Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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There are a number of important events related to the Pearl Harbor raid that are not covered elsewhere in this presentation. Among them is the first shot of the Pacific War, fired by the destroyer USS Ward before dawn on 7 December 1941. Ward was patrolling in an restricted zone off the entrance to Pearl Harbor when the minesweeper Condor reported that she had spotted a submarine periscope at 3:42AM. Nearly three hours later, a PBY patrol plane also sighted a periscope and marked the spot with a smoke pot. Ward came over, fired her guns at the sub and dropped depth charges, reportedly sinking it.

 

This was one of five Japanese midget submarines that were attempting to enter Pearl Harbor to participate in the attack. The destroyer radioed a report of the incident to Pearl Harbor, another destroyer was ordered out to assist her, and Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was informed. However, presumably because hostile submarine activity around Hawaii was expected in the event of war, while air attack was not, Ward's incident, more than an hour before the Japanese planes arrived, did not occasion a general alarm.

 

Another raid-related matter is that of several casualties among uninvolved civilians outside the raid objective areas. At the time, these were attributed to indiscriminate "terror" attacks by Japanese flyers. In reality, however, they mainly resulted from American shells bursting on impact with the ground and unfortunate, and probably unavoidable, consequence of the great volume of anti-aircraft cannon and machine gun fire provoked by the Japanese raid.