I am a famous ship, who am I?
I am the USS Arizona (BB-39)
Since December 7th (Pearl Harbor Day) is coming up real soon, I thought I would give a refresher course to some of you guys. I'm into the weird stuff that most people don't know, so you will see some facts below that were gathered from different sources. I found these to be interesting, however some may be repeated.
Ok, so let's start with, who originally wrote "Yesterday, December 7th 1941, a day that will live in World History"?
It was President Franklin Roosevelt. Luckily, he changed those word to "a day that will live in infamy", which to me, sounds so much better. You can actually read the 1st draft of Roosevelt's famous "a date which will live in infamy" speech here>
(Just click the picture and it will become large and clear)
So let's talk about the facts about the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese....
- The attack took place on December 7, 1941.
- Although the aerial attack was very successful, the submarines failed to finish off any wounded ship inside the harbor.
- The attack's success surprised the Japanese as much as the Americans.
- The last part of the decoded Japanese message stated that U.S. relations were to be severed.
- Japanese force consisted of six carriers with 423 planes.
- At 6 a.m. the first Japanese attack wave of 83 planes took off.
- Eighteen U.S. ships were hit.
- Three prime targets escaped damage, the U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, the Lexington, Enterprise and Saratoga. They were not in the port when the attack took place.
- Another target, the base fuel tanks also escaped damage.
- Casualties included 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians.
- 1178 people were wounded.
- The day after the attack the U.S. and Britain declared war on Japan.
- Pearl Harbor has 10 square miles of navigable water.
- The attack was the climax of a decade of worsening relations between the U.S. and militaristic Japan.
- A U.S. embargo on necessary supplies for war prompted the attack on Pearl Harbor.
- All of the planes on the Japanese ships were fully fueled and armed.
- The Japanese planes took off about 90 minutes from Pearl Harbor.
- The Japanese were interested in the Hawaiian islands since the islands were annexed by the U.S. in 1898.
- An Admiral said, "leaving aside the unspeakable treachery of it, the Japanese did a fine job."
- Japanese suffered just small losses.
- The attack crippled the United States fleet.
- The Japanese deceived the U.S. by saying false statements and expressed interest in continued peace.
- The attack was planned weeks in advance.
- The main reason for the attack was over economic issues.
- Because of the unpreparedness of the U.S. military, Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short were relieved of duty.
- The attack severely crippled the U.S. naval and air strength in the Pacific.
- Of the eight battleships, all but the Arizona and Oklahoma were eventually repaired and returned to service.
- On December 8, 1941, Congress declared war on Japan with only one vote against it. The vote against it was of Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, who had also voted against U.S. entry into World War I.
- Once the fleet was out of action, Japan would be able to conquest a great area.
- A U.S. Army private who noticed the large flight of planes on his radar screen was told to ignore them because a flight of B-17s from the continental U.S. was expected at the time.
- More than 180 U.S. aircraft were destroyed.
- During the attack the USS Arizona sank with a loss of more than 1,100 men.
- U.S. officials had been aware that an attack by Japan was probable, but did not know the time or place it would occur.
- Pearl Harbor was not in the state of high alert when the attack started, Anti-Aircraft guns were left unmanned.
- The main targets for the first wave was the airfield and battleships.
- The second wave targets were other ships and shipyard facilities.
- The air raid lasted until about 9:45 a.m.
PEARL HARBOR AND USS ARIZONA MYTHS & FACTS
The top three myths about the USS Arizona are in no particular order:
1. The USS Arizona is still in commissioned U.S. Navy ship.
2. A bomb falling down the stack and detonating the boilers sank her.
3. All 14" guns were removed for use in coastal batteries.
All of these are totally false, yet several authors who should have known better have included these falsehoods in their books. To address them individually:
1. The USS Arizona is not in commission.
- She was placed "in ordinary" at Pearl Harbor on December 29,1941, and was stricken on December 1, 1942. (Source – Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships – Published by USN.)
2. She was hit by 2 bombs (of 10 dropped) none down the stack. The fatal bomb hit forward, between #1 and #2 turrets, detonating the forward magazine and causing the forward decks to collapse. The "down the stack" theory is disproved by several facts:
- The deck over the boilers is intact to this day.
- The boiler uptakes are visible.
- If the boilers had exploded, the deck would be gone.
- The screen that was over the top of the stack was found intact in the harbor.
- A bomb falling down the stack would have pierced the screen.
- A boiler explosion would not have caused the forward decks to collapse as they did.
- The "down the stack" theory is perpetuated by the notion that the superstructure was blasted forward as shown in well-known pictures.
- This was actually caused by the collapse of the decks below the superstructure. (Source is – Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships – several other publications and inspection of the photos of the ship.)
The actual mechanics of the fatal bomb hit are as follows:
- The bomb was a converted 16.1" naval shell.
- It hit just forward and to the side of turret #2.
- It started a large oil fire in the forward part of the ship.
- The oil fire ignited over 1,000 pounds of black powder for the aircraft catapults, which was kept in a small magazine between #1 and #2 turrets.
- The explosion of the black powder caused the forward main magazine to explode, destroying the forward part of the ship.
3. Contrary to popular belief all 14" guns were removed, three of the twelve 14" guns remain in place.
#3 and # 4 turrets and their guns were removed, as were the guns in turret #2 and part of the turret itself. Turret #1 and its guns remain in place, intact. The forward turret and the guns of #1 were too badly damaged by the explosion to re-use so they were left in place.
Parts of #2 turret was removed to facilitate the removal of the guns.
The existence of the turret and guns is clearly supported by overhead photography, such as the picture on page 55 of the12/91 issue of National Geographic.
The removed guns were used in shore defense batteries.
OTHER INTERESTING FACTS:
1. After she was stricken all of her superstructure was removed, both for the scrap value and because it was a hazard.
2. Admiral Arthur W. Radford, CinPacFlt, started the tradition of hoisting the US flag over the ship March 7, 1950.
3. The Memorial over the wreck was dedicated on May 30, 1962. It does not rest on any part of the ship.
4. Oil is still leaking out of the ship, a few drops at a time.
5. Due to structural damage from the attack and 60+ years of rust, the Arizona is reportedly nearing the point of collapse.
6. The Arizona and Utah are the only two ships that were not salvaged after the attack.
7. The USS Utah capsized during the attack and was partially righted afterwards to clear a berth.
8. The Arizona was left on the bottom because she is the tomb of about a thousand men and was obviously beyond repair.
9. The Utah was a target ship and had no military value, so there was no point to expend the effort to salvage her.
10. The Utah was placed ‘in ordinary’ and transferred to the Pearl Harbor Base Force December 29, 1941, placed out of commission, ‘not in service’ September 5, 1944 and stricken November 13, 1944.
11. Although the ‘Dictionary of American Fighting Ships’ says the USS Utah is a tomb of an ‘unknown number of men’ some simple math shows there are 60 men inside (6 officers, 58 enlisted killed, 4 buried ashore).
12. There is a Memorial on Ford Island beside her berth.
13. The third ship that did-not return to service was the USS Oklahoma BB-37, she capsized during the attack and was righted and raised in 1943.
14. By that time there was little need for more old slow moving battleships and reconstruction would have taken to the end of the war.
15. She was decommissioned September 1, 1944 and essentially everything above the main deck was removed. Her guns were installed on the USS Pennsylvania and her hulk remained at Pearl Harbor until after the war.
16. The Oklahoma was sold as scrap December 5, 1946 and sank under tow May 17, 1947, 540 miles out from Pearl Harbor enroute to San Francisco for scrapping.
17. Two other hulls were destroyed at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, The destroyers USS Cassin DD 372 and Downs DD 375. The ships were bombed and destroyed in dry-dock.
18. Officially the ships did not die at Pearl Harbor, as the machinery and weapons were fitted to new hulls and launched in 1943.
19. The Arizona and Utah are not the only hulks at the bottom of the harbor. Five LST's (43, 69, 179, 353 and 480) were destroyed in an ammunition handling accident and resultant explosion on May 21, 1944.
20. Their hulks still remain in the west lock of Pearl Harbor.
1. There were three (3) U.S. ships named "USS Arizona". Many think that the 1st and 2nd USS Arizona ships were named in honor of state of Arizona. They weren't, Why?
The USS Arizona (BB-39) was indeed the third ship named “Arizona” BUT it is the first named after Arizona, the state. This is became Arizona was the last state in the continental U.S. to join the union in 1912, just one year before she was laid down in 1913. The other two ships were named for the Arizona Territory and they were a Civil War Side Wheel steamer and a post Civil War Steam Frigate.
btw: No other ship will ever bear the name USS Arizona out of respect.
2. Who where the first allies to join in the fight at Pearl Harbor?
The Dutch, the crew of the Jagersfontein opened fire on the Japanese at 9am.
3. In the Japanese cluture, they don't teach much on Pearl Harbor. However they do teach about the Truk Lagoon. Why?
They teach about Truk Lagoon. Truk Lagoon is the "Japanese Pearl Harbor". We went in there and totally destroyed the Japanese fleet. Over 60 Japanese ships and 275 airplanes were sent to the bottom of the lagoon. This area is now part of the Chuck islands, part of the Federated States of Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean.
4. The USS Arizona (BB-39) continues to leak oil into the harbor. Survivors believe that the ship will continue to leak oil till what happens?
When every survivor has died.
We are down to 17 Sailors, and 1 Marine survivors. The survivors have stated and many really believe that the oil will stop on its own when the last one of their number dies. The National Park Service, respecting the wreck as a War Cemetery, has taken no action to stem the leaks and plans none till the last survivor indeed dies. The leak is relatively minor from an environmental point of view at only a few pints per day.
Lastly, here is some more info on Pearl Harbor.
And here you will find the Radiogram reporting the Pearl Harbor attack, from Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) to all ships in Hawaiian area, December 7, 1941>
Here you can find the original speech:
Here is the link to the FDR museum:
Here are some great photos of Pearl Harbor:
The Survivors of the USS Arizona:
God bless the Sailors aboard the USS Arizona, and all others who have lost their lives in the bombing of Hawaii, December 7th, 1941.
Now for more trivia: ~ The Ship's Bell ~
Some more trivia....there were two ship's bells....one is on display at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor....the other is on the campus of the University of Arizona here in Tucson....some history...
Bell from the U.S.S. Arizona, its plaque reads:
THE PRESERVATION OF THE U.S.S. ARIZONA BELL IN THIS TOWER IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEN WHO LOST THEIR LIVES ON THE BATTLESHIP ARIZONA IN THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR ON DECEMBER 7, 1941.
This bell is one of the two original bells salvaged from the U.S.S. ARIZONA in 1941. In 1944, Wilber L. Bill Bowers, UA Class of 1927, discovered this bell about to be melted down at the Puget Sound Naval Yard in Bremerton, Washington. Bowers saved the bell from destruction and was instrumental in acquiring the bell for the University of Arizona shortly after World War II.
The bell arrived on campus in July 1946. On November 17, 1951 the bell was rung for the first time in the clock tower of the then-new Memorial Student Union Building. The bell was rung on special occasions for the next 50 years until that clock tower and Student Union were razed to make way for the present day facility completed in 2002.
The bell was installed in this clock tower on August 16, 2002. Bill Bowers, at the age of 99, was given the honor of ringing the bell for the first time in its new belfry on September 11, 2002. This bell is to be rung seven times on the third Wednesday of every month at 12:07 p.m. to honor the achievements of the University of Arizona and its community. It is traditionally rung by the Student Body President on the Sunday before Pearl Harbor Day, on the Student Union’s birthday (November 18), and after Wildcat athletic victories (over any team except other Arizona schools).
Effective Wednesday, April 16, 2003, the USS Arizona Bell will be rung for significant University achievements on the third Wednesday each month. This includes academic achievements and awards for which a University of Arizona student, faculty or staff has received recognition in the previous thirty days. The USS Arizona Bell will be rung 7 times at 12:07pm in recognition of these outstanding achievements.
The other original bell is on display at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.