Title banner: Pearl Harbor * Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal

Observations and Statements Made By Survivors


On 7 December 1941, all major combatant ships at Pearl Harbor were in condition "X" with two machine guns manned and two 5-inch anti-aircraft guns with ready ammunition and crews near at hand. After the attack began, the ships assumed condition "Y" or "Z" as rapidly as possible. The battleships had been in port for several days and had been refueled. Most of the ships were ninety-five percent full of fuel oil. The degree of closure of water-tight doors and hatches is determined by the conditions named. Condition "X" is the minimum safety condition, while condition "Z" is the battle closure condition. Condition "Y" is between the two. These are usually designated by their alphabetical names, that is "X-ray," "Yoke," and "Zed."

The survivors from the battleships sunk at their berths and the many ships round about furnish ample evidence as to the nature of the various attacks. In summary, many of the battleship survivors considered that a "fire and rescue party" was required because of a disaster at Ford Island before the true nature of events was ascertained. Among the crews, many wondered why a drill was taking place on a Sunday morning.

The cruisers, destroyers, and service vessels some distance away saw the enemy planes earlier and witnessed the torpedo plane attack on the battleships. The impressions held by the various personnel, as well as the actions they took, can best be determined from excerpts of these statements, which are taken from official reports of the engagement. These statements are given here to refute the many irresponsible statements which have been made regarding the behavior of Navy men at Pearl Harbor. The survivors' statements are known to only a few and have not therefore been referred to generally. Some are reproduced here to present a true picture of these important events.


Image: 80-G-387572 Aerial view of Battleship Row. From left to right: Arizona, Tennessee (inboard) and West Virginia, Maryland and Oklahoma (capsized).
Aerial view of Battleship Row. From left to right: Arizona, Tennessee (inboard) and West Virginia, Maryland and Oklahoma (capsized).


Lieutenant C. V. Ricketts wrote as follows:

At about 0755 on 7 December, 1941, I was sitting at breakfast table in the wardroom when assembly was sounded and the fire and rescue party called away. Almost immediately thereafter, as I was leaving the wardroom, general quarters was sounded. As I went up the ladder to the starboard side of the quarter deck, I heard the word being passed by word of mouth that, "The Japs are attacking." As I reached the quarterdeck I felt the ship being hit. She was shaken some but I was not knocked from my feet. I thought then that instead of actual hits the vibration might be caused by bombs falling close aboard. I went up the starboard side of the boat deck to the antiaircraft battery which was being manned. Ensign Hunter was present on the starboard battery and I told him to open fire as soon as possible. Ensign Hunter, incidentally, was attached to the five inch anti-aircraft battery and that was his regularly assigned battle station. Ensign Graham, who is also in the anti-aircraft battery, was present during the firing although I do not remember giving him any actual orders or seeing him at that time. I then


Image OFFICIAL U.S. NAVY PHOTOGRAPH Admiral Claude V. Ricketts, USN.
Admiral Claude V. Ricketts, USN.

went to the Fire Control tower as I was the senior officer in the gunnery department aboard. The tower was locked so we broke it open. The Captain then appeared and as the ship was listing rapidly to port and I knew probably few C&R officers were aboard I said, "Captain, shall I go below and counterflood?" He replied, "Yes, do that." I went down through times


square where I picked up Billingsley, B.M.1/c, to help. We went to the main deck and aft on the starboard side and down to the second deck through the escape scuttle in the hatch in front of the Executive Officer's Office. The hatches in this vicinity were closed with escape scuttles open. Wounded were being brought up the hatches forward. The ship was now listing so heavily that on the linoleum decks it was impossible to walk without holding on to something. I reached the third deck by the ladder at frame 87 starboard and went forward to the first group of counterflood valves. Billingsley went aft and got a crank for operating the valves. When he came back Rucker and Bobick, shipfitters from Repair III, came with him. Billingsley and I started B-163 counterflooding while the other men assisted at other valves. When I was assured that counterflooding was well underway, I told Rucker to counterflood everything on the starboard side until the ship was on an even keel. It was not long before the excessive list to port began to decrease. Rucker told me later that he had not previously received any orders to counterflood but he and Bobick decided that they should anyway and they actually opened the valves to two voids in Repair III. This action on their part, in my opinion, showed excellent initiative and judgment.

I then went to the anti-aircraft battery on the boat deck and found that all ammunition from the ready boxes had been expended. I went to times

Image: 80-G-32414 ;Dense smoke frames USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee.
Dense smoke frames USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee.


square and formed an ammunition train, opening hatches as necessary. However, when the hatch to the third deck A-420 was opened we found it to be flooded. This hatch was again closed and further attempts to obtain ammunition were abandoned. Ensign Ford, who was assisting me in this attempt, then very properly used the ammunition train and other personnel available to evacuate the wounded from the second deck.

When all the men had left and Lieutenant (jg) White was on the line, I went down the fire hose to the crane. From that time on until relief fire fighting parties arrived we fought the fire on the boat deck starboard casemates, and port side of the main deck forward. Ensigns Hine, Hazelton, Lombardi, Graham, and some others did excellent work in this fire fighting.

The personnel that worked with me on the bridge I cannot commend too highly. They carried out every order promptly and enthusiastically, even when it meant danger to themselves. They did not attempt to abandon the bridge until ordered to do so. These personnel were: Lieutenant (jg) F. H. White, Ensign V. Delano, Siewart, A. A., C.S.M., Leak, L. N. CPhM., and Miller, D., Matt.2/c. Two or three other men, signalmen I believe, were also present. Lieutenant (jg) F. H. White is to be especially commended for his great help, many suggestions, and disregard of personal danger. Ensign Graham and Ensign Lombardi provided us a means of escape by passing us lines from the starboard crane and by directing the fire fighting on the after side of the mast structure.

The Captain deserves the highest praise for his noble conduct to the last. Although in great pain he kept inquiring about the condition of the ship, whether or not we had any pumps running, etc. He was particularly concerned about the fires on board and the oil on the surface of the water. I assured him that everyone was doing everything possible to fight the fire and control the damage. He did not want to be moved and after the fire started, kept insisting that we leave him and go below. For a short time after he was wounded it would have been possible to lower him down, but his wound was so serious I knew that he would be better off with as little handling as possible. Leak concurred with me in this opinion. However, when the fire broke out around the after part of the bridge structure I moved him regardless because of the suffocating smoke and the approaching fire.

The Executive Officer, Commander R. H. Hillenkoetter, the senior surviving officer of West Virginia wrote:

I was in my cabin just commencing to dress, when at 0755 the word was passed "Away Fire and Rescue Party." This was followed about thirty seconds later by "General Quarters"; at the same time, 0755, the marine orderly rushed into the cabin and announced, "The Japanese are attacking us." Also, just at this time two heavy shocks on the hull of the West Virginia were felt. It seemed as if these shocks were somewhere forward on the port side.


By this time I had reached the Quarterdeck, and the ship was beginning to list rapidly to port. I proceeded along the starboard side until just forward of Number Three Turret, when there was a third heavy shock felt to port. The planes on top of Turret Three caught on fire, and there were flames all around the Turret Top. The quarterdeck sentry informed me that the Captain had already gone to the bridge, so I remained aft to assist the extinguishing of the fire around Turret Three and on the quarterdeck. There was another heavy explosion at this time, that threw me flat on the deck. During all this time the ship was continuing to list to port, and at the time of this latest shock, I should estimate that the list was about 20° or 25° (this is purely an estimate). I called to the sound power telephone watch to tell Central to counterflood, but do not know whether or not this word got through.

Image: USN NR&L (MOD) 39735 USS Argonne fighting fires on West Virginia.
USN NR&L (MOD) 39735
USS Argonne fighting fires on West Virginia.

Immediately following this latest explosion, I saw a flash of flame about fifteen feet high somewhere forward on the ARIZONA and had just gotten to my feet again when there was a terrific flash of flame from the ARIZONA, this second flash being higher than the foretop. Burning debris of sizes from a fraction of an inch up to five inches in diameter rained on the quarterdeck of the WEST VIRGINIA.


During all of the above the ship's batteries continued firing, and shortly after the ARIZONA explosion, the list on the WEST VIRGINIA stopped and she gradually started to right herself: Meanwhile, efforts to push overboard the burning embers on the quarterdeck and to extinguish the fire on top of Turret Three and in the planes was continued. There was another heavy shock, distinguishable from the shock of the ship's own guns firing, and it was reported that a large fire had broken out amidships. I went into the deck-house and found the repair parties already working against a fire, but without much success, as the fire increased by leaps and bounds. At this time, a Telephone Talker said "Central Station says Abandon Ship." As it was evident the fire fighting party had no chance to extinguish the fire, they were ordered to leave the ship. The fire had by then, from all appearances, from aft, isolated the after and forward parts of the ship. I went out on the port side of the quarterdeck, and seeing no boats on that side went over to the starboard side. By this time the stern of the TENNESSEE was burning, and a wall of flame was advancing toward the WEST VIRGINIA and the TENNESSEE from oil on the water from the ARIZONA. I looked around and saw no one else aft on deck and then I dove overboard and swam to the TENNESSEE. On getting on deck of the TENNESSEE I found about ten WEST VIRGINIA people gathered under the overhang of the TENNESSEE's Number Three Turret. As the TENNESSEE people were busily engaged in fire fighting but in no need of any extra help, I took the WEST VIRGINIA people over the starboard side on to the pipe-line to help in extinguishing the fire that had started in the rubbish and trash and oil covered water between the TENNESSEE and Ford Island. Several of our people that were hurt were loaded into a truck and taken to the dispensary. I then brought the truck back to that part of Ford Island opposite the TENNESSEE and kept on with efforts to exstinguish the fires among the trash and oil on the water. More and more WEST VIRGINIA personnel kept arriving at this point, some by swimming, some by hanging on to wreckage, and, I think one whaleboat load.

* * * * *

Lieutenant C. V. Ricketts, the Senior Gunnery Officer aboard, and regular Second Battery Control Officer, who, as his battery was not firing, busied himself with aiding the Damage Control Officer in counter-flooding, in caring for the Captain when wounded, in attempting to get additional ammunition to the Anti-aircraft battery, and was unsparing of himself in his efforts during the action and during the fire-fighting which followed.

Lieutenant F. H. White, D-V(G), U.S.N.R., who, aided by Miller, Doris, Mess Attendant second class, U.S. Navy, was instrumental in hauling people along through oil and water to the quarterdeck, thereby unquestionably saving the lives of a number of people who might otherwise have been lost.


Image: 80-G-32422 "National ensign flying from stern of USS West Virginia"
National ensign flying from stern of USS West Virginia

Because the above named people are particularly mentioned, it must not be construed that the actions and work of their shipmates and associates was any less valuable or less courageous. The entire ship's company is deserving of the highest commendation, both for their work on December 7th and on the days following. All the ship's company, officers and men, ask is another chance at the enemy. Their devotion to duty and their performance of duty have given new meanings to those phrases.


Lieutenant Commander William M. Hobby, Jr., wrote as follows:

On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, the OKLAHOMA was secured at berth F-5, Pearl Harbor, outboard of the MARYLAND and starboard side of the MARYLAND. Commander J. L. Kenworthy was senior officer on board, and I was second in command. At about 0800 I heard the word over the loud speaker to man the anti-aircraft battery, then shots from an indeterminate direction, then a second time the word to man the antiaircraft battery for a real attack. As I was going topside the word was passed to man all battle stations. I ran up the starboard side out to the main deck


aft by the break of the deck. Before I reached the main deck aft there was a din of gunfire and explosions from all directions.

I started up the ladder from the main deck aft to the anti-aircraft gun platform on the starboard side; at this point I felt what I believe was the first torpedo hit -- a dull thud and a powerful reverberation, on the port side, and the ship began listing to port. I started back down with the idea of getting to Central and directing the flooding of the starboard blisters, but almost immediately there was a second torpedo hit and then a third and the ship listed more; at this time streams of men were pouring up through hatches to the topside. A second or so later, at about the time I was back down to the main deck aft again, came the fourth torpedo hit, and the ship continued to list to port -- at least a twenty degree list at this time, I estimate, and still listing. I directed petty officers near me to spread out over the length of the ship and keep the men as orderly and calm as possible. I sighted Commander Kenworthy on the starboard catwalk and made my way to him and told him that I thought the best now was to save as many men as possible, that it was now impossible to make further watertight closures and establish any further watertight integrity. He agreed and we both passed the word to abandon ship. I called to men on main deck aft to attempt to get to work on the loud speaker.

Although there were now hundreds of men on the starboard side, the general conduct of all hands was quiet and calm. There was an explosion around the port side of the forecastle, which I thought was a bomb hit. I worked my way forward and Commander Kenworthy worked his way aft. There was another shock and concussion and vibration and fuel oil splashed in streams over everything topside. This was either another torpedo hit or a large bomb hit close aboard. The ship continued to list over to port, now about 30 degrees, or more, I thought. I entered # 1 casemate to see about the escape of men from below to topside. Men were still coming out through casemates, and thence out through gun. ports to the catwalk and onto the side. When no more men were to be seen in casemates, I climbed up through a gun port and out over the side; the ship was capsizing and the angle was about 90 degrees. I pulled myself along the side and bottom as the vessel keeled over; the ship finally settled when the mast and stack apparently hit bottom, with an angle of approximately 145 degrees, starboard side uppermost.

I sat on the bottom at about frame 60; hundreds of men were along the hull making their way to the water's edge. Keenum C. W., CBM, joined me and rendered much aid in steadying the men and directing them to swim to the MARYLAND, to the Ford Island Landing, or to a motor launch, depending on the location of the men. The air attack continued and bombs were dropping nearby, but none struck the OKLAHOMA after she capsized. All men who reached the topside were apparently saved, swimming either to the MARYLAND, the shore, or to a motor launch. There were many cases.


Image: 80-G-33054 USS Oklahoma. Thirty-one men were rescued by the working force cutting holes through the bottom. USS Maryland it on the right.
USS Oklahoma. Thirty-one men were rescued by the working force cutting holes through the bottom. USS Maryland it on the right.

of men aiding others to swim, and in some cases actually towing them to shore or the MARYLAND or a boat. The general conduct of the crew continued to be excellent.

I saw the OKLAHOMA officers and men who boarded the MARYLAND go to the MARYLAND anti-aircraft battery and aid in the anti-aircraft fire on the MARYLAND. I saw Boatswain Bothne acting as coxswain of a motor launch and picking up men and taking them to Ford Island landing. After all others had cleared the hull of the ship, as far as we could see, Keenum and I made our way out to the bow. I discarded shoes and uniform, expecting to swim in, at this juncture Boatswain Bothne approached in a motor launch, having already landed one load of men. There were about fifty men in this second load. Keenum and I entered the motor launch. The boat made the dock and unloaded all but Boatswain Bothne, four men, and myself. OKLAHOMA men on the dock were handling lines of a tanker which was getting underway, and some of them boarded the tanker upon being told that the tanker needed more men to go out on her. Other men on the dock were asking where they could go to aid in anti-aircraft fire; all seemed to be thinking of how to fight rather than seeking safety.

I remained in the motor launch, and with Boatswain Bothne and four men patrolled up and down the line facing the OKLAHOMA, WEST VIRGINIA, and ARIZONA, looking for survivors to pick up from the water. By this time it appeared that all men had reached shore and the water


was clear of men. We patrolled for about twenty minutes (estimated), until it seemed that the attack was over, or at least that no more bombs were being dropped that we could see, and we could see no more enemy planes. Then we took the motor launch across the harbor to the Mine Dock landing. Here were survivors, other boards, and Navy Yard personnel along the dock. A truck driver volunteered to drive those of us without clothes to the Receiving Station for clothes. We drove there, and I obtained dungarees, shoes and a white sailor's hat. Then the truck returned me to the landing. I commandeered a motor boat and returned to the hull of the OKLAHOMA: Others were on the OKLAHOMA and still more were coming aboard as I arrived. With several men I went over the hull discussing possibilities of salvaging those still alive inside. Commander Kranzfelder, Lieutenant Commander Benson, Lieutenant Commander Henderson were now on the hull. Also Boatswain Bothne and twenty or thirty men from the OKLAHOMA who had returned. I believe that all returned at approximately the same time. Thenceforth we concentrated on salvage work for the rescue of survivors trapped inside. I remained on the hull or inside the hull for the next sixty hours as senior OKLAHOMA officer on salvage work. A detailed report of salvage work is submitted as a separate report.

Boatswain A. M. Bothne wrote:

About 0800 December 7, I was on the after end of the superstructure deck. The first indication I had of the attack was when Hilton, BM1/c started to call for the sixth division men to man the anti-aircraft battery. I saw three torpedoes hit the OKLAHOMA, one forward at about frame 35 or 40. The ship started to list immediately when the first torpedo hit. After the third torpedo hit the ship listed to an angle of about 45 degrees. All lines to the MARYLAND were still holding with about 150 or 200 men sitting on the starboard blister ledge. The ship seemed to be stationary in that position for a short interval when another torpedo hit the port side, then the lines to the MARYLAND carried away and the OKLAHOMA rolled on over to about 135 degrees. I swam out to #3 motor launch and started rescuing the men who were left on the edge of the hull.

The fire burned around the CALIFORNIA and was extinguished. With the aid of a water barge and tug #31 the fire around the WEST VIRGINIA was brought under control. I then noticed activity on the bottom of the OKLAHOMA and reported to Lieutenant Commander Hobby to aid in rescue and salvage work.

Chief Machinist, Second Class, W. F. Staff wrote as follows:

Sunday morning at 0750 on 7 December 1941, I was in the Carpenter Shop when the general alarm was sounded. I immediately went along the starboard side of the third deck to my battle station. I felt several explosions


on the way to Repair II. When I got to Repair II I took my phones and went to get a flashlight but they were locked up so I went on down to A-28, the forward air compressor room, and started to set Zed.

There was an electricians mate and a fireman also Centers, J.P., MM2/c and myself in the compartment. When the lights went out the fireman and electricians mate started to go out the zed hatch which had been set by repair II; they were yelling and screaming. Water and fuel oil was coming down the hatch. I tried to stop them from opening the hatch but couldn't.

The next thing we knew we were all under water and oil. Centers and myself were the only ones that came up.

It took us some time in the dark to find out that we were back in A-28 and the ship had capsized.

We then tried to get into the linen storeroom. It was on the starboard side and was out of the water. A-28 was about half full of oil and water. The storeroom was locked and it took several hours to beat the lock off with a wrench that we found on the air compressor. We could not get into the storeroom as gear must have wedged against the door.

We tried to get into a small storeroom which was on the overhead, but it was also locked and we could not get into position to beat the lock off.

About Monday noon we heard tapping and we answered them. After so long they were right overhead and we could hear them talking. When they started to cut into us it let out our air and we were under air pressure; the water came up as our air escaped.

The water came up and ran out the hole they were cutting and they left. But we still had about six inches of air space.

We tried the linen room again and it gave a little. Apparently the water had cleared the gear from the door, we went in and started tapping again.

The rescuers soon got out to us again and we left the ship at 0200 Tuesday morning.

I wish to thank these men for their hard work in rescuing us: Keenum, CBM, Thomas, SF1c, and Harris CM2c.


Aviation Machinist's Mate, Third Class M. T. Hurst wrote as follows:

When the attack on Pearl Harbor began on December 7, 1941, I was on the quarter deck smoking a cigarette. The first bit of excitement I noticed was the Officer-of-the-Deck and the Junior O. D. standing near the Admiral's gangway, pointing and looking west toward Ford Island. Out of curiosity I went over to the life line to see what everyone was looking at. I saw a large column of smoke going up into the air. At this time the O.O.D. told the boatswain's mate of the watch to sound general alarm which he did


Image: 80-G-32608 Rescue party alongside Arizona.
Rescue party alongside Arizona.

on the double. At the time I thought there was a fire on one of the ships or the air station so I went up into # 5 casemate to see what was going on.

It was now that the first word was said about an air attack and then everyone seemed to think it was the Army having a mock attack. I watched several planes sweep over Ford Island and when one went over our fantail I saw the red spot on the wing. Our guns then opened up and it first struck me that we were being attacked. I then went back on the quarter deck and just as I reached the armor deck, general quarters was sounded. My general quarters station was not down there so I started back up the ladder which was made a little difficult by a marine officer fighting his way below.

When I reached main deck there was a fire in the Executive Officer's office. Lane, an aviation radioman, Burns, our yeoman, and I started to get a hose to fight the fire. At this time a fire broke out on the quarter deck, and we dragged the hose out there. Lane screwed on the nozzle while I went to turn on the water at the plug forward of #3 turret.

A bomb then hit somewhere forward of me and knocked me down. I finished turning on the water and started out to where I was to help Lane, but he was no longer there. I noticed there was no water coming out of the nozzle so I started to go forward and saw many marines and sailors lying about the deck badly burned. I tried to help one but he was pretty well blown up.

Someone yelled, "Get out of here," so I picked up someone and started to carry him off. Someone said to let him go since he was dead. It was pretty hot then and several men were running around badly burned, so with


a couple of other fellows, one of them Burns, I helped to get these men over to the life line and told them to go over the side. I then went over to the blister and jumped into the water. I was near a mooring quay so I went under it and took off my pants and socks. My shoes got separated from me some place. From there I swam to the motor launch tied up along side of the quay. Someone helped me out onto the quay. Then we were all busy for some time helping others out and putting injured into the launch. The launch was going to the SOLACE so when it started pulling away I dove over the side and started to swim to Ford Island. It was the farthest and fastest swim I have ever made. Upon reaching land we were directed to the bomb shelter where I remained until taken over to the Receiving Barracks. I stayed there until coming to Ford Island.

It should be explained that each ship was moored to two quays which were near Ford Island. Most of the men called them "keys" and the statements of survivors often refer to them as keys.

Seaman First Class w. W. Parker wrote as follows:

On December 7, 1941, about 7:50 a.m. I was on the blister top of the USS ARIZONA when a squadron of Japanese dive bombers began to bomb the air-drome on Ford Island. I stood there a few minutes and watched, thinking it was a bombing practice. Air raid sirens began to blow. I went up to the battery on the double time and manned gun one. After one round, the gun captain ordered us to take cover when they began strafing us with machine gun fire. All took cover with the exception of three of us who kept on firing. We still did not understand what was taking place. Then we saw the WEST VIRGINIA torpedoed. Next, we saw a flight of horizontal bombers that began to drop their bombs. One bomb hit in front of the forward turret. We think it went down in the magazine for the whole forward part of the ship blew up and caught fire. One of the other men and I must have been blown over the side of the galley deck. About that time a bomb went down the stack. That's all I remember until I was on the quarter deck and aware that they were taking men from the quay over to Ford Island in whaleboats. About that time all the ships were getting organized and were putting up a heavy barrage of fire. The Japanese planes were not doing so good then for they were being driven off. I saw four or five planes shot down. There were two planes shot down by our machine gunners who were on security watch on the ARIZONA. None of the ammunition we fired exploded in the air; why I do not know unless it was because the fuse was not set. This is all I can actually say that I saw.

Ensign H. D. Davison wrote as follows:

It was just before colors, in fact I had already sent the messenger down to make the 8 o'clock reports to the Captain. Then I heard a dive bomber


Image: USN NR&L (MOD) 39736 Arizona sunk
USN NR&L (MOD) 39736
Arizona sunk

attack from overhead. I looked through my spyglass and saw the red dots on the wings. That made me wonder but I still couldn't believe it until I saw some bombs falling. The first one hit up by the air Station. I sounded the air raid alarm and notified the Captain. The Captain and Lieutenant Commander Fuqua came on deck, and the Captain went on up to the bridge. Mr. Fuqua told me to sound General Quarters. About that time we took a bomb hit on the starboard side of the quarterdeck, just about abreast of #4 turret. We grabbed the men available and started dropping the hatches and leading out hose on the quarterdeck.

About this time, the planes that had made the initial dive bomb attack strafed the ship. Mr. Fuqua and I told all hands to get in the marine compartment. It was reported to us that we had a bomb in the executive officer's office. Mr. Fuqua told me to call the center engine room and get pressure on the fire mains. Then he went up to the boat deck. I told the boatswain's mate of the watch to do that. Then I went into the O.D.'s booth to do it myself. Just after I stepped in the booth we took another hit which seemed to be on the starboard side of the quarterdeck just about frame 88. The boatswain's mate and I were trapped in the booth by the flames. We started out of the booth, trying to run through the flame aft on the quarter deck. We could not get through so we went over the lifeline into the water. I was conscious of a sweetish sickening smell to the flame.

After I got in the water my first intention was to go to the quay and then onto the quarterdeck or to swim to the gangway and get aboard. But


after I took one look at the ship, I decided that it was useless. She had settled down by the bow and appeared broken in two. The foremast was toppled over, she was a mass of flames from the forecastle to just forward of turret #3. I was helped into a motor launch by Ensign Bush and another man. Then we in turn took the motor launch and picked up as many survivors as we could find in the water. We took them over to the landing at Ford Island. There we were met by Air Station Marines who helped us. . . . Ensign Bush and I took the barge which had come up and took it back over alongside the quarterdeck where we gathered another load of injured. Upon our return to Ford Island we noticed three more boats alongside the ARIZONA so we proceeded to the air raid shelter. Then I went up to the dispensary for first aid treatment.


Lieutenant Commander M. N. Little, First Lieutenant and Acting Commanding Officer wrote as follows :

About 0750 or 0755, Sunday, December 7, 1941, I was working in my office when I heard a series of explosions followed by the word passed over the loud speaker system, "Air Raid! Air Raid! Seek Shelter! Seek Shelter!" I rushed from my office and as I reached the door the general alarm was sounded. I paused long enough to order Baldwin, R. M., my Chief Yeoman, to assume command of the Damage Control personnel in Central Station and tell him that I was going to the bridge to take command. I then ran up to the conning tower on the emergency platform. Enroute I noticed several dark gray planes with red wing markings attacking the moored line of battleships. As I reached the emergency platform I heard several heavy explosions and looking aft saw large columns of water arising along the ships moored abaft the CALIFORNIA. I entered the conning tower and found it already partially manned. Lieutenant Fritschmann was in control of the ship's armament I ordered him to complete the manning of the A. A. Battery as soon as possible, to get up ammunition, and open fire on any enemy planes sighted. I then ordered Main Control to make preparations for getting underway and Central Station to have repair parties set conditions YOKE and ZED throughout the ship.

I next stepped out on the emergency platform and walked around the superstructure in order to see whether I could sight planes attacking from any direction. Within a few minutes I saw a low flying plane approach from the direction of Merry Point, bank steeply and launch a torpedo. The bubble track of the torpedo was clearly visible as it headed for us and struck the ship somewhere slightly abaft the port beam about frame 100. As the torpedo exploded a heavy column of water arose alongside the port side


Image: Battleship Row at the time of the attack
Battleship Row at the time of the attack


and the ship lurched and began to list to port. I returned to the conning tower where I informed central station that we had been struck by a torpedo on the port quarter in Repair III area and directed Baldwin to counterflood starboard voids as necessary to reduce the list and restrict it to four degrees or less, at the same time cautioning him to watch the draft and not to flood so many voids that he would be in danger of sinking the ship.

I spent the next ten or fifteen minutes alternately in the conning tower checking the progress of counterflooding operations with Central Station and on the emergency platform observing the efforts of the personnel to procure ammunition. There was none available to the A. A. Battery except that in ready boxes on the ready guns and at the time of the first torpedo hit ammunition from the magazines had not been received by the battery. Lieutenant Fritschmann assured me that every effort was being made to get the ammunition supply functioning and I refrained from disturbing him by repeated questioning. After the first torpedo hit it was reported that power was lost on the A. A. hoists and I directed that the ammunition supply be started using hand power. Central Station had reported that counterflooding was in progress and the list had apparently been checked, at least temporarily, when the second torpedo struck.

Image: 80-G-32586 Oil fires approaching USS California.
Oil fires approaching USS California.


I caught only a glimpse through the conning tower eye port of the track of the second torpedo as it approached but believed that it had struck forward of amidships, about abeam of turret II. I notified Central Station of this second torpedo hit and ordered further counterflooding as necessary to restrict the list of the ship but again cautioned Baldwin not to flood so many voids that he would sink the ship. I also ordered that I be informed of the damage when it was ascertained. The OKLAHOMA which was moored astern of us outboard of the MARYLAND was already listing heavily and was obviously about to capsize. At this time I was more concerned about the possible danger of the ship capsizing than of sinking. I soon received a report from Central Station that further voids were being counterflooded and a report from Lieutenant Fritschmann that the ammunition supply was functioning, although slowly. The list after the second torpedo hit had increased markedly and was about six or seven degrees but apparently checked at that point so I took advantage of the lull to order Lieutenant Commander Eckhoff who was also in the conning tower with me, to assume direction of activities on the Bridge while I took a quick turn about the ship to see personally how matters were going.

I then took a quick turn around the Casemates and Boat Deck. In the course of this round I noted that the personnel on the various stations were on the whole, cool and collected and eager to have ammunition so they could fight back in the event of a reoccurrence of the attack. After the round of the gun stations I returned to the emergency platform outside of the Conning Tower a few moments before the commencement of the bombing attack.

Just before the bombing attack on this ship Commander Stone, the Executive Officer, appeared on the bridge, having returned to the ship from shore leave at 0845. I informed him of the situation and he thereupon assumed command.

Shortly after Commander Stone's arrival the bombing attack commenced. I was still with him when what appeared to be a whole stick of bombs landed on our starboard side in the water between the ship and the shore. A few seconds later the ship was hit by a bomb amidships on the starboard side. There was a heavy explosion below decks followed by light smoke from the starboard side and later heavy smoke. This bombing was followed by strafing with machine guns. Such guns of our battery as had ammunition and could bear were in action. I informed Central of the bomb hit amidships and ordered Repair I to report to the scene. There appeared to be several recurrent waves of strafing attacks but no further bombing.

I returned to the Captain who was on the Emergency Platform and gave him a brief summary of the damage at that time insofar as I knew it. From there I went to the quarterdeck intending to enter the main deck and reach the scene of the fire which was then raging on the starboard side in the interior of the ship. I undogged the door on the starboard side of the quarter-


deck leading into the main deck but was met by a rush of heavy smoke and heat so intense that it was impossible to enter the compartment. I closed the door and started to enter the Crew's Reception Room hoping to get in that way but found the same conditions existing there. The 2JZ talker of Repair I had left the Crew's Reception Room and was crouched on the platform of the officers' ladder leading from the quarterdeck to the boat deck where his telephone lead would reach. I asked him if he still had Central Station and he said yes that Baldwin wanted to speak with me. Baldwin informed me that he had lost communication with all repair parties save Repair I. I inquired whether Central was intact and personnel safe and he said yes everything was all right there.

I started across to the port side intending to try again to get inside to the main deck but upon my arrival there noted that the fire on the next ship astern had worked down to the oil which formed a heavy coating on the surface of the water and was coming down rapidly toward the CALIFORNIA with the wind which was blowing a fresh breeze from that direction. I returned to the Emergency Platform where I pointed out the approaching fire to the Captain. He left me presumably to confer with Admiral Pye who was aboard by this time and was on the Flag Bridge. Upon his return a few minutes later the Captain directed the Executive Officer to order the crew to abandon ship.

I went immediately to the Conning Tower where I had the JA talker direct Baldwin in Central to order all repair parties to abandon ship and Baldwin himself to evacuate Central Station with the personnel therein via

Image: 80-G-19951 California engulfed by oil fires.
California engulfed by oil fires.


the Conning Tower tube. When I saw that the tube was open and the personnel of Central Station on their way up I left the Conning Tower and went to the forecastle, where I stood by and directed the men to slide down to the Mooring lines to the quay rather than to jump or dive into the water. As the fire came forward on the port side of the CALIFORNIA I slid down one of the mooring lines to the quay where I remained temporarily. Fire passed down the port side setting many fires on the weather decks but the ship as a whole did not catch fire. Seeing that the fire was passing I swam over from the quay to the dredge pontoons and went inshore to where a large group of men were gathered at the water's edge and ordered them to return to the ship in an attempt to salvage her. I myself returned to the quay in a punt and climbed up the mooring lines to the deck where I started to organize the personnel to fight the fires still burning amidships and to prevent the ship from sinking or capsizing.

As I spent most of the time during the actual engagement either on the Emergency Platform or in the Conning Tower I did not witness any acts of extraordinary heroism or bravery because there was no opportunity for such display. On the other hand every man whom I observed was manning his station and performing his duties with coolness and without fear in entire disregard of any danger to which he might be subject. Of the performance of duty of all members of the damage control organization both during the action and in the subsequent rescue work thereto I cannot speak too highly. I cannot single out anyone individual from this group for special mention without doing an injustice to all the others. As described by the reports of their leaders the work of all members of the damage control organization was most gratifying and praiseworthy, fully in keeping with the highest traditions of the service.

Private A. E. Senior, U.S. Marine Corps, wrote as follows:

When General Quarters was sounded I went to my battle station, 5 inch/51 Gun #8 in Casemate #8 on the port side. The Battery Officer then asked for volunteers to go below for gas masks. I volunteered, but we could not get down to the storeroom where the masks were stored, so we returned to our gun stations. Again the Battery Officer asked for two volunteers to go below and haul 5 inch/25 A. A. ammunition to the topside because the hoists were out of commission. We went down through the escape hatch in Casemate #6, through the Division Compartment, and finally through the hatch on the starboard side to the 'C-L' Division Compartment. This is where ammunition was being taken out of the hoist which was being operated by hand in the handling room. It was being passed from there to the topside by hand: It was here, at this time that I first saw Ensign H. C. Jones. He was standing on the third deck at the foot of the ladder directing the hand passing of ammunition up the ladder. In passing the ammunition, I was at the top of the ladder from the handling room, and


Image: USN NR&L (MOD) 39737 Tugs assisting in rescue and salvage near California.
USN NR&L (MOD) 39737
Tugs assisting in rescue and salvage near California.

only one man was between myself and Ensign Jones. We had been down there about fifteen or twenty minutes when the bomb hit on the starboard side of the ship. The only light we had was blown out when the bomb hit. When it hit, the compartment filled with smoke and I reached for my gas mask, which I had layed on top of a shell box behind me, and put it on. Then someone said, "Mr. Jones has been hit" so I flashed the flashlight I had on Ensign Jones' face and it was all bloody. His white coat also had blood allover it. Two other men and myself took a hold of Mr. Jones and started up the ladder with him. We got him as far as the M Division Compartment. Then he wouldn't let us carry him any farther. When we tried to he said, "leave me alone, I'm done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off." Then there was another shock from below and that's the last I remember until they were pulling me up through the escape hatch in Casemate # 3.


There are only a few survivor's reports from Utah, which was a former battleship converted to a target ship. One of the best was written by the Acting Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander S. S. Isquith, which is as follows:


On Sunday, December 7, 1941, while moored at Berth FOX-11, Pearl Harbor, T. H., 3 planes whose identification were not questioned but taken for U.S. planes maneuvering, were observed just as colors were being hoisted at 0800, heading northerly from the harbor entrance. They made a low dive on the southern end of Ford Island and each dropped a bomb.

Immediately thereafter the air was filled with planes clearly distinguished as yellow colored planes with brilliant red Rising Sun insignia on fuselage and red wing tips, flying low at about 100 knots speed and dropping aerial torpedoes and bombs. They appeared to be Henkle 113, or similar type, with very silent engines. The general alarm was immediately rung and word was passed, "All hands to bombing quarters." About this time, 0801, a severe underwater hit, at approximately frame 84, port side, was felt and the ship immediately commenced to list to port. Another underwater hit was felt almost immediately thereafter in about the same general location and the listing of the ship increased immediately to about 15 degrees. At this time I realized that the ship would capsize and word was passed. "All hands on deck and all engineroom and fireroom, radio and dynamo watch to lay up on deck and release all prisoners."

All hands were ordered to the starboard side, which was the high side, to escape danger of loose timbers pinning men down. Word was passed for all hands to equip themselves with life jackets but due to the fact that the life jackets were stored in canvas bags in the aircastle, it was not practicable for many men to obtain life jackets due to miscellaneous gear stored in the starboard aircastle moving and a bomb explosion in the port aircastle which took place at that time. At about this time the engine room reported that steam had dropped and that they were unable to cut in the drain pumps, that the port engine room was flooded and that the starboard engine room was taking water rapidly, the water at that time being above the high pressure turbine and reduction gear. The lights were still on in the engine room. The engine room watch cleared the starboard engine room. No. 2 fireroom, No. 4 boiler steaming, reported steam dropping rapidly and additional burner cut in to hold steam. The second hit put out all fires. The fireroom watch then abandoned the fireroom, closed the quick closing fuel oil valve, leaving the auxiliary feed pumps operating but slowing down due to lack of steam.

By about 0805, the ship had listed to about 40 degrees to port. Lights were still on. No report had been received from the dynamo room; word was again passed. "All hands on deck and abandon ship over starboard side." The crew commenced getting over the side, the ship continuing to list but somewhat slower. The attacking planes were now returning from a northerly direction flying low and strafing the crew as they abandoned ship. The loose timbers about the decks were moving to port, interfering greatly with the efforts of the crew to abandon ship.

Observing the strafing and the moving of the timbers and loose gear in


the aircastles, I directed that the crew divide into three groups, one group going up the ladder leading from the starboard aircastle to the Captain's cabin, one going up the ladder from the starboard wardroom country to the passage inboard of the Captain's stateroom, and one going up the ladder leading from the starboard wardroom country near the wardroom pantry to the forecastle. A large number of these men escaped through the ports in the Captain's cabin.

Lieutenant (jg) P. F. Hauck, Machinist S. A. Szymanski, and myself were the last to leave the ship going through the ports in the Captain's cabin. At this time, about 0810, the ship was listing about 80 degrees to port and planes were still strafing the ship. Mooring lines were parting and two motor launches and the motor whale boat were picking up men in the water. Many men were observed swimming to the north and south quays of Pier FOX-11, and as planes were still strafing, the men were ordered to the sides of the quays for some protection.

At about 0812, the last mooring lines had parted and the ship was capsized, the keel plainly showing. All men picked up by ship's boats were taken ashore to Ford Island and boats were ordered to return and pick up any men still swimming about.

On reaching shore on Ford Island, all hands were ordered into the trenches that had been dug there for some Public Works Project, in order to protect themselves from the strafing planes. Noting that many men were injured and wounded, Commander G. H. Larson, (MC), U.S. Navy, with Kerns, Jean W., HS1/c, U.S. Naval Reserve, who had brought a first aid kit ashore with him, set up a first aid station in the quarters of Lieutenant Church (CEC), Building No. 118, Ford Island. Commander Larson, Gray, PhM, and two other pharmacist's mates proceeded with the first aid treatment of all men who had been injured and necessary cases were sent to the Naval Air Station Dispensary in Naval Air Station trucks supplied for this purpose.

While in the trenches, a short time later, knocking was heard on the ship's hull. At this time planes were still strafing and dropping bombs. I called for a volunteer crew to return to the UTAH to investigate the knocking heard. Machinist Szymanski and a volunteer crew consisting of MacSelwiney, CMM, and two seamen, names unknown, returned to the ship and located the tapping coming from the void space V-98, under the dynamo room. They answered the knocking with knocks on the outside which in turn were answered by knocking within the ship.

Realizing that there were personnel trapped inside the ship, Machinist Szymanski obtained a cutting torch and equipment from the U.S.S. RALEIGH and cut a hole in the bottom of the ship and rescued Vaessen, John B., F2c V-6, USNR, who reported that he had been the last man in that part of the ship. He was on watch on the forward distribution board when the ship was hit and the voltage commenced dropping. He cut out


Images: 80-G-19950 Rescue parties working on openings in the hull of capsized USS Utah.
Rescue parties working on openings in the hull of capsized USS Utah.

power forward and then aft in an endeavor to maintain lights in the ship. Finally the lights dimmed and went out and he, then being unable to escape to the deck, proceeded to the dynamo room, entered the starboard dynamo work shop, opened the manhole to compartment V-98 and climbed up to the ship's bottom taking his wrench and flashlight with him.

* * * * *

All officers and enlisted personnel are to be commended for the initiative and prompt execution of all orders during the entire period and I am of the opinion that the coolness and lack of excitement as well as the small loss of life was due to a great extent to the training they had received during the previous nine weeks of duty as a bombing target. The boat crews acted in a manner well worthy of commendation, picking up men from the water during the entire strafing period.

The reports of survivors agree with the report given above. It should be mentioned here that Utah did not open fire against the Japanese planes because the guns were all inoperative. By reason of acting as target ship in the current operations all of the anti-aircraft guns were covered with steel housing while the smaller machine guns were dismantled and stowed below decks.

There were 58 men lost on Utah. The majority of those lost were killed or injured by 6 x 12 timbers which covered the ship in two layers; the swim to Ford Island was considerable, although shipmates helped each other in getting through the oily water.



Nevada was moored just astern of Arizona. In accordance with the fleet doctrine she got underway and headed for the entrance before the order was cancelled. The senior officer aboard at the time was Lieutenant commander Thomas of the Naval Reserve.

The Japanese planes were first seen at 0801 and General Quarters was sounded immediately. The Captain's official report indicates that the machine guns forward and aft opened fire at 0802 and the 5-inch opened fire about 0803 with local control as it was deemed inappropriate to wait for director control personnel to reach their stations in the top of masts.

The machine guns fired effectively at enemy torpedo planes approaching from the portside. One plane was brought down by machine gun fire and fell about 100 yards off the port quarter. Another plane dropped a torpedo which struck Nevada on the port bow. The 5-inch guns on the portside downed a torpedo plane before it released its weapon.

About 0830 all guns opened fire again and continued until 0915 when the attack slackened. The official reports differ as to the number of enemy planes shot down, but as many as five were reported. Some of these were dive bombers which attacked Nevada while she was underway.

She got underway at 0840 and headed southwest. When abreast Drydock Number One she was heavily attacked by Japanese dive bombers. At this time Admiral Furlong, standing on the deck of his doomed flagship, Oglala, ordered the ship to seek refuge in the Middle Loch. He feared that she might block the entrance channel, especially if the enemy had dropped mines in that area as then seemed probable. Accordingly, he ordered two tugs to assist Nevada, and she was grounded near the entrance at Waipio Point.

There were no more Japanese attacks. Nevada had fought gallantly, and had received one torpedo hit and at least six bomb hits. Her crew was magnificent. The Captain, Captain F. W. Scanland, reported as follows:

The Commanding Officer finds it extremely difficult to single out individual members of the crew as deserving of special praise. Every officer and man aboard, without exception, performed his duties in a most commendable manner and without regard to personal safety. The courage and spirit of the anti-aircraft gun crews, where bomb hits caused most of the casualties, was of the highest order. Every man on the ship carried on in accordance with the best traditions of the service. It is considered that Lieutenant Commander Francis J. Thomas, U. S.


Image: 80-G-177113 USS Nevada beached.
USS Nevada beached.

Naval Reserve, the Commanding Officer during the greater part of the attack, is deserving of special commendation. This officer got the ship underway within forty minutes and headed down channel. Although the NEVADA had been torpedoed and had received one or two bomb hits, Lieutenant Commander Thomas correctly decided that it was urgently necessary to get underway to avoid destruction of the ship due to the proximity of the ARIZONA which was surrounded with burning oil and afire from stem to stern. Throughout the action Lieutenant Commander Thomas coolly and calmly fought the ship despite many bomb hits and casualties. After the attack and for two days afterward, Lieutenant commander Thomas performed damage control duties in a most creditable manner although near the point of exhaustion by his two days of strenuous work.

In addition, the Captain named the following for special recognition:

Chief Boatswain E. J. Hill, who was killed in action.


Ensign J. K. Taussig, Jr., who, although badly wounded, refused to leave his post.

Ensign Taylor, who was in charge of a 5 inch anti-aircraft battery and was outstanding in leadership.

Among others he mentioned Lieutenant L. E. Ruff, Chief Quartermaster R. Sedferry, Boatswain's Mate, First Class A. Solar, and Seaman First Class, W. F. Neudorf, Jr.

He ended with the following :

The Commanding Officer believes that all members of the crew of the NEVADA who were aboard during the attack are deserving of special praise, and the courage and spirit of the crew both during and after the attack cannot be over-emphasized. The performance of duty of the Medical Department under the difficult conditions is most gratifying, and the members of that Department exhibited the same courage and devotion to duty under fire as any other member of the crew. The dead and wounded were quickly and effectively handled.


The Commander Battleships, Rear Admiral W. S. Anderson, wrote as follows:

On the occasion of the treacherous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, battleship ready guns opened fire at once. They were progressively augmented as the rest of the anti-aircraft battery was manned as all battleships went to General Quarters with commendable promptness. This resulted in an early and great volume of anti-aircraft fire. Considering all the circumstances, including the necessity for local control in the early stages of the attack, the control of fire was gratifyingly good as attested by the fifteen to seventeen enemy planes which were brought down. That such an anti-aircraft fire could be inaugurated and sustained in spite of the difficulties resulting from early damage by torpedoes and bombs and great and menacing oil fires is a tribute to the courage, constancy, efficiency and resourcefulness of the officers and men. Not only were they maintaining a sustained and aggressive fire whenever the enemy threatened, but they were engaged in valiant efforts to save the ships, prevent their capsizing and fighting large and menacing oil fires, enveloped in dense clouds of smoke. Severe structural damage and flooded magazines made replenishment of ammunition a serious problem, which in overcoming great courage and ingenuity was exhibited.

* * * * *


When the attack first started, the Chief of Staff, Operations Officer and Assistant Material Officer were on board the flagship, MARYLAND. Other members of the Staff returned to the ship as soon as practicable, all arriving on board either during the action or shortly thereafter. Commander Battleships arrived on board about 0905 and immediately took general charge not only of the salvage and rescue work of the battleships but also assisted in retransmitting messages received from the Commander-in-Chief addressed to various light forces.

* * * * *

Burning oil from the ARIZONA was being carried on the surface of the water surrounding the TENNESSEE-WEST VIRGINIA group and at times on the MARYLAND and capsized OKLAHOMA. The YG-17 upon the initiative of her commanding officer, Chief Boatswain's Mate, L. M. Jansen, U.S. Navy, took aggressive action in fighting the fire, taking station at the quarter of the WEST VIRGINIA and maintaining her position there in spite of dense smoke and flame. Commander Battleships directed the TERN to assist and later when the WIDGEON reported to assist in the rescue work on the hull of the capsized OKLAHOMA, directed that vessel to fight the fire. Later, the BOBOLINK was also directed to assist. These vessels kept the fire under control throughout the night and with the assistance of the NAVAJO on December 8 succeeded in extinguishing the fire in the WEST VIRGINIA. These vessels were then directed to fight the fire in the ARIZONA which was gotten under control before dark the night of December 8.

The CALIFORNIA was listing dangerously to port. The NEVADA, which had gotten underway from her berth, and had been bombed in the channel, was beached in order to prevent sinking or capsizing.

* * * * *

The TENNESSEE was pinched between the WEST VIRGINIA and the forward interrupted quay. There is no evidence of excessive strain of the ship's structure. Armor bolts have been examined and found tight.

MARYLAND was struck by a light fragmentation bomb on the forecastle deck forward, which blew a hole about 12 feet by 20 feet in the deck, and caused minor structural damage in the compartments on the main deck below. This has been repaired.

A 15-inch A.P. bomb entered the water on the port bow close aboard, and pierced the shell at the twenty-three foot water line, near frame 11, exploding in compartment A-103-A, sail and awning stowage, causing widespread structural damage and flooding. Repairs are underway to make the ship seaworthy.

The torpedo air compressor rooms were flooded incident to this hit, placing both compressors out of commission. A steam air compressor has been installed in the ship to provide H. P. air until these compressors can


Image: 80-G-32706 Maryland and capsized Oklahoma with West Virginia's masts visible in the background.
Maryland and capsized Oklahoma with West Virginia's masts visible in the background.

be repaired. Small arms and .50 caliber machine gun magazine was flooded by the ship.

* * * * *

Information available at present indicates that machinery and fireroom spaces have incurred little or no damage from explosion or fire. On the NEVADA, OKLAHOMA, ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA and WEST VIRGINIA the engineering plants are submerged.

The fires in the forward portions of the WEST VIRGINIA and ARIZONA have caused warping and collapse of a considerable portion of structure.

* * * * *

The need for adequate splinter protection for topside personnel was vividly demonstrated. For example, the protection afforded by the King Board bulkheads provided considerable protection so far as it went. These bulkheads were pitted by many .50 caliber bullets and fragments. In no case were the bulkheads which were inspected holed. However, the protection afforded was inadequate. There should be gun shields, or better still, gun turrets. In the case of the NEVADA, a bomb hit the boat deck and wiped out most of the personnel because no protection was afforded from inboard.

The need for splinter protection with lateral, all around, and overhead


protection has been stressed by Commander Battleships in previous correspondence and the attack on Pearl Harbor served to emphasize its urgent necessity.

* * * * *

Rescue work on the hull of the capsized OKLAHOMA was initiated by Commander Battleships and directed by Commander E. P. Kranzfelder and Lieutenant Mandelkorn of Commander Battleships' staff, assisted by officers and men of the OKLAHOMA, men from the RIGEL and Navy Yard Pearl Harbor and fire and rescue parties from the battleships. As a result of these efforts 32 men were rescued alive from the hull of the OKLAHOMA.

* * * * *

The following named Division Commanders and Commanding Officers were killed :

Rear Admiral I. C. Kidd, U.S. Navy, Commander Battleship Division One.

Captain F. Van Valkenburgh, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. ARIZONA.

Captain M. S. Bennion, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA.

Conduct of personnel. In separate correspondence Commander Battleships has submitted to the Commander-in-Chief a report of the distinguished conduct of various individuals, as well as the ships' companies in general. Commander Battleships cannot, however, conclude this report without paying homage to the universal exhibition of courage and magnificent fighting spirit by absolutely all the personnel of the battleships. Their conduct was in accord with the highest traditions of the Service.

The Commanding Officer, Captain D. C. Godwin reported:

All anti-aircraft batteries were promptly manned at the beginning of the attack. The machine gun battery placed torpedo planes under fire immediately, it being believed that the first two such planes approaching this ship and the OKLAHOMA met destructive fire. All A. A. batteries were employed against the dive bombing and strafing attacks which followed the torpedo attack. The approximate amount of ammunition expended is as follows :

5"/25 -- 450 rounds

1.1" -- 4500 rounds

.50 cal. M. G. -- 2500



The Captain of Tennessee, Captain C. E, Reardan, wrote:

At about 0755, planes, observed to be Japanese by their markings, were seen dropping bombs on Ford Island. This ship went to General Quarters and started setting condition Zed. Immediately, after the bombing of Ford Island, planes began torpedoing and bombing the battleships and other ships in the Harbor. This ship opened fire with 5" 25 caliber, 3" 50 caliber, and .50 caliber machine guns about five minutes after the first attack. Orders for sortie were received but later cancelled for battleships. This ship was ready to get underway with both plants and 6 boilers about 0930, Shortly after the attack began, the OKLAHOMA, WEST VIRGINIA, and CALIFORNIA received torpedo hits. The OKLAHOMA listed over and in about 10 minutes capsized. The WEST VIRGINIA listed heavily but was righted by counter flooding. The CALIFORNIA listed. The ARIZONA received several large bomb hits at least one of which apparently penetrated the magazines. There was a large explosion forward. The foremast fell forward and burning powder, oil, and debris was thrown on the quarterdeck of the TENNESSEE. The ARIZONA settled rapidly by the bow. The NEVADA got underway, but was struck by bombs and torpedoes and grounded in the channel. Large fires were raging around the ARIZONA and WEST VIRGINIA. The ARIZONA was moored to quays about seventy-five feet astern of the TENNESSEE and the WEST VIRGINIA was moored to the TENNESSEE. The burning powder, oil, and debris from the ARIZONA explosion plus the intense heat from the fires started fires in the stern and port quarter of this ship. These fires and the subsequent wetting caused considerable damage to the wardroom and officers' quarters in this vicinity. The fires were brought under control about 1030.

* * * * *

There are 21 blanked off ports in the area which was exposed to great heat. Of these blanked ports the welding pulled apart due to the distortion of the shell plating. The regular ports in this area had the lenses fused, rubber gaskets burned, and the canvas stopwater between the port frame and the side of the ship destroyed. Except in small isolated cases, there was no burning of linoleum. This was probably due to the fact that the heat was above all linoleum rather than under.

* * * * *

The following ammunition was expended during the battle: 760 rounds 5"/25 A. A. common, 180 rounds 3"/50, 4000 rounds 50 caliber machine gun.

* * * * *


Image: 80-G-36822 Tennessee and West Virginia with capsized Oklahoma in foreground.
Tennessee and West Virginia with capsized Oklahoma in foreground.

The conduct of the officers and crew of the TENNESSEE was uniformly in accordance with the highest traditions of the Service. Not only did they fight the battle with calmness and deliberation but for the next twenty-four hours they fought the oil fires in the ARIZONA and WEST VIRGINIA which threatened to destroy the TENNESSEE. The ARIZONA was eighty feet to windward and her burning oil was a real menace to this ship; the WEST VIRGINIA was alongside with her forward magazines in danger of explosion; nevertheless, the crew carried out their gunnery and damage control duties as if at drill. The Commanding Officer considers that the conduct of the following officers was especially distinguished :

1. LieutComdr. John W. Adams, Jr., U.S. Navy:

As Gunnery Officer and temporary Commanding Officer he fought the ship with a calmness and precision that was an inspiration to the entire ship's company.

2. Lieutenant Robert R. Moore, U.S. Navy:

As senior Damage Control Officer aboard he carried on all of his duties in an extremely calm and efficient manner.

3. Captain Chevey S. White, U.S. Marine Corps:

Acting as Air Defense Officer, he displayed outstanding coolness and courage during the engagement. While exposed to enemy bombing


and strafing  attack at his unprotected battle station he directed the fire of the A. A. battery in a calm and efficient manner.

4. Ens. William S, Thomas, D-V(G), U.S.N.R:

As A. A. Group Control Officer, while exposed to enemy bombing and strafing attack in an unprotected battle station, he carried out his duties in a calm and efficient manner

5. Ens. Donald M. Kable, U.S. Navy:

As .50 caliber machine gun Control Officer, he directed the fire of his guns while being strafed by enemy planes until he was so seriously wounded that he was carried below.

6. Chief Boatswain Lewis W. Adkins, U.S. Navy:

In charge of the after repair party, his leadership and heroic conduct while fighting the fires contributed toward saving the ship from destruction.  Throughout the attack he was in an exposed position and continued to fight the fires until they were brought under control.


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