Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941
Salvage and Repair of USS West Virginia, December 1941 - April 1943



Third, and most severely damaged, sunken battleship to be salvaged and returned to service was USS West Virginia. Much of her port side had been ripped open by as many as eight Japanese torpedoes, and her rudder had been blown off by another. The battleship's multi-layered anti-torpedo side protection system had been completely broken through, making it impossible to raise the ship without the use of extensive external patches. These structures, which covered virtually the entire hull side amidships, extended vertically from the turn of the bilge to well above the waterline. The patches were assembled in sections, with divers working inside and out to attach them to the ship and to each other, and were sealed at the bottom with some 650 tons of concrete.

As with other salvaged ships, West Virginia required extensive weight removal to allow her to be floated into drydock. Among the items removed were some 800,000 gallons of fuel oil, projectiles and powder for her sixteen-inch guns, and other supplies. Also removed were two unexploded Japanese bombs. Much of the weight removal, as well as recovery of the nearly seventy human bodies found in the ship and the immense task of cleaning her oily and filthy interior, was undertaken by a residual ship's crew of less than 500 men.

As with California, West Virginia's turbo-electric drive powerplant needed drying and preservation as the water was removed from the machinery spaces, followed by painstaking disassembly and reassembly. The great task of clearing away and replacing torpedo and fire-damaged structure, including several large plates of heavy side armor, began once the ship entered Pearl Harbor Navy Yard's Drydock Number One on 9 June 1942. Three months later, with her watertight integrity restored, West Virginia was taken out of drydock. Work continued at pierside until April 1943, when the battleship left Pearl Harbor for Puget Sound Navy Yard, where she received permanent repairs and extensive modernization. USS West Virginia rejoined the active fleet in July 1944 and took an active part in the Pacific War's final year.

This page features views related to the salvage and repair of USS West Virginia following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

For other images related to the salvage and repair of USS West Virginia

For images of USS West Virginia during and shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack

Other images of the salvage of ships sunk or severely damaged in the Pearl Harbor raid


Click photograph for larger image.

Photo #: NH 83061

USS West Virginia (BB-48)


Officers relaxing in their mess aboard the battleship on 7 May 1942, while she was under salvage at Pearl Harbor.
Note Coca-Cola bottles on table, M1903 rifles in racks on the bulkhead at left and poster attached there. The poster shows a careless worker receiving a medal from a Japanese officer, and the inscription: "For distinguished service to the Axis ... For Loafing. He slept on the job ... He waited for his helper ... He waited for his material ... He did not keep his group busy ... He started late ... He quit early ... No good American is willingly idle, now which side are you on?".

Collection of Vice Admiral Homer N. Wallin, USN (Retired).

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 105KB; 740 x 635

 
Photo #: NH 64490

Salvage of USS West Virginia (BB-48), 1942-43


Captain Homer N. Wallin (left), Salvage Officer, and Lieutenant Commander W. White, Commanding Officer of USS West Virginia, on board the ship while she was under salvage at Pearl Harbor in 1942.
They are wearing the "tank" suit coveralls and knee-length rubber boots used by Pearl Harbor salvage team members when engaged in particularly dirty work.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC Collection.

Online Image: 116KB; 585 x 765

 
Photo #: NH 64305

Salvage of USS West Virginia (BB-48), 1942-43


Removal of a dud Japanese bomb found in USS West Virginia while she was under salvage at Pearl Harbor.
The bomb is visible at the bottom of the view, half-buried in grime.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC Collection.

Online Image: 165KB; 740 x 610

 
Photo #: NH 64489

Salvage of USS West Virginia (BB-48), 1942-43


Lower portion of a patch prepared for use in salvaging West Virginia at Pearl Harbor, 1942. Projecting steel beams fit under the ship's armor belt.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC Colleciton.

Online Image: 119KB; 595 x 765

 
Photo #: NH 64491

USS West Virginia (BB-48)


Approaching drydock at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard on 8 June 1942. She entered Drydock Number One on the following day, just over six months after she was sunk in the 7 December 1941 Japanese air raid.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC Collection.

Online Image: 121KB; 740 x 610

 
Photo #: 80-G-13154

USS West Virginia (BB-48)


In drydock at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, 10 June 1942, for repair of damage suffered in the 7 December 1941 Japanese air raid. She had entered the drydock on the previous day.
Note large patch on her hull amidships, fouling on her hull, and large armor belt.
Photographed by Bouchard.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives Collection.

Online Image: 101KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: NH 64488

Salvage of USS West Virginia (BB-48), 1942-43

West Virginia in Drydock Number One at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, 11 June 1942. View looks aft along her port side from about Frame 64, showing distortion of the armor belt and damaged hull structure above and below. Several Japanese Type 91 torpedoes had detonated in this area during the 7 December 1941 air raid.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC Collection.

Online Image: 145KB; 610 x 725

 
Photo #: NH 83058

USS West Virginia (BB-48)


View of her port side amidships, seen from the floor of Drydock Number One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, in June 1942, as patches were being removed. Note the massive damage to hull plating inflicted by several Japanese Type 91 torpedoes that struck this area during the 7 December 1941 air raid. The battleship's side armor belt, at the top of the hole, is seriously distorted.
View looks aft, with a patch still in place at the far end of the damage area.

Collection of Vice Admiral Homer N. Wallin, USN (Retired).

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 112KB; 595 x 765

 
Photo #: NH 83057

USS West Virginia (BB-48)


In Drydock Number One at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, 17 June 1942. She was receiving repairs for the massive damage she received in the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack. Note that her hull side and upper deck amidships has been cut away.

Collection of Vice Admiral Homer N. Wallin, USN (Retired).

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 131KB; 595 x 765

 
Photo #: NH 83998

Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii


Vertical aerial view of the drydock area, 28 July 1942.
Floating drydock YFD-2 is at left, with USS Alywin (DD-355) inside. Small drydock in center holds USS Growler (SS-215) and USS Nautilus (SS-168). USS Litchfield (DD-336) and an ARD floating drydock are in Drydock # 2, in right center. Drydock # 1, at right, contains USS West Virginia (BB-48). Submarines partially visible alongside 1010 Dock, in the extreme upper right, are Trout (SS-202) and Pollack (SS-180).
Note anti-torpedo nets and booms protecting this area.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of The Honorable James V. Forrestal.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC Collection.
Online Image: 145KB; 740 x 605

 
Photo #: NH 84002

Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii


View looking northward, with the Navy Yard industrial area in the foreground and the Marine Barracks in the lower right, 28 July 1942. Ford Island is at left, with USS Oklahoma and USS Arizona under salvage nearby. USS San Diego is in the upper center.
USS West Virginia is in Drydock Number One, in the lower left, and USS California is alongside the wharf at the extreme right. Cruisers alongside the pier in right center are Northampton (left) and Pensacola. Submarines alongside 1010 Dock, just beyond Drydock # 1, are Trout, Pollack, Dolphin and Cachalot.
Note camouflage on many of the Navy Yard's buildings.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of The Honorable James V. Forrestal.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, NHHC Collection.

Online Image: 146KB; 740 x 600

 


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