Thanks to all who sent clips and notices about this
boat.......especially those who sent the clip of the two Hawaiian newscasters
who kept gushing about the "Japanese Spy Submarine".
I-400 and her sister I-401 were anything but spy submarines.
They were massive submarines, the biggest diesel boats ever built at some
400 feet long.In addition to her guns, mostly anti-aircraft, these boats
had a watertight hangar that could hold three seaplanes. I-400 and
I-401 along with another large Japanese boat I-219, were en route to bomb
the Panama Canal with their floatplanes. Germany had already surrendered
and there was a mad rush to move as many American troops and war materiel
to the Pacific to fight against Japan as possible and as quickly as possible.
The Japanese understandably wanted to prevent this as they were already
on the verge of their own surrender so the logical step would be to shut
down the Panama Canal, thereby forcing American convoys to go around one
of the southern Capes to reach the Pacific. As our Far Eastern Representative
YOYA KAWAMURA (1739-LIFE-1991) put it some years ago: "It was like rushing
to put out a fire on the horizon when your own kimono is ablaze."
The Japanese surrender came before they could reach the Canal and
the boats were taken over on the high seas by US Navy personnel.
The Aichi M6AI Seiran aircraft, three of these were carried
by the I-400 class Japanese Submarines.USS Greenlet, Submarine rescue
There is more to this story that they haven't picked up on as yet.
The Skipper of this boat was Korvettenkapitaen Tatsunosuke Ariizumi.
When he was Skipper of submarine I-8, he was guilty of terrible atrocities
including having survivors they had pulled from the water having their
hands tied behind them and one by one, forced to run the gauntlet on the
afterdeck between two rows of I-8 sailors armed with knives, machetes
and clubs, hacking them to death. If anyone made it through this
gauntlet, there was a large Japanese sailor with a rifle with fixed bayonet
ready to spear the man and pitch him overboard like a side of beef.
Our Member WILLIAM FLURRY (4183-1995) was one of a handful of those
who survived this ordeal when his ship SS JEAN NICOLETTE was sunk and
the survivors brought aboard I-8 for this torture. He and a handful
of others survived because after some had already been killed by the crew
and their gauntlet, a destroyer came over the horizon and Ariizumi had
to dive to escape. He dived I-8, leaving a dozen or so survivors
still on the foredeck, hands still tied behind their backs. Some,
like FLURRY, were able to remain afloat until the destroyer rescued them.
An American prize crew took over the I-400 and I-401 boats but left
a small part of the Japanese crew aboard to operate the submarine until
they got back to port, now in American hands. The guys in the US
Navy prize crew were not aware of the prior atrocities committed by I-400
Captain Ariizumi as they were bringing these boats back to Japan but the
ONI did know and they were waiting to arrest Ariizumi when the boat docked.
Surprise! When they went in to take him off the boat, Ariizumi
was nowhere to be found. The crew explained that in the previous
night, Ariizumi had taken his own life and the crew put his body overboard
while they were underway. A check of the route they took on their
return showed that the boat had passed very close to a point of land,
giving way to the speculation that Ariizumi had merely slipped over the
side and swam ashore.
Please feel free to pass this on to your local news outlets - TV,
radio and print, to let them know there is more to the story than merely
finding this boat. Incidentally, our Member DONALD PIERSON (4373-1995)
rode I-401 as part of the US Navy prize crew that subsequently brought
her to Pearl Harbor after the war.
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For a fascinating account of the I-400's surrender and transpacific voyage
in American hands after the war, go here