In 1941 he became the captain of the destroyer USS Ward, which was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Early in the morning of December 7 1941, the Ward, while on patrol near the entrance to Pearl Harbor, discovered a Japanese midget submarine attempting to sneak into the harbor entrance. The Ward opened fire with her number three deck gun, dropped depth charges, and sank the sub. At the time this fact was discounted by senior officers at naval headquarters. This happened just a few hours before the Japanese naval air forces commenced their attacks on Pearl Harbor. The action by the Ward's crew was the first naval action by U.S. forces in World War II, and the gun that fired the first shot was installed as a memorial at the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This was Outerbridge's first patrol of his first command. The midget submarine the Ward sank that morning was located in 2002 in 1200 feet of water just outside Pearl Harbor.
Captain Outerbridge was later transferred to the USS O'Brien. Captain Outerbridge and the O'Brien were ordered to the Atlantic and took up station near England. On D-Day the O'Brien stood off the coast of Normandy, and helped protect Allied forces landing on the beaches, by using her guns to attack German defenses near the landing zones. Later the O'Brien performed a similar action off the French port of Cherbourg as Allied ground forces captured the city.
Outerbridge and the O'Brien were then reassigned to the Pacific Fleet to participate in the liberation of the Philippines. In a strange twist of fate, on December 7 1944 during the landings at Leyte Gulf, Captain Outerbridge was ordered to use the O'Brien's deck guns to sink the Ward, which had been severely damaged in a Japanese kamikaze attack.
After World War II Captain Outerbridge continued in his naval career in a variety of roles, including as the commander of the cruiser USS Los Angeles from 1953 to 1955. He retired in 1957 holding the rank of Rear Admiral. He died in 1986.
Answers for Day of Infamy; Japanese Submarine Found, 'Validates' Theory U.S. Fired First at Pearl Harbor.(PAGE ONE)
Aug 30, 2002; Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES Researchers have found a sunken Japanese submarine just outside Pearl Harbor...