- Bogart, Charles H.
- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Yarroma, HMAS Sea Mist, HMAS Kuttabul
- March 1985 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Putting to sea at the end of August 1943, I27 sailed for the West Indian Ocean. Her first attack was a torpedo and gun engagement with the American liberty ship Lyman Stewart on 7 September, 300 miles south of the Maldive Islands. Though five torpedoes plus numerous shells were fired by I27 at her, Lyman Stewart was able to make her escape from I27 with only minor damage. A torpedo attack three days later on 10 September, however, was successful. Sunk 250 miles SW of Cape Comiron was the 5,151 ton Bank Line motor vessel Larchbank. Lost from a crew of 58, 12 gunners and 5 passengers were 33 crew members, 7 gunners and 2 passengers. Shortly after this sinking I27 sailed for Penang. At Penang I27 was taken in hand for a one month overhaul. During September and October 1943 the other boats of Sub Ron 8 were not idle. I10 under Commander Tonozuka sank 5 ships in this period and I37 got one.
With her crew refreshed I27 put back to sea at the end of October bound for the Indian Ocean. Her first kill was on 10 November 1943 when she hit with torpedoes the British liberty ship Sambo on her maiden cruise from Iquique, Chile via New Zealand to England. Lost, when their ship went down in the Gulf of Aden, were three of the crew and nine gunners. Striking again on 18 November I27 sank with her torpedoes the British liberty ship Sambridge in the Arabian Sea. Sambridge was on the return portion of her maiden voyage bound from Madras to the United States. The afternoon of 29 November saw I27 claiming another victim when at 1630 she sank the Greek cargo ship Athina Livanos of 4,824 tons in the Gulf of Aden. Lost with Athina Livanos were 9 of her crew and 2 passengers.
The month of December started off right with a target passing in front of I27 on 2 December. This was the Greek steamship Nitsa of 4,732 tons of the Kassos Steam Navigation Company. Sunk in the Gulf of Aden on a voyage from Calcutta to Aden, she lost 11 of her crew. The next day it was the turn of the British cargo ship Fort Camosum to be hit by I27’s torpedoes. Though hit by a torpedo, Fort Camosum refused to sink and made it to port at Aden. This was not the first time Fort Camosum felt a Japanese torpedo, for on 20 June 1942 I25 hit her on her maiden voyage out of Esquimalt, British Columbia. Heavily damaged, she was towed to Seattle, Washington, where the damage was made good on 7 September 1942. Fort Camosum survived the war and was finally scrapped in 1960.
Returning to Penang at the end of December 1943, I27 again entered a period of overhaul. While she had been at sea, Sub Ron 8 had been reinforced by the arrival of two submarines RO110 and RO111 plus the return of I162, I165 and I166. Sub Ron 8 was now at its greatest strength.
The Indian Ocean submarine campaign had been a battle between independently routed merchant ships and individual hunting submarines. Due to a lack of escorts, since the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific all had a higher priority, ships in the Indian Ocean sailed without an anti-submarine vessel protecting them. As the Indian Ocean area was also at the bottom of the list for allocation of merchant ship tonnage, it was believed that more cargo moving time would be lost by holding ships until a convoy could be formed, than it actually lost to marauding submarines. The Indian Ocean was thus never the scene of convoys, battling undersea wolf packs. With a new load of torpedoes Commander Fakumura took I27 back to sea at the end of January 1944. His patrol area this time was to be the Arabian Sea. Off the Maldive Islands in One and Half Degree Channel I27 on 12 February 1944 found a five ship troop convoy escorted by the light cruiser Hawkins and destroyers Petard and Paladin. The convoy had sailed from Kiwindini and was bound for Colombo. Slipping past the escorts, I27 fired a salvo of torpedoes at the 7,513 ton transport Khedive Ismail. So destructive was the attack that 1,134 of the 1,324 troops on board Khedive Ismail were lost along with 137 of 183 man crew. Lost among the troops were a number of WRENs and ‘an entire field regiment’. I27’s triumph was short lived for she was quickly taken under attack by Petard and Paladin and sunk. Thus was killed Commander Fukumura and the crew of I27 one day after RO110 was sunk in the Bay of Bengal, attacking a convoy. I27 was the 53rd submarine lost by the Imperial Navy since the start of the war.