Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Location of Archival Materials

Pearl Harbor Attack

7 December 1941 


USS Arizona (BB-39) ablaze, immediately following the explosion of her forward magazines, 7 December 1941. Frame clipped from a color motion picture taken from onboard USS Solace (AH-5) (80-G-K-13512).

Shortly before 0800 on 7 December 1941, Japanese forces launched an attack on Pearl Harbor. The intent was to undermine the ability of the U.S. Pacific Fleet to counter expansion of the Japanese empire in Southeast Asia. The attack lasted less than two hours but resulted in heavy U.S. casualties and extensive damage to the battle fleet. American dead numbered more than 2,000, with more than 1,000 military and civilian wounded. Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged. The three U.S. Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers were away from Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack and escaped damage. The memory of Pearl Harbor inspired perseverance through the challenges of the years ahead and remains a reminder of the sacrifice of service members past and present. To learn more, please consult the links below.

Remembrance Resources
Resources for Pearl Harbor remembrance events may be found in our Pearl Harbor Remembrance section.


History of the Base

Why Pearl Harbor?
In the video sound bite below, Naval History and Heritage Command historian Robert J. Cressman discusses Japan's strategic objective for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Click the links below for additional sets of video sound bites to hear Cressman answer questions about other aspects of the attack. Videos may be downloaded from DVIDS.

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Additional Reading

The Navy Department Library Online Reading Room contains an overview of the Pearl Harbor attack; that page also provides most of the links given above.

Published: Fri Dec 08 09:48:40 EST 2017