On the morning of December 7, 1941, U.S. naval vessels and aircraft on patrol outside Pearl Harbor spotted a partially-submerged submarine trying to enter the harbor, but alerts were not immediately sent. Ninety minutes before Pearl Harbor was bombed by air, the sub fired on the destroyer USS Ward which then fired back, sinking the sub. The event marks the first U.S. shots fired and the country’s entry into World War II in the Pacific.
On December 7, 75 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the public will have its first-ever opportunity to view a live dive on two Japanese mini-submarines, the first of which was sunk by the USS Ward prior to the attack. The expedition is coordinated by maritime archaeologists and scientists with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
The second submarine to be explored during the dive disappeared that morning before the attack. It was discovered in shallow waters in 1951, raised by the U.S. Navy, and taken out to sea to be dumped in deeper water. In 1992, the University of Hawaii’s Undersea Research Laboratory rediscovered it. It has been periodically visited by the university’s submersibles, the last time in 2013.
The research team will be using a remotely operated vehicle from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to revisit the historic wreck site and document its condition. The dive will be live-streamed and the public is invited to participate on December 7, 6:30 a.m. HST (8:30 a.m. PST, 11:30 a.m. EST). Live streaming will be available at http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/
Please stay tuned – California Diver will be at the event in Hawaii and have more news during and after the event.