According to an after-action report dated 12 December 1941 from the commanding officer of PT Squadron One to the Commander of the Pacific Fleet. Six of the squadron’s boats were moored together at Berth S-13 at the Submarine Base. The other six boats from the squadron were on board the USS Ramapo awaiting transportation. Other boats were docked next to a barge where their crews were eating breakfast. These boats were in three nests of two boats each.
The squadron duty officer, an Ensign named N.E. Ball said that he was standing with a Chief Petty Officer on the barge when the Japanese attacked. When he saw the first bombs explode, he gave the order to man the guns. The air compressors that ran air to the twin .50 caliber machine gun turrets were started and the guns were fired at the attackers. It has been confirmed that the PT boats were the first vessels at Pearl Harbor to fire back at the Japanese.
It is claimed that PT-23 was responsible for shooting down the first Japanese torpedo bomber of the war. Witnesses are said to have seen the plane burst into flames and crash near Halawa.