Pearl Harbor Attack Timeline

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Pearl Harbor Attack Timeline
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USS Arizona Ablaze, Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941

The Japanese attack on American naval and army bases at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii marked the bifurcation between a sleepy, isolated and Depression-ridden America and the American super power that still influences events worldwide 71 years later.

Here's a timeline of major events:

Prelude to the Attack

July 1940: The United States imposes economic sanctions against Japan to protest its continued war in China.

January 1941: Believing that a diplomatic solution to the embargo is unlikely, the Japanese prepare for war against the United States. The opening battle would be a carrier launch strike against the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Nov. 16, 1941: The submarine force to be involved in the Pearl Harbor attack depart Japan.

Nov. 26, 1941: Main body, including six carriers and numerous escort ships, depart Japan in route to Pearl Harbor.

Nov. 28, 1941: The USS Enterprise departs Pearl Harbor to deliver Marine planes to Wake Island.

Dec. 5, 1941: The USS Hornet departs Pearl Harbor to deliver planes to Midway Island.

Dec. 7, 1941

3:42 a.m.: The Condor, a minesweeper, spots a periscope off Honolulu Harbor.

6:10 a.m.: The first attack wave is launched from the Japanese fleet, consisting of 183 planes.

6:45 a.m.: A destroyer, the USS Ward, makes contact with a Japanese submarine in defensive sea area off the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Conning tower is hit by naval gun fire. Ward follows up with a depth charge attack. PBY planes join in.

7 a.m.: The Japanese first wave homes in on a Hawaii radio station.

7:02 a.m.: Opama Radar Station picks up flight of unidentified planes bearing in 132 miles north of Oahu. The information center at Fort Shafter assumes that the flight is a group of expected B 17 bombers.

7:15 a.m.: The Japanese launch second wave of 168 aircraft.

7:53 a.m.: The signal by first wave to the Japanese fleet, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" indicates a complete strategic surprise is achieved.

7:55 a.m.: The first attack begins on U.S. Army air fields, including Hickam and Wheeler fields, and the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor.

8 a.m.: A flight of unarmed B 17s arrive and, after dodging enemy and friendly fire, most manage to land safely on a golf course.

8:08 a.m.: The battleship USS Arizona is hit by high altitude bomb. The ship is sunk along with hundreds of her crew within minutes

8:17 a.m.: The destroyer USS Helm emerges from the channel and engages Japanese mini submarine. The mini sub is caught on a reef, with one crewman drowned and the other taken prisoner.

8:39 a.m.: The destroyer USS Monaghan engages and sinks a second Japanese mini sub.

8:50 a.m.: The Nevada manages to get underway and attempts to break out of the channel, guns blazing, the stars and stripes flying. However, rather than be sunk in the middle of the channel by Japanese aircraft, Nevada's captain decides to deliberately ground her.

8:54 a.m.: Planes of the second wave arrive, damaging the battleship USS Pennsylvania and hitting the dry docks and other targets.

9:30 a.m.: The destroyer USS Shaw is destroyed, sending debris everywhere.

10 a.m.: The Japanese attack force returns to the Japanese fleet.

1 p.m.: After its third-wave attack to finish off the dry docks and fuel depots is rejected, the Japanese fleet turns about and heads for home.

Dec. 8: The United States declares war against the Empire of Japan.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the USS Pennsylvania had been sunk. The story has been updated.

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