- 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)
All went well at first but at 2230 HA14 was discovered by the port defense force tangled in the harbor defense net. HA14 blew herself up. Shortly after HA21 was detected entering the harbor and was sunk by HMAS Yarroma, Steady Hour and Sea Mist. While this was transpiring midget ‘A’ entered the harbor undetected and prepared to attack the cruiser Chicago. Upon midget ‘A’ reaching firing position a blackout was put into effect in the harbour area. This apparently caused a confused firing solution for midget ‘A’ as her torpedoes passed ahead of Chicago and sank the depot ship HMAS Kuttabul tied up ahead of Chicago’s port bow. Midget ‘A’ then disappeared, her fate is still unknown.
The next morning I27 and the other two I boats laid off of Sydney to recover the midget submarines. This action was taken only to carry out Sub Ron 8 orders, suicide attacks at this point in the war were not part of Imperial Naval Doctrine, but I27 and her sister boats did not expect to find their midget submarines as all taking part realised that these were one way missions. After spending 24 hours waiting for their midget submarines without success the I boats dispersed to attack shipping off the Australian east coast. I27′s orders were to proceed to the waters around Tasmania.
Sailing southward I27 attacked her first merchant ship on the morning of 4 June 1942. This was the steamer Barwon of 4,240 tons bond from Melbourne for Port Kembla. Attacking on the surface I27 used both torpedoes and gunfire on the freighter. Luck, however, sailed with Barwon for all of the shells and torpedoes fired were wide of the mark except one torpedo which exploded close alongside doing no damage. I27’s crew mistaking the exploding torpedo as a hit which would sink Barwon abandoned the chase for new game. That afternoon, some 50 miles Southeast of Cape Howe, I27 attacked her second ship. Closing on the surface Cde Yoshimura torpedoed the manganese ore carrier Iron Crown of 3,353 tons on a voyage from Whyalla to Newcastle. With her heavy cargo Iron Crown sank taking down 37 of her 42 man crew.
With the sinking of Iron Crown I27 ran out of targets. After a short patrol off of Tasmania she turned north to search the waters of New Caledonia before reaching Kwajalein in the later part of June.
I27 then sailed for Penang from where she and I29 plus Sub Div 30 boats I1162, I165 and I166 were to operate into the Indian Ocean. Due to different cruising radius the I boats would operate west of Ceylon and the RO boats east of Ceylon. Their mission was to disrupt shipping in the Indian Ocean and tie down part of the British Fleet.
SUB DIV 30 set out on its first patrol in the Indian Ocean in August, 1942. All three of its boats were to operate in the Gulf of Bengal and waters off Ceylon. Only I165 had any luck, sinking the British steamer Harmonides 250 miles south of Ceylon on 25 August 1942. While Sub Div 30 had been patrolling east of Ceylon I27 and I29 had sailed for the west coast of Africa. I29 was to conduct a reconnaissance off Diego Garcia and the Seychelles before carrying out commerce raiding off Zanzibar and in the Arabian Sea. I27 was to attack shipping in the Gulf of Oman at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. One week after sailing, however, I27 had to return to Singapore for repairs due to engine trouble. She was not to return to sea until late September 1942.
When I27 put to sea from Singapore in September she had a new Captain, Commander Kitamura. She sailed at the time I162, I165 and I166 were put back to sea. September 1942 was to be a good month for the Japanese submarines in the Indian Ocean. I29 sank four ships and I165 got one. October saw I166 downing a ship while I162 bagged three. I27 scored her first kill in the Indian Ocean on 22 October, 1942 when she sank the 7,174 ton British steamer Ocean Vintage 80 miles east of Al Masirah in the Arabian Sea. This was to be I27’s only success on this war patrol and she returned to Penang in early November 1942.