Pearl Harbor is easily one of the most devastating moments in United States military history. It took place on December 7, 1941, and was the primary act that pulled America in the second World War. It was the first domino in a series of events that would eventually lead to the end of that horrible war. Despite being a terrible event with a large death toll, there is still plenty to learn.
For those interested in the ships and planes, there were many sunk or destroyed that day. However, all but three of the ships that were sunk were resurfaced and repaired. Before looking at the ships that did and didn’t make it, let’s cover the basic history of that day.
A Brief Glimpse At Pearl Harbor
A lot happened that day; enough to fill several books and big screen movies. The core event of the day was the surprise attack from the Japanese military. Some of the military stationed at Oahu felt something bad was going to happen that day. Their first sign was a submarine periscope stationed near the entrance of Pearl Harbor. It could not be identified and was sunk shortly afterward.
Meanwhile, the Japanese military had stationed a task force about 200 miles north of Oahu. It was comprised of various planes sitting on a series of aircraft carriers. They launched their first attack at 6:00 am with a force of 181 planes. They closed in around 7:00 am and finally struck Pearl Harbor just before 8:00 am. It was a complete surprise to the American military.
The Japanese task force consisted of fighters, torpedo bombers, horizontal bombers, and dive bombers. They struck the airfields at Oahu while also attacking the fleet of ships that were anchored in Pearl Harbor. The attack on the planes was meant to stop American interference or resistance.
The Ships Of Pearl Harbor
There were 100 different ships anchored in Pearl Harbor. The primary target of the Japanese task force were eight large and powerful battleships. Most of these battleships had taken blasts from bombs within the first minute of the attack. The USS West Virginia and USS Oklahoma were among the first to sink.
Perhaps the most devastating was the USS Arizona. An armor piercing bomb breached the hull and then ignited the forward ammunition magazine of the ship. A huge explosion followed, and 1,177 crewmen were killed. That explosion accounted for nearly half of the lives lost that day.
Most of the battleships continued to take damage throughout the following half hour of the attack. There was then a brief period of calmness. The USS Nevada began to move towards the open sea. That is when the second wave of planes came, consisting of 170 attackers. This second wave focused their efforts on the USS Nevada.
The Japanese task force intended to sink the USS Nevada and thus block the exit of Pearl Harbor. The ship took orders from Control Tower and breached herself to keep the channel open.
The Devastating Aftermath
The attack ended near 10:00 am that morning. Twenty-one ships that belonged to the Pacific Fleet had been badly damaged or sunk entirely. There were more than 300 aircraft either damaged or destroyed. More than 2,400 casualties had taken place for America, some of which were civilians.
Over time, nearly all of the ships that had been sunk or damaged were completely repaired. Only the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, and USS Utah were not repaired. The USS Arizona was far too badly damaged to be repaired. The other two ships were simply too outdated to be worth repairing. It was a terrible day, but the resulting anger pulled America together and led to our ultimate victory in World War II.