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USS Arizona

USS Arizona, launched in 1915, was the 39th United States battleship and the second of two Pennsylvania class ‘super dreadnought’ battleships to be built for the United States Navy; her sister ship was USS Pennsylvania. USS Arizona was commissioned during WW1 but didn’t see any action as she stayed in the United States. USS Arizona was moved to the Pacific Fleet where she was modernized and took part in various naval exercises including the ‘Fleet Problem’ exercises. She was transferred from Long Beach, California, to Pearl Harbor with the rest of the Pacific Fleet in 1940. USS Arizona was sunk after being bombed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. 1177 of her crew were lost.

USS Arizona

What was USS Arizona?
USS Arizona was one of two Pennsylvania class ‘super dreadnought’ battleships. USS Arizona was the last of this class, her sister ship being USS Pennsylvania. This class of battleship was built to strengthen the United States Navy and provide ships at least equivalent to those being built by other nations such as Britain and Japan.

Where was USS Arizona Built?
USS Arizona, initially known as battleship 39, had her keel laid in the presence of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, on March 16, 1914 and, after her launch, was fitted at the same yard. She was named USS Arizona in honor of Arizona’s recent admission as the Union’s 48th State.

USS Arizona Launch
After 15 months of construction USS Arizona was launched on June 19, 1915, in the presence of many military and civilian dignitaries including the Mayor of New York City, John P. Mitchel, and the Governor of Arizona, George W. P. Hunt. USS Arizona was christened by the daughter of an Arizona pioneer family, Esther Ross. In an unusual move, two bottles were used for the christening of USS Arizona. In order to acknowledge a state legislature ban on alcohol, it was decided that a bottle of wine from Ohio and a bottle of water from the Roosevelt Dam would be used for this launch.

How Big was USS Arizona?
USS Arizona was 608 feet long with a beam of 97 feet and a draft of 29 feet 3 inches. USS Arizona displaced 31,400 tons of water and her 12 Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers, along with her 4 Parsons steam turbines, could take her to a speed of 21 knots.

What Armament was USS Arizona fitted with?
USS Arizona had twelve 14 inch guns housed in four triple gun turrets as it’s main guns. Turrets I and II, were at the front of the ship with III and IV at the rear. Twenty two 5 inch guns were individually mounted along the sides of USS Arizona with four 3 inch anti aircraft guns mounted higher up. Two 21 inch torpedo tubes completed the weaponry.

What Ammunition was carried on USS Arizona for her Guns?
USS Arizona carried 100 shells for each of the 14 inch guns, 230 rounds of ammunition for each of the 5 inch guns and the anti aircraft guns, and 24 torpedoes for the torpedo tubes.

USS Arizona Commissioning and Shakedown Cruise
On October 17, 1916, Arizona was commissioned with John D. McDonald as her captain. A little over three weeks later, on November 10, USS Arizona left New York and headed south on her shakedown cruise. During these trials one her turbines stripped, near Guantanamo Bay, so USS Arizona headed back to New York to be repaired.

Repairs to USS Arizona
It took nearly four months to carry out the repairs to the stripped turbine on USS Arizona, as the work could not be carried out within the ship. In order to remove and replace the turbine casing, holes had to be cut in the upper deck. USS Arizona finally left the yard on April 3, 1917.

USS Arizona and WW1
The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, however USS Arizona was one of the early oil powered ships, and it was easier to get coal than oil in Europe, so she wasn’t sent to Europe to fight with in WW1. Instead USS Arizona had eight of her 5 inch guns removed for use on merchant ships, and spent the WW1 years patrolling the east coast of the United States and working as a gunnery training ship.

USS Arizona Wins the Battenburg Cup
In July, 1918, a team of rowers from USS Arizona beat a team from USS Nevada in a race over a three mile course. The race, which was held annually by the United States Navy Atlantic Fleet, was for the Battenburg Cup. USS Arizona repeated this win the following year. This race is no longer run, and the Battenburg cup is now awarded to the winner of the Battle Effectiveness Award.

USS Arizona Escorts the American President
Shortly after WW1, USS Arizona was one of the ships that escorted the ocean liner SS George Washington, carrying President Woodrow Wilson, to Brest, France. President Woodrow Wilson was on his way to the Paris Peace Conference where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, officially ending WW1.

USS Arizona Returns to New York
One day after arriving in Brest USS Arizona, along with several other ships, returned to New York where they arrived on December 26, 1918. USS Arizona was opened to the public and remained anchored off New York City for several weeks.

USS Arizona in the Caribbean
After leaving New York in January, 1919, USS Arizona headed to Guantanamo Bay via Hampton Roads. USS Arizona spent her time there carrying out fleet manoeuvres and battle training.

USS Arizona in the Mediterranean
USS Arizona was sent back to France to escort President Woodrow Wilson back from Brest, however, while she waited for the President, USS Arizona was redeployed to Smyrna (currently Izmir) in Turkey due to tensions between Italy and Greece. Unrest within the city resulted in many United States citizens seeking shelter aboard USS Arizona. When things calmed down, USS Arizona headed to Constantinople (currently Istanbul) before returning to New York, where she arrived in June 1919.

USS Arizona 1919 Overhaul
On June 30, 1919, USS Arizona entered the New York Navy Yard to undergo an overhaul that lasted for six months. During this overhaul the fire control system was updated and six of her 5 inch guns were removed. USS Arizona returned to the Caribbean where she was fitted with a flying-off platform.

USS Arizona Moves to California
After meeting with the Pacific Fleet for practice maneuvers in 1921, USS Arizona was relocated to San Pedro, California. Following this move, much of her time was spent in simulated attacks, battle practice and Fleet Problems with the rest of the fleet.

The Modernization of USS Arizona
In the early summer of 1929, USS Arizona entered Norfolk Navy Yard for modernization. This comprehensive modernization included the replacement of her masts, a revised gun arrangement with several guns being replaced, an increase in deck armor, a secondary bulkhead for the boiler rooms and replacement of her engines.

USS Arizona Hosts the President
Following her modernization, but before her sea trials, USS Arizona hosted President Herbert Hoover while he took a vacation in the Caribbean visiting the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Before returning to the Pacific, USS Arizona underwent sea trials in Maine and was fitted with an additional catapult.

USS Arizona and the Long Beach Earthquake
An earthquake hit Long Beach, California, on March 10, 1933. Some crew from USS Amazon, which was anchored in nearby San Pedro, took part in the relief effort by treating the injured and providing both food and security.

USS Arizona in the Movies
The Warner Brothers Movie ‘Here Comes the Navy’, starring James Cagney, featured the USS Arizona and her crew. Film shot both on board and on the exterior of USS Arizona was extensively used in the movie.

USS Arizona Collides with a Fishing Trawler
USS Arizona collided with the fishing trawler ‘Umatilla’ while she was under tow off Cape Flattery. Two fisherman were killed in the incident which resulted in the court martial of USS Arizona’s Captain MacGillivray Milne.

USS Arizona as a Flagship
On September 4, 1934, Rear Admiral Samuel W. Bryant took USS Arizona as his flagship when he assumed command of Battleship Division 2. USS Arizona remained the flagship when Bryant was relieved by Rear Admiral George Pettengill in March 1935.

USS Arizona Fuel Saving
For two years between 1936 and 1938, USS Arizona spent 522 days in port in an effort to save fuel. This cost cutting measure was brought in because of the navy’s tight budget.

Transfer of USS Arizona to Hawaiian Waters
Following the last Fleet Problem between April and May 1940, USS Arizona and the Pacific Fleet was retained in Hawaiian waters. This decision was made to deter the Japanese who had been building up the strength of their forces.

USS Arizona 1940 Overhaul
Between October 1940 and January 1941, USS Arizona underwent her final overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington. Included in this refit was an increase in her 5 inch guns to twelve and an upgrade of her anti aircraft directors.

USS Arizona Final Mooring
On December 5, 1941, following a night firing exercise, USS Arizona moored at a quay along Ford Island with Nevada and Oklahoma. The following day they were joined by USS Vestal, A United States Navy repair ship.

USS Arizona in the Pearl Harbor Attack
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began just before 08.00 on December 7, 1941. USS Arizona was attacked by 10 Nakajima B5N torpedo bombers which had been carrying 1757lb bombs converted from 16 inch armor piercing shells. USS Arizona was hit by four of these bombs.

The USS Arizona Explosion
The last of these bombs penetrated the deck by Turret II, in the front of the ship, entering an area near the ship’s magazines. A few seconds later the magazines exploded and devastated USS Arizona. Her forward turrets and conning tower collapsed into the space left by the utter destruction of the interior of the forward part of the ship. USS Arizona was practically torn in half by this explosion.

The Burning Wreck and Casualties of USS Arizona
The fires caused by this explosion burned on USS Arizona for two days. 1,177 of the 1,512 crew aboard USS Arizona were killed by a combination of the bombs, the explosion and the fires. It was the greatest single ship loss of life in the history of the United States Navy. To this day, 900 crewmen remain entombed inside USS Arizona.

USS Arizona Removed from the Naval Vessel Register
USS Arizona was initially declared to be temporarily out of service on November 29, 1941, however she was discovered to be too badly damaged to be salvaged, and was removed from the Royal Naval Vessel Register on December 1, 1942.

Salvage of USS Arizona Main Armament
The surviving superstructure of USS Arizona was scrapped in 1942 and, over the course of the following 18 months, her main armament was salvaged. The two rear turrets were removed and installed as United States Army Coast Artillery Corps Batteries Arizona and Pennsylvania. The former at Kahe Point Oahu, and the latter on the Mokapu Peninsula. In the fall of 1944 the guns that had been salvaged from Turret II were fitted to the Battleship USS Nevada. These same guns were fired against the Japanese Islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Wreck of the USS Arizona
In order to commemorate the crew lost on USS Arizona, her wreck remains at Pearl Harbor and was designated a national shrine in 1962. On May 5, 1989, USS Arizona was also designated a National Historic Landmark. Oil is still leaking from the hull at a rate of 2 - 4 quarts per day.

USS Arizona Memorial
The USS Arizona Memorial was established on May 30, 1962, and extends across the hull of the wreck. The memorial commemorates the events of the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor as well as marking the resting place of the marines and sailors killed on USS Arizona. The memorial, which can only be reached by boat, receives more than two million visitors every year.

USS Arizona Specifications
Class and Type:
Pennsylvania Class Battleship Complement: 2,300
31,400 tons - Length: 608ft - Beam: 97ft - Draft: 29ft 3ins
29,366 shp, 12 x Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers - Propulsion: 4 x sets of Parsons steam turbines, 4 x shafts - Speed: 21 knots - Range: 8,000 nautical miles
12 (4 x 3) 14in guns - 22 x 5in guns - 4 x 5in anti aircraft guns - 2 x 21in torpedo tubes
Barnettes: 13ins - Belt: 8 to 13½ins - Bulkheads: 8 to 13ins - Conning Tower: 14 to 16ins - Decks: 5ins - Turrets: 18ins

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Published 2018

Global Anchor Limited

Modified 2018

By James Drake

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