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.

Testimony of:

Before the Hewitt Inquiry

[55] 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?


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 
was killed?

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?


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?    


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?


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.


ADMIRAL HEWITT. That was after the ones you have already discussed. What 
were they?

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 
than bombs?

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 
you bombed?

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.

Page maintained by Larry W. Jewell, Created: 11/28/96 Updated: 11/28/96