Air forces of the Imperial Government of Japan attacked the US Navy anchorage at Pearl Harbor, 75 years ago, today. The attack killed 2,403 and wounded another 1,178. All eight battleships then in harbor were damaged. Four sank to the bottom along with a number of smaller ships. 188 aircraft were destroyed, most while still on the ground.
Most would be re-floated and some returned to service, but not all. The Nevada-class battleship USS Oklahoma was raised from the bottom, but was never repaired. In 1947 she would sink under tow to the mainland, very nearly taking two ocean going tugs to the bottom, with her.
The Pennsylvania-class battleship USS Arizona remains on the bottom, a monument to the event and to the 1,102-honored dead who remain entombed within her hull.
The hulk of the Arizona is such a prominent part of the memorial today, that it’s easy to believe it’s the only ship still lying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. But Arizona is not alone.
Less well known is the Florida-class dreadnought USS Utah, which defied salvage efforts. Now a War Grave, 64 honored dead remain within her hull, lying at the bottom not far from the Arizona.
Likewise, little remembered, is the fate of the 429 killed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma. The Oklahoma turned turtle during the attack, trapping hundreds of sailors within her hull. Faint tapping sounds came from within. Frantic around the clock rescue efforts resulted in the deliverance of 32 sailors.
Bulkhead markings would later reveal that, at least some of the doomed would live for another seventeen days.
Seventeen days alone in that black, upside down place, they died waiting and hoping for the rescue that would come too late. The last mark was drawn by the last survivor on Christmas Eve, 1941.