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Midget Sub in Battleship Row

After firing a dud torpedo at USS Arizona, the midget sub is on the move (white arrow, left). Note the sub's conning tower at the point of the arrow visible between the cloud cover. The sub leaves a wake trail behind her visible in the horizontal lines in the white oval (top).

After firing a 1000 pound dud torpedo at USS Arizona, the sub heads north-east and counterclockwise around Ford Island. She can be seen emerging from about a 340 ft. long cylinder vortex (in yellow). The opening of the cylinder is about 35 ft. wide. The sub seems to be making a turn and breaking into new water as is indicated around the nose of the sub (in yellow). Although Nevada did shoot down a torpedo plane with the plane's torpedo still intact, this does not look to be that plane.

The above picture taken by another Japanese pilot shows a Japanese bomber plane heading towards Battleship Row. Just in front of the plane's left wing is the midget sub I-16 (red circle) She is on the move just north-east of Battleship Row. A water contrail emits from the sub's propeller. (see images below) The Japanese choreographed certain aspects of the attack and this was one of those choreographed shots showing a bomber plane, a midget sub, and battleship row burning.  

Type A Ko-Hyoteki midget sub


Sunk by USS Ward

First shots of WWII fired

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Between 1992 and 2001, three pieces of a K class (midget submarine) were found just outside the Defensive Sea Area near the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The pieces were found in a debris field where U.S. equipment was dumped following a disaster at the ammunition depot in the West Loch. It is surmised by some that the fifth midget submarine known as the I-16 sub, entered into Pearl Harbor and eventually made its way into the West Loch. From there, the sub possibly made contact with the I-16 mother sub, scuttled the sub underwater and both pilots then made their escape. 

Regarding the "West Loch" Sub, it is my understanding that the only indication the two pilots that the sub came from the West Loch is that it was found in the area of debris from the cleanup of the West Loch after some LSTs there were destroyed in an ammunition explosion. There are no Navy records to indicate that a submarine was found or salvaged in the West Loch, only that the sub was found in the dumping ground with the 1944 debris. So other than its position on the ocean floor next to the debris, there is nothing to indicate it was found in the West Loch.

The sub has been positively identified by ??????? as being one of the midget subs used during the December 7, attack at Pearl Harbor.

 That this sub was found among the debris from the disaster, it is only assumed it was scuttled in the West Loch. On December 7, the day of the attack and in the days following, the ammunition ship USS Pyro was moored there at the ammunition depot. Chances that a submarine was scuttled and then sat in shallow water there for three years without being noticed are pretty slim. Any military records that show a submarine was found or salvaged in the West Loch do not exist. 


During the Pearl Harbor attack, sightings in and around the entrance of the harbor of submarines and torpedoes can be found within the Action Reports of that day from the ships. Through the entrance into Pearl Harbor and to the left is the entrance to the West Loch. The USS Helm reported that it had engaged the midget sub-I-24, where it later washed ashore on the east side of Oahu with both its torpedoes still intact (see above, USS Helm/I-24). Within Helm's report, it also states that the Helm was in the West Loch when it was strafed by torpedo planes as the planes were heading towards Battleship Row. The ship then turned around and headed out into the main channel and towards the entrance when a torpedo was sighted: Helm's Action Report "0821 Men on after guns and amidships observed torpedo pass close under the stern on a northwesterly course." The cruiser USS St. Louis CL-49 reported that as it was exiting the southeast channel (across from Battleship Row) when two torpedoes were fired at the ship: St. Louis Action Report "When just inside entrance buoy No. 1 two torpedoes were fired at this ship from a distance of approximately 2,000 yards on the starboard beam. The torpedoes, although running shallow, struck the shoal inside buoy No. 1 and exploded. An object near the origin of the torpedo tracks was taken under fire by the 5" battery but no hits were observed." 

The midget submarines were deployed in and around the entrance of the harbor in order to sink any ships exiting the harbor thus blocking the entrance. If the torpedo sightings by the Helm and the St. Louis are valid, then evidently there were additional submarines present beyond the five that are already known to have existed. From a 1950-51 report, it shows that a marine science expedition led by George Vanderbilt III stumbled across a midget sub, blown-in half, near where St. Louis had been fired upon. The report, sent to LIFE magazine by an intelligence officer named Captain Roger Pineau, stated that the sub was hauled up, cut further, and dumped. The remains of a Japanese serviceman were found nearby a few days later. Any military records that substantiate this claim, do not exist.  Was this the sub that fired its torpedoes into Battleship Row? And both St. Louis and the Helm reports of encountering sub-launched torpedoes near the entrance, false? Did the sub just happen to be in the area where St. Louis and Helm were and the sub sent a message to its mother sub and then was scuttled and blown-in half? 

The sub that is said to have been removed from the West Loch clean-up and dumped outside of the harbor entrance

Recap: From military records, the designations of the mother subs are known to be I-16, I-18, I-20-, I-22 and I-24. Their midget subs had their own designations but were not displayed upon the sub. We know from captured midget subs how many torpedoes were either fired, manually removed, or were not fired.   


In 1992, 2000, and 2001, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory's submersibles found the wreck of a midget sub lying in three parts three miles south of the Pearl Harbor entrance. The wreck was in the debris field where much surplus U.S. equipment was dumped from the West Loch Disaster of 1944, including vehicles and landing craft. In 2009, a research team assembled by the PBS television series Nova positively identified the sub as being the last, No.16, of the 5 Ko-Hyoteki that participated in the December 7, 1941, attack, plioted by Ensign Masaji Yokoyama and Petty Officer 2nd Class Sadamu Kamita. Both of its torpedoes were missing, indicating that the fifth midget may have fired its torpedoes prior to being scuttled. Although this correlates with reports of two torpedoes fired at the light cruiser St. Louis at 10:04 at the entrance of Pearl Harbor, and a possible torpedo fired at destroyer Helm at 08:21,[8] there is circumstantial evidence to support a hypothesis that No.16, like No.22, successfully entered Pearl, fired on Battleship Row, and escaped to the relative quiet of neighboring West Loch, where it was scuttled by the crew. When a series of explosions sank an amphibious fleet being assembled in the Loch in 1944, the remains of the sub were collected and dumped in the subsequent salvage operation, which was kept classified as secret until 1960. A photograph[9] taken from a Japanese plane during the Pearl Harbor attack shows what might have been No.16 inside the harbor firing its torpedoes at Battleship Row. The sinking of the USS West Virginia and capsizing of the USS Oklahoma may have been accelerated by a torpedo hit from a submarine-launched torpedo, the warheads of which were larger than the aerial torpedoes. Some believe that in the photo, where the torpedoes' paths had supposedly started, were sprays that indicated a midget-submarine rocking up and down due to the force of the torpedo being launched, causing the propellers of the stern to be exposed, kicking up clouds of water spray. A war time report from Admiral Nimitz confirmed the recovery of at least one dud torpedo of the type employed by the midget submarines.[10] This discovery is covered in the Nova episode Killer Subs in Pearl Harbor[11] and companion website,[12] Japanese forces received a radio message from a midget submarine at

st lo cl 49

  When just inside entrance buoy No. 1 two torpedoes were fired at this ship from a distance of approximately 2,000 yards on the starboard beam. The torpedoes, although running shallow, struck the shoal inside buoy No. 1 and exploded, no damage to this vessel resulting. An object near the origin of the torpedo tracks was taken under fire by the 5" battery but no hits were observed. This object was not positively identified as a submarine periscope.   

helm dd388

0821 Men on after guns and amidships observed torpedo pass close under the stern on a northwesterly course.

One theory about this sub is that it made it into the harbor, where it fired its torpedoes and made it in to the West Loch where the sub was scuttled. Then, following the West Loch disaster, it was picked up among the debris, cut into pieces, and disposed of. 

The sinking of the USS West Virginia and capsizing of the USS Oklahoma may have been accelerated by a torpedo hit from a submarine-launched torpedo, the warheads of which were larger than the aerial torpedos. 

If these were also fired by a midget sub then evedently there were more than 5 midget submarines in the attack on Pearl Harbor as neither of the planes in the picture show to be in line with the torpedo trails.

Type A Ko-Hyoteki midget sub


Destroyed by depth charge 1941 and located off Keehi Lagoon in 1960 east of the Pearl Harbor entrance 

7 December 1941, midget submarine I-18 was launched south of Oahu about 15 miles from the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The sub was depth charged and sunk outside the harbor in Keehi Lagoon. Its wreck was discovered resting in 75 feet of water on 13 June 1960, and the United States Navy submarine rescue ship USS Current (ARS-22) refloated it on 6 July 1960. Finding no human remains inside and at the request of the Government of Japan, the United States returned the wreck to Japan, where it is displayed at the Naval Academy Etajima in Etajima.

Type A Ko-Hyoteki midget sub


Attacked and destroyed by USS Curtiss and USS Monaghan

USS Curtiss AV-4

0836 Sighted submarine periscope on starboard quarter, distance 700 yards. 5" guns ordered to "Fire on Submarine". #3 gun fired one shot over and two just short and directly at periscope. #2 gun opened fire.

0840 Submarine surfaced showing conning tower and section of bow. Submarine observed to fire one torpedo up North Channel toward destroyer. Conning tower hit twice by 5" shells from gun #3.

0842 Ordered "Cease firing on submarine".

0843 Monaghan (DD354) dropped two depth charges on submarine. Air bubbles and slick appeared.

USS Monaghan DD-354

At about 0835 it was reported that the Curtiss was flying a flag hoist indicating the presence of an enemy submarine and very shortly after the Captain and other personnel on the bridge observed the conning tower of a submarine located approximately 200-300 yards on the starboard quarter of the Curtiss (moored at berth X-22) which was under vigorous fire from machine guns from Tangier (moored at Northwest end of Ford Island) and from both machine guns and 5" from the Curtiss.

At about 0837 the order was given "all engines ahead flank speed" and word was passed that it was intended to ram the submarine – then distant about one thousand yards. At about the same time Williamson, D.C., (CQM) who had the helm, was directed to head for the submarine when he gave assurance that he saw it.

At about 0843 word was passed to stand by for a shock forward as the submarine had disappeared from the view of those on the bridge and ramming was considered imminent. Shortly thereafter a slight shock was felt and about 0844 the two depth charges released exploded violently about 50-100 yards astern of the Monaghan.

Type A Ko-Hyoteki midget sub


Contact with USS Helm 

Beached on East side of Oahu its pilot became first POW of WWII


0817 Sighted conning tower of submarine to right of channel, northward of buoy #1. Gave orders to open fire, pointer fire, but submarine submerged before guns could get on.

0818 Increased speed to 25 knots, cleared entrance buoys, turned right.

0819 Submarine conning tower surfaced.

0820 Opened fire on submarine off Tripod Reef, bearing 290 distance 1200 yards from buoy #1. No hits observed, but there were several close splashes. Submarine appeared to be touching bottom on ledge of reef, and in line of breakers. While still firing at submarine it apparently slipped off ledge and submerged.

Recap: Five Japanese midget submarines carrying 2 torpedoes each for a total of 10 torpedoes. Three of the subs never fired their torpedoes, the subs and their torpedoes were recovered by the U.S. military = 3 midget subs and 6 torpedoes. One sub fired both torpedoes at the USS Monohan but missed their target = 4 midget subs and 8 torpedoes. Period Japanese artwork shows a midget sub firing a torpedo into a battleship. An ariel photograph taken of Battleship Row during the attack shows one torpedo trail leading from a midget sub to USS West Virginia and one trail to USS Oklahoma. A wartime report from Admiral Nimitz confirmed the recovery of at least one dud torpedo of the type employed by the midget submarines = 5 midget subs and 10 torpedoes. Submarine sightings were reported before, during, and in the days following the attack. That we know of there were a total of 10 submarines, 5 mother subs and 5 midget subs.

The USS St. Louis CL-49 reported that two torpedoes were fired at her as she stood out from the Southeast channel. As St. Louis entered into the Main channel, Battleship Row was burning across the channel from her.  St. Louis entered the main channel at about 9:31 am. In the photo above, that sub is just east of USS St. Louis. If the report is valid and the torpedoes were not launched by a torpedo bomber plane (there was a second wave attack going on during this time), then evidently there was a 6th sub, the report also states that a possible periscope was sighted. From the two different photos (above) of the midget sub, they show that the sub is possibly two different subs. Observe in the above photos how far forward the conning tower sits on the sub (with the bomber plane), as compared to how far back it sits on the photo in Battleship Row. It has also been reported of an anomaly just under the surface of the harbor floor that checks out to be about 80' long, the size of a midget sub. If it is a midget sub, then it may be the newly discovered sub in the above photo and would confirm the report by the USS St. Louis.

Ship Action Report re: Type A Ko-Hyoteki midget submarine :


At 0637  A conning tower with a periscope of submarine was visible. She was headed for Pearl Harbor trailing the U.S.S. Antares. The Antares was standing toward the channel entrance towing a lighter.

At 0640 the attack was started. The Ward bore down on the submarine while accelerating from 5 to 25 knots.

At 0645 the Ward opened fire with No. 1 and 3 guns and began dropping depth charges. One shot was fired from each gun. The shot from No. 1 gun missed, passing directly over the conning tower. The shot from No. 3 gun fired at a range of 560 yards or less struck the submarine at the waterline which was the junction of the hull and coning tower. Damage was seen by several members of the crew. This was a square positive hit. There was no evidence of ricochet. The submarine was seen to heel over to starboard. The projectile was not seen to explode outside the hull of the submarine. There was no splash of any size that might result from an explosion or ricochet.

Immediately after being hit the submarine appeared to slow and sink. She ran into our depth charge barrage and appeared to be directly over an exploding charge. The depth charges were set for 100 feet.

The submarine sank in 1200 feet of water and could not be located with supersonic detector. There was a large amount of oil on the surface where the depth charges exploded.

The attack was made at 0645 which was before Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japanese planes.

A dispatch by voice transmission was sent to Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District at 0645 which stated:

"We have attacked, fired upon, and dropped depth charges on a submarine operating in defensive sea areas."