Skip to main content
Related Content
  • Ordnance and Weapons
  • Theater of Operations--Pacific
  • Theater of Operations--American
  • Boats-Ships--Cruisers
Document Type
  • Primary Source Document
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War II 1939-1945
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials

USS Raleigh, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack


CL7/A16 (0167)

U.S.S. Raleigh

December 13, 1941


From: Commanding Officer.
To: Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Report of U.S.S. Raleigh's participation in the battle of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
Reference: (a) Article 712, Navy Regulations.
Enclosure: (A) Executive Officer's Report
  1. About 0755 on the morning of December 7, 1941, I was in my cabin drinking a cup of coffee when I heard and felt a dull explosion in the ship. Looking out my airport I saw the water boiling amidships. I started up to the bridge and was met by Lieutenant Taylor who reported that the Japanese were attacking the Fleet. All hands were called to general quarters and about five minutes later this ship opened fire with the anti-aircraft battery of 3"/50 caliber, 1/1" and .50 cal. guns.
  2. Ensign J.W. Werth, USN, was controlling the starboard battery and Ensign J.R. Beardall, Jr., USN, the port battery, both doing a splendid job. The guns were magnificently handled; all hands from chief petty officers to mess boys volunteering to fill out the regular gun crews and keep ammunition supplied.
  3. The ship started to heel over to port and it was reported that an airplane torpedo had struck #2 fireroom, flooding it, and that #1 fireroom and the forward engineroom were completely flooded. #3 fireroom was the steaming fireroom, but all fires went out due to water and oil. The damage control party under Ensign H.S. Cohn, D-V(G), USNR and Carpenter R.C. Tellin, USN, was directed to counterflood to bring the ship on an even keel, and they handled their jobs to perfection.
  4. It appeared, however, that the ship would capsize. Orders were given for all men not at the guns to jettison all topside weights and to put both airplanes in the water first. Both planes were successfully hoisted out by hand power alone, and were directed to taxi over to Ford Island and report for duty, along with all the aviation detail on board. The senior doctor was directed to report to the U.S.S. Solace, to aid in caring for the injured and wounded from other ships (we had no dead and only a few wounded on this ship). An oxy-acetylene outfit and crew were sent over to the capsized U.S.S. Utah to cut out any men in the hull. One man was rescued and this man, as soon as he took a deep breath, insisted on going back to see if he could rescue any of his shipmates. A signal was sent to send pontoons and a lighter from alongside the Baltimore to this ship, and they were delivered expeditiously and secured to our port quarter with steel hawsers under the ship and acted as an outrigger. Extra manila and wire lines were run to the quays to help keep the ship from capsizing.
  5. Our torpedoes, minus their warheads, were pushed overboard by hand and beached at Ford Island. Both torpedo tubes, both catapults, the steel cargo boom, were all disconnected and jettisoned by hand power. Also, all stanchions, boat skids and life rafts and booms were jettisoned. Both anchors were let go.
  6. Shortly after 0900 a glide-bombing attack came in which met with a warm reception. Many near misses fell about the ship. Only one bomb hit. This bomb hit #7 - 3" ready ammunition box a glancing blow and went through the carpenter shop, then through an oil tank, piercing the skin on the port quarter below the water line, and finally detonating on the bottom of the harbor about fifty feet from the ship. In its flight this bomb went over the heads of the gun crew of #7 - 3" gun and also passed very close to our two large tanks containing 3000 gallons of high-test aviation gasoline. This plane machine-gunned the ship also.
  7. Apparently the enemy planes had expected to find the Lexington and Enterprise near our berth and fired at the Utah and Raleigh, as the carriers were fortunately not in. When it appeared that the ship might not capsize or sink (the water was 45' deep at our berth) Ensign J.H. COYLE, USN, of the Raleigh, was told to see if he could find an oil bottom that was free from water and to raise steam in either #3 or #4 fireroom, as water was getting in to the after engine room and #3 and #4 firerooms, and if they were flooded there would be little hope of keeping the ship afloat. This was done and the pumps started.
  8. Meanwhile the gun crews on the top side kept up a heavy and accurate fire. Five bombing planes which this ship had under fire and on which hits were observed, were seen to crash close aboard, either in flames or in fragments.
  9. It would be difficult to single out all individuals who acted above and beyond the call of duty, as the conduct of every one was magnificent. The commanding officer, however, was particularly pleased to note that the junior officers and non-rated men acted like veterans and their spirit and morale was only heightened by the surprise attack.
  10. As this ship has been in the Hawaiian Detachment for over two years, many of the married officers and men live ashore when not in the duty section. When the attack opened, the acting gunnery officer, chief engineer, and damage control officers were all Ensigns. Those officers and men who were ashore reported back to the ship most expeditiously and participated valiantly in the last plane attack. After the attack and during the night of December 7th, the ship would vary in list from 11 degrees port to 8 degrees starboard without any apparent reason and was very tender.
  11. The tugs Sunnadin and Avocet came alongside during the afternoon and furnished light, steam and food as fast as practical and their services were very helpful.
  12. Damage to enemy: The following ammunition was expended on this vessel during the day:



    3"/50 caliber 266 rounds
    .50 caliber 9990 rounds
    1.1" 3270 rounds


    Many planes were taken under fire from time to time without apparent results. However, there were five planes destroyed which this vessel registered hits on and assisted in their destruction, namely:

    #1 - Bomber flew over stern from starboard to port, burst into flames over Raleigh and crashed on deck of U.S.S. Curtiss.

    #2 - Plane flew over bow from starboard to port and crashed near Pearl City.

    #3 - Plane flying north on our starboard beam crashed in water between Dobbin and Baltimore.

    #4 - Plane off our stern flying over air station towards Curtiss was hit by a 3" shell and was blown to pieces in the air.

    #5 - A plane flying across our stern had its tail blown off and fell over by Pearl City without burning or great damage. The pilot may have escaped.

  13. One torpedo ran between the bow of the Raleigh and the stern of the Detroit and apparently sank in shoal water at Ford Island without exploding and is still there.
  14. The end of the bomb that went through the port quarter of this ship was recovered from the damaged fuel tank and was forwarded to Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet.
  15. Damage control and salvage efforts are being continued successfully at the time of this report.


Copy to:




[Enclosure (A)]



A16 U.S.S. Raleigh  
    December 12, 1941


From: Commander William H. Wallace, U.S. Navy, Executive Officer.
To: Captain R.B. Simons, U.S. Navy, Commanding.
Subject: Engagement of December 7, 1941, Report on.
Reference: (a) Art. 948, U.S. Navy Regulations.
  1. Being on authorized shore leave the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, I did not witness the engagement between enemy planes and the U.S.S. Raleigh, I succeeded in returning to the ship about 1000, Sunday, December 7, at which time all enemy action had ceased.
  2. Upon my return I found all officers and men who were aboard at their stations, in high spirits, apparently only hoping that the enemy would return so that they could have another crack at them. The morale was exceptionally high.

    At this time the ship was in a precarious position due to the damage resulting from the torpedo hit and the bomb hit. The ship gave every indication of capsizing. Although this fact was self-evident, no person showed any desire to leave his post or the ship.

    The Anti-Aircraft battery of 3", 1.1 and 50 caliber, had been manned and opened fire with great rapidity. Most of the crews were firing for the first time. Despite this it was reported that the Raleigh was credited with three enemy planes and a probable fourth. Ammunition parties were quickly functioning and no shortage of ammunition resulted.

    Compartments were counterflooded promptly and in the proper sequence. The Damage Control Organization, directed by the Damage Control Officer, has worked constantly day and night to keep the ship afloat. Their efforts have been ably directed and should be crowned with success.

    The Engineers, ordered topside, fearlessly reentered the after boiler and engine spaces. Lighting off, with water over the floor plates, to raise steam and get pumps running.

    Coffee and sandwiches were prepared by the Commissary Department and distributed to the crew at their station.

    Orders were carried out promptly and without confusion. The rapidity and good seamanship displayed in getting both planes over the side without damage, in jettisoning heavy topside weights, such as catapults, torpedo tubes, boat skids, etc., were all done without power on the ship, contributing materially in saving the ship.

  3. Regular week-end shore leave and liberty had been granted over Saturday, December 6, and Sunday, December 7. Liberty parties were unusually large as Friday, December 5, was pay day. The third officer duty section and the port watch had the duty. In addition to yourself and the officer duty section; which consisted of Lieutenant R.H. Taylor, USN, Lieutenant J.W. Geist, USN, Ensign D.L. Korn, A-V(N), USNR, Ensign W.H. Game, USN, Ensign J.M. Werth, USN, and Machinist G.S. Cummins, USN; the following officers were on board when the action commenced: Ensign J.J. Coyle, USN, Ensign J.F. Steuckert, USN, Ensign R.C. Collins, D-V(G) USNR, Ensign J.R. Beardall, jr., USN, Ensign J. Scapa, D-V(G) USNR, Ensign G.S. Morrow, jr., E-V(G), USNR, Lieutenant (jg) D.M. Fox (DC) USN, Electrician T.R. Tate, USN, and Carpenter R.C. Tellin, USN. All officers, except Lieutenant Commander H. Hains, on leave and not on the Island of Oahu, and men, except a few detained at the Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor, by competent authority on other duty, returned to the ship promptly and as rapidly as means of transportation was available.
  4. During the engagement and afterward, when steps were being taken to save the ship, no incident has been reported to me of any individual, officer or man, deserving of censure. On the contrary every report of individual action by officers and men has been of a commendable nature. The organization of the ship as a whole, especially the Gunnery Department and the Damage Control Department, proved their worth and functioned under surprise and stress. All officers and men, as they returned to the ship, picked up and helped carry the load. I am unable to pick out individual cases deserving of praise above others. I believe all officers and men on the U.S.S. Raleigh have the right to be proud of their behavior and their performance of duty. They were tried and found not wanting, especially those officers and men who were fortunate enough to be aboard during the action.


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


Published: Wed Feb 21 11:55:49 EST 2018