Japanese Submarine Attacks Santa Barbara – 23 Feb 1942

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Before the war, Commander Kozo Nishino of the imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-17 commanded a merchant ship which had transported oil from the Ellwood Oil Field in Santa Barbara, California to Japan. On February 23, 1942, the I-17 carried out the first attack against the U.S. mainland by directing cannon fire at a large aviation fuel tank just beyond the beach at Santa Barbara. Shells struck a pier, derrick and a pump house. Several shells also landed on a nearby ranch, but no one was injured.

After several witnesses reported “suspicious light signals” being sent to shore from the departing submarine, a blackout was called by civil defense authorities. A day later the infamous charade known as the “Battle of Los Angeles” took place.

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