Territory Stories

The I124 : Japanese submarine wreck in Clarence Strait



The I124 : Japanese submarine wreck in Clarence Strait


Dermoudy, Peter


Northern Territory Library Occasional Papers; E-Books; PublicationNT; Occasional papers (State Library of the Northern Territory) ; no. 34




The sinking of the Japanese submarine I124 in Clarence Strait in 1942, and the futile attempts to salvage it.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


OCLC Number: 38319314




Submarines (Ships); World War, 1939-1945; Northern Territory; Naval Operations; Submarine; Shipwrecks; Northern Territory; Clarence Strait

Publisher name

State Library of the Northern Territory

Place of publication



Occasional papers (State Library of the Northern Territory) ; no. 34


v, 5 pages ; 30 cm.

File type



0724507175; 9780724507177




Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Library & Archives NT



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

THE 1124: A JAPANESE SUBMARINE WRECK IN CLARENCE STRAIT Peter Dermoudy I will be speaking today mainly about the Ja anese submarine I124 which was sunk P off Bathurst Island in January 1942. I will te 1 you some of its history, and explain to you what the submarine looks like, and what some of the aspirations and possibilities are for future action on it. The submarine in itself has a number of firsts; probably most im ortantly for us, it B was the first Japanese ship to be sunk by Australians in the Secon World War. This submarine also has the distinction of being the first submarine to sink an American ship during the Second World War, so he finally got his just deserts from the Australians. I would like to tell you a bit about the actual submarine. It is basically a German design which came out towards the end of the First World War, and it is this, I believe, that makes this submarine so very important. There are no First World War submarines still in existence today. They were all away to other countries, including one to Japan. They Except this one which is the only remaining example and is This submarine is not exactly World War I, but it has all the features the Germans had learned, all the good and bad things, I su pose, that had come out of the First World P P War. From that oint of view it is full o the interesting technolo y of that particular i! time. The keel or this submarine was laid in 1924, and it was inally com leted in E various yards in Kobe and other places by about 1928, so it is a very old su marine. These articular submarines were not highly regarded by the Japanese. They were P origina ly mine-laying subs, and in order to do this they had vertical tubes in the aft sections. The mines were stacked one above the other in these vertical tubes and were laid through the bottom of the boat. Because of this, every time mines were laid, the boats had to be retrimmed. They had other problems, as well. They were fairly slow, and hard to manoeuvre but had a good range, which was uite important for a mine- layer in that they were expected to travel a fair distance. 1 his one had a 10 000 mile range at 14 knots, which was not too bad, but once submerged, it only had a 40 mile range with a speed of 4.5 knots. It carried only one 5.5 bore gun and varying numbers of torpedoes - from about 22 up to about 28 - these were fired through four forward tubes. One of my most prized possessions is a Japanese drawing of the submarine, which shows the various corn artments. One can see where the diesel engines were, the electric motors, all the 6' atteries, the conning tower, a crane down aft for lifting their small craft on and off, lifting mines and torpedoes and such things. She was a reasonably lar e ship, not large b American submarine standards, but fairly large for a Japanese su marine. It was 5.2 metres long, 7.5 metres beam and drew 4.39 metres. t B In the 1940s some of these particular submarines were fitted with saddle tanks for aviation fuel, and were used as fuelling tenders for the pur ose of refuelling Japanese R float planes. It is believed that some of the float planes t at were seen over Darwin before the first raid may have been refuelled from these I class submarines (four of them were built). Crew numbers varied. The Germans carried forty crew on their version, but it is believed the Japanese had somewhere between fifty and seventy. One of the stories circulating about this particular one is that it had a crew of eighty on board when she went down. This seems to be rather hi h. I would tend to go for the more B conservative figures of somewhere between ifty and seventy.

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