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Bombardment of Fort Stevens

The Bombardment of Fort Stevens occurred in June 1942, in the American Theater and the Pacific Theater of World War II. An Imperial Japanese submarine fired on Fort Stevens, which defended the Oregon side of the Columbia River's Pacific entrance.

Bombardment of Fort Stevens
Part of the American theater and the Pacific Theater of World War II
Shell crater resulting form Japanese shelling on Fort Stevens. - NARA - 299678.jpg
American servicemen inspecting a shell crater after the Japanese attack on Fort Stevens.
Date21 June 1942
Result Indecisive
Japanese retreat successful
 United States Naval Ensign of Japan.svg Japan
Commanders and leaders
unknown Tagami Meiji
2 artillery pieces
1 fort
1 aircraft
1 submarine
Casualties and losses
Minor damage None



The Japanese submarine I-25, commanded by Tagami Meiji, had been assigned to sink enemy shipping and attack the enemy on land with its 14 cm deck gun. Transporting a Yokosuka E14Y seaplane, the submarine was manned by a crew of 97.[1] On 21 June 1942, I-25 had entered U.S. coastal waters, following allied fishing boats to avoid the mine fields in the area.

Late that night, Commander Meiji ordered his crew to surface his submarine at the mouth of the Columbia River. His target was Fort Stevens, which dated to the American Civil War and armed with now more or less obsolete Endicott era artillery, including 12 in (305 mm) mortars and several 10 in (254 mm) and 6 in (152 mm) disappearing guns.[2]

Meiji ordered the deck gun crew to open fire on Fort Stevens' Battery Russell. Surprisingly, his shots were harmless, in part because the fort's commander ordered an immediate blackout. The commander also refused to permit his men to return fire, which would have revealed their position. Spotting the enemy gun flashes with a depression position finder indicated the submarine was out of range.[3]

Most Japanese rounds landed in a nearby baseball field or a swamp, although one landed close to Battery Russell and another next to a concrete pillbox. One round severed several large telephone cables, the only real damage that Meiji caused. Seventeen explosive shells had been fired at the fort.[4]

American Army Air Forces planes on a training mission spotted the I-25 and called in her location for an A-29 Hudson bomber to attack. The bomber found the target, but the I-25 successfully dodged the falling bombs and submerged undamaged.[5]


A 10-inch gun at Fort Stevens.

Even though there were no injuries and very little damage, the Japanese attack on Fort Stevens helped create the 1942 West Coast invasion scare. Thereafter, rolls of barbed wire would be strung from Point Adams southward in case of an invasion. The wrecked British barque Peter Iredale was entangled in the wire and would remain so until the war's end.

The Fort Stevens shelling marked the second time that a continental United States military base was attacked by the Axis Powers during World War II, the first being Dutch Harbor.[6]

The wreck of the Peter Iredale

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Webber p.12
  2. ^ Webber pp.48&49
  3. ^ Webber p.61
  4. ^ Webber pp.58-60
  5. ^ Webber p.77
  6. ^ Webber p.59


  • Hackett, Bob, and Sander Kingsepp (2002). "HIJMS Submarine I-25: Tabular Record of Movement" (Web page). Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  • Webber, Bert Retaliation Oregon State University Press (1975) ISBN 0-87071-076-1
  • Aviation History article
  • Fort Stevens. The Coast Defense Study Group, Inc. Retrieved on 2008-11-23.
  • Fort Stevens State Park. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Retrieved on 2008-11-23.

Coordinates: 46°12′7″N 123°57′45″W / 46.20194°N 123.96250°W / 46.20194; -123.96250