The Fateful Collision of USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma, October 22, 1941

I learned yesterday that USS Arizona was not supposed to be in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. This is one of those minor facts that invariably seem to pop up to remind us that history is just as often a string of random events as someone’s grand plan. But the old battleship was indeed in Pearl Harbor, where she was hit by Japanese armor-piercing bombs. 1,177 sailors and marines died on the USS Arizona, representing almost half the casualties of the entire attack.

On October 22, 1941, the battleships from Pearl Harbor were on maneuvers. The battleships had been sailing in line, making 90 degree starboard turns in unison. The battleship USS Oklahoma missed a turn and rammed the USS Arizona. Both ships were damaged but the Arizona took the worst of it, ending up with a hole in her side 30 feet wide by 18 to 20 feet wide. The resulting flooding caused the ship to list 10 degrees until counter-flooding on the other side of the ship brought her upright. The Arizona limped back into Pearl Harbor and was put straight into the drydock. The repairs were done quickly but the casualty delayed her departure for the West Coast so that on the fateful Sunday morning in early December 1941, US Arizona was still in Pearl Harbor. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

On December 7th 1941, the USS Arizona was hit by four armor-piercing bombs dropped by Japanese planes. The bombs hit the forward magazines and the resulting explosions effectively tore the ship in half, killing 1,177 of the 1,512 crewmen on board at the time.

USS Oklahoma was also at Pearl Harbor on December 7th. The ship was hit by multiple Japanese torpedos and capsized killing 429 of her crew.

The USS Arizona wasn’t supposed to be at Pearl Harbor

This entry was posted in History, Lore of the Sea, Ships and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Fateful Collision of USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma, October 22, 1941

  1. Peter Wright says:

    Another bizarre fact about Pearl Harbour is that the battleship USS Phoenix was the only major capital ship present to be completely unscathed. She was laid up in 1946 and sold to Argentina where she was renamed “17 de Octubre” after the “People’s Loyalty day” for Peron. In 1955, after the coup she was renamed General Belgrano. She accidentally rammed her sister cruiser “Nueve de Julio” (ex-USS Boise in 1956, which resulted in damage to both ships.)
    Her career came to an end courtesy of HMS Conqueror when three 21 inch Mark VIII Mod 8 torpedoes were fired at her during the Falklands campaign.

  2. Carl Ramsey says:

    Arizona had 3 Medal of Honor recipients at Pearl Harbor, California had 4. They were not moored each other.

  3. Carl Ramsey says:

    Not moored near each other.

  4. Pat Byrnes says:

    Interesting that the light cruiser Phoenix went to Argentina on her initial shakedown cruise in late 1938…and then ended her career there.