This was the headline of the Los Angeles Times on Christmas morning 1941.
The attacks happened the day before. The Imperial Japanese submarine I-19 was patrolling off the coast of Palos Verdes. At 6:30 am, the Freighter SS Barbara Olsen was shaken by a torpedo explosion some 300 yads off her bow. The torpedo had passed under her and detonated without damaging the ship.
At 10:30 am, the Freighter SS Absaroka was not so lucky. This time, the I-19's torpedo struck her starboard bow as she was passing off Point Vicente. The impact was so severe that two men were rocked overboard and the ship's deck went under and stayed awash. The ship did not sink because it was loaded with lumber that displaced the onrushing water through the gaping hole in her starboard bow.
The lumber that saved the ship proved to be fatal for Seaman Joseph Ryan. He managed to stay on deck and pull injured crewman Herbert Stephens back on deck, but as the ship shifted, a stack of lumber topside jarred loose and fell on Ryan, crushing him to death.
On shore, the men of the Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles (HDLA) were helpless. Some had witnessed the geyser of water from the blast of the torpedo. Despite the fact that all of HDLA'S smaller caliber guns were armed and ready, none were able to engage the I-19 as she remained submerged.
Navy destroyers were not in the area that morning, so one was dispatched from San Diego just after the attack on the Barbara Olsen. However, a Navy subchaser, the USS Amethyst, pursued the submarine along with the net tender USS Buckthorn. Naval Aircraft from Reeves Field on Terminal Island also pursued the I-19, but all were unsuccessful in finding her.
Other ships attacked during this event were Agwiworld, Samoa escaped shelling and torpedoes as did Barbara Olson, Dorothy Phillips, Connecticut and Idaho but with damage. H.M. Storey escaped but sank later. Emidio, Montebello, Larry Doheny, Camden and Fort Camosun were sunk.
Japanese Type B1 submarine which damaged and destroyed several enemy ships during World War II while serving in the Imperial Japanese Navy. During the Guadalcanal Campaign, with a single torpedo salvo, the submarine sank the aircraft carrier USS Wasp and the destroyer USS O'Brien and damaged the battleship USS North Carolina.
I-19 attacked the SS H.M. Storey as she was bringing oil to Los Angeles on 22 December 1941, chasing the ship for an hour. Two miles off Point Arguello California, 55 miles north of Santa Barbara, the captain of I-19, Narahara, fired three torpedoes at H.M. Storey. All missed. A US Navy plane saw the sub and dropped depth charges. The sub was forced to dive and end the attack.