PEARL HARBOR AND USS ARIZONA MYTHS & FACTS

The top three myths about the USS Arizona are in no particular order:

    1. She is still in commission.
    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. She is not in commission.

 

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 actual mechanics of the fatal bomb hit are as follows:

3. Contrary to popular belief all 14" guns were removed, three of the twelve 14" guns remain in place.

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.

 

 

 

  1. The USS Utah capsized during the attack and was partially righted afterwards to clear a berth.
  2. The Arizona was left on the bottom because she is the tomb of about a thousand men and was obviously beyond repair.
  3. The Utah was a target ship and had no military value, so there was no point to expend the effort to salvage her.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. There is a Memorial on Ford Island beside her berth.

  1. 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.
  2. By that time there was little need for more old slow moving battleships and reconstruction would have taken to the end of the war.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. Officially the ships did not die at Pearl Harbor, as the machinery and weapons were fitted to new hulls and launched in 1943.
  3. 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.
  4. Their hulks still remain in the west lock of Pearl Harbor.

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