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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

USS New Orleans, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack

CA32/A16-3/
(0140)
U.S.S. New Orleans (90-an)
    Pearl Harbor, T.H.,
December 13, 1941.

From: The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. New Orleans.
To: The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
 
Subject: Report of actions taken during Air Raid of December 7, 1941.
 
Reference: (a) Cincpac confidential despatch of 10 December 1941 (cincpac despatch 102102).

  1. On 7 December 1941 the U.S.S. New Orleans was moored at Berth 16, Navy Yard Pearl Harbor undergoing engine repairs. The ship was taking power and light from the dock. There was no ship's power available.
  2. Offensive measures -- NONE.
  3. Defensive measures:

    At 0757 sighted enemy planes "dive bombing" Ford Island and went to General Quarters immediately. At 0805 sighted enemy torpedo planes on port quarter flying low across our stern. Rifle fire and Pistol fire was opened from our fantail as the first planes flew by to launch their torpedoes at the battleships. This ship saw several planes launch their torpedoes headed in the direction of the battleships. Our 1.1/75 battery and Machine Guns aft were manned in time to actually fire at three or four enemy planes passing our stern. About 0810 all batteries, except the 8" battery, were in action engaging such enemy planes a presented themselves as targets.

  4. Damage to Enemy and own ship:

    The area around berths 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 & 19 at the Navy Yard was subjected to a dive bombing attack by approximately ten enemy planes. This attack was turned aside by the combined fire of the batteries of the U.S.S. Honolulu and U.S.S. New Orleans. Several enemy planes were believed heavily damaged during this attack. Whether or not these planes crashed is not definitely known. The turning away of this attack undoubtedly saved the ships of this area from more damage. Three bombs were dropped, one falling ahead of and another astern of the U.S.S. Rigel. These two failed to explode. The third bomb landed midway between the Rigel and New Orleans, exploding and causing some damage from flying fragments to the hulls and superstructure of the two vessels.

    The New Orleans damage due to flying fragments consisted of numerous jagged holes in the hull and superstructure varying in areas from 1 to 6 square inches in size. Locations of holes were as follows:

    Shell plating above water line frames 8 to 34 starboard – 16 holes.

    Bulkhead around blower room upper deck forward – 6 holes.

    Beams over signal bridges structure – 1 hole.

    Forward battle lookout station – 2 holes.

    #2 stack – 2 holes.

    The gasoline line for air plane fueling was severed.

  5. Casualties – NONE.
  6. Conduct of Personnel:

    The officers and crew of this vessel quickly went to Battle Stations and throughout the raid fought the ship with the coolness and steadiness of a Veteran crew. Due to the fact that this vessel has not engaged in a target practice since last June and, since that time, has had a large turnover of personnel, the action of the crew under fire was most commendable. Fully 40 per cent of the crew had little or no gunnery experience, many of them never having fired machine guns or big guns before.

  7. Items of interest:
    1. During the raid, the Yard power to the dock either failed or was cut off, leaving this vessel in darkness and without power. The only power available was auxiliary battery power. The heavy drain of machinery necessary to raise steam for getting underway so exhausted the auxiliary batteries that auxiliary lighting was very dim and of practically no use. Until steam was raised on the ship's boilers, all work in the Engineering spaces, magazines and ammunition passageways was conducted by flashlights. This lack of power and lighting greatly reduced the volume of fire, since all hoists and guns had, of necessity, to be worked by hand.
    2. The A.A. directors were off the ship and as a result the 5"/25 caliber A.A. battery was in local control throughout the raid.
  8. In addition to the splendid fighting spirit shown by the officers and men of the U.S.S. New Orleans, I wish to point out the excellent cooperation and assistance rendered by the officers and men of the San Francisco, Tracey, Preble, Sicard, Pruitt, men from the West Virginia motor launch and many men from small craft in the yard who, seeing that the New Orleans had her batteries in action (their own ships having no battery available) voluntarily rallied to the New Orleans and rendered valuable assistance. Their willing, cool, and courageous help greatly increased the volume of fire from this vessel. The example of these men rallying to help where they best could was in keeping with the best traditions of the service.

[signed]
J.G. ATKINS.


Source: Enclosure (E) to CINCPAC action report Serial 0479 of 15 February 1942, World War II action reports,
the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.
21 May 2001