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  I-16 Japanese Submarine
Type C1 Submarine

2,595 Tons (Sufaced)
3,618 Tons (Submerged)
358' 7" x 29' 10" x 17' 5"
8 x 21" torpedo tubes
1 x 14cm deck gun
2 x 25mm AA guns
Type A midget submarine

Sub History
Built by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding at Kobe. Laid down September 15, 1937 as the lead boat of the Type C1 cruiser submarine with yard number 44. Launched July 8, 1938 as I-16 towed to Kure Navy Yard for completion. Commissioned March 30, 1940 in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) under the command of Commander Hitoshi Kobayashi . On July 31, 1941 assigned to Lt. Commander Kaoru Yamada. Assigned to the 6th Fleet (Advance Expeditionary Fleet), SubRon 1, SubDiv 1.

Wartime History
On November 17, 1941 officers of the Special Attack Unit are briefed on Operation Z, the Hawaii operation against Pearl Harbor and Oahu. Assigned to the Special Attack Unit under the command of Captain Sasaki Hankyu inlcuding I-16, I-24, I-18, I-20 and the flagship, the I-22.

Pearl Harbor Attack
On December 7, 1941 at 12:42am I-16 was of the entrance to Pearl Harbor and launches HA-16 Type A Midget Submarine (Midget E) piloted by Lt(jg) Yokoyama Masaharu with PO2C Ueda Sadamu. Afterwards, I-16 patrols west of Lanai and receives the message "Tora, tora, tora!" message from Lt Yokoyama about the successful air attack.


On April 27, 1942 arrives at Penang as part of "A detachment" including I-16, I-18 and I-20 with Nisshin transporting Type A midget submarines. At Penang, each mother submarines is loaded with a Type A midget submarine, the second time aboard I-20 (the first was during "Operation Z" for the Hawaii Operation).

On April 30, 1942 departs Penang with "A detachment" bound for the Indian Ocean and to launch a midget submarine attack. Between May 5-15, 1942 the submarines are refuel at sea by Aikoku Maru and Hokoku Maru. On May 17, 1942 in the Indian Ocean southest of Madagascar heavy seas flood her port engine room, but the submarine continues the mission.

On May 29, 1942 Japanese submarines I-10, I-16 and I-20 are in position to attack Diego-Suarez Bay (Antsiranana Bay) on Madagascar. To perform a reconnaissance over the target area, I-10 launches her floatplane at 10:30pm spots HMS Ramillies, destroyers HMS Duncan, HMS Active, corvettes HMS Genista and HMS Thyme, troopship HMS Karanja, hospital ship HMS Atlantis, MV British Loyalty, merchant MV Llandaff Castle and an ammunition ship. Based on this report, Captain Ishizaki orders a midget submarine attack the next night.

On May 30, 1942 at night I-16 launches her Type A Midget Submarine under the command of Lt. Katsusuke Iwase with PO2C Kozo Takada for an attack against Diego-Suarez Bay (Antsiranana Bay). When the midget submarine fails to return it is declared missing.

On May 31, 1942 in an attempt to locate any surviving midget submarine crew members and assess damage, I-10 launched her E14Y1 Glen floatplane piloted by piloted by Lt(jg) Shunshi Araki on another reconnaissance over Diego-Suarez Bay (Antsiranana Bay). Later, the body of an unidentified Japanese sailor, presumed to be Iwase or Takada washed ashore June 2, 1942 onto the beach near Diego-Suarez.

After the attack, I-16 resumes patrolls in the Indian Ocean. On June 6, 1942 spots Susak (Yugoslav merchant ship) at Lat 15° 42' S Long 40°  58' E and torpedoes, shells and sinks the vessel. On June 8, 1942 shells and sinks Aghios Georgios IV (Greek merchant ship) at Lat 16° 12S, Long 41° 00' E. On June 12, 1942 torpedoes and sinks Supetar (Yugoslav) at Lat 21° 49' S Long 35°  50' E. On July 1, 1942 torpedoes and sinks Eknaren (Swedish merchant ship) at Lat 17° Long 40°.

On July 26, 1942 performs a reconnaissance of Diego Garcia. On August 10, 1942 arrives Penang then departs for Japan. On August 26, 1942 arrives Yokosuka for an overhaul.


Guadalcanal Resupply Attempts
On January 13, 1943, I-16 carrying a cargo of supply drums conducts makes a first supply run to Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal. Because enemy planes were patrolling over the area, no Daihatsu barges were dispatched to meet the submarine. Instead, I-16 jettisons the cargo in hopes it will float ashore then departs for Rabaul.

On January 25, 1943, I-16 makes a second supply run to Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal, releasing 18 tons of supplies in an Unkato (cargo transporting tube) and evacuates some Japanese including Lieutenant Commander Kenji Mitsui.


On December 7, 1942 I-16 embarks HA-22 and departs Shortland bound for Guadalcanal.

Sinking History
On December 13, 1942 at 4:48am I-16 launches HA-22 Type A midget submarine roughly 10 miles off Savo Island. Aboard is commander Lt(jg) Yoshimi Kado and crew member PO Toshio Yahagi. At dawn, HA-22 sights hospital ship USS Solace AH-5 off Lunga Point on Guadalcanal and fires both torpedoes at a destroyer in the same area but neither hits. Afterwards, submarine reaches Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal and was scuttled by the crew.


Sinking History
On May 19, 1944 the I-16 was spotted on the surface by U.S. aircraft 140 miles northeast of Cape Alexander on Choiseul Island. Afterwards, USS England, USS Raby and USS George onduct a line-abreast sonar sweep. At 1:35pm USS England spots I-16 on sonar and at starting at 1:41pm attacked five times with twenty-four Mark 10 hedgehog projector charges. The hedgehogs hit on the second and fifth attacks. At 1435, after the fifth attack, a huge underwater explosion lifts the England fantail out of the water by 6" as the I-16 explodes and sinks with all hands aboard.

The explosion must have been 500' or deeper because was 20 minutes before the first debris appeared at the surface. Shreds of cork, deck planking, pieces of cabinets and other objects appear. Finally, a sealed rubber container with a bag of rice inside surfaced. Almost an hour later, a small oil slick appears. The next day, a 3 by 6 mile oil slick was observed on the surface at the sinking location.

On June 25, 1944 the sub was officially presumed lost with all aboard.

Combined Fleet - HIJMS Submarine I-16: Tabular Record of Movement

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Last Updated
January 24, 2022


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