Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941
"Battleship Row" during the Pearl Harbor Attack



Before dawn on 7 December 1941, the American strategic center of gravity in the Pacific reposed in the seven battleships then moored along "Battleship Row", the six pairs of interrupted quays located along Ford Island's eastern side. Quay F-2, the southernmost, which usually hosted an aircraft carrier, was empty. Northeastward, Battle Force flagship California was next, moored at F-3. Then came two pairs, moored side by side: Maryland with Oklahoma outboard, and Tennessee with West Virginia outboard. Astern of Tennessee lay Arizona, which had the repair ship Vestal alongside. Last in line was USS Nevada, by herself at quay F-8. These seven battleships, ranging in age from eighteen to twenty-five years, represented all but two of those available to the Pacific Fleet. The Fleet flagship, Pennsylvania, was also in Pearl Harbor, drydocked at the nearby Navy Yard. The ninth, USS Colorado, was undergoing overhaul on the west coast.

Together, these ships were one short of equalling Japan's active battlefleet. Clearly a worrisome threat to Japanese plans for Pacific Ocean dominance, they were the Japanese raiders' priority target. Twenty-four of the forty Japanese torpedo planes were assigned to attack "Battleship Row", and five more diverted to that side of Ford Island when they found no battleships in their intended target areas. Of these planes' twenty-nine Type 91 aerial torpedoes (each with a warhead of some 450 pounds of high explosive), up to twenty-one found their targets: two hit California, one exploded against Nevada and as many as nine each struck Oklahoma and West Virginia. The latter two ships sank within minutes of receiving this torpedo damage.

Horizontal bombers, armed with heavy armor-piercing bombs, arrived just as the last torpedo planes finished their attacks, and other horizontal and dive bombers came in later. Together, these planes scored many hits or damaging near-misses on the "Battleship Row" ships: two on California, Maryland and Tennessee; a few on West Virginia. Most spectacular of the bombers' victims was Arizona, which was struck many times. One bomb penetrated to the vicinity of her forward magazines, which detonated with a massive blast, immediately sinking the ship. Nevada, which got underway during the latter part of the attack, attracted many dive bombers, was hit repeatedly as she steamed slowly between Ford Island and the Navy Yard, and, sinking and ablaze, had to be run ashore.

The Japanese had thus put out of action all seven battleships present on "Battleship Row". Two, Maryland and Tennessee, were repaired in a matter of weeks, as was the Pennsylvania. However, three were under repair for a year or more. Oklahoma and Arizona would never return to service. Even with the addition of three more battleships brought around from the Atlantic, the Japanese battleline was assured of absolute superiority in the critical months to come.

This page features aerial views of the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor's "Battleship Row", and provide links to other views of that area during and shortly after the attack.

Additional images of "Battleship Row" during and soon after the Japanese attack

For additional pictorial coverage of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

Click photograph for larger image.

Photo #: NH 50931

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941


Torpedo planes attack "Battleship Row" at about 0800 on 7 December, seen from a Japanese aircraft. Ships are, from lower left to right: Nevada (BB-36) with flag raised at stern; Arizona (BB-39) with Vestal (AR-4) outboard; Tennessee (BB-43) with West Virginia (BB-48) outboard; Maryland (BB-46) with Oklahoma (BB-37) outboard; Neosho (AO-23) and California (BB-44).
West Virginia, Oklahoma and California have been torpedoed, as marked by ripples and spreading oil, and the first two are listing to port. Torpedo drop splashes and running tracks are visible at left and center.
White smoke in the distance is from Hickam Field. Grey smoke in the center middle distance is from the torpedoed USS Helena (CL-50), at the Navy Yard's 1010 dock.
Japanese writing in lower right states that the image was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry.

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 144KB; 740 x 545

 
Photo #: NH 50472

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941


Vertical aerial view of "Battleship Row", beside Ford Island, during the early part of the horizontal bombing attack on the ships moored there. Photographed from a Japanese aircraft.
Ships seen are (from left to right): USS Nevada ; USS Arizona with USS Vestal moored outboard; USS Tennessee with USS West Virginia moored outboard; USS Maryland with USS Oklahoma moored outboard; and USS Neosho, only partially visible at the extreme right.
A bomb has just hit Arizona near the stern, but she has not yet received the bomb that detonated her forward magazines. West Virginia and Oklahoma are gushing oil from their many torpedo hits and are listing to port. Oklahoma's port deck edge is already under water. Nevada has also been torpedoed.
Japanese inscription in lower left states that the photograph has been officially released by the Navy Ministry.

Donation of Theodore Hutton, 21 September 1942.

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 144KB; 740 x 545

 
Photo #: NH 50932

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941


Vertical aerial view of "Battleship Row", beside Ford Island, soon after USS Arizona was hit by bombs and her forward magazines exploded. Photographed from a Japanese aircraft.
Ships seen are (from left to right): USS Nevada; USS Arizona (burning intensely) with USS Vestal moored outboard; USS Tennessee with USS West Virginia moored outboard; and USS Maryland with USS Oklahoma capsized alongside.
Smoke from bomb hits on Vestal and West Virginia is also visible.
Japanese inscription in lower left states that the photograph has been reproduced under Navy Ministry authorization.

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 98KB; 740 x 540

 


For higher resolution images see Obtaining Photographic Reproductions



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