-53 is redirected to Tinian. The "Unpoto" carrier is lost in high seas.

10 July 1944:
Reassigned to SubDiv 15, Sixth Fleet.

15 July 1944:
On that day, FRUMEL provides the following information:

"Submarine I-54 arrives at Tenian (sic) on 18th to begin evacuation operations."

24 July 1944:
I-54 returns to Yokosuka.

31 August 1944:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Nakayama Denshichi (61) (former CO of I-368) is appointed CO. Cdr Ohashi is later reassigned as the CO of the giant new I-13.

13 October 1944: Operation "SHO-1-GO" - The Defense of the Philippines:
Admiral Toyoda Soemu (former CO of HYUGA), CinC, Combined Fleet, orders the "SHO-1-GO" plan activated.

I-54 is attached to Group "A" with I-26, I-45, I-53 and I-56 under direct command of Vice Admiral Miwa Shigeyoshi's Sixth Fleet.

15 October 1944:
Departs Kure to attack the carriers of Task Force 38 and crippled USS HOUSTON (CL-81).

18 October 1944:
Vice Admiral Miwa orders I-54 and 12 other submarines to take up patrol station E of Leyte, Philippines. I-54 is reassigned to patrol 120 miles E of the Philippines between the areas assigned to I-38 and I-46. Her ETA is 25 October.

20 October 1944: American Operation "King Two" - The Invasion of Leyte, Philippines:
Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. Halsey's Third Fleet of 738 ships including 18 aircraft carriers, six battleships, 17 cruisers, 64 destroyers and over 600 support ships land the Army's X Corps (24th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions) and the XXIV Corps (7th, 77th and 96th Infantry Divisions) that begin the campaign to retake Leyte.

LtCdr Nakayama acknowledges an order to change the I-54's station.

23 October 1944:
I-54 sends a message while en route to her new position. It is the last signal received from I-54.

28 October 1944:
E of Leyte. Cdr Selby K. Santmyers' USS HELM (DD-388) is part of the screen of Rear Ralph E. Admiral Davison's carrier Task Group 38.4 (USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), FRANKLIN (CV-13), BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24) and SAN JACINTO (CVL-30) engaged in direct support of ground operations on Leyte.

At 1218, HELM and Cdr Philip D. Quirk's USS GRIDLEY (DD-380) detect a submarine trying to penetrate TG 38.4's screen. As Davison's carriers clear the area, the two destroyers carry out depth charge attacks. At 1411, they sink the submarine - either I-54 or I-46 - at 10-58N, 127-13E. [1]

20 November 1944:
Presumed lost with all 107 hands E of Leyte, Philippines.

10 March 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Notes:
[1] Several sources credit USS RICHARD M. ROWELL (DE-403) with the sinking of I-54 on 26 October 1944 while screening Task Group 77.4. In all likelihood her target was I-56, who survived that encounter.

Thanks go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan and to Hans Mcilveen of the Netherlands for research based on wartime FRUMEL intercepts.

Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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