California And Oregon Attacked: Incredible Submarine Attacks Of WWII

Japanese attacks on California and Oregon

While most people think the only attack on American soil during World War II was on Pearl Harbor, the West Coast was hit with several direct attacks.

Attacking The California Coast

Just seven days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, nine Japanese submarines popped up to survey the area. When four of the submarines attacked, a freighter was hit, and two tankers sunk.

The mainland was hit by two other Japanese ships. Submarine I-17 came up to Point Loma on February 19, 1942, to assess their position. The sub went north, landing off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, by the Ellwood Oil Field.

The submarine targeted the Richfield aviation fuel tanks behind the beach shooting at them for 20 minutes. The submarine shot 17 rounds, but the closest shell came within 30 yards of a tank.

One overshot by a lot, landing a mile inland. Overall, there was not a whole lot of damage. The pier and the pump house only had minor hits. But, it did raise a lot of fear of an invasion on the coast.

Attacking Oregon

Japanese submarine I-25 sailed even further north to the Oregon coast. Finally, she surfaced outside of Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The I-25 also shot 17 shells and did not damage the base. The only thing destroyed was the baseball field’s backstop. The attack was the first on a CONUS installation since the War of 1812.

I-25 attacked again on September 9, 1942. A seaplane flown by Warrant Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita launched from the submarine and dropped bombs outside Brookings, Oregon. The plan was to start a wildfire, but it failed.

However, the bombing was the only time an enemy aircraft attacked the U.S. mainland.

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