- Bogart, Charles H.
- WWII operations, Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Yarroma, HMAS Sea Mist, HMAS Kuttabul
- March 1985 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
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.
While I27 was at Penang in April, the Japanese submarine force was reorganized. All of the Japanese submarines engaged in the Indian Ocean fight were assigned to Sub Ron 8 under the command of Rear Admiral Ishizaki Noborn at Penang. The squadron was to consist of I27 and I29 reinforced by I8, I10 and I37. I10 was nominally the flagship but Admiral Ishizaki remained ashore at Penang to exercise administrative control. Upkeep of the submarines was provided by the 11th Submarine Base Unit.
Sailing in early April 1943 from Penang, I27 set course for the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman. On 7 May I27 found her fourth victim, the 6,608 ton Dutch merchantman Berakit which she sank with a spread of torpedoes 400 miles SW of Ceylon. Berokit had been on a voyage from Colombo to Durban.
The next ship to fall before I27 was the 4,649 ton tanker British Venture of the British Tanker Company, sunk at 0500 on 24 June, 300 miles south of Reunion Island. Killed in the attack was Captain D.C. Barton and 41 of the crew.
Four days later on 28 June at 0405 I27 struck again, sinking the Norwegian 1,974 ton Wallem and Company cargo ship Dah Pu off Muscat. Lost with the ship were 15 of the crew. I27 struck again at 0610 on 5 July, hitting the American cargo ship Alcoa Prospector of 6,797 tons in the Gulf of Oman. The Alcoa Prospector was seriously damaged, but remained afloat.
Unable to steam, she was taken in tow back to Baltimore, Maryland. Here a survey declared her to be a total constructive loss and she was broken up. I27 claimed to have sunk four merchant ships in the Gulf of Oman and one converted gunboat off the Maldive Islands. Postwar records only confirm three of these sinkings and the damage of one ship.
Alcoa Prospector was I27′s last attack of this war patrol. Also sunk during this period were two ships by I37, one by I29 and one by I70. I27 returned to Penang in late July and remained there until late August undergoing upkeep.