Attack on Estevan Point

Attack on Estevan Point.

Artwork by Dale Byhre

In the waning light of June 20, 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-26, surfaced off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Chugging along on her diesel engines, the I-26 proceeded to open fire on the Point Estevan light and radio direction finding RDF station. Realizing the facility was under attack, the lighthouse quickly keeper turned off the light. The sub fired up to thirty rounds without scoring a single hit before departing and returning to Yokosuka on July 7, 1942.

The I-26 had been dispatched to seek targets in conjunction with the Japanese Navy’s larger operation at Midway Islands. While operating off the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the I-26 sank two US merchant ships before attacking the light station.

Later in the war, the I-26 would manage to cripple the carrier Saratoga and sink the light cruiser Juneau. She would eventually be sunk herself by US Naval forced off Leyte on November 21, 1944.

While not causing any damage at Estevan Point, the I-26’s attack had far-ranging effects. All west coast lighthouses were ordered to extinguish their lights. Coastal shipping was more greatly endangered by that decision than by any enemy submarines.


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