The Attack on Pearl Harbor


On the morning of December 7th 185 United States Naval ships were located in Pearl Harbor. They included the eight battleships, but none of the navy’s carriers, which were not in the Harbor for the weekend.

A little after 6:00 am morning the Japanese midget sub I-24 attempted to penetrate the harbor by following the USS Antares into the harbor. The USS Ward sighted the Japanese sub and opened fire. Thus the first shots of the war were actually fired by a US a ship which sank the I-24. While the Ward reported the encounter a general alarm at Pearl Harbor was not sounded. At 7:00 a new radar station at the North end of the island sited a large swarm of aircraft heading for Hawaii. The radio operator reported what he saw, but was told that not to worry, it was thought it was a flight of B-17’s arriving from the West Coast.

At 7:53 the Japanese attack began. The commander of the attack radioed the word Tora Tora Tora, which informed Japanese forces that total Tactical and strategic surprise had been achieved. The first of two waves of attacks began by a combined force of dive bombers and torpedo bombers. The first ships to be hit were the light cruiser Raleigh and the old battleship Utah. Torpedoes hit both. Soon however, the Japanese dive-bombers were attacking Battleship row. In the ensuing attack all of the US battleships were hit by at least one bomb. The Arizona was his four times, the fourth setting off a tremendous explosion of her magazines, sinking her. The Japanese also attacked the US airfields destroying most of the US aircraft on the ground. When the attack was over 2,390 Americans were dead and 1,178 were wounded. Nineteen warships were either completely sunk or badly damaged. The US fleet was badly damaged, but not destroyed. More importantly the ship repair and tank farms were not destroyed, as a result Pearl Harbor was able to continue as the main American base in the Pacific.