December 7,1941 Pearl Harbor - History

December 7,1941 Pearl Harbor - History

Relations between the U.S. and Japan took a turn for the worse– when the Japanese invaded China. Americans had always been sympathetic to China– with their long history of missionary work in China, combined with substantial trade relations. Even President Roosevelt remarked early in his Presidency, disclosing– how could he, with his Delano family ties (they had engaged extensively in the China trade), not be sympathetic to China?

Initially, the Japanese had been successful militarily in China. Though by 1940, the Japanese seemed to be stuck in a quagmire. A new military government came to power in Japan with the twin goals of– 1) breaking the military stalemate and 2) making Japan less dependent on the United States. Over the next year, as Japan expanded southward, the United States attempted to use economic leverage over Japan. Initially, the U.S. cut off the export of high-octane aviation fuel to Japan. When the Japanese occupied Indo-China, the U.S. cut off the export of petroleum, which Japan was dependent upon. This effectively made war inevitable– unless a negotiated settlement could be reached.

By the end of November it was clear no settlement could be reached. Thanks to intercepted Japanese cables, the U.S. knew that if a settlement were not reached by November 29th, events would take place that would make reaching a settlement impossible. That event was the sailing of the Japanese attack fleets. The Japanese planned to launch attacks on the Philippines, on Singapore, Malay and on additional targets– all simultaneously. The centerpiece of the plan was an audacious attack on Pearl Harbor, America’s key base in the Pacific. The goal was to catch the American fleet at anchor in a surprise attack.

The harbor in Pearl was considered too shallow for the effective use of torpedoes. However, the Japanese had developed a torpedo that could work in shallow water. The author of the plan was Isoruku Yamamoto, Commander of the Imperial Navy. Yamamoto who had studied at Harvard, and been the Japanese Naval attaché in Washington was opposed war with America. The Japanese Naval Commander believed that although Japan would have some initial victories, it could never overcome America’s industrial might. Despite his misgivings, Yamamoto planned a campaign that would give the Japanese the best possible chance– by delivering a knock-out blow that would cripple the U.S. fleet. Six Japanese carriers, under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo sailed towards Hawaii. At 6:10 AM the Japanese Carriers launched their planes-–183 fighters, bombers, dive-bombers and torpedo planes headed of Oahu and Pearl Harbor. An hour later, the second wave was launched. In total, 350 planes headed toward the Island.

Despite receiving warnings from Washington on the possibility of war, the U.S. forces made no special preparations in Hawaii. The U.S. Navy assumed that the Army was responsible, and the Army, was sure that the Navy was in charge. In addition, no one thought that the Japanese would actually attack Pearl. As a result, not all the radar stations on the island were manned. The planes at the airbases were lined up like they were on parade, and the battleships of the Navy were all neatly moored on Battleship row. All that made the U.S. forces an easy target for the Japanese. The battleship U.S.S. Arizona was sunk almost instantly, when a bomb exploded to the forward magazine. Sinking of the Arizona entombed 1,103 American sailors, for all time. An additional 17 ship were either crippled or sunk. A total of 2,403 servicemen lost their lives. 175 U.S. aircraft were destroyed. Luckily for the Americans, the U.S. Carriers were out to sea during the attack. The Japanese decided to call off the attack after the second wave, sparing the critical fuel storage tanks and repair facilities at Pearl Harbor.

President Roosevelt was notified at 1:40 PM of the Japanese attack. By 3 PM he was meeting with his advisors taking whatever actions he deemed necessary. The next day, following a cabinet meeting that evening, F.D.R. went before Congress and asked for a Declaration of War against Japan.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

The attack on Pearl Harbor [nb 3] [11] was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States (a neutral country at the time) against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, just before 08:00, on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, [12] [13] and as Operation Z during its planning. [14] Japan intended the attack as a preventive action to keep the United States Pacific Fleet from interfering with its planned military actions in Southeast Asia against overseas territories of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Over the course of seven hours there were coordinated Japanese attacks on the U.S.-held Philippines, Guam, and Wake Island and on the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. [15]

The attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time (18:18 GMT). [nb 4] [16] The base was attacked by 353 [17] Imperial Japanese aircraft (including fighters, level and dive bombers, and torpedo bombers) in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. [17] Of the eight U.S. Navy battleships present, all were damaged, with four sunk. All but USS Arizona were later raised, and six were returned to service and went on to fight in the war. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, [nb 5] and one minelayer. A total of 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. [19] Important base installations such as the power station, dry dock, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building (also home of the intelligence section) were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 64 servicemen killed. Kazuo Sakamaki, the commanding officer of one of the submarines, was captured. [20]

Japan announced declarations of war on the United States and the British Empire later that day (December 8 in Tokyo), but the declarations were not delivered until the following day. The British government declared war on Japan immediately after learning that their territory had also been attacked, while the following day (December 8) the United States Congress declared war on Japan. On December 11, despite the fact they had no formal obligation to do so under the Tripartite Pact with Japan, Germany and Italy each declared war on the U.S., which responded with a declaration of war against Germany and Italy. There were numerous historical precedents for the unannounced military action by Japan, but the lack of any formal warning, particularly while peace negotiations were still apparently ongoing, led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy". Because the attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, the attack on Pearl Harbor was later judged in the Tokyo Trials to be a war crime. [21] [22]

December 7,1941 Pearl Harbor - History

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Sunday, December 7, 1941

Aboard a Japanese carrier before the attack on Pearl Harbor, crew members cheer departing pilots. Below: A photo taken from a Japanese plane during the attack shows vulnerable American battleships, and in the distance, smoke rising from Hickam Airfield where 35 men having breakfast in the mess hall were killed after a direct bomb hit.


Above: The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese air raid. Below Left: The battleship USS Arizona after a bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing massive explosions and killing 1,104 men. Below Right: Dousing the flames on the battleship USS West Virginia, which survived and was rebuilt.

Sequence of Events

Saturday, December 6 - Washington D.C. - U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt makes a final appeal to the Emperor of Japan for peace. There is no reply. Late this same day, the U.S. code-breaking service begins intercepting a 14-part Japanese message and deciphers the first 13 parts, passing them on to the President and Secretary of State. The Americans believe a Japanese attack is imminent, most likely somewhere in Southeast Asia.

Sunday, December 7 - Washington D.C. - The last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be broken off, reaches Washington in the morning and is decoded at approximately 9 a.m. About an hour later, another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m. The Americans realize this time corresponds with early morning time in Pearl Harbor, which is several hours behind. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert but uses a commercial telegraph because radio contact with Hawaii is temporarily broken. Delays prevent the alert from arriving at headquarters in Oahu until noontime (Hawaii time) four hours after the attack has already begun.

Sunday, December 7 - Islands of Hawaii, near Oahu - The Japanese attack force under the command of Admiral Nagumo, consisting of six carriers with 423 planes, is about to attack. At 6 a.m., the first attack wave of 183 Japanese planes takes off from the carriers located 230 miles north of Oahu and heads for the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor - At 7:02 a.m., two Army operators at Oahu's northern shore radar station detect the Japanese air attack approaching and contact a junior officer who disregards their reports, thinking they are American B-17 planes which are expected in from the U.S. west coast.

Near Oahu - At 7:15 a.m., a second attack wave of 167 planes takes off from the Japanese carriers and heads for Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor is not on a state on high alert. Senior commanders have concluded, based on available intelligence, there is no reason to believe an attack is imminent. Aircraft are therefore left parked wingtip to wingtip on airfields, anti-aircraft guns are unmanned with many ammunition boxes kept locked in accordance with peacetime regulations. There are also no torpedo nets protecting the fleet anchorage. And since it is Sunday morning, many officers and crewmen are leisurely ashore.

At 7:53 a.m., the first Japanese assault wave, with 51 'Val' dive bombers, 40 'Kate' torpedo bombers, 50 high level bombers and 43 'Zero' fighters, commences the attack with flight commander, Mitsuo Fuchida, sounding the battle cry: "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!).

The Americans are taken completely by surprise. The first attack wave targets airfields and battleships. The second wave targets other ships and shipyard facilities. The air raid lasts until 9:45 a.m. Eight battleships are damaged, with five sunk. Three light cruisers, three destroyers and three smaller vessels are lost along with 188 aircraft. The Japanese lose 27 planes and five midget submarines which attempted to penetrate the inner harbor and launch torpedoes.

Escaping damage from the attack are the prime targets, the three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga, which were not in the port. Also escaping damage are the base fuel tanks.

The casualty list includes 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, with 1,178 wounded. Included are 1,104 men aboard the B attleship USS Arizona killed after a 1,760-pound air bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing catastrophic explosions.

In Washington, various delays prevent the Japanese diplomats from presenting their war message to Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, until 2:30 p.m. (Washington time) just as the first reports of the air raid at Pearl Harbor are being read by Hull.

News of the "sneak attack" is broadcast to the American public via radio bulletins, with many popular Sunday afternoon entertainment programs being interrupted. The news sends a shockwave across the nation and results in a tremendous influx of young volunteers into the U.S. armed forces. The attack also unites the nation behind the President and effectively ends isolationist sentiment in the country.

Monday, December 8 - The United States and Britain declare war on Japan with President Roosevelt calling December 7, "a date which will live in infamy. "

Thursday, December 11 - Germany and Italy declare war on the United States. The European and Southeast Asian wars have now become a global conflict with the Axis powers Japan, Germany and Italy, united against America, Britain, France, and their Allies.

Wednesday, December 17 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz becomes the new commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Both senior commanders at Pearl Harbor Navy Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and Army Lt. General Walter C. Short, were relieved of their duties following the attack. Subsequent investigations will fault the men for failing to adopt adequate defense measures.

Copyright © 1997 The History Place™ All Rights Reserved

(Photo credits: U.S. National Archives)

Terms of use: Private home/school non-commercial, non-Internet re-usage only is allowed of any text, graphics, photos, audio clips, other electronic files or materials from The History Place.


Oklahoma was the second of two Nevada-class battleships. Both were ordered in a naval appropriation act on 4 March 1911. She was the latest in a series of 22 battleships and seven armored cruisers ordered by the United States Navy between 1900 and 1911. [4] The Nevada-class ships were the first of the US Navy's Standard-type battleships, of which 12 were completed by 1923. With these ships, the Navy created a fleet of modern battleships similar in long-range gunnery, speed, turning radius, and protection. Significant improvements, however, were made in the Standard type ships as naval technology progressed. The main innovations were triple turrets and all-or-nothing protection. The triple turrets reduced the length of the ship that needed protection by placing 10 guns in four turrets instead of five, thus allowing thicker armor. [5] [6] The Nevada-class ships were also the first US battleships with oil-fired instead of coal-fired boilers, oil having more recoverable energy per ton than coal, thus increasing the ships' range. Oklahoma differed from her sister Nevada in being fitted with triple-expansion steam engines, a much older technology than Nevada ' s new geared turbines. [7]

As constructed, she had a standard displacement of 27,500 long tons (27,941 t) and a full-load displacement of 28,400 long tons (28,856 t). She was 583 feet (178 m) in length overall, 575 feet (175 m) at the waterline, and had a beam of 95 feet 6 inches (29.11 m) and a draft of 28 feet 6 inches (8.69 m). [1]

She was powered by 12 oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers driving two dual-acting, vertical triple-expansion steam engines, which provided 24,800 ihp (18,500 kW) for a maximum speed of 20.5 knots (38.0 km/h 23.6 mph). She had a designed range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km 9,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h 12 mph). [1]

As built, the armor on Oklahoma consisted of belt armor from 13.5 to 8.0 inches (343 to 203 mm) thick. Deck armor was 3 inches (76 mm) thick with a second 1.5 inches (38 mm) deck, and turret armor was 18 inches (457 mm) or 16 in (406 mm) on the face, 5 inches (127 mm) on the top, 10 inches (254 mm) on the sides, and 9 inches (229 mm) on the rear. Armor on her barbettes was 13.5 inches. Her conning tower was protected by 16 inches of armor, with 8 inches of armor on its roof. [1]

Her armament consisted of ten 14-inch (356 mm)/45 caliber guns, arranged in two triple and two twin mounts. As built, she also carried 21 5-inch (127 mm)/51 caliber guns, primarily for defense against destroyers and torpedo boats. She also had two (some references say four) 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes for the Bliss-Leavitt Mark 3 torpedo. Her crew consisted of 864 officers and enlisted men. [1]

Construction Edit

Oklahoma ' s keel was laid down on 26 October 1912, by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey, which bid $5,926,000 to construct the ship. [8] By 12 December 1912, she was 11.2% complete, and by 13 July 1913, she was at 33%. [9]

She was launched on 23 March 1914, sponsored by Lorena J. Cruce, daughter of Oklahoma Governor Lee Cruce. The launch was preceded by an invocation, the first for an American warship in half a century, given by Elijah Embree Hoss, and was attended by various dignitaries from Oklahoma and the federal government. She was subsequently moved to a dock near the new Argentine battleship Moreno and Chinese cruiser Fei Hung, soon to be the Greek Elli, for fitting-out. [10]

On the night of 19 July 1915, large fires were discovered underneath the fore main battery turret, the third to flare up on an American battleship in less than a month. [11] [a] However, by 22 July, the Navy believed that the Oklahoma fire had been caused by "defective insulation" or a mistake made by a dockyard worker. [12] The fire delayed the battleship's completion so much that Nevada was able to conduct her sea trials and be commissioned before Oklahoma. [13] On 23 October 1915, she was 98.1 percent complete. [14] She was commissioned at Philadelphia, on 2 May 1916, with Captain Roger Welles in command. [15]

World War I Edit

Following commissioning, the ship remained along the East Coast of the United States, primarily visiting various Navy yards. At first, she was unable to join the Battleship Division Nine task force sent to support the Grand Fleet in the North Sea during World War I because oil was unavailable there. In 1917, she underwent a refit, with two 3 in (76 mm)/50 caliber guns being installed forward of the mainmast for antiaircraft defense and nine of the 5-inch/51 caliber guns being removed or repositioned. [16] While conditions on the ship were cramped, the sailors on the ship had many advantages for education available to them. [17] They also engaged in athletic competitions, including boxing, wrestling, and rowing competitions with the crews of the battleship Texas and the tug Ontario. The camaraderie built from these small competitions led to fleet-wide establishment of many athletic teams pitting crews against one another for morale by the 1930s. [18]

On 13 August 1918, [19] Oklahoma was assigned to Battleship Division Six under the command of Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rodgers, and departed for Europe alongside Nevada. On 23 August, they met with destroyers Balch, Conyngham, Downes, Kimberly, Allen, and Sampson, 275 miles (443 km) west of Ireland, before steaming for Berehaven, where they waited for 18 days before battleship Utah arrived. The division remained at anchor, tasked to protect American convoys coming into the area, but was only called out of the harbor once in 80 days. On 14 October 1918, while under command of Charles B. McVay Jr., she escorted troop ships into port at the United Kingdom, returning on 16 October. For the rest of the time, the ship conducted drills at anchor or in nearby Bantry Bay. To pass the time, the crews played American football, and competitive sailing. Oklahoma suffered six casualties between 21 October and 2 November to the 1918 flu pandemic. [20] Oklahoma remained off Berehaven until the end of the war on 11 November 1918. Shortly thereafter, several Oklahoma crewmembers were involved in a series of fights with members of Sinn Féin, forcing the ship's commander to apologize and financially compensate two town mayors. [21]

Interwar period Edit

Oklahoma left for Portland on 26 November, joined there by Arizona on 30 November, Nevada on 4 December, and Battleship Division Nine's ships shortly after. The ships were assigned as a convoy escort for the ocean liner SS George Washington, carrying President Woodrow Wilson, and arrived with that ship in France several days later. She departed 14 December, for New York City, and then spent early 1919 conducting winter battle drills off the coast of Cuba. On 15 June 1919, she returned to Brest, escorting Wilson on a second trip, and returned to New York, on 8 July. [22] A part of the Atlantic Fleet for the next two years, Oklahoma was overhauled and her crew trained. The secondary battery was reduced from 20 to 12 5-inch/51 caliber guns in 1918. [23] Early in 1921, she voyaged to South America's West Coast for combined exercises with the Pacific Fleet, and returned later that year for the Peruvian Centennial. [19]

She then joined the Pacific Fleet and, in 1925, began a high-profile training cruise with several other battleships. They left San Francisco on 15 April 1925, arrived in Hawaii, on 27 April, where they conducted war games. They left for Samoa, on 1 July, crossing the equator on 6 July. On 27 July, they arrived in Australia and conducted a number of exercises there, before spending time in New Zealand, returning to the United States later that year. In early 1927, she transited the Panama Canal and moved to join the Scouting Fleet. [24]

In November 1927, she entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for an extensive overhaul. She was modernized by adding eight 5-inch/25 cal guns, [23] and her turrets' maximum elevation was raised from 15 to 30 degrees. An aircraft catapult was installed atop turret No.3. She was also substantially up-armored between September 1927 and July 1929, with anti-torpedo bulges added, as well as an additional 2 inches (51 mm) of steel on her armor deck. The overhaul increased her beam to 108 feet (33 m), the widest in the US Navy, and reduced her speed to 19.68 knots (36.45 km/h 22.65 mph). [25]

Oklahoma rejoined the Scouting Fleet for exercises in the Caribbean, then returned to the West Coast in June 1930, for fleet operations through spring 1936. That summer, she carried midshipmen on a European training cruise, visiting northern ports. The cruise was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war in Spain. Oklahoma sailed to Bilbao, arriving on 24 July 1936, to rescue American citizens and other refugees whom she carried to Gibraltar and French ports. She returned to Norfolk on 11 September, and to the West Coast on 24 October. [26]

The Pacific Fleet operations of Oklahoma during the next four years included joint operations with the Army and the training of reservists. Oklahoma was based at Pearl Harbor from 29 December 1937, for patrols and exercises, and only twice returned to the mainland, once to have anti-aircraft guns and armor added to her superstructure at Puget Sound Navy Yard in early February 1941, and once to have armor replaced at San Pedro in mid-August of the same year. En route on 22 August, a severe storm hit Oklahoma. One man was swept overboard and three others were injured. [27] The next morning, a broken starboard propeller shaft forced the ship to halt, assess the damage, and sail to San Francisco, the closest navy yard with an adequate drydock. [28] She remained in drydock, undergoing repairs until mid-October. The ship then returned to Hawaii. [29] The Washington Naval Treaty had precluded the Navy from replacing Oklahoma, leading to the series of refits to extend her lifespan. The ship was planned to be retired on 2 May 1942. [30]

Attack on Pearl Harbor Edit

On 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Oklahoma was moored in berth Fox 5, on Battleship Row, [31] in the outboard position alongside the battleship Maryland. [32] She was immediately targeted by planes from the Japanese aircraft carriers Akagi and Kaga, and was struck by three torpedoes. The first and second hit seconds apart, striking amidships at approximately 07:50 or 07:53, [33] 20 feet (6.1 m) below the waterline between the smokestack and mainmast. The torpedoes blew away a large section of her anti-torpedo bulge and spilled oil from the adjacent fuel bunkers' sounding tubes, but neither penetrated the hull. About 80 men scrambled to man the AA guns on deck, but were unable to use them because the firing locks were in the armory. Most of the men manned battle stations below the ship's waterline or sought shelter in the third deck, protocol during an aerial attack. The third torpedo struck at 08:00, near Frame 65, hitting close to where the first two did, penetrating the hull, destroying the adjacent fuel bunkers on the second platform deck and rupturing access trunks to the two forward boiler rooms as well as the transverse bulkhead to the aft boiler room and the longitudinal bulkhead of the two forward firing rooms. [34]

As she began to capsize to port, two more torpedoes struck, and her men were strafed as they abandoned ship. [35] In less than twelve minutes, she rolled over until halted by her masts touching bottom, her starboard side above water, and a part of her keel exposed. It's believed the ship absorbed as many as eight hits in all. [36] Many of her crew, however, remained in the fight, clambering aboard Maryland to help serve her anti-aircraft batteries. [37] Four hundred twenty-nine of her officers and enlisted men were killed or missing. One of those killed, Father Aloysius Schmitt, was the first American chaplain of any faith to die in World War II. Thirty-two others were wounded, and many were trapped within the capsized hull. Efforts to rescue them began within minutes of the ship's capsizing and continued into the night, in several cases rescuing men trapped inside the ship for hours. Julio DeCastro, a Hawaiian civilian yard worker, organized a team that saved 32 Oklahoma sailors. [38] This was a particularly tricky operation as cutting open the hull released trapped air, raising the water levels around entombed men, while cutting in the wrong places could ignite stored fuel. It is likely that some survivors were never reached in time. [39]

Some of those who died later had ships named after them, including Ensign John C. England for whom USS England (DE-635) and USS England (DLG-22) are named. USS Stern (DE-187) was named for Ensign Charles M. Stern Jr. USS Austin was named for Chief Carpenter John Arnold Austin, who was also posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the attack. USS Schmitt (DE-676) was named for Father Aloysius Schmitt. USS Barber (DE-161) was named for Malcolm, Randolph, and Leroy Barber. In addition to Austin's Navy Cross, the Medal of Honor was awarded to Ensign Francis C. Flaherty and Seaman James R. Ward, while three Navy and Marine Corps Medals were awarded to others on Oklahoma during the attack. [40]

Salvage Edit

By early 1942, it was determined that Oklahoma could be salvaged and that she was a navigational hazard, having rolled into the harbor's navigational channel. Even though it was cost-prohibitive to do so, the job of salvaging Oklahoma commenced on 15 July 1942, under the immediate command of Captain F. H. Whitaker, and a team from the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. [41]

Preparations for righting the overturned hull took under eight months to complete. Air was pumped into interior chambers and improvised airlocks built into the ship, forcing 20,000 tonnes (19,684 long tons 22,046 short tons) of water out of the ship through the torpedo holes. Four thousand five hundred tonnes (4,429 long tons 4,960 short tons) of coral soil were deposited in front of her bow to prevent sliding and two barges were posted on either end of the ship to control the ship's rising. [42]

Twenty-one derricks were attached to the upturned hull each carried high-tensile steel cables that were connected to hydraulic winching machines ashore. The righting (parbuckling) operation began on 8 March, and was completed by 16 June 1943. Teams of naval specialists then entered the previously submerged ship to remove human remains. Cofferdams were then placed around the hull to allow basic repairs to be undertaken so that the ship could be refloated this work was completed by November. On 28 December, Oklahoma was towed into drydock No. 2, at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. Once in the dock, her main guns, machinery, remaining ammunition, and stores were removed. The severest structural damage on the hull was also repaired to make the ship watertight. [43] [44]

Oklahoma was decommissioned on 1 September 1944, and all remaining armaments and superstructure were then removed. She was then put up for auction at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 26 November 1946, with her engines, boilers, turbo generators, steering units and about 24,000 tonnes (23,621 long tons 26,455 short tons) of structural steel deemed salvageable. She was sold to Moore Drydock Co. of Oakland, California for $46,127. [45] [46]

Final voyage Edit

In May 1947, a two-tug towing operation began to move the hull of Oklahoma from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco Bay. Due to arrive on Memorial Day, a delegation of nearly 500 Oklahomans led by Governor Roy J. Turner planned to visit and pay final respects to the ship. [47]

Disaster struck on 17 May, when the ships entered a storm more than 500 miles (800 km) from Hawaii. The tug Hercules put her searchlight on the former battleship, revealing that she had begun listing heavily. After radioing the naval base at Pearl Harbor, both tugs were instructed to turn around and head back to port. Without warning, Hercules was pulled back past Monarch, which was being dragged backwards at 15 knots (28 km/h 17 mph). [48] Oklahoma had begun to sink straight down, causing water to swamp the sterns of both tugs. [49]

Both tug skippers had fortunately loosened their cable drums connecting the 1,400-foot (430 m) tow lines to Oklahoma. [49] As the battleship sank rapidly, the line from Monarch quickly played out, releasing the tug. However, Hercules ' cables did not release until the last possible moment, leaving her tossing and pitching above the grave of the sunken Oklahoma. The battleship's exact location is unknown. [50]

During dredging operations in 2006, the US Navy recovered a part of Oklahoma from the bottom of Pearl Harbor. [51] The Navy believes it to be a portion of the port side rear fire control tower support mast. It was flown to Tinker Air Force Base then delivered to the Muskogee War Memorial Park in Muskogee, in 2010, where the 40-foot-long (12 m), 25,000-pound (11,340 kg), barnacle-encrusted mast section is now on permanent outdoor display. [52] The ship's bell and two of her screws are at the Kirkpatrick Science Museum in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma ' s aft wheel is at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. [53]

On 7 December 2007, the 66th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a memorial for the 429 crew members who were killed in the attack was dedicated on Ford Island, just outside the entrance to where the battleship Missouri is docked as a museum. Missouri is moored where Oklahoma was moored when she was sunk. [54] The USS Oklahoma memorial is part of Pearl Harbor National Memorial and is an arrangement of engraved black granite walls and white marble posts. [55] Only 35 of the 429 sailors and Marines who died on Oklahoma were identified in the years following the attack. The remains of 388 unidentified sailors and Marines were first interred as unknowns in the Nu'uanu and Halawa cemeteries, but were all disinterred in 1947, in an unsuccessful attempt to identify more personnel. In 1950, all unidentified remains from Oklahoma were buried in 61 caskets in 45 graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. [56]

Identification program Edit

In April 2015, the Department of Defense announced, as part of a policy change that established threshold criteria for disinterment of unknowns, that the unidentified remains of the crew members of Oklahoma would be exhumed for DNA analysis, with the goal of returning identified remains to their families. [57] The process began in June 2015, when four graves, two individual and two group graves, were disinterred for DNA analysis by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). [58] By December 2017, the identity of 100 crew members had been discovered, and with the numbers of sailor and Marine identities increasing at a steady pace, the 200th unknown was identified by 26 February 2019. [67] Throughout 2019 and 2020, the DPAA continued to successfully identify more crew members, and on 4 February 2021, they announced the identity of the 300th unknown, a 19 year old Marine from Illinois. [68] As of 18 June 2021, the number of identified remains is 368, leaving just 20 crew members yet to be identified. [69]

December 7,1941 Pearl Harbor - History

D ecember seventh, 1941: the surprise was complete. The attacking planes came in two waves the first hit its target at 7:53 AM, the second at 8:55. By 9:55 it was all over. By 1:00 PM the carriers that launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were heading back to Japan.

Poster commemorating
the attack, 1942
Behind them they left chaos, 2,403 dead, 188 destroyed planes and a crippled Pacific Fleet that included 8 damaged or destroyed battleships. In one stroke the Japanese action silenced the debate that had divided Americans ever since the German defeat of France left England alone in the fight against the Nazi terror.

Approximately three hours later, Japanese planes began a day-long attack on American facilities in the Philippines. (Because the islands are located across the International Dateline, the local Philippine time was just after 5 AM on December 8.) Farther to the west, the Japanese struck at Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand in a coordinated attempt to use surprise in order inflict as much damage as quickly as possible to strategic targets.

Although stunned by the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers, submarines and, most importantly, its fuel oil storage facilities emerged unscathed. These assets formed the foundation for the American response that led to victory at the Battle of Midway the following June and ultimately to the total destruction of the Japanese Empire four years later.

The battleships moored along "Battleship Row" are the primary target of the attack's first wave. Ten minutes after the beginning of the attack a bomb crashes through the Arizona's two armored decks igniting its magazine. The explosion rips the ship's sides open like a tin can starting a fire that engulfs the entire ship. Within minutes she sinks to the bottom taking 1,300 lives with her. The sunken ship remains as a memorial to those who sacrificed their lives during the attack. Marine Corporal E.C. Nightingale was aboard the Arizona that fateful Sunday morning:

"We stood around awaiting orders of some kind. General Quarters sounded and I started for my battle station in secondary aft. As I passed through casement nine I noted the gun was manned and being trained out. The men seemed extremely calm and collected. I reached the boat deck and our anti-aircraft guns were in full action, firing very rapidly. I was about three quarters of the way to the first platform on the mast when it seemed as though a bomb struck our quarterdeck. I could hear shrapnel or fragments whistling past me. As

A captured Japanese photo shows
Battleship Row under attack.
Hickam Field burns in the distance
soon as I reached the first platform, I saw Second Lieutenant Simonson lying on his back with blood on his shirt front. I bent over him and taking him by the shoulders asked if there was anything I could do. He was dead, or so nearly so that speech was impossible. Seeing there was nothing I could do for the Lieutenant, I continued to my battle station.

"When I arrived in secondary aft I reported to Major Shapley that Mr. Simonson had been hit and there was nothing to be done for him. There was a lot of talking going on and I shouted for silence which came immediately. I had only been there a short time when a terrible explosion caused the ship to shake violently. I looked at the boat deck and everything seemed aflame forward of the mainmast. I reported to the Major that the ship was aflame, which was rather needless, and after looking about, the Major ordered us to leave.

"I was the last man to leave secondary aft because I looked around and there was no one left. I followed the Major down the port side of the tripod mast. The railings, as we ascended, were very hot and as we reached the boat deck I noted that it was torn up and burned. The bodies of the dead were thick, and badly burned men were heading for the quarterdeck, only to fall apparently dead or badly wounded. The Major and I went between No. 3 and No. 4 turret to the starboard side and found Lieutenant Commander Fuqua ordering the men over the side and assisting the wounded. He seemed exceptionally calm and the Major stopped and they talked for a moment. Charred bodies were everywhere.

"I made my way to the quay and started to remove my shoes when I suddenly found myself in the water. I think the concussion of a bomb threw me in. I started swimming for the pipe line which was about one hundred and fifty feet away. I was about half way when my strength gave out entirely. My clothes and shocked

The USS Shaw explodes
condition sapped my strength, and I was about to go under when Major Shapley started to swim by, and seeing my distress, grasped my shirt and told me to hang to his shoulders while he swam in.

"We were perhaps twenty-five feet from the pipe line when the Major's strength gave out and I saw he was floundering, so I loosened my grip on him and told him to make it alone. He stopped and grabbed me by the shirt and refused to let go. I would have drowned but for the Major. We finally reached the beach where a marine directed us to a bomb shelter, where I was given dry clothes and a place to rest."

Lord, Walter, Day of Infamy (1957), Prange, Gordon, At Dawn We Slept (1981), Wallin, VAdm. Homer N. Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal (1968).

Remains of 3 brothers killed during Pearl Harbor attack identified

NEW LONDON, Wis. — U.S. military officials announced Wednesday that the remains of three brothers from Wisconsin who were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor have been identified.

Officials say 22-year-old Navy Fireman 1st Class Malcolm J. Barber, 21-year-old Navy Fireman 1st Class LeRoy K. Barber and 18-year-old Navy Fireman 2nd Class Randolph H. Barber were assigned to the USS Oklahoma in World War II. They grew up in New London.

The Oklahoma was moored at Ford Island when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941. Officials say the ship sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. It resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen.

Long after they died, military sees surge in identifications of the fallen in past conflicts

Officials believe remains of nearly half of the 83,000 unidentified service members killed in World War II and more recent wars could be identified and returned to relatives.

Featured Article

From his flagship, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo watched with mingled fear and fury as the remnants of his aerial armada returned to the six carriers of Japan’s 1st Air Fleet. The fear stemmed from Commander Mitsuo Fuchida’s radioed report that the Pearl Harbor gamble had been a fiasco. The fury stemmed from the memory of how he and numerous others had advised Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto against this insane venture, only to have the commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy arrogantly overrule them.

At the debriefing of his pilots, Nagumo learned the full extent of the disaster. An American combat air patrol had spotted the first wave of 183 planes as they neared the northern coast of Oahu. By the time the attackers had reached Pearl Harbor, swarms of P-40s had risen to challenge them, while the sky above the objective roiled with antiaircraft fire from American warships and shore batteries. Forced to dodge this storm of shrapnel, Fuchida’s dive-bombers and level bombers had scored few hits, none of them severe, while the torpedo planes, condemned to an unswerving course as they neared their targets, were nearly wiped out. The 170 aircraft of the second wave, trailing an hour behind the first, had suffered even greater losses. All in all, the Americans had destroyed or damaged nearly a third of Nagumo’s attacking force.

The above scenario could easily have occurred. Twelve weeks before the actual Pearl Harbor attack, a Japanese war exercise had demonstrated that even on short notice, American fighters and antiaircraft fire could decimate Japan’s air flotilla and prevent serious damage to the American fleet. And indeed, historically, the second wave, hampered by massive antiaircraft fire, accounted for only 10 percent of the total damage.

The American defenders could have received the warning in any of several ways: by better analysis of signals intelligence by greater vigilance on the part of Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, commander of the defense of Oahu or by a more precise report from radar operatives, who spotted the incoming attack formation but failed to indicate its size, leading the watch commander to assume it must be a flight of B-17 bombers due from the mainland. Murphy’s Law—“If anything can go wrong, it will”—could well have operated against the Japanese instead of the Americans.

What would have been the sequel to a failed attack? Three scenarios are possible. Admiral Husband E. Kimmel might have sent his battleships in hot pursuit of Nagumo’s task force. But with two of his three flattops detached to ferry aircraft to Wake and Midway Islands (the third was at San Diego, over 2,500 miles to the northeast), and just four oilers immediately available out of the 25 required to refuel the fleet at sea, this course of action seems unlikely. He might have kept the fleet in harbor and confined the fast carriers to brief hit-and-run strikes on Japanese outposts, as occurred historically. But Kimmel was an offense-minded admiral and the spirit of War Plan Orange—the Navy’s long-standing blueprint for a conflict with Japan—was also offensive. Thus he might well have chosen a third course, and steamed west in search of an early, decisive confrontation with Japanese naval forces in the Central Pacific.

Nowhere in the official documents do specific directives for such an operation exist. But in War Plan Orange , a magisterial study of naval planning done in preparation for a war in the Pacific, historian Edward S. Miller notes that the instructions that American submarine and carrier forces were supposed to execute in the event of war with Japan make sense only in the context of an early battle in the Central Pacific. Recollections of those involved and of other historians support that idea. Kimmel’s operations officer maintained that the Pacific fleet was “virtually mobilized” and ready to sortie en masse within one to four days of the outbreak of war. His battle force commander recalled that a 1941 war game included a full-scale battleship strike as well as carrier and submarine raids. And Gordon W. Prange, a historian who concentrated on the Pearl Harbor attack, believed that in the event of war, “Kimmel proposed to sail forth to engage Yamamoto and waste no time about it.”

Miller believes Kimmel would have pursued the following plan: American submarines would immediately sail west to reconnoiter and torpedo any enemy vessels they encountered. By 16J—the 16th day after the outbreak of war—the U.S. fleet would have sailed to Point Tare, a rendezvous point near Wake Island. Preliminary raids by American carrier aircraft would have functioned as bait to lure the Japanese Navy in that direction. With part of the Japanese Navy committed elsewhere, Kimmel anticipated an even match in terms of capital ships. In this he was correct. Yamamoto sent two of his ten battleships to support operations in southeast Asia. Thus, both sides would have had eight battleships available for the fight. The Japanese would have had an edge in aircraft carriers, but this would have been partially offset by the availability of American land-based aircraft on Wake Island—and the massive depletion of Japanese carrier-based aircraft that resulted from the failed Pearl Harbor attack.

The outcome of a major 1941 battle in the Central Pacific is impossible to predict. A decisive Japanese defeat would have been at least as crippling to the Japanese Navy as Yamamoto’s historical defeat at Midway in June 1942. A decisive American defeat would have been far worse than the historical Pearl Harbor attack. Most of the vessels damaged or sunk were subsequently repaired and returned to action, whereas any warships lost in the Central Pacific would have disappeared beneath thousands of feet of water.

But no American victory would have been great enough to prevent the Japanese seizure of Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines. And no Japanese triumph would have been enough to prevent America’s industrial might from sending forth hundreds of new warships to renew the fight. All that is certain is that Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the scapegoat of Pearl Harbor, might instead have gained the hero’s reputation that a bitter U.S. Congressman accused him of coveting: that of an “American Nelson.”

World War II and After

With the shift of the US Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor, the anchorage was expanded to accommodate the entire fleet. On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Crippling the US Pacific Fleet, the raid killed 2,368 and sank four battleships and heavily damaged four more.

Forcing the United States into World War II, the attack placed Pearl Harbor on the front lines of the new conflict. While the attack had been devastating to the fleet, it did little damage to the base's infrastructure. These facilities, which continued to grow during the war, proved vital to ensuring that US warships remained in fighting condition throughout the conflict. It was from his headquarters at Pearl Harbor that Admiral Chester Nimitz oversaw the American advance across the Pacific and the ultimate defeat of Japan.

Following the war, Pearl Harbor remained the home port of the US Pacific Fleet. Since that time it has served to support naval operations during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as well as during the Cold War. Still in full use today, Pearl Harbor is also home to the USS Arizona Memorial as well as the museum ships USS Missouri and USS Bowfin.

The United States Obtains Exclusive Rights to Pearl Harbor

As part of the Reciprocity Treaty between the United States of America and the Hawaiian Kingdom of 1875 as Supplemented by Convention on December 6, 1884, and ratified in 1887, the United States obtained exclusive rights to Pearl Harbor as part of the agreement to allow Hawaiian sugar to enter the United States duty-free.

The Spanish American War (1898) and the need for the United States to have a permanent presence in the Pacific both contributed to the decision to annex Hawaii.

Following annexation, work began to dredge the channel and improve the harbor for the use of large navy ships. Congress authorized the creation of a naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1908. By 1914 other bases housing U.S. Marines, as well as Army personnel, were constructed in the area around Pearl Harbor. Schofield Barracks, constructed in 1909 to house artillery, cavalry and infantry units became the largest Army post of its day.


It is a terrible thing that an event like the bombing of Pearl Harbor 70 years later gets very little recognition. In the video one of the things that surprised me was when President Roosevelt said that America was at peace with Japan and had even talked about keeping peace with them only an hour before the bombings took place. While I always knew that the bombings were unprovoked i never realized that America was working to keep peace between them and Japan.

By: Killian Dempsey on December 11, 2011
at 11:24 pm

i think that the bombing of pearl harbor was terrible and im glad that we still honor those who were there. it is like equivalent to 9/11 because we didnt no it was coming.

By: steven galiardo on December 12, 2011
at 12:09 am

December 7, 1941 was a devastating day in our country’s history. I don’t understand why Japan bombed us, but I view it is a very poor act on their part. Today things are different, but back then, I probably would have been angry at Japan. Relations between Japanese and American people in this time period can probably be compared to today’s realtions between Muslims and Americans. Regardless, Pearl Harbor was a devastating attack on U.S. soil and hopefully something our country never has to experience again.

By: Mike Glynn on December 14, 2011
at 1:16 am

It’s hard to believe that there are barely any people left who experienced this horrible invasion. I think that we should all set aside time to remeber these brave souls and treasure the history that is left and pass it on for as long as we can. These men didn’t die in vain though many Japanese planes were decimated during the attacks.

By: Dennis Creighton on December 14, 2011
at 3:31 am

Wow, Pearl Harbor truley is a very devestating event. Not one American located in Pearl Harbor expected such a cruel attack by the Japanese. With over 2,000 casualties and 1,000 wounded men is what the Americans had to deal with, which was not necessary at all. I always find war to be bad and harmfull to societies but in this case i think that it was just to call war on Japan. We spent over two years in War until we bombed Japan in Hiroshima. The fact that many innocent people died there because of the atomic bomb is also devastating. I believe that many countries includind the U.S. and Japan learned that such secret attacks can lead to troubles not only with the guilty but with the innocent.

By: Daniel Cortez on December 14, 2011
at 11:00 pm

Pearl Harbor……. an all around sad day. As Americans we tend to cling to the good or victorious days of WWII for us, but we cannot and will not ignore the event of Pearl Harbor especially. This event was what truly got us into the war. We always hate the Japanese for bombing us at Pearl Harbor, but I believe we should be thanking them. If it were not for the Japanese’s attack on Pearl Harbor, we would have probably stayed out of World War II, and the allied forces might would have lost the war without the power and influence of the United States of America. This being said, Pearl Harbor was indeed a troublesome day because multiple lives were lost during the attack. For this reason, we should never forget the day that American blood was first split over the conflicts going on in Europe during WWII.

By: Brandon Diaz on December 15, 2011
at 12:40 am

Franklin D Roosevelt is often regarded as one of the best presidents this country had ever had, and I think this video validates that opinion. After Japan mercilessly bombed Pearl Harbor, he took a stand against them, demonstrating America’s resilience and power. When we entered the second world war, we knew we would have our work cut out for us, but as we all know, America pulled through and ended Germany’s reign of terror in Europe. Unfortunately, many innocent Japanese died during the dropping of the A-bomb, just a fraction of the many lives lost during WWII.

Watch the video: 7 δεκεμβρίου 1941: η ιαπωνική επίθεση στο περλ χάρμπορ