Japanese Sub Attacks Santa Barbara
February 23, 1942 - This was the night that a Japanese submarine attacked an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California.
The commander of the sub was a man named Nishino Kozo. Before the war he was the skipper of an oil tanker. While waiting for his ship to fill up, Nishino was invited to a reception at the refinery. As he made his way up a narrow path he slipped and fell butt-first into a patch of prickly pear cactus. Workers on the nearby rig had a big laugh at his expense.
Years later, Nishino finally had his chance to get even. On the night of February 23rd, 1942 he surfaced his submarine just offshore. Using the 5.5-inch deck gun, the Japanese started shelling. They launched at least 16 shells but the damage to the refinery was minimal. One man was slightly injured the next day while trying to defuse an unexploded shell.
U.S. planes were quickly on the scene, but the submarine had slipped below the surface.
The attack heightened fears of an imminent invasion and coastal defenses were strengthened.