Commentary: History comes full circle at Yokosuka

By Seaman DeFaye Bruster, Emergency Supply Operations Center DLA Distribution Yokosuka, Japan

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Note: As Dec. 7 marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, in which nearly 2,500 U.S. military members and civilians were killed, DLA honors their memory with a commentary from a current Navy sailor serving with DLA in Japan.

On Nov. 26, 1941, a Japanese Task Force of six aircraft carriers left northern Japan for a position northwest of Hawaii. The Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku planned on launching 408 aircraft to attack Pearl Harbor.

Though the most of history focuses on the aerial attacks, submarines were also involved. The Japanese Fleet submarines I-16, I-18, I-20, I-22, and I-24, each embarked a Type A mini-submarine for transport to the waters off Oahu. The five I-boats left Kure Naval District Nov. 25, 1941. On Dec. 6, they came to within 10 nautical miles of the mouth of Pearl Harbor and launched their midget subs on Dec. 7, 1941. 

At 3:42 a.m., the minesweeper USS Condor spotted a mini-submarine periscope southwest of the Pearl Harbor entrance buoy and alerted the destroyer USS Ward. The mini-sub may have entered Pearl Harbor; however, the USS Ward sank another midget submarine at 6:37 a.m. in the first American shots in the Pacific Theater. A mini-submarine on the north side of Ford Island missed the seaplane tender USS Curtiss with her first torpedo and missed the attacking destroyer USS Monaghan with her other one before being sunk by USS Monaghan at 8:43 a.m.

The Imperial Japanese Navy submarines were by far the most varied fleet of submarines during World War II. Yokosuka Naval Base, formerly Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, became one of the main shipyards used. Interestingly enough, here in DLA Distribution Yokosuka, Japan, one of the main warehouses, Building J39, used to house Japanese submarines. Looking up into the rafters, you can still see the old signs from the past.

Today Building J39 no longer houses submarines. Instead, the large warehouse houses hundreds of thousands of line items and stock for the U.S. warfighters around the world. History has indeed come full circle. Each day, the warehouse is bustling with local employees and military personnel receiving and shipping out integral parts for the ships homeported and deployed. Today, a strong friendship brings us together to help out any warfighter in need.