(KS type RO-109 scanned from "Submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy" by Polmar and Carpenter)

IJN Submarine RO-104:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2001-2017 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp
Revision 4

19 November 1941:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Jukogyo K.K. as a 525-ton (standard) Kaisho (KS) Type submarine No. 214.

11 July 1942:
Launched as RO-104.

5 November 1942:
Lt (Cdr, posthumously) Manabe Masateru (60) (former CO of RO-68) is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer (CEO) of RO-104 and RO-105 as an additional duty.

20 November 1942:
Lt (Cdr, posthumously) Hamazumi Yoshihisa (61) (former torpedo officer of I-11) is appointed the CEO of RO-104 and RO-105 as an additional duty.

25 February 1943:
Kobe. Completed and and attached to Kure Naval District. Assigned to Kure SubRon. Lt Hamazumi Yoshihisa is the CO.

16 March 1943:
LtCdr (Cdr, posthumously) Masada Keiji (62)(former torpedo officer of I-121) is appointed the CO.

1 April 1943:
Reassigned to SubRon 11.

11 May 1943: American Operation "LANDCRAB"- The Invasion of Attu, Aleutians:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Thomas C. Kinkaid's Task Force 16, covered by Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell's Task Force 51, lands the Army's Seventh Division that captures Attu Island, Aleutians.

21 May 1943: Operation "KE" - The Evacuation of Kiska:
The Imperial General Headquarters decides to evacuate the garrison at Kiska Island, Aleutians.

5 June 1943:
Reassigned to Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Harada Kaku's (former CO of CHIYODA) SubRon 7, but detailed temporarily to Rear Admiral Kouda Takero’s (former CO of CHOKAI) SubRon 1 to support the evacuation of Kiska.

7 June 1943:
Departs Kure for Paramushiro, Kuriles.

13 June 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro.

14 June 1943:
Oiler TEIYO MARU refuels RO-104 and I-31.

19 June 1943:
Departs Paramushiro on her first war patrol off Kiska.

23-28 June 1943:
Joins the patrol line "A" formed W of Attu.

28 June 1943:
Reassigned to the Northern Patrol Unit.

29 June 1943:
Early in the morning, LtCdr Masada sights a large transport vessel and starts a chase. At 0645 while running surfaced, RO-104 is targeted by an enemy submarine that fires a torpedo, but misses. RO-104 crash-dives and remains underwater for the next two hours before resuming her chase. Eventually, the transport is identified as a Soviet merchant.

30 June 1943:
Returns to Paramushiro.

6 July 1943:
Departs Paramushiro on her second war patrol the rejoin the "A" patrol line.

21 July 1943:
Returns to Paramushiro.

22 July 1943
Departs Paramushiro for Yokosuka.

28 July 1943:
RO-104 arrives at Yokosuka.

14 August 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Rabaul.

20 August 1943:
Reassigned to the newly-formed SubDiv 51.

26 August 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

4 September 1943:
Allied Operation "Postern" - The Invasion of Lae, New Guinea: Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Daniel E. Barbey's Task Force 76 lands the Australian 9th Division on the Huon Peninsula near Lae.

RO-104 departs Rabaul on her third war patrol to intercept the landing force.

17 Sept 43:
Returns to Rabaul without spotting any targets.

23 September 1943:
Departs Rabaul to intercept TF 76 in Finschafen area on her fourth war patrol, operating together with I-174 and I-177.

30 September 1943:
Returns to Rabaul without spotting any targets.

9 October 1943:
Departs Rabaul for a supply run to Sarmi, New Guinea.

11 October 1943:
Arrives at Sarmi, unloads her cargo, then departs.

13 October 1943:
Returns to Rabaul.

16 October 1943:
Departs Rabaul for her second supply run to Sarmi.

18 October 1943:
Arrives at Sarmi, unloads her cargo, then departs.

20 October 1943:
Returns to Rabaul.

25 October 1943:
Departs Rabaul for her third supply run to Sarmi.

27 October 1943:
Arrives at Sarmi, unloads her cargo, then departs to patrol off Bougainville area for her fifth war patrol.

31 October 1943:
Redirected to Mono Island after an erroneous report of an enemy landing there.

1 November 1943: American Operation "SHOESTRING II": The Invasion of Bougainville:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Theodore S. Wilkinson's Third Amphibious Force, Task Force 31, lands LtGen (later Gen/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandegrift's 1st Marine Amphibious Corps at Cape Torokina, Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville, Solomons.

2 November 1943: The Battle of Empress Augusta Bay:
Vice Admiral Omori Sentaro (former CO of ISE) departs Rabaul to escort 1,000 IJA troops to Empress Augusta Bay to oppose the American invasion at Cape Torokina, Bougainville. Omori's force includes CruDiv 5's MYOKO and HAGURO, DesRon 3's light cruiser SENDAI, DesRon 2's light cruiser AGANO and destroyers.

Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Aaron S. Merrill's Task Force 39 intercepts the Japanese with four radar-equipped light cruisers and eight destroyers. At 0150, all four of Merrill's cruisers take SENDAI under 6-inch fire and set her afire. She soon sinks with most of her crew. Admiral Omori withdraws with the remaining Japanese forces.

3 November 1943:
RO-104 rescues 75 survivors from SENDAI including ComDesRon 3, Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously), the Baron, Ijuin Matsuji (former CO of KONGO and son of Fleet Admiral Ijuin Goro, former CINC, Combined Fleet).

5 November 1943:
Returns to Rabaul.

9 November 1943:
Departs Rabaul on her sixth war patrol to intercept previously damaged light cruiser USS BIRMINGHAM (CL-62), but fails to locate her.

13 November 1943:
Redirected to rescue the pilots of downed 702nd Naval Air Group's (NAG) Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers off Bougainville.

23 November 1943:
Returns to Rabaul.

4 December 1943:
Departs Rabaul on her seventh war patrol to patrol in the Bougainville area.

13 December 1943:
Returns to Rabaul.

26 December 1943: American Operation "BACKHANDLER" - The Invasion of Cape Gloucester, New Britain:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Daniel E. Barbey's Seventh Amphibious Force lands MajGen William H. Rupertus' 1st Marine Division after heavy preinvasion bombardment and bombings.

RO-104 departs Rabaul on her fourth supply run to Sarmi.

28 December 1943:
Arrives at Sarmi, unloads her cargo, then departs to patrol in Dampier Strait area on her eighth war patrol.

30 December 1943-4 January 1944:
Patrols off Cape Gloucester.

2 January 1944: American Operation "MICHAELMAS"- The Invasion of Saidor, New Guinea:
Rear Admiral Barbey's Task Force 76 lands the Sixth Army's 126th Regimental Combat Team of the 32d Division at Saidor and by-passes the Japanese garrison at Sio, 75 miles east.

4 January 1944:
Returns to Rabaul.

13 January 1944:
Departs Rabaul with I-181 on a supply run to Gali, New Guinea, carrying 11 tons of provision and ammunition (including 5 tons of food in rubber containers carried on the deck) and 7 passengers.

On that same day FRUMEL provides a full schedule of RO-104's mission, based on a decrypted SubRon 7 radio message transmitted on 12th January.

16 January 1944:
In the evening RO-104 arrives at Gali but cannot approach the landing area patrolled by enemy destroyers.

18 January 1944:
Unloads her cargo at Gali, then departs.

20 January 1944:
Lt (LtCdr, posthumously) Izubuchi Hisashi (64) (former torpedo officer of I-40) is appointed the CO. [1]

22 January 1944:
Returns to Rabaul.

31 January 1944:
Departs Rabaul for Kure for repairs and overhaul.

12 February 1944:
Arrives at Kure.

2 April 1944:
Departs Kure for Truk via Saipan.

18 April 1944:
Arrives at Truk.

20 April 1944:
Departs Truk to patrol S of the island on her ninth war patrol, then proceeds to Saipan.

17 May 1944:
Departs Saipan for the Admiralty Islands on her tenth war patrol, accompanied by RO-105, to form the "NA" picket line to warn of American invasion forces approaching the Palaus.

18 May 1944:
The US Navy intercepts radio traffic that indicates the Japanese have established a new submarine picket "NA line" between Truk and the Admiralty Islands to intercept American carriers. LtCdr Walton B. Pendelton's USS ENGLAND (DE-635) departs Purvis Bay, off Florida Island, Solomons with LtCdr James Scott's USS RABY (DE-698) and LtCdr Fred W. Just's GEORGE (DE-697) as a hunter-killer group to attack the "NA" line.

23 May 1944:
250 miles NNW of Kavieng, South Pacific. RO-104 is spotted on the surface by a patrol plane that directs the hunter-killer group to the submarine.

At 0604 (L), RABY makes a radar contact at four miles and closes. Lt Izubuchi's radar detector picks up RABY's radar emissions. With the destroyer-escort still 6,000 yds away, RO-104 increases her speed from 5 to 8 knots, crash-diving at 0610. At 0619, RABY makes sound contact and attacks with four successive salvos of Mark 10 "Hedgehog" projector charges. The submarine maneuvers radically, creating wakes by "fish-tailing" and turning into RABY's wake. RO-106's crew also attempts to confuse the attackers by echo-ranging on RABY. Half an hour after the first sound contact the submarine is lost.

Scott hands off the attack to GEORGE. LtCdr Just makes his first hedgehog attack, but also misses, then loses contact. Lt Izubuchi heads NW at five knots. GEORGE regains contact next, attacks, but misses. Between 0730 and 0810, she makes three more firing runs, all unsuccessful. GEORGE, RABY and ENGLAND form a ring to reacquire the target.

At 0819, LtCdr Pendelton's ENGLAND is ordered in. Pendelton fires two full salvos of 48 "Hedgehog" charges. At 0834, following the second attack, he and his crew hear a tremendous underwater explosion. Pendelton's crew estimates 10 to 12 hits at 300 ft. ENGLAND finishes the job with a pattern of 13 depth charges set from 350 to 450 feet.

At about 1045, the first debris comes to the surface, along with a spreading oil slick. The search is continued until dusk without further contact. A boat recovers assorted debris including a dozen fragments of deck planking (some still containing bolts), cork stoppers, a small piece of wood with Japanese characters and a sample of oil. RO-104 sinks at 01-26N, 149-20E.

25 June 1944:
Presumed lost with all 58 hands.

10 August 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Note:
[1] Lt Izubuchi's name has several possible readings.

Special thanks for help in preparing this TROM go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan.

– Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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