On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the Navy cargo ship Antares
was approaching the entrance of
Pearl Harbor with a barge in tow
when a lookout spotted a trailing
object in the water. Antares
signaled the destroyer Ward, which
was patrolling the approaches of
the harbor that morning.
At 0637, the officer of the deck
on Ward called the captain, Lt.
Cmdr. William W. Outerbridge, to
the bridge. Outerbridge, seeing a
small conning tower with a periscope, ordered general quarters. At
0640, he ordered turns on the shafts
for 25 knots and turned the World
War I-vintage flush-deck destroyer
toward what would later be determined to be a Japanese mini-sub.
Two minutes later, his gun crew from the No. 1 forward 4-inch/50-caliber gun mount fired a shot that passed
over the small conning tower. Then the crew from the No.
3 starboard side 4-inch/50-caliber took their turn.
Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class R.H. Knapp was the
gun captain. The rest of the crew consisted of Seaman
1st Class C.W. Fenton, Pointer; Seaman 1st Class R.B.
Nolde, Trainer; Seaman 1st Class A.A. De Demagall,
No. 1 Loader; Seaman 1st Class D.W. Gruening,
No. 2 Loader; Seaman 1st Class J.A. Paick, No. 3
Loader; Seaman 1st Class H.P. Flanagan, No. 4 Loader;
Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class E.J. Bakret, Gunner’s Mate;
and Coxswain K.C.J. Lasch, Sightsetter.
In his official post-action report, Outerbridge wrote:
“The shot from No. 3 gun fired at a range of 560 yards
or less struck the submarine at the waterline which was
the junction of the hull and coning tower. Damage was
seen by several members of the crew. This was a square
positive hit. There was no evidence of ricochet. The sub-
marine was seen to heel over to starboard. The projectile
was not seen to explode outside the hull of the subma-
rine. There was no splash of any size that might result
from an explosion or ricochet. Immediately after being
hit the submarine appeared to slow and sink. She ran
into our depth charge barrage and appeared to be directly
over an exploding charge. The depth charges were set
for 100 feet. The submarine sank
in 1200 feet of water and could not
be located with supersonic detector.
There was a large amount of oil on
the surface where the depth charges
exploded. The attack was made at
0645 which was before Pearl Harbor
was bombed by Japanese planes.”
In August 2002, the subma-
rine finally was located on the
seabed off Oahu by University of
Hawaii scientists who confirmed
Outerbridge’s assessment, finding a
shell hole on the starboard side of
the conning tower.
Of note, the No. 3 gun crew on
Ward were all Naval Reservists who
a year before had been drilling at
the Naval Reserve Training Center
in St. Paul, Minn. Fittingly, today
that gun can be found at the capitol mall of that city.
That the gun survived to eventually be placed on per-
manent display can be credited to a decision to convert
Ward into a fast attack troopship.
During the conversion process on the West Coast
in 1942, the 4-inch mount was removed to accommo-
date more anti-aircraft armaments. Those guns would
help fend off a Japanese air attack against Tulagi in
April 1943 as the veteran warship would participate
in numerous amphibious operations in the Southwest
Pacific that year.
With unfortunate irony, while patrolling off the beaches of Ormoc Bay in the Philippines on Dec. 7, 1944, those
AA guns could not stop a Japanese kamikaze aircraft from
hitting amidships, eventually forcing the surviving crew
to abandon ship. A blazing hulk, the ship was scuttled
by gunfire from the destroyer O’Brien. That somber duty
must have been an emotional one for O’Brien’s commanding officer — William W. Outerbridge. n
Source: David F. Winkler, “Ready Then, Ready Now, Ready
Always: More than a Century of Service by Citizen Sailors,”
Navy Reserve Centennial Committee, Washington, D.C. (2014).
Dr. David F. Winkler is a historian with the Naval Historical
Ship of Fate in Pearl Harbor
By DAVID F. WINKLER
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 50 SEAPOWER / DECEMBER 2016
The destroyer USS Ward burns after
being hit by a kamikaze aircraft off
the Philippines, Dec. 7, 1944. Exactly
three years earlier, Ward fired the
first shot of the Pacific War. This
year marks the 75th anniversary of
the attack on Pearl Harbor.