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  I-169 "Shinohara" (I-69)
Type KD6a / I-168 Class

1,400 Tons (surfaced)
2,440 Tons (submerged)
336' x 27' x 15'
6 torpedo tubes
with 14 torpedoes
4" deck gun
13mm AA Gun

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
Klaus Luebcke 1995

Sub History
Built at Mitsubishi's Yard in Kobe. Completed on September 28, 1935 as I-69 and registered in the Kure Naval District. Under the command of several different captains, finally LtCdr Watanabe Katsuji on July 31, 1941.

Assigned to Advanced Expeditionary Force (Sixth Fleet) along with I-68 and I-70. On November 11, 1941 departs Saeki with I-68, I-70, I-71, I-72 and I-73 on a patrol. Departs Kwajalein on November 23.

First War Patrol
On December 2, receives the radio message that hostilities will commence with the United States, proceeds to Hawaii to support the midget submarine attack against Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor Attack
On December 7, 1941 both I-169 and I-68 lay off the entrance to Pearl Harbor to rescue surviving midget submarine crews from the attack. Later that night, this submarine spotted destroyer south southeast of Barber's Point and fires a torpedo but the destroyer turns away drops depth charges, but I-169 escapes undamaged.

On December 8, 1941 both submarines continue to wait off Pearl Harbor to rescue surviving midget submarines but none arrive at the rendezvous point. On December 9, 1941 attacks a cargo ship unsuccessfully and is depth charged. Off Barber's Point, the submarine becomes tangled in an anti-submarine net and hours later is freed, but sustains damage to the periscope and was submerged for 39 hours. Afterwards, departs for Kwajalein arriving on December 27.

Second War Patrol
On January 12, 1942 departs Kwajalein bound for Midway Atoll arriving January 21, 1941 and performs a reconnaissance and patrols the area. On February 9, 1942 surfaces to bombard Sand Island but is spotted by F2A Buffalos from VMF-211 and strafed, sustains damage but departs for Kwajalein arriving February 17, 1942.

Third War Patrol
February 18 departs Kwajalein and is diverted to the east of Wake, afterwards to Kure on March 5.

Fourth War Patrol
On April 15, departs Kure to patrol the Wake area, then returns to Kwajalein on May 9. On May 20, 1942 renumbered I-169.

Fifth War Patrol
On May 24, 1942 departs as a part of SubRon 3 "A Group" along with I-168, I-171, I-174 and I-175 to deploy between 20N, 166-20W and 23-30N, 166-20W and take up positions along the American reinforcement route from Hawaii. On May 31 arrives in the assigned area, patrols then returns to Kwajalein on June 20.

Sixth War Patrol
On July 9, departs Kwajalein with ComSubDiv 12, Captain Okamoto Yoshisuke aboard. Reconnoiters New Caledonia including the Bay of St. Vincent. On July 25, 75 miles southeast of Nouméa torpedoes 9,227-ton Dutch Dutch freighter Tjinegara (operated by the US Army as a troopship) en route from Rockhampton to Nouméa. The ship sinks after several hits at roughly 23-18S, 165-25E. On August 4-5, reconnoiters Port Vila off Efaté, chased away by two destroyers. Arrives at Truk on August 15 and departs two days later bound for Kure arriving August 24. On September 2 to Sasebo for overhaul.

Departs Truk on September 18 joining Subron 3 submarines I-8, I-168, I-171, I-172, I-174 and I-175. On November 16, the submarine captains meet to organize a supply system for Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.

Aleutians Operations
Departs for Kure arriving January 3, 1943. Departs on January 15 for a supply mission to Kiska and returns.

At Kure, loaded with a Type A midget submarine extra torpedoes and troops. Departs on February 15 along with I-171 bound for Kiska. Arrives at Kiska Harbor on February 26 and unloads her cargo, then departs the next day. On February 28, sights an enemy cruiser and destroyer, the submarine is spotted and depth charged.

On March 20-21, refueled by Teiyo Maru then departs Paramushiro to patrol the Aleutians. On March 25 begins patrolling at roughly 53-59N, 174 E. Afterwards, returns to Japan. On April 5, LtCdr Toyama Zenshin is assigned as captain. Arrives at April 9 for overhaul at Yokosuka.

Assigned to SubRon 1 with I-2, I-7, I-31, I-34, I-35, I-168 and I-171 (Northern District Force, Fifth Fleet) with the mission of reinforcing and resupply the isolated Japanese garrisons in the Aleutian Islands.

On May 24, 1943 departs Yokosuka for a supply mission to Kiska carrying 1,440 rifles with ammunition and 2 tons of food. En route, ordered to form a scouting line off Attu with I-171 and I-175. On June 5, reconnoiters Kuluk Bay on Adak.

On June 9 to Kiska and disembarks sixty passengers. The next day, departs and while charging batteries on the surface attacked and shelled by a radar-equipped destroyer. Arrives at Paramushiro on June 14, outfitted with cargo from tender Heian Maru, then refueled by Teiyo Maru. During late June departs for a resupply mission to Kiska, on June 27 refueled by Teiyo Maru with I-36. Afterwards to Kure arriving August 10 for overhaul.

On July 17, I-169 and I-21 are ordered to shell Amchitka Airfield on Amchitka. Nine hours later the order is canceled, and instead to Kure on August 10 for overhaul.

Departs Kure on September 25, arrives at Truk October 3 then departs October 14. Six days later, I-169, I-19, I-35 and I-175 are ordered to intercept an American convoy south of Hawaii.

On November 19, patrolling between Hawaii and the Marshall Island, then to proceed to Tarawa. On November 26, I-169, I-19, I-40 and RO-38 to form a picket line north of Makin. On December 1, running on the surface, I-169 is detected by an American aircraft and dives, then makes sound contact with an enemy convoy, but is unable to break through the screen and attack.

Afterwards proceeds to Truk arriving December 9 and four days later, I-169 and I-32 are resupplied with torpedoes by Heian Maru then again on December 29.

On January 1, 1944 assigned to Subron 3, SubDiv 12 along with 1-171, I-74, I-75 and 1-176 based at Truk. On January 6, 9 and 24, transfers torpedoes and stores from Heian Maru to I-169. Departs on January 27 for Rabaul, then on a supply run to Buka and Buin.

On February 2, assigned to Lt. Commander Sinohara Shigeo. Arrives at Truk on March 11 and departs four days later then returns to Truk on March 22.

Sinking History
On April 4, 1944 moored northwest of Dublon Island in Truk Lagoon replenishing supplies at anchor. In addition to her crew some workmen were also aboard, but the C.O. LtCdr Shinohara, and twenty members of the crew were ashore on Dublon.

An air raid warning was issue about an impending raid by B-24 Liberators. The sub submerged at 1100 hours, to avoid the air raid submerged, standard procedure for submarines at Truk because there were no submarine pens. While submerging, a valve had either came loose, or was never secured, flooding the control room, and the sub was not able to surface.

When the sub failed to resurface, a rescue tug and diver were dispatched to the location where it submerged. The crew had sealed off the flooded area and were alive, and able to signal and respond to diver hammering on the hull.

The next day, a repair ship with a 30 ton crane was dispatched to hoist the bow to the surface. One of the crane's cables broke, indicating that the flooding was more extensive than estimated. By this time, tapping responses from the crew were only coming from the aft compartment. Air hoses were lowered and drilled into the blow and ballast tanks, but it was impossible to signal the crew to open the air valves to the ballast tanks. By 2300 hours, none of the crew responded to rescuers. All the crew had suffocated inside. That night another B-24 air raid interrupted any further investigations.

LtCdr Shinohara, who was not aboard, survives the sinking. Later, the Japanese informally name I-169 the "Shinohara". Over the next six weeks, Japanese divers investigated the shipwreck to determine the cause of the sinking and recovered thirty-two bodies. Their investigations did not reveal the reasons for the malfunction. With the threat of invasion by US forces, the submarine was bombarded with depth charges to prevent it from falling into American hands.

In 1971, the wreck was discovered by divers and filmed. They entered the submarine through an engine room hatch and filmed the interior of the submarine with the skeletal remains of its crew. When this footage was shown in Japan, it caused much concern and nearly $100,000 was donated to recover these remains.

Recovery of Remains
During August 1973, a professional diving team using a dredge located personal effects and about 70 skulls. Photos, books, clothing, cameras and other personal effects along with the bones were cremated as part of the Shinto rites. The remains of nearly 100 were removed, indicating that there were more people on the sub than the normal crew of 70. Probably support personal and workmen. The salvage team welded the sub's hatches shut before leaving. The remains and personal effects of I-169's crew are returned to Japan where they are cremated as part of Shinto rites.

Very little marine growth grows on the wreck. The water quality in this area is poor. The bow and conning tower have been heavily damaged from the depth charges that were fired to destroy it. Wreckage and debris is strewn about, and the 3.9 inch deck gun is lying in a pile of wreckage off to the side. The wreck is in 130 to 150 feet of water. Hoses and cables from the rescue efforts are along the side of the hold. The stern is also heavily damaged from depth charges. Two divers were killed in April 1974 while exploring the wreck. One diver drown when he became trapped in the engine room. His partner attempted to free him, but ran out of air and was forced to surface.

The bell from I-169 is displayed at the Yasukuni Shrine.

Combined Fleet - IJN Submarine I-169: Tabular Record of Movement

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Last Updated
January 6, 2021


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