Ships Damaged in Pearl Harbor Attacks

The naval carnage sustained in the attack on Pearl Harbor was monumental. Japanese forces, having achieved complete surprise over the U.S. Pacific Fleet, managed to sink or damage twenty-one ships on December 7th, 1941.
All eight American battleships were heavily damaged, including: The USS Arizona, USS California, USS Oklahoma and USS West Virginia sunk. In spite of its wounds, the USS Nevada tried to escape the harbor, but upon the second wave of air attacks beached itself on Hospital Point to not block the harbor entrance. The three cruisers, USS Helena, USS Helena, and USS Raleigh, were all heavily damaged. Pacific Fleet’s four destroyers, USS Cassin, USS Downes, USS Helm, and USS Shaw, each sustained heavy damage. The USS Oglala, a minelayer, was sunk from the explosion of a torpedo hitting the USS Helena. Seaplane tender the USS Curtiss was damaged, harbor tug the USS Sotoyomo was sunk, target ship (ex-battleship) the USS Utah was sunk, repair ship USS Vestal was damaged and beached, and Floating Drydock Number 2 was sunk. Despite the destruction, the American forces did not suffer any damage to its aircraft carriers, since none were present in the harbor at the time of attack. The Japanese Naval Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, sent two waves of torpedo bombers, dive bombers and fighters to Pearl Harbor and other military bases, dealing the U.S. Pacific Fleet a mighty blow in just two hours. However, the facilities on shore at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base survived unscathed. In spite of the destruction, a group of divers, engineers, line officers and repair workers managed to raise and repair all but three of the ships that were sunk at Pearl Harbor. This colossal effort required 20,000 hours underwater working on the vessels. Through the innovative salvage techniques of these dedicated men, eighteen vessels rejoined the U.S. fleet and helped fight countless battle throughout the ensuing Pacific theater. The USS West Virginia even participated in the bloody Battle of Iwo Jima. The USS Arizona and the USS Utah are the only ships that were never raised. Both serve as tombs for the soldiers still residing within their hulls. The number of American lives lost that day was 2,403. An additional 1,178 were wounded in the attack of Pearl Harbor.

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