Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Battleships Lost at Pearl Harbor
Since I was talking about pet peeves about mistakes I've seen in naval history programs yesterday I thought I'd address another one today. There have been a number of programs over the years that have gotten it wrong about how many battleships were total write offs as the result of the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. There were officially eight battleships at Pearl Harbor on that date and one ex-battleship (the Utah). Some programs will say that only one of the battleships (Arizona) was a total write off and that the rest were returned to service, albeit after considerable reconstruction. In reality USS Oklahoma was also a total write off. It was the only one of the battleships at Pearl Harbor that day that rolled over and was only showing her bottom after the attack was concluded. After considerable salvage efforts Oklahoma was raised and dry docked by December 1943, but it was late in the war and she was considerably damaged so reconstruction was not deemed worth while. She remained at Pearl Harbor awaiting disposition, where she was photographed with the brand new USS Wisconsin alongside in 1944, before finally being sold again to an Oakland scrapping company in 1946. Oklahoma departed Pearl Harbor under tow on May 10, 1947 but seven days later the tow parted and Oklahoma sank to the depths of the vast Pacific Ocean - maybe the final casualty of the war. As for the target ship Utah - it remains at Pearl Harbor to this day along with the Arizona, where it rests with the remains of 47 crewmen. Just setting the record straight.