In the pre-dawn darkness of December 7, 1941, five Imperial Japanese Navy submarines surfaced off the coast of Oahu. Secured to the decks of these vessels were secret weapons to be deployed for the first time in modern warfare: two-man midget submarines, intended to enter Pearl Harbor without being detected and torpedo the US Navy battleships lying at anchor there. None of them would return from their mission.
“One of the last remaining and persistent mysteries of the Pearl Harbor attack is that of the Japanese Midget Submarines. It is a fascinating story of innovation, courage, secrets, and failed expectations. And it is not only a story of the morning hours of December 7, but of the years before to develop these weapons and the years after, where they were deployed in the great Pacific War and how they fared as weapons of war.”
These words by Daniel J. Basta, from the foreword of this work, capture both the essence and the impact of The Lost Submarines of Pearl Harbor. James P. Delgado and his coauthors have worked on the story of these incredible craft for decades. They combed the records of the US Navy and the recollections of its veterans as well as Japanese, Australian, and British archives in order to uncover the truth. They have logged hours of direct observation and research on the midget subs in their final resting places, in some cases more than 1,000 feet below the surface of the Pacific. And in the end, they have woven a tapestry of scholarship, historical sleuthing, scientific insight, and good storytelling that will enthrall specialists and history enthusiasts alike.
About the Author
JAMES P. DELGADO directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maritime Heritage Program in the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. He is the author of over 32 books, including Misadventures of aCivil War Submarine: Iron, Guns, and Pearls. He documented and studied HA-19, the midget submarine captured in Hawaii in 1941, and continues to study Japan’s midget submarines. TERRY KERBY is the operations director and chief submersible pilot for the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab (HURL) at the University of Hawai'i. He initiated the effort to locate Ward’s midget submarine in 1992 by using the Pisces V’s pre-science dive season test dives to search for the submarine and also discovered the three-piece midget submarine. STEVEN PRICE works with the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab (HURL) as the maintenance chief for the Pisces IV and V submersibles and a diver and a back-up Pisces pilot. He created HURL’s shipwreck database and has done the historical and background research on all of the maritime and cultural heritage discoveries that HURL’s submersibles have made. MAXIMILIAN D. CREMER is the deputy operations director and senior submersible pilot for the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab. He joined HURL in 1998 and has been piloting PISCES IV or V during all maritime historical dives since 2003, scouting out SONAR targets, serving as camera and lighting platform, and providing on-site safety for the chief pilot and his crew in the other sub. HANS K. VAN TILBURG is the coordinator of maritime heritage in the Pacific Islands Region for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the author of Chinese Junks on the Pacific: Views from a Different Deck. OLE VARMER is an attorney in the International Section of the Office of General Counsel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, specializing in the law pertaining to underwater cultural heritage. This has included legal work for the protection of the two midget submarines off Oahu. RUSSELL MATTHEWS is a historian specializing in aviation and maritime subjects, as well as a filmmaker whose past work includes the Cold War documentary Regulus: The First Nuclear Missile Submarines. He made four dives to explore the Pearl Harbor midget subs and serves as executive producer for an upcoming television documentary about the mission.