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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Japanese Pearl Harbor sub found
Sunken Japanese submarine
The vessel was discovered at a depth of 1,200 feet
A historic Japanese submarine has been discovered on the ocean floor a few miles from Pearl Harbor.

The 78-foot (24-metre) submarine could provide the first physical evidence to back US claims that it fired first against Japan in World War II and inflicted the first casualties.

It was a sobering moment, realising that this was the shot that started the Pacific war

Terry Kerby

The sub fell prey to a US Navy destroyer on 7 December 1941, the day of the Pearl Harbor attack.

"It's the shot that started World War II between the Americans and the Japanese," said John Wiltshire, associate director of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, which discovered the sub.

The research team found the Japanese vessel at a depth of 1,200 feet (366 metres) while out on a training exercise.

It is thought to contain the remains of two Japanese crewmen.

First shot

The vessel was one of four Japanese midget submarines to participate in the Pearl Harbor attack.

The newly discovered sub was believed to be the one sunk by the destroyer USS Ward more than an hour before the attack.

Mr Wiltshire said the divers were sure the sub was sunk by the USS Ward because of a bullet hole in the conning tower and because it still had both its torpedoes.

Historian Daniel Martinez has interviewed the crew who fired the first shot, and a pilot who saw the submarine sink.

"What they saw and what they felt was their recollection, now the proof has been found," he said.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor left 2,390 people dead, 1,178 wounded, 21 US ships heavily damaged and 323 aircraft damaged or destroyed.

Good condition

Terry Kerby, who piloted the deep-diving submersible that found the submarine, said the sub was in excellent condition.
Sunken Japanese submarine
The sub is believed to contain the remains of two men

"To actually come across it was a sobering moment, realising that this was the shot that started the Pacific war," he said.

A National Geographic expedition set out to try and find the sub in 2000.

A team of deep-water researchers led by undersea explorer Robert Ballard spent 10 days searching for the Japanese sub, using remotely operated imaging vehicles.

See also:

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