- Bogart, Charles H.
- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Yarroma, HMAS Sea Mist, HMAS Kuttabul
- June 1985 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
This history of the Japanese submarine I27 was written by United States member of the Society, Charles H. Bogart. I27’s operations are of particular interest to Australia as she participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour and the sinking of merchant shipping on the east coast.
(This is the second part of the story of I27. In Part 1 the submarine’s activities in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour and the first phase of submarine attacks on merchant shipping on the east coast were described.)
SUB DIV 30 set out on its first patrol in the Indian Ocean in August, 1942. All three of its boats were to operate in the Gulf of Bengal and waters off Ceylon. Only I165 had any luck, sinking the British steamer Harmonides 250 miles south of Ceylon on 25 August 1942. While Sub Div 30 had been patrolling east of Ceylon I27 and I29 had sailed for the west coast of Africa. I29 was to conduct a reconnaissance off Diego Garcia and the Seychelles before carrying out commerce raiding off Zanzibar and in the Arabian Sea. I27 was to attack shipping in the Gulf of Oman at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. One week after sailing, however, I27 had to return to Singapore for repairs due to engine trouble. She was not to return to sea until late September 1942.
When I27 put to sea from Singapore in September she had a new Captain, Commander Kitamura. She sailed at the time I162, I165 and I166 were put back to sea. September 1942 was to be a good month for the Japanese submarines in the Indian Ocean. I29 sank four ships and I165 got one. October saw I166 downing a ship while I162 bagged three. I27 scored her first kill in the Indian Ocean on 22 October, 1942 when she sank the 7,174 ton British steamer Ocean Vintage 80 miles east of Al Masirah in the Arabian Sea. This was to be I27’s only success on this war patrol and she returned to Penang in early November 1942.
While I27 was returning to port, I162, I165 and I166, having already returned to port, were sailing again for Ceylon. Shortly after sailing I162 experienced engine problems and returned to port. Neither I165 nor I166 had any success and after their return to port, Sub Div 30 was moved to Soeraboja to operate off Northern Australia to help cut the supply lines of the Australians and Americans fighting in New Guinea.
As Sub Div 30 was leaving the Indian Ocean fight and I27 was returning to port, I29 sailed for the waters off Africa. Once in port, I27 went alongside the tender for a period of upkeep and rest. Refitted, I27 sailed in December 1942 for the Bay of Bengal but had no success in attacking the shipping in the area. I29 however, sank a ship in November and one in December in the waters west of the Maldive Islands.
Shortly after, I27 and I29 returned to port, and a reorganization of the Imperial Navy resulted in them being transferred in February 1943 from the Advance Force to the South West Area Force. With this transfer orders again came for Sub Div 14 to put to sea. I27 was to operate in the Indian Ocean and I29 in the Gulf of Bengal.
When I27 sailed it was with a new commanding officer. Commander Fukumura, who was to become one of Japan’s top scoring submarine captains. I27 scored her first success of the patrol on 27 March, 1943 when she torpedoed and sank the British 7,132 ton cargo ship Fort Munford 500 miles NW of Crybon. Fort Munford’s entire crew of 46 men was lost and only one of her five gunners survived. With this sinking I27 ended her patrol and returned to Penang.
I29’s war patrol had been different as she was ordered to rendezvous with U-180 off Madagascar on 23 April to pick up the Indian Nationalist leader, Chandra Bose, who was returning to South East Asia from Germany to take command of the Indian liberation movement sponsored by Japan. I29 successfully carried out her mission and landed Chandra Bose in Singapore.