Pearl Harbor and the Japanese Midget Submarines

The Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, on December 7th, 1941, was a two pronged attack, comprised of both aerial and underwater components. Five Midget submarines were launched from I-Class mother subs, at the entrance to the harbor. The five Midgets took part in the attack, but history was unclear as to what degree. Remains of two of the midget subs were located shortly after the attack.The third was located by Navy divers in 1960. The fourth, sunk by the USS Ward prior to the air assault, was located by HURL in 2002. That left the last of the midget submarines, and the full story of the underwater attack at Pearl Harbor, still something of a mystery.

I helped to put together a TV project for Nova on the Japanese Midget submarine attack at Pearl Harbor, and the missing fifth Midget. While working on the project, I had the opportunity to dive the USS Arizona with the National Park Service, and with divers from the US Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One. I was also able to dive in HURL’s Pisces submersibles to the newly discovered wreckage of the last of the five Japanese Midget Submarines, in 1200 feet of water. The location of the last Midget Submarine answered many questions,but inspired many more.

Hawai’i Undersea Research Lab

PBS Nova Killer Subs of Pearl Harbor companion website

Killer Subs in Pearl Harbor DVD

US Navy MDSU1

I-16tou website by Parks Stevenson

Combined Fleet chronology of the Midget Submarine attack

US Navy History of the West Loch Disaster

Advance Force Pearl Harbor by Burl Burlingame

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