Submarine Contacts Outside Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941
From: Congressional Investigation into the Pearl Harbor Attack, Pt. 36
(Exhibits of the Joint Committee), pp. 55-60.
CAPTAIN WILLLAM W. OUTERBRIDGE,
COMMANDING OFFICER, Ward
Before the Hewitt Inquiry
 ADMIRAL HEWITT. State your name and rank.
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. William W. Outerbridge, Captain, U. S. Navy.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. You were the Commanding Officer of the WARD on the
morning of 7 December 1941?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. And during the early hours of that morning, you had
several actual contacts with submarines? Is that so?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Several actual contacts?
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Well, reported contacts.
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir. We had one alert and one actual contact
and then later, after the attack, we had several outside.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. There has been reported and logged the conversation
which you had with the CONDOR along about 0520 Honolulu time and later
there is in evidence and report of your actual attack on the submarine.
Will you give me your story of the events of the morning, beginning with
the report from the CONDOR about 0400?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. That doesn't appear on this record, but she
signaled us by flashing light that she believed she had seen an object
that looked like a submarine proceeding to the westward, and I believe
she had just come out and was sweeping, magnetic sweep out in the
channel, but she said, "The submarine is standing to the westward."
ADMIRAL HEWITT. What was her location?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. She was in the channel, sweeping with her magnetic
ADMIRAL HEWITT. The approach channel to Pearl Harbor?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Outside of the actual channel, between the reefs,
but on the approach channel to Pearl Harbor.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Swept channel?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Swept channel, yes, and we went to General Quarters
and proceeded to her position, as close as we could get to her without
fouling her sweeping gear, and then we stood to the westward, slowed to
ten knots, and searched. It was a sonar search. We couldn't see
ADMIRAL HEWITT. About what time did you get that signal?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. We got that signal about 0358, visual signal about
0358, and we searched for about an hour and didn't find anything; so I
got in contact with her again and asked her for a verification. Then she
said this is in the record here. We asked her first, "What was the
approximate distance and course of the submarine that you sighted?" and
she said, "the course was about what we were steering at the time 020
magnetic and about 1000 yards from the entrance apparently heading for
the entrance." Well, I knew then that we had been searching in the wrong
direction. We went to westward, and, of course, there was still doubt as
to whether she had actually seen a submarine because there hadn't been
any other conversation, except by flashing light with us, and I wondered
whether they were sure or not; so I did ask them, "Do you have any
additional information on the sub?" and they said, "No additional
information," and I then asked them, "When was the last time
approximately that you saw the submarine?" and they said, "Approximate
time 0350 and he was apparently heading for the entrance." Then we
thanked them for their information and asked them to notify us if they
had any more information and then we just kept on searching in our area,
in the restricted area outside of the buoys. That was the end of this
incident for the first search.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. You made no report of that to higher authority?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. No, sir, I didn't make any report of it.
ADMIRAL HEWITT What was your evaluation of that?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Well, at the time I thought perhaps it wasn't a
submarine, because they didn't report it. This conversation was taken
over another circuit entirely. This is not in either his log or mine.
They didn't report it and I thought if he didn't report it, he must not
think it is a submarine. It was his initial report and I thought it may
not be. It may have been anything; it may have been a buoy. Since then,
I don't believe it was a buoy. I believe the Commanding Officer of the
CONDOR saw a submarine. I don't know where he is. I think he was killed,
killed in action. But at that time I didn't know whether or not it was a
ADMIRAL HEWITT You say you think the Commanding Officer of the CONDOR
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. I believe he was killed.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Do you remember his name?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. No, sir, I don't know, but I met some people who
told me about him.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Well, now about the later contact.
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. The later contact I turned in again and was
sleeping in the emergency cabin, as usual, and Lieutenant Goepner had
the deck. He was a j. g. He called me and said, "Captain, come on the
bridge." The helmsman was the first one to sight this object and he saw
this thing moving. It looked like a buoy to him, but they watched it and
after they had watched it for a while, they decided probably it was a
conning tower of a submarine, although we didn't have anything that
looked like it in our Navy, and they had never seen anything like it. I
came on the bridge as fast as I could and took a look at it. I don't
know where it appeared to them at first, but at that time it appeared to
me to be following the ANTARES in. The ANTARES had been reported to me
and at that time I thought the ANTARES had been heading into the harbor.
She also had a tow, towing a lighter, and it appeared to me the
submarine was following astern of the tow.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Astern of the tow?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir. It may or may not have been. I think
other people can testify it was standing in to Honolulu. To me it
appeared to be following the ANTARES in and I thought, "She is going to
follow the ANTARES in, whatever it is." It was going fairly fast. I
thought she was making about twelve knots. It seemed to be a little fast
to me. I was convinced it was a submarine. I was convinced it couldn't
be anything else. It must be a submarine and it wasn't anything that we
had and we also had a message that any submarine operating in the
restricted area not operating in the submarine areas and not escorted
should be attacked. We had that message; so there was no doubt at all in
my mind what to do. So, we went to General Quarters again and attacked.
That was 0740-0640.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. And you attacked and you reported, I believe that
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir, we reported.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Will you identify those exchanges of messages? Will you
identify the messages on the radio log?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir. The Executive Officer was on the bridge
at the time. We made the attack and we dropped depth charges in front of
the submarine. The first report was, "We have dropped depth charges upon
sub operating in defensive sea area." I thought, "Well, now, maybe I had
better be more definite," because we did fire and if we said we fired,
people would know it was on the surface, because saying it was a sub and
dropping depth charges, they may have said it might have been a
blackfish or a whale. So I said, "We have attacked fired upon and
dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area,"
so they would feel, well, he shot at something. We sent the message at
0653, the second one.
(The radio log of the Naval Radio Station, Bishop's Point, Oahu,
containing the conversation between the WARD and CONDOR and the WARD's
report of attack upon a submarine, was received and marked "Exhibit
ADMIRAL HEWITT. What do you feel was the effect of your attack?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. I think we sank the submarine.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. What do you base that on?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. On the gun hit, only on the gun hit.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. There was a gun hit on it?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. There was a gun hit on it, and I looked these
submarines over and there is no hatch between the conning tower and the
tube of the submarine, where I believe it was hit, right at the
waterline, the base of the conning tower.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. And the submarine disappeared after that?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir, it disappeared.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. That was before you made the depth charge attack?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir, we fired at the submarine before we made
the depth charge attack, and as she was going under the stern, we
dropped over the depth charges.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Your depth charges were close to her?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Definitely?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Definitely, they were there. I didn't claim a kill
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Whom were those reports addressed to?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. I believe it was Commander Inshore Patrol. We were
working for inshore patrol, but the interpretation is here
ADMIRAL HEWITT. You got the calls?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir, we got the calls.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Do you remember what they mean?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. No, sir.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Those were the only reports of that attack you made?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir, two messages on that.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. What was your action after the completion of that
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Well, I saw one of these large white sampans lying
to out there in the defensive area.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Was that against regulations?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. That was against standing rules. They weren't
supposed to be in the defensive area, but he was in there. So, I turned
around and went after him and we chased him out towards Barber's Point.
He was going pretty fast.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. He tried to get away from you?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. It appeared that way to me. He could have stopped
much sooner, but he appeared to be going around Barber's Point. When we
did catch up to him, he came up waving a white flag. I thought that was
funny. I thought, "We will just send for the Coast Guard." That was what
we always did when we caught a sampan in the defensive area. We sent for
the Coast Guard and they were very prompt. They sent a cutter out to
take him in.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Will you identify for the record those two messages you
sent about the sampan, which are on the Bishop's Point record?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. "We have intercepted a sampan into Honolulu. Please
have Coast Guard send cutter to relieve us of sampan." And, "We have
intercepted sampan and escorting sampan into Honolulu. Please have
cutter relieve us of sampan." We sent that. That is a little garbled,
but that looks like it.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. What was the time of it?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. That was 0833 and 0835.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Well, then, I understand that several days later you saw
a midget submarine which was recovered off Bellow's Field. Is that
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir, that is correct.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Was the appearance of the conning tower similar to the
one that you saw?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes sir
ADMIRAL HEWITT. What was the condition of that submarine off Bellow's
Field? Did it have its torpedoes?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir, it was in good condition and I went
inside and there was a torpedoman I believe he was a chief torpedoman
working on the torpedoes, trying to get them out without exploding them,
and I saw the torpedoes inside.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Well, I think, that is all I had planned to ask you. I
am naturally interested in any information you can provide on this Pearl
Harbor attack. Is there anything that you might think would be pertinent
to this investigation that you can volunteer?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Well, I suppose it would be a matter of opinion,
which probably wouldn't do you much good, but I was even a little
surprised at the attack which followed. I mean I had no idea that the
air attack was going to follow. We brought the sampan in and we got
another submarine attack. We dropped four depth charges on another
submarine in the area. We got depth charges that morning and at 11
o'clock we ran out. When the attack started, we were still at General
Quarters. We hadn't secured from the attack. We were still at General
Quarters and we saw the planes coming in, but not until after the bombs
began to fall, because the bombs were falling on Pearl Harbor, and the
Exec and I were standing on the bridge. Lieutenant Commander Dowdy was
the Exec and he said, "They are making a lot of noise over there this
morning, Captain." I said, "Yes, I guess they are blasting the new road
from Pearl to Honolulu." He said, "Look at those planes. They are coming
straight down." I looked at them, and he said, "Gosh, they are having an
attack over there." I said, "They certainly are," and that was the time
the attack actually began.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. That was about 0750?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. 0750, yes, sir.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. That must have been about the time, judging from this
report here, that you were engaged in bringing the sampan in.
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir, we were still standing in with the
ADMIRAL HEWITT. You mentioned just then several other submarine attacks
that you had the same morning.
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. That was after the ones you have already discussed. What
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. They were good metallic contacts, although I was a
little surprised at them at first, before things began to pop. I didn't
think we would get so many, but we did get a lot of them. We got good
metallic contacts and the only thing to do was to bomb them. They gave
us a good sharp echo. We bombed them until we ran out of depth charges
and went in and got some more.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. That was in the same general area?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Right in that defensive area.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Off the entrance to the swept channel?
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. Yes, sir. There was another thing we saw. That was
a lot of explosions along the reefs. I thought that they were explosions
of torpedoes fired into the reefs. I didn't see any other submarines the
whole morning. We didn't actually see any, but we did see a lot of
explosions that looked like shallow water explosions of torpedoes.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. What would make you think they were torpedoes rather
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. They were right along the coast, along the reef,
and I didn't see any planes overhead. They were inside the coast in
Pearl Harbor, bombing Pearl Harbor, and I didn't think they would all
miss that far. I thought they would do better than that. They did do
better than that in general.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. Do you recall approximately how many different contacts
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. I think we had three or four that morning, sir.
ADMIRAL HEWITT. After the one
CAPTAIN OUTERBRIDGE. In the first ten days we had eighteen contacts, day
and night, but we didn't actually see any more submarines. I heard that
they were there, but we didn't actually see any more. We don't know what
the effect of the attacks were on the submarines. There was one other
one, on the 2nd of January. We were with our division, making the
attack, and the ship astern of us, after I got in port, told us that she
saw a submarine come up under our starboard depth charge. I hadn't, up
until then, claimed any hit for it. We had a pretty good contact. It was
our turn to make the run. We made the run and kept on going, and that is
what the Commanding Officer of the ALLEN said. That was the 2nd of
January. But we didn't actually see that from the ship.
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