Japanese submarine I-158

The Japanese submarine I-158 was a Kaidai-class cruiser submarine of the KD3A sub-class built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the 1920s. She supported Japanese forces during the invasion of Malaya in December 1941 and was instrumental in tracking Force Z, the two British capital ships that attempted to intercept the Japanese invasion forces, so they could be sunk by torpedo bombers.

I-58 at sea
Empire of Japan
Name: I-158
Builder: Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
Laid down: 3 December 1924, as I-58
Launched: 3 October 1925
Completed: 15 May 1928
Renamed: 20 May 1942, as I-158
Struck: 30 November 1945
Fate: Scuttled, 1946
General characteristics
Class and type: Kaidai-class submarine (KD3A Type)
  • 1,829 t (1,800 long tons) surfaced
  • 2,337 t (2,300 long tons) submerged
Length: 100 m (328 ft 1 in)
Beam: 8 m (26 ft 3 in)
Draft: 4.82 m (15 ft 10 in)
Installed power:
  • 6,800 bhp (5,100 kW) (diesels)
  • 1,800 hp (1,300 kW) (electric motors)
  • 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) surfaced
  • 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) submerged
  • 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 90 nmi (170 km; 100 mi) at 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph) submerged
Test depth: 60 m (200 ft)
Complement: 60

The boat sank a few Dutch merchant ships in early 1942 during the Dutch East Indies campaign and was then was transferred to the Central Pacific in May to support the fleet during the Battle of Midway in early June. Upon her return to Japan the following month, she became a training ship until early 1945 when she was modified to serve as a carrier for Kaiten manned torpedoes. I-158 survived the war to be scuttled in 1946.

Design and description

The submarines of the KD3A sub-class were the first Japanese-designed cruiser submarines, based on experience with earlier designs based on British and German cruiser submarines.[1] They displaced 1,829 metric tons (1,800 long tons) surfaced and 2,337 metric tons (2,300 long tons) submerged. The submarines were 100 meters (328 ft 1 in) long, had a beam of 8 meters (26 ft 3 in) and a draft of 4.82 meters (15 ft 10 in). The boats had a diving depth of 60 m (200 ft) and a complement of 60 officers and crewmen.[2]

For surface running, the boats were powered by two 3,400-brake-horsepower (2,535 kW) diesel engines, each driving one propeller shaft. When submerged each propeller was driven by a 900-horsepower (671 kW) electric motor. They could reach 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) on the surface and 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) underwater. On the surface, the KD3As had a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph); submerged, they had a range of 90 nmi (170 km; 100 mi) at 3 knots (5.6 km/h; 3.5 mph).[3]

The boats were armed with eight internal 53.3 cm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes, six in the bow and two in the stern. They carried one reload for each tube; a total of 16 torpedoes. They were also armed with one 120 mm (4.7 in) deck gun for combat on the surface.[4]

Construction and career

Built by the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, I-58 was launched on 3 October 1925 and completed on 15 May 1928.[2] In November 1941, the boat was assigned to the 19th Submarine Division of the 4th Submarine Squadron. The division departed its base at Samah on Hainan Island, China on 1 December for their patrol area off Trengganu, Malaysia.[5]

During the invasion of Malaya on 8 December, I-58 and four other submarines form a patrol line searching for Allied ships. The following day, I-65 spotted the British ships of Force Z, the battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulse, escorted by four destroyers, headed north-northwest. Shortly after midnight on 10 December, 140 miles (230 km) east of Kuantan, Malaya, I-58 was running on the surface when her lookouts spotted Force Z 600 meters (656 yards) away. After crash diving, Lieutenant Commander Kitamura attempts to fire a full six-torpedo salvo at Prince of Wales in the lead, but his first torpedo tube's outer door jams. Kitamura fires his five available torpedoes at Repulse, but misses. He reported that Force Z proceeding south-southwest at 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph) and continues to track the British ships. The report was received by the light cruiser Sendai which relayed it to Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa's flagship, the heavy cruiser Chōkai. At 06:15, I-58 lost contact with Force Z. That afternoon, both British capital ships were sunk by torpedo bombers of the 22nd Air Flotilla from bases in French Indochina.[5]

The boat arrived at Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina, to resupply on 20 December and sortied again on the 28th to patrol the area around Surabaya in the Dutch East Indies. At 01:45 on 3 January 1942, northwest of Bawean Island, I-58 attacked the Dutch cargo ship SS Langkoeas; she was immobilized by a torpedo hit in the engine room and sunk by gunfire. The surviving crew of about 90 crewmen abandoned ship, but were machine-gunned by I-58. Three survivors were rescued, interrogated by Kitamura, and then thrown back into the sea where they spent four or five days on a raft they found before they reached land. Six days later, the boat sank the Dutch freighter SS Camphuys at 04°30′S 111°47′E; the survivors were rescued by the American destroyer Paul Jones.[5]

On her next patrol, I-58 sank the Dutch passenger ship SS Pijnacker Hordijk on 22 February between Tjilatjap and Padang. Three days later, the boat sank the Dutch merchant ship SS Boeroe in the Java Sea, south of the Sunda Strait. On 28 February, I-58 torpedoed, but did not sink, the British tanker SS British Judge south of the Sunda Strait. The boat returned to Japan on 20 March and was renumbered as I-158 on 20 May. She arrived at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands on 24 May in preparation for Operation MI, the Japanese plan to occupy Midway Atoll. I-158 sortied two days later in a fruitless attempt to intercept American ships reacting to the Japanese invasion and played no significant part in the Battle of Midway.[5]

She returned to Japan on 30 June and was assigned as a training ship for the Kure Submarine School on 10 July. The boat was slightly damaged during an air raid on the Mitsubushi dockyard at Kobe on 17 March 1945. While under repair, I-158 was converted into a mother ship for a pair of Kaiten suicide submarines. She was struck from the Navy List on 30 November 1945 and scuttled off the Gotō Islands on 1 April 1946.[5]


  1. Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 170
  2. Carpenter & Polmar, p. 93
  3. Chesneau, p. 198
  4. Bagnasco, p. 183
  5. Hackett & Kingsepp


  • Bagnasco, Erminio (1977). Submarines of World War Two. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-962-6.
  • Carpenter, Dorr B. & Polmar, Norman (1986). Submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1904–1945. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-396-6.
  • Chesneau, Roger, ed. (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-146-7.
  • Hackett, Bob & Kingsepp, Sander (2010). "IJN Submarine I-158: Tabular Record of Movement". combinedfleet.com. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  • Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter & Mickel, Peter (1977). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 18691945. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-893-X.
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