Operation Rising Sun

The I-52 Recovery Project

The I-52 was one of only three Mitsubishi C-3 submarines ever built. On June 23rd, 1944 about 850 miles W. of the Cape Verde Islands, the I-52 was running on the surface at night in bad weather at 12 knots. This is only a couple hours after her rendevouz with the German U-boat, the U-530. At about 23:40, a Grumman TBF "Avenger" torpedo bomber of VC-69 from escort carrier USS BOGUE (CVE-9) picks up a radar contact. Ed Whitlock, the radar operator in Lieutenant Commander Jesse D. Taylor's Avenger, detected a surface contact on his malfunctioning radar (only the right half of its sweep was working). Taylor drops flares that illuminate the huge 2,564-ton Type C3 submarine. He drops two 354-pound Mark 54 depth bombs, but the I-52 crash dives and successfully evades his attack. After his first pass, he saw the depth charge explosions hit just to starboard of the submarine — a very near miss. Taylor and his crew lay sonobuoys over a square mile of sea and track the submarine. Within minutes, the Avenger's crew can hear clearly I-52's propellers in their headsets. Taylor maneuvers into position and drops a new top secret Mark 24 "Fido" acoustic homing torpedo. It was nick-named "Fido", because like a stray dog it would follow you around. Fido was designed to be a "mission kill" weapon — it would damage the submarine so badly it would have to surface, rather than destroying it completely. Within minutes, the sonobuoys transmitted the sounds of an explosion and mechanical break-up noises. The I-52 was gone, taking with her the lives of 94 officers and men, and 18 civillian engineers.

The I-55 was assigned to the defense of the Marianas, and during a mission to rescue staff of the 1st Air Fleet on Tinian, she was found and sunk by the USS Gilmer and USS William C. Miller on 14 July 1944.

Of the three 356' submarines, the I-53 survived the War only to be sunk outside of Japan by the US Navy on April 1st,1946as part of Operation "Roads End:" The I-53 is stripped of all usable equipment and material and towed from Sasebo to an area off Goto Retto by the submarine tender USS NEREUS (AS-17). The NEREUS then scuttled the I-53 by gunfire at 32-37N, 129-17E. Pictures of this C-3 type of submarine are extremely rare.

 

The only known photo of the I-52 and her sister ship the I-53. The I-52 was sunk while on her maiden Yanagi (exchange) mission.