R

Return toNaval Historical Center home page. image of anchor Return to Pearl Harbor Atttack Reports page.
flag banner
World War II Documents banner

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

USS Tennessee, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack


ACTION REPORT  
 
USS Tennessee   BB-43
 
SERIAL 0157   11 December 1941
 
ACTION REPORT - Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941.
Covers Activities of USS Tennessee, During Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor.
BB43/A16-3
(0157)
U.S. S. Tennessee  
    December 11, 1941.
From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. (Direct)
Via: (1) The Commander Battleship Division Two. (Direct)
(2) The Commander Battleships, Battle Force. (Direct)
(3) The Commander Battle Force. (Direct)
 
Subject: Narrative of events of action in Japanese Air Raid on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
 
References: (a)U.S. Navy Regulations, Articles 712, 874(b), 948, and 2029.
(b) Cincpac 102102.
 
Enclosure: (A) Chronological report of general events.
(B) Report of damage sustained, Listed by departments, plus pictures of damage to turrets II and III.
(C) Report of Executive Officer. [omitted]
(D) Report of Gunnery Officer, Duty Commander, December 7, 1941. [omitted]
(E) Tennessee mailgram 131950. [omitted]

  1. In accordance with references (a) and (b) the following data concerning the action participated in by this vessel on December 7, 1941, is submitted.
  2. On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the U.S.S. Tennessee was moored starboard side to interrupted quay Fox 6, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H., with two wire hausers and seven manila lines. The U.S.S. West Virginia was moored alongside to port with one wire hauser and seven manila lines. Boiler #1 was steaming for auxiliary purposes. Various units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and various yard craft were present in the Harbor. Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet was the Senior Officer Present. Commander Battle Force in the U.S.S.California was the Senior Officer Present Afloat. This ship was the Flagship of Commander Battleship Division Two. The U.S.S. Maryland was moored to quay Fox 5 and the U.S.S. Arizona (inboard) and the U.S.S. Vestal (outboard) were moored to quay Fox 7, these quays being about seventy-five feet ahead and astern respectively of the U.S.S. Tennessee. At about 0755, planes, observed to be Japanese by their markings, were seen dropping bombs on Ford Island. This ship went to general quarters and started setting condition Zed. Immediately, after the bombing of Ford Island, planes began torpedoing and bombing the battleships and other ships in the Harbor. This ship opened fire with 5" 25 caliber, 3" .50 caliber, and .50 caliber machine guns about five minutes after the first attack. Orders for sortie were received but later cancelled for battleships. This ship was ready to get underway with both plants and 6 boilers about 0930. Shortly after the attack began the Oklahoma, West Virginia, and California received torpedo hits. The Oklahoma listed over and in about 10 minutes capsized. The West Virginia listed heavily but was righted by counter flooding. The California listed. The Arizona received several large bomb hits at least one of which apparently penetrated the magazines. There was a large explosion forward. The foremast fell forward and burning powder, oil, and debris was thrown on the quarterdeck of the Tennessee. The Arizona settled rapidly by the bow. The Nevada got underway but was struck by bombs and torpedoes and grounded in the channel. Large fires were raging around the Arizona and West Virginia. The Arizona was moored to quays about seventy-five feet astern of the Tennessee and the West Virginia was moored to the Tennessee. The burning powder, oil, and debris from the Arizona explosion plus the intense heat from the fires started fires in the stern and port quarter of this ship. These fires and the subsequent wetting caused considerable damage to the wardroom and officers' quarters in this vicinity. The fires were brought under control about 1030. The Captain returned aboard about 1000 and resumed command. During the engagement the Tennessee received two bomb hits, one on turret III and one on the center gun of turret II. The hit on turret III wrecked the high catapult and penetrated the roof of the turret. The bomb broke into large pieces but did not explode. The explosive charge spilled into the turret and burned. Fragments of the bomb strongly indicate that it was a converted 15" armor piercing shell and weighed about 1500 to 2000 pounds. The training gear and rammers were damaged. The range finder was completely wrecked. Several casualties occurred as a result of this hit. Casualties will be listed separately. The hit on turret II split the hoop of the center gun, rendering it inoperative. Fragments from this hit caused casualties on the machine gun stations. The active fighting was over by about 1000 although small numbers of planes were observed and fired at through the day, no more bombs or torpedoes were observed. It is believed that this ship shot down four enemy planes. When fires started in and around the West Virginia and Arizona, this ship led out all fire hoses and fought fires in the former ship and the oil fires on the water that endangered this ship. This fire fighting continued throughout the day and night. About 1030 it was decided to try and moved the ship forward so as to escape the fires from the badly burning Arizona. Both engines went ahead five knots but the ships did not move. It is believed that the West Virginia, as a result of her torpedo hits, had wedged the Tennessee so close to the quays that she could not move. The engines were kept turning over from five to ten knots throughout the day and night in order that the screw current could wash the burning oil from the stern of the Tennessee. During the bombing #3 motor boat was sunk. Number 2 motor launched burned and sank when caught in the oil fire from the Arizona. When the fires started magazine number 306, 310, 312 were flooded. At about 1800 fire broke out in the after crane room, caused by heat from fires on the Arizona. At 1930 fire under control. After airplane crane out of commission. At 2104 commenced firing on planes crossing over the ship. 2109 ceased firing. At the end of the day the ship was in the following condition: Main battery ready for action except center gun in turret II and left gun in turret III. All guns of other batteries ready for action. High catapult out of commission. After airplane crane out of commission. No underwater damage. Main propulsion machinery and ship's lighting and power not effected. Considerable damage to forward machine gun platform and navigation bridge. None of this effected the fighting ability of the ship. The three planes attached to vessel were shore based at N.A.S. Ford Island during the action, but were destroyed by enemy planes at that place.
  3. Casualties as follows: Men - (killed outright) ADAMS, Jesse Leroy, #366-28-84, GM3c, USN; MILLER, J.B. Delano, #375-97-50, Cox, USN; ROE, Eugene Oscar, #279-65-37, Sqc, USN. (Died on board as a result of injuries) HUDGELL, Alfred William, #320-86-79, BM1c, USN. (Missing in action) BOYD, Robert Leroy, #279-78-38, S2c, USN; SMITH, Gerald Owen, #291-47-10; SK1c, USN. (Injured in action) BANKSTON, William Homer, #274-50-26, S1c, USN; BOWEN, Samuel Franklin, #283-39-37; USN; BOZEMAN, Troy Eugene, #346-84-23, GM3c, USN; CARSON, Louis Edgar, #356-09-09, GM3c, USN; CASSERLY, Clyde Milton, #283--39-70, S1c, USN; CROSBY, Mulford Cullin, #274-50-43, S1c, USN; DePAUL, Vince, #360-25-82, S1c, USN; EVANS, Henry Herbert, Jr., #287-36-82, S1c, USN; FOLAND, Raymond Glen, #393-29-24, GM3c, USN; HALQUIST, William Lowell, #328-22-07, S1c, USN; HARPER, Eugene Everett, #287-22-07, Cox, USN; HUBER, Lawrence John, #262-41-78, Cox, USN; KNUDSON, Reo Irwin, #328-64-39, S1c, USN; LAMBERTH, Grady Joe, #272-12-31, GM2c, USN; MANWEILER, Leslie Carl, #316-32-90, FC2c, USN; OLEJARZYK, Anthony Joseph, #283-18-34, BM2c, USN; RICHARDS, Bige, #346-85-05, S1c, USN; RITH, Ernest Richard, Jr., #258-30-10, S1c, USN; SPRADDLING, Douglas Reid, #356-59-44, S2c, USN. Officers - (Injured in action) Ensign D.M. KABLE, USN, (6993). Marines - (Injured in action) Sgt. Walter HOLLAND (276646), USMC; Pvt. Raymond W. GARLAND (312457), USMC. All casualties were received while performing duty of highest order. All transferred to Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor, except Sgt. HOLLAND, Pvt. GARLAND, and BANKSTON. The following injured from other ships were transferred to the Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor: Officers - Ensign G.S. FLANAGAN, USN, U.S.S. Arizona. Men - CARSON, C.M., #unknown, S1c, U.S.S. Arizona; LA VACK, L.F., #unknown, MM1c, U.S.S. Vestal.
  4. The following ammunition was expended during the battle: 760 rounds 5"25 A.A. cannon, 180 rounds 3"/50, 4000 rounds 50 caliber machine gun.
  5. The average depth of water at Berth Fox 6, Lat. 21-22. 0N. Long. 157-57'-18" W., where the Tennessee was moored was 40 feet. The draft of the ship Dec. 8 at 1200 was: Fwd, 34' 7¼", Aft, 35' 8", Mean 35' 1 5/8". The ship had been fueled on Dec. 3. Fuel on hand at 0800, Dec. 7 was 1,380,000 gallons, 94% capacity.
  6. The condition of the weather Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, was: Sea - slight wind ripples; Wind - N.E. force 4; Visibility - 40,000 yards; Clouds - cumulus moving from N.E. amount 6.
  7. The conduct of the officers and crew of the Tennessee was uniformly in accordance with the highest traditions of the Service. Not only did they fight the battle with calmness and deliberation but for the next twenty-four hours they fought the oil fires in the Arizona and West Virginia which threatened to destroy the Tennessee. The Arizona was eight feet to windward and her burning oil was a real menace to this ship; the West Virginia was alongside with her forward magazines in danger of explosion; nevertheless, the crew carried out their gunnery and damage control duties as if at drill. The Commanding Officer considers that the conduct of the following officers was especially distinguished:

      (1) Lieut-Comdr. John W. Adams, Jr., U.S. Navy:
      As Gunnery Officer and temporary Commanding Officer he fought the ship with a calmness and precision that was an inspiration to the entire ship's company.

      (2) Lieutenant Robert R. Moore, U.S. Navy:
      As senior Damage Control Officer aboard he carried on all of his duties in an extremely calm and efficient manner.

      (3) Captain Chevey S. White, U.S. Marine Corps:
      Acting as Air Defense Officer, he displayed outstanding coolness and courage during the engagement. While exposed to enemy bombing and strafing attack at his unprotected battle station he directed the fire of the A.A. battery in a calm and efficient manner.

      (4) Ensign William S. Thomas, D-V(G), U.S.N.R.:
      As A.A. Group Control Officer, while exposed to enemy bombing and strafing attack in an unprotected battle station, he carried out his duties in a calm and efficient manner.

      (5) Ensign Donald M. Kable, U.S. Navy:
      As .50 caliber machine gun Control Officer he directed the fire of his guns while being strafed by enemy planes until he was so seriously wounded that he was carried below.

      (6) Chief Boatswain Lewis W. Adkins, U.S. Navy:
      In charge of the after repair party, his leadership and heroic conduct while fighting the fires contributed much toward saving the ship from destruction. Throughout the attack he was in an exposed position and continued to fight the fires until they were brought under control.

      (7) Enlisted Men:
      The Commanding Officer will make appropriate entries in the service records of enlisted men who are deserving of special commendation.

[signed]
C.E. REORDAN.


ENCLOSURE (A)

 

U.S.S. Tennessee

CHRONOLOGICAL REPORT OF GENERAL EVENTS, AS RECORDED IN CENTRAL STATION, U.S.S. Tennessee ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1941.

This is a chronological report of all reports received by ship's service telephone and other means, and recorded in Central Station during action on December 7, 1941. A few of the following entries are not entirely accurate, as can be realized by reading the "Narrative of Events of Action", nor is this report to be considered absolutely complete.


U.S.S. Tennessee

December 11, 1941.

ENCLOSURE "B"

REPORT OF DAMAGES SUSTAINED 7 DECEMBER, 1941:

(A) Damage to Turret II.

(B) Damage to Turret III.

(C) Catapult on top Turret III.

  1. 6 foot long section of catapult bent.
  2. Left track and side broken and flared out.

(D) Gun No. 2, .50 Cal., M.G. Battery.

  1. Trunnion bearings, trunnion bearing nut, cap square and 1-1/2 tap trunnion broken by shrapnel.

    Note: Gun out of commission for two hours. Repaired by ship-fitter's shop and now ready for firing in all respects.

(A) Foremast - 3" hole in deck of secondary forward.

(B) Mainmast - Starboard yard arm broken and missing.

(C) Machine Gun Platform forward of Conning Tower - Six holes in gun shield.

(D) Upper Deck:

  1. Chock, broken, bent and sheared - upper deck port side, frame 7.
  2. Awning stanchion broken and missing - upper deck frame 8-10, port side.
  3. Upper deck, port side, frame 37-40 - approximately 10 holes through wood and steel deck.
  4. Upper deck, port side, frame 48 - hole in wood deck.
  5. Upper deck, port side, frame 58, awning stanchion fitting broken.
  6. Upper deck, starboard side, frame 36, hole in wood deck.

(E) Main Deck:

  1. Main deck, frame 127-130, steel deck buckled on port side. Wood deck removed, approximately 100 sq.ft.
  2. Main deck, wood deck burned and charred from frame 136 to stern.
  3. Gasoline pipe line, starboard side of ship at frame 106 to 110 is ruptured.
  4. Stern airplane crane - subjected to great heat, extent of damage not known until test can be conducted.

(F) Second Deck:

  1. Second deck, frame 102 to stern, port and starboard sides, "50" 12" air ports lens fused and gaskets burned out.
  2. Second deck, port and starboard sides from frame 112 to stern, badly gutted by fire.

(G) Third deck - D-518-E, frame 148 starboard, blanked air port welding cracked from heat (welding done by NYPS).

(H) Shell plating (main deck to waterline) badly distorted by heat on port and starboard sides from frame 104 to stern. There is approximately 1,500 feet of cracks in the shell plating and 2,000 loose rivets.

(I) Port gangway and platforms burned and missing; starboard gangway badly burned.

(J) Magazines D-306-M, D-310-M, and D-312-M were flooded, cork insulation on deck water soaked and loosened from deck. Removed by Ship's Force after compartments were drained.

(K) The following damage was done to ship's boats and booms:

  1. #3 - 50' motor boat, #2 - 50' motor launch, #2 motor whaleboat, and one 14' punt were destroyed by fire.
  2. #1 - 50' motor launch - partly burned - unfit for use.
  3. Two boat booms destroyed by fire.

(L) There are 21 blanked off ports in the area which was exposed to great heat. Of these blanked ports, one, item G above, the welding pulled apart due to the distortion of the shell plating. The regular ports in this area had the lenses fused, rubber gaskets burned, and the canvas stop-water between the port frame and the side of the ship destroyed. Except in small isolated cases, there was no burning of linoleum. This was probably due to the fact that the heat was above all linoleum rather than under.

(A) All I.C. circuits and connection boxes aft of Frame 115 on second deck scorched and water soaked, requiring renewal.

(B) Magazines D-106-M, D-110-M and D-112-M flooded, requiring renewal of about 100 feet of lighting cable and about 100 feet of cable in the thermostat fire alarm circuit.

(C) Bomb hit in turret 3 destroyed telephone cable terminal plate and cut firing circuit in two places. Range and deflection indicator destroyed.

(D) Fire in maintop required renewal of about 100 feet of 13 pair telephone cable to selection switch.

(E) Ten ship service telephones destroyed by fire in Wardroom Country.

(F) Twelve telephone leads cut by splinters topside.

(G) Stern crane damaged by heat and fire. One interpole grounded. Push button start and stop remote control circuit burned out. Power lead forward of wardroom on second deck burned out for about 30 feet. Broken coil grounded by moisture from flooding.

(H) Stern light and quarter boom light fixtures burned off.

(I) Lighting cable burned out on second deck aft of Frame 116 with exception of Wardroom Mess. All fixtures burned up on starboard side.

(J) Eight bulkhead ventillating fans damaged beyond repair, two bulkhead heaters destroyed.

(K) The "Q" coil and quarter deck section of the "M" coil of the degaussing circuit destroyed.

 

At no time during or after the action participated in by the U.S.S. Tennessee on December 7, 1941 were there any communication failures. Transmitters were maintained ready on through use of the vertical antennae. Minor damages to radio material were as follows:

  1. Forestay, used on two separate receiving antennae, broken by bomb hit on Turret II. Replaced by 7/16" antenna wire.
  2. Starboard half of TAQ antenna fell when bomb struck the after starboard yardarm. Repaired by ship's force.
  3. CXAB 7/8" transmission line was shorted, presumably by heat in maintop.
  4. 2KS sounder line in Navigation Bridge cut by bomb hit on Turret II. Repaired by ship's force.
  5. Broadcast antenna plex distribution system and AC lines burned out in Wardroom country.


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.
23 May 2001