Laid down on November 1, 1923 at Kawasaki Yard at Kobe as SS-76. On November 1, 1924 renumbered I-3. Launched on June 8, 1925. On November 30, 1926 Completed and attached to Yokosuka Naval District.
Assigned to SubDiv 7, SubRon 2 at Second Fleet. LtCdr Ogino is appointed the Commanding Officer.
On July 12, 1928 I-3 is in the Inland Sea, off Omishima Island. At 1011, when entering Moroshima Bay at 4 knots, the surfaced I-3 suffers a rudder failure and is briefly grounded. Refloated at 1622, she proceeds to Kure Navy Yard, where the damage is repaired.
On January 15, 1928, LtCdr Sekino Akira (38) assumes command. Next on December 15, 1928 LtCdr Michino Kiyoshi (41) assumes command. Then, June 1, 1929 LtCdr Harada Kaku assumes command. Next, on December 1, 1932, Cdr Ishizaki Noboru assumes command. LtCdr Harada is promoted Commander and reassigned as ComSubDiv 6. On November 15, 1933, Cdr Uozumi Jisaku assumes command. Cdr Ishizaki is reassigned as ComSubDiv 27, with additional duty as ComSubDiv 25. On November 1, 1934 LtCdr Matsumura Midori assumes command.
At Yokosuka, Hemi pier on January 10, 1935. Between 1450 and 1540, I-2 is inspected by German Naval Attaché Captain aul Wenneker. His visit to I-3 is canceled because of bad weather.
15 November 1935:
Placed in reserve for modernization until 1 December 1936. During a rebuild the conning tower receives a more streamlined shape. The American-built K-tube sonar is replaced with a domestic set. LtCdrMatsumura is reassigned to the Naval Affairs Bureau of the Navy Ministry.
6 January 1936:
LtCdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Kobayashi Hajime (48) (current CO of I-2) assumes command as an additional duty.
1 December 1936:
Cdr (later Captain) Matsuo Yoshiyasu (47) is appointed the CO.
18 May 1937:
Sukumo Bay, Shikoku. At 1045, during a scheduled upkeep, I-3 suffers an explosion in lube oil sump tank, killing one sailor and wounding seventeen. The damage is repaired at Kure Navy Yard.
7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (The "First China Incident"):
Hun River, Lugouqiao, China. Japanese troops on night maneuvers fire blank cartridges. Nearby Chinese troops fire back, but do not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discover a soldier missing and assume the Chinese captured him. They demand entry to a Peking suburb to look for the soldier. The Chinese refuse. The Japanese then shell the city and an undeclared war on China begins.
28 July 1937:
In SubDiv 7, SubRon 1, First Fleet, with I-1 and I-2.
21-23 August 1937:
East China Sea. Submarines I-3, I-1, I-2, I-4, I-5 and I-6 provide distant cover for BatDiv 1's NAGATO, MUTSU, BatDiv3's HARUNA and KIRISHIMA and light cruiser ISUZU ferrying troops from Tadotsu, Shikoku, to the Shanghai area.
1 December 1937:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Ishikawa Nobuo (49) (former CO of RO-33) is appointed the CO.
15 November 1938:
Cdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Kobayashi (48) (former CO of I-4) assumes command for the third time.
24 April 1939:
LtCdr (later Captain) Iura Shojiro (51) (former CO of I-69) assumes command.
20 October 1939:
Cdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Fujii Akiyoshi (49) (current CO of I-2) assumes command as an additional duty.
20 November 1939:
The CO of I-2, Cdr Fujii Akiyoshi (49) (RAdm, posthumously) assumes the command of I-3 as an additional duty.
26 July 1940:
LtCdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Kinashi Takakazu (51)(former CO of RO-59) is appointed the CO.
5 November 1940:
LtCdr (later Cdr) Tonozuka Kinzo (50) (former CO of I-122) assumes command. LtCdr Kinashi is reassigned as CO of RO-34.
10 November 1941: Operation "Z":
Saeki Bay. I-3 in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Yamazaki Shigeaki's (former CO of old CA YAKUMO) SubRon 2 that is a part of Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (former CO of ISE) Sixth Fleet. I-3 is in Captain (later Rear Admiral) Shimamoto Hisagoro's SubDiv 7 with I-1and I-2. LtCdr (later Cdr) Tonozuka Kinzo is the Commanding Officer.
Admiral Shimizu convenes a meeting of all his commanders aboard his flagship, light cruiser KATORI. LtCdr Tonozuka and the other commanders are briefed on the planned attack on Pearl Harbor.
15 November 1940:
SubRon 2 is reassigned to Sixth Fleet.
Pearl Harbor Attack
On November 16, 1941 at 1200 departs Yokosuka for Hawaii with I-2. On December 1, 1941, arrives within 300 miles from Oahu.The next day, the coded signal "Niitakayama nobore (Climb Mt. Niitaka) 1208" is received from the Combined Fleet. It signifies that hostilities will commence on 8 December (Japan time).
On December 7, 1941 arrives at her assigned patrol area in the easternmost sector of Kauai Channel between Oahu and Kauai with I-1 and I-2. SubRon 2 is arrayed to the northeast and northwest of Oahu. Its mission is to reconnoiter and attack any ships that try to leave Pearl Harbor.
27 December 1941:
I-3 receives an order from ComSubRon 2 (aboard I-7) to shell Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai. On December 30, 1941 arrives off Nawiliwili and conducts periscopic reconnaissance of the Wailua River estuary. After sundown I-3 surfaces and fires twenty 5.5"
HE shells at the breakwater and a nearby building identified as a warehouse. Most projectiles fall short of the target and only one house is damaged by shell fragments. One shell perforates a large gasoline storage tank, but fails to explode. The total damage is estimated to $500.
31 December 1941:
100 miles WSW of Oahu. Around 2100 LtCdr Tonozuka sights one carrier, two cruisers and several destroyers heading 270 (T) (in all likelihood Vice Admiral Herbert F. Leary’s TF 14), but fails to reach a firing position.
9 January 1942: Operation "H" - The Invasion of the Celebes, Dutch East Indies:
Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's (former CO of KIRISHIMA) Second Fleet, Southern Force, Netherlands East Indies Force invades Menado and Kema (11 January), Kendari (24 January), Ambon (30 January) and Makassar (9 February).
9 January 1942:
Departs her patrol area to join the hunt for USS LEXINGTON (CV-2), detected by I-18.
22 January 1942:
SubDiv 7 arrives at Kwajalein.
24 January 1942:
Departs Kwajalein for Yokosuka with I-1 and I-2.
1 February 1942:
SubRon 2 arrives at Yokosuka. Its boats are given complete a refit and overhaul.
8 February 1942:
I-3 is assigned to the Dutch East Indies Invasion Force in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Ichioka Hisashi's (former CO of YURA) SubRon 2 with I-1, I-2, I-4, I-6 and flagship I-7.
12 February 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for Staring Bay, SE Celebes (now Sulawesi) with ComSubDiv 7 aboard.
16 February 1942:
Arrives at Palau, refuels from oiler FUJISAN MARU.
17 February 1942:
I-3 and I-2 depart Palau for Staring Bay at Kendari, Celebes, Dutch East Indies.
22 February 1942:
Departs Staring in the afternoon in company of I-2, heading for SW coast of Australia (Cape Leeuwin-Shark Bay area) on her second war patrol.
23 February 1942:
Banda Sea. Early in the morning I-3 sights a surfaced enemy submarine, but cannot reach a firing position.
2 March 1942:
90 miles WNW of Fremantle. At 0938 the surfaced I-3 attacks the 9,540-ton New Zealand steamer NARBADA (ex-LEITRIM), but fails to score any hits. When NARBADA returns the fire, the submarine breaks off its attack and submerges in position 31-50S, 113-30E. NARBADA sustains minor damage caused by shell fragments.
3 March 1942:
90 miles NE of Rottnest Island. I-3 briefly chases the 8,719-ton New Zealand armed steamer TONGARIRO en route from Wellington to Fremantle. After the gunners from TONGARIRO open fire at the submarine, LtCdr Tonozuka breaks off the attack and submerges. 90 miles WNW of Fremantle. That same day, I-3 also shells and misses British steamer NARBADA.
6 March 1942:
While heading SSW surfaced, LtCdr Tonozuka sights LtCdr Nicholas Lucker, Jr.’s USS S-40 on a converging course and targets her with both deck guns (12-28S, 112-40E). At 1457 I-3 is spotted from S-40, who initially confuses her with USS STINGRAY (SS-186) and attempts to contact the IJN submarine. After the first shots S-40 submerges, but cannot gain a firing position due to excessive range.
14 March 1942
Arrives at Penang, Malaya.
15 March 1942: Operation "C" - The Raids in the Indian Ocean:
Headquarters, Combined Fleet orders that the west coast of India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) be reconnoitered before the commencement of Operation C." All of SubRon 2's boats, except the I-I, are to participate in the operation.
16 March 1942:
Vice Admiral, the Marquis, Komatsu Teruhisa (former CO of CA NACHI) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines).
28 March 1942:
Departs Penang on her third war patrol in the Indian Ocean.
3 April 1942:
Arrives off Colombo, Ceylon. Transmits weather reports to Vice Admiral Nagumo’s carriers.
5 April 1942: Operation "C":
Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi's Carrier Striking Force ("Kido Butai") attacks the British naval base on Columbo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). They wreck the base's facilities, destroy aircraft and sink several ships. Later, a floatplane finds Vice Admiral James Somerville's Eastern Fleet's cruisers HMS CORNWALL and DORSETSHIRE at sea. Nagumo's airmen sink both ships, but are unsuccessful in their search for the rest of Somerville's fleet.
7 April 1942:
150 miles SWW of Colombo. Early in the morning Tonozuka sights five Allied merchants fleeing eastward and next one merchant and an oiler on westbound course. After a fruitless chase he battle-surfaces on the 4,872-ton British armed steam merchant ELMDALE en route from Karachi to Colombo (06-52N, 78-50E). After 0240 I-3 fires a total of 39 5.5-in shells and four torpedoes, scoring 14 shell hits, but fails to finish off her target. 
8 April 1942:
300 miles W of Colombo. After 0150 I-3 battle-surfaces on the British armed merchant FULTALA independently on the voyage from Calcutta to Karachi with 8,000 tons of coal. After receiving one Type 89 torpedo hit the 5,051-ton merchant sinks in position 06-52N, 76-54E. Her entire crew is rescued.
9 April 1942:
I-3 returns to the area SW of Colombo.
On April 15, 1942 arrives at Singapore with I-7, then departs on April 21, 1942 for Yokosuka arriving on May 1, 1942. LtCdr Tonozuka is promoted Commander.
20 May 1942:
LtCdr (Captain, posthumously) Togami Ichiro (51) (former CO of I-172) assumes command. CdrTonozuka is reassigned as Chief Equipping Officer of I-34.
Probably at this time her 7.7-mm bridge-mounted machine gun is replaced with a 13.2-mm Type 93 machine gun and her Zeiss 3-meter rangefinder with a Japanese Type 97 rangefinder. Some of the armor protecting the torpedo storage compartment is removed and an automatic trim system installed.
5 June 1942: Operation "AL"- The Invasion of the Western Aleutians:
Twenty ships of the Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro' Fifth Fleet, including the light cruisers KISO and the TAMA, three destroyers, three corvettes, three minesweepers and four transports land Rear Admiral Omori Sentaro Occupation Force on Attu without opposition
7 June 1942:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ono Takeji's Occupation Force occupies Kiska, also without opposition.
10 June 1942:
Reassigned to the Northern Unit with I-1 and I-2.
On June 11, 1942 departs Yokosuka for the Aleutians with I-1, I-2, I-4 and I-7 on her third war patrol.
20 June 1942:
Joins the K patrol line with I-1 and I-2, patrolling along 178W longitude, 48 to 50N latitude until 3 July.
20 July ’42:
I-3 is reassigned to the Advance Unit. On the same day she receives an order to depart her patrol area for Yokosuka.
On August 1, 1942, returns to Yokosuka for repairs. On August 20, SubRon 2 is disbanded. I-3 is reassigned to SubRon 1. Departs Yokosuka on September 8 for Truk, arriving on September 15 and remains there for two days.
On September 17, departs for Shortland. On September 24, reassigned to the Outer South Seas Force (Eighth Fleet) with I-1 and I-2.
Arrives at Shortland on September 26, 1942. The skippers of I-3 and I-2 participate in a staff conference researching ways to transport heavy artillery to IJA units on Guadalcanal. By that time destroyers Amagiri and Ayanami have delivered four Daihatsu landing barges, each loaded with a Type 88 75-mm Anti-aircraft gun, an artillery tractor and several Type 96 150mm infantry mortars.
First Supply Run to Guadalcanal
Departs Shortland on September 27, 1942 at 0330, for a supply run to Guadalcanal with I-2, towing a Daihatsu landing barge loaded with weapons; returns after having accomplished her mission.
During October 3-5, 1942, I-3 makes three aborted supply runs from Shortland to Wickham Anchorage, Vangunu, and Viru Harbor on New Georgia.
On October 10, 1942, I-3 is reassigned to the Advance Unit, A patrol group. On October 15, 1942 at 2040, when patrolling 110 miles SSE of San Cristobal, I-3 sights several cruisers and sends a sighting report to Truk. LtCdr Togami is promoted to Commander on November 1, 1942.
On November 3, 1942 returns to Truk and is fitted with a mounting for a waterproofed Daihatsu barge similar to the one used on I-1 to enable a rapid transfer of her cargo. Reassigned to B patrol unit on November 15, 1942. While at Truk, Vice Admiral Komatsu convenes a meeting on November 16, 1942 of submarine captains. He announces that the submarine force has been ordered by Admiral Yamamoto, to organize a supply system for the IJA's 17th Army garrison on Guadalcanal.
Departs Truk on November 19, 1942 for Rabaul, carrying 20 tons of food and medicines, arriving on November 22. Departs Rabaul on November 24 for Shortland, arrives on the following day. Embarks the Daihatsu barge mounted abaft the conning tower.
Fourth Supply Run to Guadalcanal
On November 26, 1942 deeparts Shortland for her fourth supply run to Guadalcanal. Arrives at Kamimbo Bay on November 28, successfully unloads her cargo, then departs. On November 30, returns to Shortland, embarks new cargo and a new barge.
Fifth Supply Run to Guadalcanal
Departs Shortland on December 1, on her fifth supply run to Guadalcanal. On December 3, after sunset I-3 surfaces off Kamimbo Bay and contacts the local garrison, but is spotted and chased away by torpedo boats before delivering her cargo. Returns to Shortland on December 5, 1942.
Sixth Supply Run to Guadalcanal
On December 7, departs Shortland on her sixth supply run to Guadalcanal.
On December 9, 1942, I-3 was three miles northeast of Kamimbo Bay on the north coast of Guadalcanal. After a periscope sweep surfaces. The submarine contacts the local garrison and launches her Daihatsu barge, preparing to deliver cargo. At 6:52am lookouts on PT-59 patrolling the area with PT-44 discover a barge and next to it a surfaced submarine. At 7:03am PT-59 launched two torpedoes from 400 yards with one passing under PT-44 while the other impacts the stern of the submarine causing a geyser of water to spouts high in the air followed by a tremendous explosion. During the explosion, her gunnery officer and three seamen were blown overboard
I-3 sinks at roughly Lat 09-12S, Long 159-42E with 90 crew including Captain Togami. Afterwards, an oil slick spreads for an hour and a half. Officially removed from the Navy list on January 20, 1943. The second torpedo passed under PT-44.
Fates of the Crew
The four surviving crew blown overboard by the explosion swim ashore and join the Japanese forces on Guadalcanal. On January 6, 1943 Cdr Togami was honored with a posthumous two rank promotion to Rear Admiral.
Combined Fleet - IJN Submarine I-3: Tabular Record of Movement
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October 23, 2019