The Rusting Wreck of Kiska Island’s Abandoned Japanese Midget Submarine

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island (Image: Photorator)

On or around July 30, 1942 the Gato-class submarine USS Grunion and its crew of 70 disappeared off Kiska in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Sixty five years later in August 2007, its wreck was discovered at a depth of 3,300 ft. Meanwhile, elsewhere on Kiska, an abandoned Japanese midget submarine has lain silent in the grass that has consumed its former launch facility for decades.

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island-4 (Image: Library and Archives Canada, public domain)

The battered sub, already damaged beyond repair, is pictured above in September 1943 under inspection by US and Canadian troops. The vessel is mounted on heavy duty launch trolleys that ran on rails to the water’s edge, and may remain buried beneath its abandoned hull to this day.

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island-3 (Image: Brian Hoffman, cc-nc-sa-4.0)

Another midget submarine hidden beneath a makeshift shelter has long since disappeared. But the vessel in the foreground has endured, a lasting memorial to the Japanese occupation of Kiska and subsequent American naval blockade in 1943.

Above, National Park Service employees and military historians are seen documenting the wartime relics on Kiska for inclusion in the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island-8 (Image: Brian Hoffman, cc-nc-sa-4.0)

The conning tower is now heavily corroded following decades of elemental battering and damage sustained during World War Two.

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island-6 (Image: Brian Hoffman, cc-nc-sa-4.0)

Blast damage is most evident amidships. The midget submarine, and other captured axis vessels, were intentionally disabled to prevent them from falling into enemy hands when the Japanese abandoned their naval base on Kiska island.

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island-7 (Image: Brian Hoffman, cc-nc-sa-4.0)

Old batteries line the inside of the sub, which lies half buried in the dirt above where the railway tracks once ran.

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island-5 (Image: Brian Hoffman, cc-nc-sa-4.0)

Despite the rust and corrosion, the inside of the conning tower remains virtually intact.

japanese-abandoned-midget-submarine-kiska-island-9 (Image: Brian Hoffman, cc-nc-sa-4.0)

The force of the blast that tore through the abandoned vessel’s structure is evident in this photo. Damaged beyond repair more than 60 years ago, the forgotten sub has nevertheless stood the test of time and remains an important historical reminder of the events that unfolded on Kiska from 1942 to 1943.

Keep Reading – Explore the Japanese Wartime Wrecks of Pagan Island, Marianas.


About the author: Tom





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