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Topic: Recovery Plan 3, Desperate measures< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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Ken Hackler Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 26 2002,7:29  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

So what about the third option for the midget submarine crews if the first two recovery methods failed?

Given their limited battery capacity and air, they had to go somewhere close to Oahu. Keep in mind that 14.7% of their battery cells had been removed for the Hawaii Operation to make room for additional air flasks (SUBRON 4 salvage report on Midget C dated 26 December 1941). The additional air flasks gave them about three precious hours of extra underwater time, but only on the first day. After that the air tanks would be empty and they could not refill them without finding their mother submarines.

So where do they go?  The first option was the Lanai Island rendezvous.  The second was to go back out about 10 miles south of Oahu to where they had been released.  These two methods were discussed in other posts.  

If for some reason they found that neither of the first two recovery methods worked they had a serious problem. They knew their batteries were very limited, particularly if they had made even a single 15-minute high speed run (that would take many hours and at least 30 miles off their range). They knew their air tanks were empty after the first day, so they could not steer the boat (which had pneumatic steering control), nor could they breathe inside the boat for more than about 7 hours without surfacing the boat and opening the hatch to get fresh air. As a matter of interest, the 7 or 8 hours of air inside the boat (when the air tanks were empty) was far less than needed to stay submerged through the period of daylight, so it is not like the submarine crews could pop up periodically and open the hatch for 4 or 5 hours to replenish the air in the boat near enemy territory.

They had few choices as we can clearly see.

The most obvious is that they could have landed someplace on Oahu, scuttled the submarine, and tried to make it in the Japanese community on Oahu. Or maybe they would choose to make a valiant attack on the first American soldiers they came across.  After all, many of the midget submarine skippers talked about their last moments alive as they attacked Americans with their swords and pistols.

Another thought is that they may have chosen to land on Oahu near a military installation with the intent to damage as much as possible before being killed.  None of these are far fetched given their state of mind and training before they left Japan.

What evidence do we have? Aside from comments made by the midget submarine commanders before they left Japan, we have the charts captured when Midget C washed ashore near Bellows Field. Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki made a few notes on his charts that don’t tell us the full story, but give us some tantalizing hints.

Upon leaving Pearl Harbor, Sakamaki intended to continue on a course of 151 (roughly southeast) for about 1,000 yards (half a nautical mile). Then, if the Lanai Island option was not available, he has a course laid out almost due west on a bearing of 270. This is odd. To head due west along the coast  of Oahu.

BUT,

after going only 6.7 nautical miles at about 5 knots, his course changes to northwest, placing him just over a mile southwest of the Barbers Point lighthouse.  This much is documented, but that is where the documentation ends because his chart is torn and we don’t know what he intended to do next.

I have tried to get into his mind to see what he might have done at this point, and have attached a drawing that shows what I think he might have intended to do.


{Click Here to See Image}


You can see where he heads west from a point just outside the Pearl Harbor channel entrance buoys, then he turns northwest towards Barbers Point.  From there the dots indicate a few options I think make sense for him.

First, he could proceed up the coast a short distance from Barbers Point, scuttle the boat, swim to shore, and either hide out until he could find a way to escape Oahu, or maybe he intended to attack the U.S. Navy weapons station at Lualualai. Landing anywhere along the coast between Nanakuli and Waianae would suit this purpose. Naval Intelligence documents contained in the Clausen Investigation mention a Japanese man who drove Takeo Yoshikawa (the IJN spy at the Honolulu consulate) along that stretch of the coast, and to a small cave, which he may have mentioned on one of his reports to Tokyo. I hasten to add that the cave is not marked on Sakamaki‘s chart, so I am not suggesting there is a concrete plan here.

Next, Sakamaki may have intended to continue to the north side of the island hoping to find a Japanese fleet submarine waiting there. After all, one was heard to transmit on the radio on a bearing that put it northwest of Haliewa on December 7, and one was physically sighted there on December 8. This presumes, of course, that the midget submarine crews knew there would be a submarine there, and there is no evidence of that. But making the assumption that it was possible, I have put a dotted line up there as an alternate.

The final alternative that makes any sense to me is that they intended to land on another island away from Oahu and all the military personnel who would be so angry at them. The only possible island that they had enough battery capacity to reach was Kauai. There were few U.S. military personnel there, and enough Japanese laborers that they might hope to get some assistance (or even a small fishing boat) that they could use to make an escape.  

Of course, all of this is pure speculation on my part since there is no data to confirm anything except the fact that Sakamaki had a course laid out from the Pearl Harbor entrance buoys to a point near Barbers Point, where it ended at 0845 Tokyo time (1:15 in the afternoon local time).

Finally, remember that the chart found in Midget C was only Sakamaki’s plan. We don’t know that the other four had the same plans, but I’d be willing to bet they all had similar plans. The Japanese were too thorough not to have made such arrangements, and if one of the group had plans like that then they all did (or close to it).

Edited by Ken Hackler on --

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Ken Hackler
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Ken Hackler Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 15 2003,4:00 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I received an email from David Aiken recently asking me for the particulars on what I'd said about the radio message intercept on a sub on the morning of December 7, and the visual sighting on December 8.

The radio message is contained in the initial CINCPAC report, which has a lengthy summary of messages and information for December 7. It was noted near lunch (about 1240 if I remember right) that the message was "believed submarine" based on the frequency. It was a message sent on a known submarine frequency. The location was a bilateral RDF fix from Heeia, meaning it was either due south or due north, with no way of knowing.

The visual sighting was reported the following morning to the Harbor Control Post and noted in their logs. The logs are contained in the Pearl Harbor Attack Hearings - Roberts Report.

Hope this clears things up!

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1 replies since Dec. 26 2002,7:29 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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