Having ridden the backs of fleet submarines from Japan,
five midget subs slipped free of their mother ships in the
first hours of December 7, 1941. Their orders: Swim the ten
or so miles (16 kilometers) to Pearl Harbor, wait for the air
attack to begin, make as much trouble as you can, sneak
back out to sea, and rendezvous with your fleet sub.
None of the mini-subs ever saw their mother ships again.
One ran aground and was captured, another is unaccounted
for, another was sunk in the harbor, and two were sunk off
the harbor entrance. Of the three confirmed sunk, two have
been raised. The other was the first kill of the battle that
thrust the U.S. into World War IIand is this
Like her sisters, the sub were looking for (her name is
unknown) held two sailors and two torpedoes, was battery
powered, and measured 79 feet (24 meters) long and about
6 feet (1.8 meters) in diameter. She met her end at 6:45
a.m. local time, in restricted waters about a mile (1.6
kilometers) off Oahu. There the destroyer Ward
sent her sinking some 1,200 feet (366 meters) to the
U.S. forces failed to recognize the sub for the omen it was.
At 7:49 a.m. 183 Japanese planes, just over half of the air-
attack force, caught the island unawares.
Ha-19, a Japanese midget submarine that ran
aground on Oahu after the Pearl Harbor attack and is nearly
identical to the sub Ballard is seeking
Photograph courtesy U.S. Naval Historical Center (photo#:NH91333)