I-169 Shinohara Submarine


The I-169 Shinohara Submarine was a KD 6 A (I-168) Class submarine built for the Imperial Japanese Navy and launched 15 FEB 1934. She was built by Mitsubishi of Kobe and was renamed for her last Commanding Officer LCDR Shinohara, the only survivor of her ill fated crew.

During the war the I-169 Shinohara Submarine participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, actually penetrating into the harbor confines to launch five mini-subs that went on to sink two of the seven US battleships with their torpedoes as later viewed in aerial fotos from Kate dive bombers overhead. Unable to recover her mini subs she attempted to exit the harbour but became tangled in the entrance torpedo nets due a hurried attempt get away. For 1.5 days she languished trying to free herself while remaining undiscovered. In a final attempt before surfacing to surrender, due lack of air within, and weakened batteries, she made one final thrust breaking clear to finally escape. Her huge size was not suited for attack purposes, but was useful as an underwater transport. She was the sub positioned off Midway to replenish the two Emily Fling boats after their daring bomb raid against Pearl Harbour early 1943. Long range and size saw her serving Truk with limited quantities after the fall of Saipan and Guam. She was only one of a very few able to do so.

Upon one of these supply runs well after ‘Hailstone’ she was anchored at Truk with senior officers ashore for an evening enjoying local ’hospitality’ when juniors aboard received word of a false US air raid and to dive to floor for protection. In their rush to dive they overlooked closing of control room ventilators, and were quickly flooded out once submerged. The sub landed on bottom and after taking stock of their plight a crew member was air-locked out to the surface to report the situation.

Divers immediately attended, and on following day with help from 3 derrick barges and salvage tug IJN Futagami, lifting of the sunken craft began with a crew inside signalling from inside by knocking on the hull. The sub lifted easily to the surface being only slightly negative buoyancy in its dive, but when the big water-filled conning tower broke the surface, a sudden massive weight was added in trying to lift it far enough up to open the deck escape hatches. With just a portion of the conning tower clear the cables parted and down she plunged stern first back to bottom after the 3rd day. Diving back down there were no more sounds from within, so orders were given to destroy it to avoid any US recovery.

Satchel charges were laid over forward torpedo room, and around conning tower, with resultant destruction of approx. 100ft of the bow, and complete destruction of its conning tower.

The wreck was rediscovered in 1973 with Al Giddings making a documentary about the sub as ‘The Silent Warrior’ with the Japanese government’s subsequent recovery of a portion of the crew’s remains. Sadly, a Japanese diver was also lost during the recovery attempt. She now lies in 135 fsw.

  • Displacement: 2440 tons submerged
  • Length: 344 feet
  • Beam: 27 feet
  • Engine: 2-9000 shp diesel and 2-1800 shp electric motors, 2 shafts
  • Max Range 14,000 NM
  • Mission: Transport
  • Armament: 6-21 inch torpedo tubes (14 torpedoes); 1-10 CM anti-surface gun ; machine gun; Crew: 70.