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The Gridley Class destroyer No.388 Helm was laid down at Norfolk Navy Yard on 25 September 1935 and completed on 16 September 1938. Her displacement was 1,500 tons, length overall 342 feet and beam 35 feet. She carried four 5-inch, 38 caliber guns, some smaller guns and 16 21-inch torpedo tubes. On the morning of 7 December her captain, Lieutenant Commander Chester Carroll, was bringing her into harbor and rounding Waipio Point to approach the deperming buoys, where an electric current would reduce her natural magnetism and thus decrease her vulnerability to magnetic mines. At that moment the First Attack Wave struck Ford Island and Carroll saw a bomb hit a hangar. He ordered his engines full astern and backed out of harbor; by 0818 Helm was at sea. A submarine was then sighted 1,200 yards west of the harbor entrance but Helm's steering gear failed at that moment and she could not attack. Carroll ordered hand steering and opened fire on the submarine which was caught on a reef. The shots missed. The target was probably the midget submarine commanded by Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki (Sakamaki, Kazuo) from I-24. Later in the day a near miss by a bomb damaged Helm sufficiently for repairs to be needed.

See also: First Attack Wave; Ford Island; midget submarine; Sakamaki, Kazuo

You can find out more about the Helm in the following Osprey book:

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