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Relive Pearl Harbor - Hour by Hour: December 7, 3:40 a.m.

Political and military tensions between Japan and the United States are high, and Pearl Harbor commanders General Walter Short and Admiral Husband Kimmel have received orders from Washington to be on guard, as have U.S. base commanders throughout the Pacific. Picture of house But during these dark, early morning hours of December 7, navy officers, soldiers, and sailors stationed at Pearl Harbor are not on any extra special alert.

Just a few miles from the naval base, the Condor, a U.S. Navy minesweep, is on patrol. As the ship slides through the ocean's black waters, an officer sites a submarine's periscope. The Condor follows its wake for several minutes, then alerts the Ward, a nearby destroyer. The Ward's skipper, Lieutenant William Outerbridge, wakes his sleepy crew, and they scramble to their battle stations. But mysteriously, the submarine seems to have disappeared. Shaking off his concerns, Outerbridge calls off the alert and dismisses the crew. Neither the Condor nor the Ward radio headquarters to report the incident.

Pearl Harbor Activity Station
Imagine you are Lieutenant William Outerbridge, skipper of the destroyer, the Ward. You've just received the following signal from minesweeper Condor: "Sighted submerged submarine on a westerly course, speed nine knots." You have only a few moments to decide what to do. Make a list of the reasons why you should attack and another list of why you shouldn't.

What would happen if you did attack? What would happen if you didn't?

Destroyer - a small, very fast warship that uses guns, missles, and torpedoes to protect other ships from submarines.

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