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  Japanese Submarine I-1
IJN
Junsen Type J1
(cruiser submarine)

2,135 Tons
319' x 30' x 16.5'
2 x 140mm guns, fore and aft (in January 1943 the aft gun was replaced with a Daihatsu barge)
6x 533mm torpedo tubes
20 x Type 95 Torpedoes

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IJN prewar

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Russell Clark c1943

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USN Feb 11, 1943

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USN c1943

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Justin Taylan 2003

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Tom McLeod 2005

Ship History
Japanese submarine built by Kawasaki at Kobe. Construction began on October 15, 1924. Completed March 10, 1926. Commanded by Captain Lieutenant Commander Eiichi Sakamoto.

Wartime History
This submarine carrying a barge, rescued 71 Sasebo 5th SNLF from Goodenough Island on October 3, 1942, where they were stranded after their original barges were strafed.

Sinking History
During the night of January 29 1943 the I-1 was patrolling off Guadalcanal, two New Zealand corvettes: HMNZS Kiwi and HMNZS Moa detected the phosphorescent outline of a submarine. HMNZS Kiwi dropped six depth-charges on the target. Shortly after, Kiwi dropped another six depth-charges.

The submarine was forced to the surface and made a run at ship, while exchanging gunfire. The submarine altered course to starboard just before HMNZS Kiwi rammed it on the port side aft of the conning tower. Numerous gunfire hits also impacted the submarine. HMNZS Kiwi again rammed the submarine and aboard an officer, was seen to be hit by machine gun fire. A third ramming damaged both vessels and HMNZS Moa took up the chase, following the submarine and continually firing its 4" gun at the target. More than two hours after the first attack, the I-1 hit the reef near Kamimbo Bay and was disabled.

Shipwreck
The next morning January 30, 1943, the wreck of the submarine was visible protruding 40' to 50' out of the water at an angle of 45 degrees.

Immediately after the sinking, this shallow shipwreck was intensively investigated by the Allies. From inside the submarine code books containing updated Japanese Navy codes were captured, and sent to American intelligence at Pearl Harbor. Also, the 140mm deck gun was removed plus many other artifacts and souvenirs.

During the late 1960s or early 1970s, Australian Wally Gibbons blew up the bow section of the submarine in search of booty. Although this caused a great deal of damage (there was still one or two live torpedoes inside), the bow sections of the sub are still on-site, but opened up. The front one-third is basically destroyed with the remaining section still virtually intact.

Ewan Stevenson adds:
"This wreck was very intact up to 1969 or so. My Dad snorkeled this wreck 1964-1967. It was an incredible wreck back then. In 1999 speaking with the Veuru villagers they were rightly lamenting the loss of such an attraction. They were rather chagrined at loosing out on all the tourist dollars."

On the sand adjacent to the vessel's port side near the 15 meter level is a huge battery compartment with hundreds of wet-cell batteries in and around it. Other interesting objects to be seen include air-bank cylinders (used for discharging ballast tanks) and the huge electric motors that powered the vessel underwater. It is a simple matter to follow the debris to the main part of the wreck. At about the 18 meter level you can enter the submarine and penetrate right through to the stern. At the stern you can see the submarine's dive planes, rudder and propeller shafts. The return dive can be done on the outside. This is an excellent dive and like most of the wrecks around Honiara, the coral and fish life in the shallower sections are very good.

Display
Several important items salvaged from the shipwreck during the war are on display.
The 140mm gun is displayed at the New Zealand Navy Museum (Torpedo Bay Navy Museum)
The pennant of the I-1 is part of the Museum of the Pacific collection.

References
In wartime reports, the sinking of the I-1 was claimed by USS Gamble DD-123. It would appear that somehow the submarines have been mixed up and what was meant in Gamble's report was that it sank the I-123.
13th Fighter Command in World War II Chapter 8 - Yamamoto Mission page 138
Themes "Descending: The Solomon Islands" Dive footage of I-1

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Last Updated
August 27, 2014

 

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5m bow
30m stern

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