Dirty, dangerous, and detailed.
December 7, 2006 1:35 AM   Subscribe

Pearl Harbor ship salvage began immediately after the attack and continued until 1944. It was dirty, dangerous, detailed, (and discouraging) work for U.S. Navy salvors and divers, but their impressive repairs eventually returned eighteen sunken and damaged ships to wartime service. Only one was left where she fell. [More in the book Resurrection: Salvaging the Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor.]
posted by cenoxo (18 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The Arizona is still full of oil, and leaking. Because the hull will eventually rust in the shallow waters and collapse, preventing a spill and mitigating its damage to the fragile harbor ecosystem is critical.
posted by dhartung at 2:36 AM on December 7, 2006

Note that Oklahoma, BB-37, wasn't repaired -- she was refloated mainly to free up a badly needed berth. The Oklahoma couldn't stand up to WWII era battleships, which were faster, larger, and better armed. This image of Wisconsin, BB 64, and the hulk of Oklahoma tied up at Ford Island shows the difference. Aside -- the Wisconsin was the last battleship commissioned by the US Navy. (Numbers were assigned to hull contracts out to BB 78, but the last two Iowas, Illinois and Kentucky, were never finished, and the Montana class were canceled before keels were laid.

Montana stands as the only US State (that is, state while we were building battleships) that never had a battleship named after her, even though they tried twice -- BB 51 was canceled as the result of the Washington Naval Treaty, and BB 67 was canceled as a result of battleships leaving the Navy.
posted by eriko at 4:07 AM on December 7, 2006

This lovely post wins the ad-hoc alliteration award!

* ship, salvage, salvors, sunken,
* dirty, dangerous, detailed, discouraging, divers, damaged

Fun sequences: salvors and divers, sunken and damaged ships.

Assonance with "r"s: Harbor, after, dangerous, salvors, divers, impressive, repairs, wartime, where.

I know: I should get out more.
posted by honest knave at 6:39 AM on December 7, 2006

More coverage in the NYT today.
posted by caddis at 6:52 AM on December 7, 2006

Only one was left where she fell.

Two actually, the other is the USS Utah. Here is a newstory about her. You can also check out her crew's website at USS Utah dot org.
posted by Tancread at 6:59 AM on December 7, 2006

If you ever see Tora! Tora! Tora!, note that Jason Robards, Jr. (who plays Gen. Walter Short, the commander of US Army and Air Corps forces in Hawaii) was a Navy RM3 aboard the "Blue Goose," the light cruiser USS Honolulu (CL-48) that morning. That second link includes his reminiscences.
posted by pax digita at 7:19 AM on December 7, 2006

posted by lester's sock puppet at 7:25 AM on December 7, 2006

Great post!
posted by pcameron at 7:36 AM on December 7, 2006

posted by Mick at 8:18 AM on December 7, 2006

More notes about the Oklahoma (thanks to the Oklahoma History class I had to take in high school):

-- The Oklahoma flipped almost completely over; it took seven torpedos and a mere 11 minutes. Most of the 400 who died were trapped in the hull when it flipped. What's rarely mentioned is the story of Julio DeCastro (third story down) and the crew of civilian workers he led in a rescue effort to chip a hole in the hull. Their efforts, which took 24 hours, saved 32 soldiers.

-- The first US military chaplain to die in war, Fr. Aloysius Schmitt, died inside the hull, but not before helping 12 sailors to get out through a porthole.

-- When the Oklahoma was commissioned the the first 46-star flag flown over the US Capitol on July 4, 1908 was put on the ship, encased in glass. (Oklahoma being the 46th state and all....) The flag was lost when the ship capsized; a search of the ship after it was righted did not turn it up.

-- The ship sank in December 1946 while being towed from Honolulu to a San Francisco shipyard to be salvaged. The towline broke, and she went down in the Pacific.

All of this, of course, will be on the test when I post the Oklahoma centennial to the blue next November.
posted by dw at 10:00 AM on December 7, 2006

The Arizona is still full of oil, and leaking.

Indeed. During my last visit there I saw oil bubbling to the surface, leaving small slicks that took time to dilute.
posted by bwg at 11:07 AM on December 7, 2006

Ships have souls. Why wouldn't they cry? And why would one whose heart is oil-fired boilers not weep tears of Bunker-Charlie fuel oil?
posted by pax digita at 12:23 PM on December 7, 2006

Pearl Harbor visitors site sinking fast — Plans moving ahead for new museum, center. Tourist pictures of the memorial here, and donations can be made here.

The Arizona Memorial Museum Association's home page has a Flash movie header showing the terrific explosion and fire that sank the ship and entombed the crew.

The National Park Service's Submerged Cultural Resources Study [Table of Contents] examines the Arizona, and includes photos and illustrations of the sunken Utah [scroll down for a List of Figures].
posted by cenoxo at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2006

related--on using Pearl Harbor endlessly and repeatedly for every single conflict: ...Pearl Harbor has been used to persuade too many Americans that every time the U.S. gets involved in a conflict with another nation, it's the final battle between good and evil. After all, anyone who opposes our pure innocent policies must be the embodiment of absolute evil, dead set on destroying us, right?
It's always the same old "bolt out of the blue" story ...

posted by amberglow at 4:20 PM on December 7, 2006

From the November 23, 2001 Honolulu Advertiser, Pearl Harbor survivor Claude Ortiz:
Watching the Sept. 11 attacks on television revived horrible images of the attack 60 years earlier, Ortiz said.

"When we were attacked at Pearl, I thought it was the end of the world. Some people were making the sign of the cross, some guys kneeled down to pray."

"But you know, tomorrow did come after the attack. After all that happened, we're still here."
That sense of perspective is worth hanging onto.
posted by cenoxo at 4:45 PM on December 7, 2006

Slightly off topic, but it seems appropriate, an obituary for Kenneth Taylor
posted by IndigoJones at 6:08 AM on December 8, 2006

That sense of perspective is worth hanging onto.

Totally. I wonder if we're in for 9/11 being used for as many decades as Pearl Harbor has been?
posted by amberglow at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2006

Dolchstosslegende — the stab in the back.
posted by cenoxo at 4:47 PM on December 10, 2006

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