Home Contact UsAbout UsOur projectsAbout UsContact UsPress Release
  To Honour and Peace  
  Warriors of the Deep  
  Quest For Truth  

Introduction | History | The People | The Location

History of K16

The submarine K-XVI was build at the Rotterdam Dry-dock Company in Rotterdam in The Netherlands and was commissioned in 1934. She was patrolling the waters between Surabaya and the South China Sea between the period of 8th December to 25th December 1941. The boat was part of the 3rd submarine
division with the K-XIV and K-XV (Division Commander Van Well Groeneveld.)

Two weeks after Japan and the Allies had declared war as a consequence of
the attack on Pearl Harbor it became clear that the Japanese intended to invade the island of Borneo. The third division was ordered by The Dutch Admiralty to take station on the Northwest coast of Borneo in the vicinity of Api Passage. A flying boat of the Royal Netherlands Navy reported to the division commander Van Well Groeneveld (K- XIV) that a convoy was approaching the Kuching area. He ordered the boats to attack in sequence (K–XIV, K-XV, and K-XVI) the invasion force that anchored in the rather shallow waters a few miles north of the Borneo west shore. K-XIV, being the first to enter the area, surprised the defense forces and in a night attack sank 3 transport ships and one tanker. Having all torpedoes fired, the boat left the area to return to Surabaya, ordering the other boats to enter the battle field to get their share of enemy ships. The Japanese defense had been alarmed and was prepared to fight back. The result was that K-XV was not able to penetrate the defense line.

K-XVI arrived at the battle area to encounter a very aggressive Japanese defense around the anchorage. In spite of the situation of fighting against the odds, Commander Jarman and his crew attacked and sank the large destroyer Sagiri and just fell short of repeating this feat on another destroyer the Murakumo. The Murakumo then attacked K XVI with depth charges. According to Japanese information the Commander of the Japanese destroyer Murakumo was under the impression that they had sunk the attacking submarine.

Under the pressure of counterattack and hampered gravely in her movements
by the shallowness of the sea, K-XVI had to withdraw to the north into deeper water. The movements of the boat after the attacks on the destroyers are unknown. In the night of December 24th the CO reported to Admiralty Batavia his success and that he still had 8 torpedoes in reserve.

The commander of K-XVI, L.J. Jarman received no orders to leave the Kuching

In the early morning of December 25th the Admiralty Batavia congratulated
the CO with his success and around noon local time the boat was ordered to
return to Surabaya via Api Passage, but there was no reply.

On Christmas morning at 10.00 hrs local time K-XVI met her fate. The Japanese submarine 1-66 was guarding Api Strait and observed “a large Holland Sub” approaching on the surface, deck awash, speed estimated at 12 knots. In 13 minutes 1-66 moved into the right firing position and - with one torpedo — sank K-XVI at a very short distance.

In a letter of the General Headquarters Supreme Command for the Allied Powers of 5 February 1947 was written: “Before noon of 25th December submarine “I 66”, which was on the sea to the Northwest of Kuching, witnessed an enemy submarine there, which she torpedoed. Threatened by an enemy seaplane she had to submerge for a long time, which hindered her from verifying the sinking of the enemy submarine”.

All hands on board were lost.

The K-XVI is the only submarine out of the four featured that is still to be found. Katja Boonstra’s father, Willem Frederik Blom, was among the crew of thirty-six who went down with the K-XVI, and she is determined to find the war grave of the submarine K-XVI, which had become her father’s final resting place. She also hopes to find out why K-XVI was on the surface when she was torpedoed. Reports of the K-XVI and K-XV state that K- XVI had machine-and other mechanical problems which needed daylight to repair.

Three attempts have been made to find K-XVI but without success. Katja Boonstra and her daughters Claire and Jessica joined Klaas Brouwer and his
team on an expedition to the South Chinese Sea in 2003 on Michael Lim’s boat
the Mata Ikan. An anchor, anchor chain and large metal plates were found
and there was hope that the submarine had been located. A next expedition
however proved that this was not the case.