Thursday, December 08, 2011

Facts About the U.S.S. Arizona and the Attack on Pearl Harbor -- Inside the Wreck (Facts, Photos, Videos)

The Arizona Underway
I saw an interesting documentary on the History Channel last night.  It was about the days following December 7, 1941; what FDR thought and did, how he dealt with Congress, how he wrote his simple but inspiring speech delivered to the American people a few days later.

Many ships were damaged or sunk during the Japanese air raid, but only the Arizona and the Utah were put permanently out of action.  The wrecks of both remain sunken at Pearl Harbor.

The Arizona was launched in 1915 and commissioned in 1916, though she saw no action during the First World War.  Between the wars she was used mainly for training and was berthed in California. During the 1930s, the ship was modernized.  In April 1940 the ship was ordered to Hawaii to act as a deterrent for Japanese aggression, a plan which regrettably failed.

During the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941, the Arizona was sunk by a Japanese bomb that penetrated the forward deck, possibly through an open hatch.  The bomb ignited ammunition magazines in the forward deck, causing a huge explosion that rapidly sunk the ship, killing 1,177 officers and sailors.  Due to the dangers of recovering bodies from the ship, the dead were left within and the Arizona became their tomb.

The USS Arizona After Modernization
in 1935
The mangled superstructure of the ship towered above the surface of the water for many months, until it was removed for spare parts and salvage.  In 1962, the Arizona Memorial was built over the Arizona's sunken hull in Pearl Harbor, with a marble wall with the names of the Arizona dead inscribed thereon.  I have been to that wall and it is a touching and sobering sight.

No one is allowed to dive on the Arizona except those authorized by the U.S. Navy or U.S. Park Service.  No one is allowed to retrieve artifacts from the wreck, as it is an official military grave.  The Park Service has filmed inside the wreck to learn how to preserve and protect the integrity of the site.  Below is a video taken of scenes inside the wreck.  It shows a telephone on a desk, desks with lamps, a closet with hangers and Navy pants hanging from one; a bathroom with a cup on a sink with a tube of toothpaste in it.  Other divers have reported seeing other artifacts on the deck: a cooking pot, a desk fan, bottles of aftershave, a medicine case containing a razor, disposable blades, and a shot glass.  In one film (see list below) I saw a Coca Cola bottle with the top broken off.

Strange to see all the detritus of human life as it was in 1941, suggestive of the lives so suddenly taken.

Other photos worth your time:
Raw footage of another dive to the deck of the Arizona, showing artifacts on the deck.
US Military History Files - Many Pearl Harbor photos rarely seen by the public.
The Memorial Wall in the Arizona Memorial.
Another Photo of the Memorial Wall.
History of the USS Arizona
Photo of wrecked Arizona (after all fires extinguished), its superstructure extending from surface of the water
A series of photos of December 7, 1941, including battleship row and Japanese planes


Mr. AOW said...

Off topic

My wife showed me the picture you made of Cameo and the Christmas tree. I had her put it onto my iPad as the wallpaper for the Christmas season. I will be showing that pic to my buds at the VFW.

Stogie said...

That's great, Mr. AOW! You have a wonderful Christmas and let's hope 2012 will be a great year for all of us.

Mr. AOW said...

And not a great year for Obama. I cannot stand him and his arrogance.

Stogie said...

Mr. AOW, let's hope this time next year the Obamas will be packing their bags and planning to move.