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Naval Warfare

IJN I-351

Ocean-Going Tanker / Resupply Diesel-Electric Submarine [ 1945 ]

Of the proposed six I-351-class, only I-351 was completed before the end of the war in 1945 and eventually sunk by the USS Bluefish.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/30/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

During 1943 to 1945 - what would become the latter half of World War (1939-1945) - the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) put effort into construction of six projected, special-purpose "tanker/resupply" submarines as the I351-class. Born from a 1942 initiative, the class was led by I-351 herself, becoming the only completed vessel of the group before the end of the war in August 1945. A second vessel was destroyed while under construction while four of the group were cancelled outright when the need for such specialized boats was no more - by this time the IJN had lost more of its important forward-operating bases to the Allied advance.

As designed, the I351-class was intended to ferry up nearly 400 tons of wet or dry supplies to awaiting flying boats and floatplane aircraft operating in forward positions all over the Pacific. As a transport system, I-351 was rigged to carry fuel stores, fresh water and munitions - from conventional drop bombs to torpedoes. Beyond her hauling role, the I-351 was also outfitted for potential trouble with 4 x 533mm (21") torpedo tubes of her own though she carried only four reloads resulting in a limited offensive punch. The boat also retained useable surface armament consisting of 3 x 81mm Type 3 mortars and 7 x 25mm Type 96 Anti-Aircraft (AA) cannons.©MilitaryFactory.com
As built, I-351 displaced at 3,570 tons when surfaced and 4,560 tons when submerged. She featured a running length of 364.1 feet with a beam of 33.5 feet and a draught of 20 feet. Power was from 2 x diesel engines outputting at 3,700 horsepower and 2 x Electric motors governed the vessel at 1,200 horsepower when submerged. Both arrangements drove 2 x shafts at the stern. Maximum speeds reached 16 knots when surfaced and 6 knots when under water. Range was an impressive 15,000 miles while the hull was tested at depths of 300 feet, comparable with submarines of the period. Her entire crew complement numbered 77 officers and enlisted with an additional thirteen men serving as part of the onboard aircrew.

I-351 became the only completed vessel of the class, launched in 1944 from the Kure Naval Arsenal shipyard. She was eventually (and officially) completed on January 28th, 1945 though her ocean-going career would last only until July 14th, 1945 when she was successfully engaged by the USS Bluefish (SS-222) submarine and sunk. Her sister, I-352, was lost in an American-led air raid a month earlier on June 22nd, 1945 while still held at the Kure Naval Arsenal. At the time of her sinking, I-352 remained nearly 90 percent complete. I-353's hull was never laid down and the remaining three, proposed boats only ever received their construction numbers as #730, #731 and #732.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Service Year

Imperial Japan national flag graphic
Imperial Japan



I-351; I-352; I-353 (cancelled); #730 (cancelled); #731 (cancelled); #732 (cancelled)

National flag of modern Japan Imperial Japan
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Submerged Attack
Traveling under the surface to search, track, and / or engage or reconnoiter areas.
Maritime Patrol
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
Fleet Support
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.

364.1 ft
110.98 m
33.5 ft
10.21 m
20.0 ft
6.10 m

Installed Power: 2 x Diesel engines developing 3,700 horsepower; 2 x Electric motors developing 1,200 horsepower; 2 x shafts.
Surface Speed
16.0 kts
(18.4 mph)
Submerged Speed
6.0 kts
(6.9 mph)
13,035 nm
(15,000 mi | 24,140 km)

kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers

1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 km
4 x 533mm (21") torpedo tubes (bow-facing) (4 x torpedo reloads).
3 x 81mm Type 3 mortars
7 x 25mm Type 96 anti-aircraft cannons.

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)

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Images Gallery

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Image of the IJN I-351
Image courtesy of the United States Navy; the hull of I-352 is shown.

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