Pearl Harbor Subs: See Underwater Graves in Live-Stream Dives

Pearl Harbor Sub
This Illustration shows the crew (Kazuo Sakamaki and Kiyoshi Inagaki) boarding the mini submarine HA-19, which sits on top of the larger "mother" submarine 1-24, during the early-morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941. (Image credit: Tom W. Freeman | courtesy of Valor in the Pacific National Historical Park)

During the predawn hours of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese crewmembers boarded two mini submarines to take part in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Now, 75 years later, the public can see an underwater live stream of these two historic submarines resting at the bottom of the Pacific, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Maritime archaeologists and scientists will direct a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from NOAA's ship Okeanos Explorer, a federally funded U.S. ship that uses real-time broadband satellite communications to send data to a live audience onshore, according to NOAA.

The live stream will take place here at 6:30 a.m. local time in Hawaii (11:30 a.m. EST) on Wednesday, Dec. 7. [Lost in Pearl Harbor: Photos of Sunken WWII-Era Navy Plane]

The conning tower of the mini submarine that the USS Ward sank. (Image credit: University of Hawaii HURL)

The two submarines may be corroded and covered with barnacles now, but 75 years ago they were in working condition. However, their operations were short-lived. One of the mini subs fired on the USS Ward, which then fired back, sinking it 90 minutes before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor by air, NOAA reported.

These shots marked the first time American forces fired on the enemy during World War II, NOAA reported. However, American personnel didn't immediately warn their counterparts on base of the intrusion, NOAA said.

The USS Ward survived the attack, but it didn't survive the war. Exactly three years after the Pearl Harbor attack, a kamikaze attack sank the ship in the Philippines on Dec. 7, 1944, according to NOAA.

A painting of the USS Ward sinking one of the mini submarines. (Image credit: Tom Freeman National Park Service)

The ROV live stream will also explore a second mini submarine — one that disappeared the morning of the attack. It was found in shallow waters in 1951, and later the U.S. Navy raised it and dumped it in deeper waters farther out to sea.

The University of Hawaii's Undersea Research Laboratory rediscovered it in 1992 and has periodically visited it with submersibles, the last time in 2013, NOAA said.

This Pearl Harbor anniversary will see another historic event: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe will visit the harbor with President Barack Obama in late December, making Abe the first Japanese leader to visit the site since the attack, according to Reuters.

Original article on Live Science.

Laura Geggel

Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.