USS Ward, the ship that fired the first American shots of world War ii, found in the Philippines

One of the weapons on board the sunken USS Ward. (Photo courtesy of Paul G. Allen )

A team manning a deep sea research vessel says that it is found and captured the first underwater footage of a sunken U.S. Navy ship credited with firing of America opens with images of the second world War.

The USS Ward was located in the waters near Ponson Island in the Philippines, an expedition crew, led by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen announced, just before the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“This is the first time that the District is seen in the 73 years since she sank,” Robert Kraft, director of the subsea activities for the research vessel, the Activist, said as an underwater drone inspection of the ship on Dec. 1. “We got some debris just coming in sight.”


Images from the drone showed the ship remains heavily overtaken by marine life, causing the scraps of different shades of blue-green color. The ship will be left alone — untouched — on the current location.

The bow of the USS Ward. (Photo courtesy of Paul G. Allen )

“The USS Ward found himself in the melting pot of American history – at the intersection of a peacetime Navy and war footing,” Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of the U. S. Pacific Fleet, was quoted as saying in a press release. “They took a decisive, effective and fearless performance despite the uncertain waters. Now 76 years old, her example informs our marine-attitude”.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Wickes-class destroyer sank a Japanese midget submarine in Pearl Harbor about an hour before the infamous attack began. The crew of the Ward was alerted to the ship the presence of the ship USS Antares, which said that it was a ‘suspicious object’ the following in the port.


“Within a few moments, 0640 Ward was a ship life, the general quarters alarm rousted the men out of their cages and sent them on the double to their action stations”, says a biography of the ship by the naval History and Heritage Command.

The USS Ward, painted in disruptive camouflage, running speed trials off the California coast in September 1918.

(U. S. Navy Photo Courtesy of naval History and Heritage Command)

“The first shot of the Pacific war barked from Ward’s gun at 0645 and splashed innocent than the small conning tower,” it added.

The USS Ward continued to shoot at the submarine, described in the release of All the crew as one of the five top secret Japanese ships armed with two torpedoes intended to penetrate the port under the cover of darkness.


“As Ward pounded past at 25 knots, number three gun above the galley superstructure amidships commenced fire, the round passed squarely through the submersible’s conning tower,” the naval History and Heritage Command said. “As the Japanese midget wallowed lower in the water and began to sink, the destroyer swiftly dropped four depth charges, signaled by four blasts on the ship’s whistle. Black water gushed upwards in the ship’s boiling wake as the charges went off, the sealing of the submarine is formed.”

The Petrel, owned by Microsoft Founder and Philanthropist Paul G. Allen, at sea. (Photo courtesy of Paul G. Allen)

The District is credited with firing the first American shots during the second world War, although the U.S. is not officially in the conflict until a day after the Pearl Harbor attack.

It went on to perform a variety of tasks in the Pacific theater, such as assisting in many of the landings, on antisubmarine patrols and fighting off a Japanese air raid on the area of Guadalcanal in June 1943.


Three years to the day after Pearl Harbor, the District was patrolling in the Ormoc Bay off the Philippines island of Leyte when it was attacked by several Japanese kamikazes.

“Ward, the gunmen opened fire with 3-inch and 20-millimeter batteries, hitting the center plane that disappeared and crashed the ship on the waterline at 0956, the introduction of the front part of the boiler room and the after part of the lower troop space,” the naval History and Heritage Command said. “Men in the front part of the Ward could not make contact with people in the aft, since the fire amidships had severed all communication.”

An out-of-control blaze quickly engulfed the ship and less than a half hour after being hit, the crew were given orders to abandon. The nearby USS O’brien led by Lt. Cmdr. William Outerbridge, who was in charge of the Ward at Pearl Harbor, sunk the ship, and only one crew member was injured. All of them have made their way on board of other ships in the area.

The BXL79 underwater remotely operated vehicle, can conduct missions up to 7,000 meters deep, is used of the Troublemaker.

(Photo courtesy of Paul G. Allen)

“It was just something that needed to be done,” Outerbridge was quoted as saying years after the sinking of the District, adding that there is little emotion involved in the execution of the task.


The ship, for all its service, received a star for the second world War as a destroyer of eight and a high speed of transport, the Navy says.

The research vessel, the Activists, led by Allen’s crew, which is referred to historical drawings and schematics of the ship to confirm that the location is correct. It was found to be 650 feet below the surface of the ocean, the Stars and Stripes.

“The Troublemaker and the possibilities of the technology and the research that we have done, are the result of years of dedication and hard work,” said Kraft. “We have assembled and integrated this technology, the assets and the unique ability to in an operational platform that is now one of the very few people on the planet.”

Expedition leaders said that the research of the department was part of a mission to document Imperial Japanese Warships that were sunk during the Battle of Surigao Strait in the Philippines. More than 4,000 men lost in the battle, in what is considered to be part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf, the last between battleships.

A November expedition by the trouble maker in the area, recorded video of the sunken Yamashiro and Fuso, both dreadnought-class battleships, and the Asagumo, and Michishio, both destroyers.

August expedition, led by Allen also found the wreck of the USS Indianapolis, which sank in the Philippine Sea after being torpedoed in 1945 by the Japanese. The sinking of the ship was the greatest single loss of life in Navy history, as only 317 survived of a crew of 1,196.

“We have a number of these explorations to try to locate the sunken warships,” Paul Allen said. “We try to do this both really exciting examples of underwater archaeology, and as a tribute to the brave men who went in these ships.”

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