Japanese submarine I-1


Japanese submarine I-1.jpg
I-1 in 1930
RN EnsignJapan
Name: I-1
Builder: Kawasaki, Kobe
Commissioned: 10 March 1926
Fate: wrecked 29 January 1943
General characteristics
Class and type: J1 type submarine
Displacement: 2135 tons (surfaced) 2,791 tons(submerged)
Length: 320 ft (98 m)
Beam: 30 ft (9.1 m)
Draught: 16.5 ft (5.0 m)

twin shaft MAN 10 cylinder 4 stroke diesels giving 6000 bhp

two electric motors of 2600 ehp
Speed: 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph) (surfaced) 8 kn (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) (submerged)
Range: 24,400 nmi (45,200 km; 28,100 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 68 officers and men
  • two 140mm/40 caliber deck guns (one each fore and aft)[1]
  • (in January 1943 the after gun was replaced with a 46 foot Daihatsu barge)
  • 6 × 533mm torpedo tubes
  • 20 × Type 95 oxygen-driven torpedoes
Notes: max depth 80 m (260 feet)

The Japanese submarine I-1 was a J1 type submarine built by Kawasaki, Kobe, for the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was a large cruiser submarine displacing 2,135 tons and was the lead of four boats built in the class.

She was commissioned on 10 March 1926 and served in the Second World War. On 29 January 1943 during Operation Ke, the New Zealand naval trawlers Kiwi and Moa intercepted and wrecked her after a surface battle at Kamimbo Bay, Guadalcanal.

Her war activity

  • 7 December 1941: during the attack on Pearl Harbor she was stationed in Kauai Channel to reconnoiter and attack any ships that sortied from the harbour.
  • 15 December 1941: bombarded Kahului, Maui.
  • 31 December 1941: shelled the harbor at Hilo, Hawaii.
  • 3 March 1942: Sinks the 8,806-ton Dutch steamer Siantar en route to Australia from Java.
  • 18 April 1942: witnessed the Doolittle raid on Tokyo
  • 11 June 1942: sets out to patrol the Aleutians.
  • 1 August 1942: is adapted to a cargo role. Her aft 140 mm (5.5 in) gun is removed to make room for a 46-foot (14 m) Daihatsu-class landing craft.
  • 26 October 1942: evacuates Japanese troops from Goodenough Island, New Guinea to Rabaul.
  • 10 January 1943: receives her Daihatsu.
  • 20 January 1943: Arrives at Rabaul and loads rice, bean paste, curry, ham and sausages, all in rubber containers, into the Daihatsu. The three-man crew of the barge is also embarked.
  • 24 January 1943: The I-1 departs Rabaul for Buin to pick up supplies for a resupply mission to Guadalcanal.

Her wrecking

The crew of U.S. PT boat PT-65 inspects the wreckage of Japanese submarine I-1

On 29 January 1943 she encountered the New Zealand minesweepers, Kiwi and Moa. Unable to penetrate I-1's hull with their deck guns,[citation needed] the minesweepers rammed and chased her to shallow water, eventually driving her aground on the reef at Kamimbo Bay, Guadalcanal.[2][3] The wreck partially protrudes from the water.

Critical materials remained on board and the Japanese command tried unsuccessfully to destroy the boat with air and submarine attacks. The U.S. Navy reportedly salvaged code books, charts, manuals, the ship's log, and other secret documents, as well as equipment.[4][5][3]

I-1's pennant is on display at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.[6]

Extracts from the Record of Movement for HIJMS Submarine I-1 [5]
  • 2 February 1943: During the night five crew members and 11 Japanese soldiers attempt to blow up the wreck using two depth charges. The resulting explosion is too weak to destroy the wreck.
  • 10 February 1943: The Japanese, still concerned about the possible compromise of their codes, try to destroy the I-1. Eight carrier Aichi D3A2 "Val" dive-bombers, escorted by 28 carrier "Zeke" fighters and 14 from the 2nd (later 582nd) NAG, bomb the wreck and hit her once near the conning tower. About one fifth of the I-1 still sticks out of the water.
  • 11 February 1943: The I-1's sister, the I-2, with the commanding officer of I-1 Lt Koreeda aboard, departs the Shortland Islands to sink the wreck.
  • 13 February 1943: The I-2 fails to locate the I-1 in the dark.
  • 15 February 1943: The I-2 makes another try, but again fails to locate the I-1.
  • 1 April 1943: The I-1 is removed from the Japanese Navy List.

Japanese effort to destroy the wreck

Extract from the Record of Movement for her sister submarine I-2[7]
  • 29 January 1943: The I-2's sister, the I-1, runs aground and is sunk off Guadalcanal. The wreck partially protrudes from the water. The Japanese, concerned about the possible compromise of their codes, try to destroy the I-1 by explosives and by bombing. All attempts fail.
  • 11 February 1943: The I-2, with the XO of I-1 aboard, departs the Shortland Islands for Kamimbo Bay, Guadalcanal to sink the wreck of the I-1.
  • 13 February 1943: In the dark, the I-2 fails to locate the I-1.
  • 15 February 1943: The I-2 makes another try, but again fails to locate the I-1.


In 1968, I-1’s main deck gun was recovered and brought to Auckland, New Zealand aboard HMNZS Otago[8] for display at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum.

I-1's gun on display at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in June 2012

Around 1970, an Australian treasure hunter in search of valuable metals blew up the bow section of the I-1. This caused much damage since live torpedoes were still inside. The bow section of the sub still remains, split open. The front one-third of the submarine is destroyed but the remaining section is still intact. The I-1 lies with her bow in 45 feet (14 m) and her stern in 90 feet (27 m) of water.


  1. ^ Campbell, John Naval Weapons of World War Two ISBN 0-87021-459-4 p.191
  2. ^ "Moa and Kiwi bag a sub". New Zealand History. History Group of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b Owen, David (2007). Anti-submarine warfare : an illustrated history. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. p. 179. ISBN 9781591140146.
  4. ^ Submarine Type J-1
  5. ^ a b Hackett, Bob; Kingsepp, Sander. "IJN Submarine I-1: Tabular Record of Movement". CombinedFleet.com. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  6. ^ McLeod, Tom. "I-1 pennant displayed at Museum of the Pacific". Pacific Wrecks Incorporated. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  7. ^ HIJMS Submarine I-2 : Tabular Record of Movement
  8. ^ "Remains of I-1 Japanese submarine". New Zealand History. History Group of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 28 April 2015.

External links

  • I-1 Submarine
  • The Kiwi & Moa from The Pacific the official NZ War History
  • Period photo of the wreck of I-1
  • Damage to the bow of the Kiwi (photo)
  • The wreck of the cruiser submarine I-1