Identifying the Wreck
It appeared to us that the stern section hit the bottom, tail first. This did
much damage to the empennage, which has since collapsed as a result. However,
a close examination revealed the single-ring propeller guard and small rudders
that were characteristic of the Pearl Harbor subs. There was a long length of
heavy steel cable wrapped around the entire section of sub, but we didn't see
a hole punched through the hull plates as was observed on the other two wreck
sections. Neither end of the cable was obvious, so we could determine if the
cable was punched through the hull plates of the stern section or simply wrapped
around. The seam flange at the forward end of the section is pristine, with
no remnants of the mid section attached.
What the wreck tells us
We derived the following conclusions after our examination of the wreck:
- The sub wreck is what is left of I-16tou.
- The rupture in the after battery room matches the reported location of the
scuttling charge. In addition, the edges of the torn steel at the rupture
tended to be bent outward. This led us to conclude that the scuttling charge
was successfully detonated and ruptured the sub.
- The seam flange on the stern section has no remnant of the mid section attached;
therefore, whatever metal might have connected the mid to the stern section
after the scuttling charge detonation had been cut away.
- The mid and bow sections were deliberately cut in order to be separated.
At some point after the two sections were separated, the mid section suffered
some sort of impact that deformed a portion of her forward seam flange.
- Due to concretion that formed over the heads of the bolts that held the
mid and bow sections together, we concluded that the interior of the sub had
been flooded long enough for marine organisms to grow and cement the heads
firmly enough in place so that when the bolts were cut, the heads did not
- The condition of the torpedo tubes indicated that the torpedoes had been
fired before the sub was scuttled, as opposed to having been removed by salvors
after the wreck was raised.
- The steel cables wrapped around or through each section proved that the
submarine was deliberately disposed of after an initial salvage.
Taken together, the condition of the wreck led us to one inescapable conclusion:
We had found a midget submarine that had participated in the Pearl Harbor attack,
but we were not the first. The submarine had previously been found, raised,
prepped for disposal and then dumped.
This conclusion, as so many often do, generated more questions than answers.
Who originally found it, and where? Thus began the next phase of our investigation.