Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Damage Report - The USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor

Photo courtesy of National Archives, from  
On December 7, 1941, about twenty minutes into the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an armor-piercing bomb struck the USS Arizona, penetrating four decks before exploding. An immense fire, fed by ammunition and fuel oil, swept through the ship, instantly killing hundreds of men. The Arizona quickly settled to the bottom of the harbor, taking most of the crew of 1,514 with her.

The U.S. Navy reported that the Arizona was struck by eight bombs; however, other studies suggest that she was hit with only four 800-kilogram weapons:

  1. Port side on the antiaircraft deck.
  2. Port side close to outboard so that it probably detonated in the area of the antitorpedo bulkhead.
  3. Turret No. 4, which ricocheted and exploded in the captain’s pantry.
  4. Forward on the starboard side of Turret No. 2.

An archaeological survey in 1987 determined that the bow was nearly severed; the forward armored deck was torn and twisted. One large section was peeled back toward the port bow. Twisted and torn fragments of steel litter the decks. Turret No. 1 was intact, its three fourteen-inch guns trained forward but it has dropped twenty feet into the hull when the ship blew up. Turrets No. 3 and 4 were salvaged to be used as coastal defense guns. The ship contained one and one-half million gallons of fuel oil, which is still being released at a rate of one drop every fifteen seconds. It is said these are the “Tears of the Arizona.”

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