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USS Ramapo, Reports of Pearl Harbor Attack



U.S.S. Ramapo

December 11, 1941.


From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Report on Japanese Raid of December 7, 1941.
  1. In accordance with Navy Regulations and with dispatch orders from the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the following report is submitted on the Japanese raid of December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, T.H.
  2. On the morning of the raid the Ramapo was moored in Berth B12, starboard side to, under the large crane. The cat walk had been cut up considerably in order to load Motor Torpedo Boats on deck. Four of them had already been loaded on the main deck amidships, and two more were on the dock, waiting to be loaded on the forecastle.
  3. The first warning of the attack on board was the noise of explosions. The Officer-of-the-Deck the, at about 0755, saw a Japanese dive bomber come in very close and drop a couple of bombs. He sounded general quarters and, as the guns were manned, fire was opened with all A.A. guns, using ammunition from the ready boxes. The machine guns opened up first, and the 3", using preset fuze setting of 2.5 seconds, shortly afterwards. The starboard 3" gun was blanked off through a large arc, by the crane on the dock but managed to fire from time to time. The machine guns on the Motor Torpedo Boats on deck opened fire shortly after the Ramapo.
  4. When the horizontal bombers started coming over fuze settings were shifted to 10 and 12 seconds, and then back to 2.5 seconds for dive bombers. The order of attack, as observed on this ship was: dive bombers, who did more strafing than bombing, torpedo planes, dive bombers, horizontal bombers.
  5. Damage to enemy planes reported by our personnel consisted of one direct hit by a 3" shell, and one plane winged by the .50 caliber but not seen to crash, but these reports are not definitely confirmed.
  6. No losses were incurred nor damage suffered although a bomb which looked to be about 200 lbs. and was dropped from about 500 feet, apparently at the New Orleans, landed near our port bow, midway between the Rigel in the berth ahead and the New Orleans in the berth opposite us, causing many splinter holes in the bow of the New Orleans and the counter of the Rigel.
  7. Conduct of officers and men on both the Ramapo and the PT's was so consistently highly commendable that no outstanding performance of duty can be selected.
  8. Individual reports of several officers and men will be submitted as soon as they can by typed.


Copy to:






December 17, 1941

From: The Commanding Officer.
To: The Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject: Japanese Air Raid at Pearl Harbor, T.H., December 7, 1941.
Enclosure: (A) Individual statements of two officers and two enlisted men attached to U.S.S. Ramapo.
  1. The enclosures are forwarded herewith as a matter of general interest. Two official reports on the raid have already been submitted by this vessel.


Copy to:



U.S.S. Ramapo


Statement of John A MOSES, QM.1c, U.S.N., U.S.S. Ramapo

At pier M-12 Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor, T.H., December 7, 1941 at 0756 I heard plane motors and looking out saw a dark grey plane diving on area at end of Ford Island, the plane dropped altitude of about 100 feet then pulled out dropping bomb, the first plane was followed by five (5) more one of which dropped a bomb that did not explode.

Dive bombers were dark grey with red circle under wing and on cockpit. They were built on order of our Northrop light attack except they looked like single seaters.

A torpedo plane flew in from channel entrance of a little west making a circle at ten ten dock at altitude of about the height of the Bull-dog crane on pier twelve, then headed for the California, dropping to altitude of approximately 40 feet and launching torpedo.

The torpedo was full sized 21 inches and was covered with a coat of grease giving it a bronze color.

A flight of three (3) large bombers headed north west was seen later but were to[o] far for a good look.

Quartermaster first class
U.S.S. Ramapo.



U.S.S. Ramapo



Statement of Ensign C.G. STROM, D-M, U.S.N.R. Assistant Gunnery Officer, U.S.S. Ramapo


First observed that a bombing attack was in progress about 0755. I heard a couple of explosions and rushed out on deck just in time to see a Japanese dive bomber come in very close and drop a couple of bombs. I immediately sounded general quarters – our guns were manned and we were able to open fire at about 0810 – the .50 caliber opening first and the 3" opened up shortly after. The machine guns on the torpedo boats were manned and opened fire shortly after we did.

Gun #3 was hampered in train by the big crane on the dock and could only get on a target a little forward of the beam to astern. Also the train stops were on both guns, these were taken off so that the guns could train all around the horizon. Also during the attack the firing mechanism went out on #3 and we fired by percussion until it was fixed. The same thing happened on the #4 gun a little later in the day.

The attack as observed by this officer started with a wave of dive bombers who did more strafing than bomb dropping -- this was followed by a wave of torpedo planes which came in very low and laid their torpedoes which hit the battleships. These planes came straight up the channel and dropped their torpedoes just astern of the Ramapo. The attack was so sudden and came as such a complete surprise that not a shot was fired at the torpedo planes which got the battleships. Following the torpedo plane attack a wave of dive bombers came in. They appeared to be coming from all directions. By this time however various batteries were manned and they were given a pretty warm reception. The attack was followed by a high horizontal bombing attack which was ineffectual as no hits were observed by this officer.

In our firing the 3" we started out with a 2.5 second fuse setting on the dive bombers -- later switched to a 10 and 12 second fuse setting when the horizontal bombers were coming over. But we switched back to 2.5 second settings when sporadic dive bombing was started again. I do not believe we got any planes with our 3" guns, although CLAUS, G.M.3c., claims that a couple of our shots made a plane wobble a bit in the air. One of our machine gunners, MCGOVERN, F.1c., felt pretty sure that we winged one with the .50 caliber -- but it could be hard to prove. The New Orleans on our left was throwing up a lot of ammunition and could have gotten it very easily.

Ensign, D-M, USNR.


U.S.S. Ramapo



0756 About four enemy bombers attacked the Naval Air Station coming in, apparently, from south, dropping their bombs on the south end of Ford Island. One hanger was struck and set on fire and some PBYs near the ramp were destroyed. These planes were first identified as Japanese because of the insignia on their fuselage. As they wheeled away the insignia on their upper and lower sides of their wings would be seen.
0758 Ramapo went to General Quarters. Ships in the harbor gradually opened fire with A.A. batteries and A.A. machine guns.
0800 Single engined, single-winged torpedo planes carrying one torpedo each commenced an attack on the battleships at Ford Island, coming in along the channel from the Submarine Base and flying astern of the Ramapo. We opened fire as soon as possible, about 0806 with machine guns and approximately 0810 with the 3". Our ammunition was ready in ready boxes and the gunnery officer gave the order to the machine guns to open fire on any enemy aircraft without further orders. Five enemy planes were destroyed in this attack.
0807 Emergency SAIL hoisted on Signal Tower. Arizona hit by torpedo.
0809 Arizona hit by second torpedo. About two minutes later a spurt of flame came out of guns in #2 turret, followed by explosion of forward magazines. The foremast leaned forward, and the whole forward part of the ship enveloped in flame and smoke and continued to burn fiercely.
0814 The Oklahoma suffered two hits by torpedoes. She commenced settling and later turned over.
0820 West Virginia hit by one or two torpedoes amidships, which caused her to commence settling slowly. These hits also caused her to burn amidships.
0820 California hit by one torpedo, commenced listing slowly to port until about 13° list was reached.
0830 Dive bombing attacks by single engined monoplanes aimed generally at the Naval Air Station, battleships and drydocks. Oglala was apparently hit in this attack as she was seen to be listed soon afterwards.
0910 Nevada got underway and stood out of channel, firing continuously, but was attacked by torpedo planes when off the drydocks, and at the same time was subjected to heavy dive bombing attack. She later was beached.
Dive bombers attacked Navy Yard and Hickam Field. Five bombs from high altitude horizontal bombers, (two-motored) struck the water close to Rigel showering her, the destroyers to port of her, the New Orleans and Ramapo with shrapnel or bomb fragments. This attack destroyed the Downes and Cassin who were in the drydock ahead of the Pennsylvania, for a cloud of flame and smoke was seen in the general direction of the drydock. Later a second cloud was observed to the right of the first one. It was later determined that this was the Shaw and the floating drydock. The MTBs on the deck of the Ramapo opened fire during this attack and the PT 30 hit one plane that was attacking the battleships.
1020 CL underway from a berth north of Ford Island.
1115 Raleigh observed to have been damaged for she had a list of about 15°.
1125 Enemy planes passed over to starboard.
1132 CL underway from Navy Yard.
1135 Enemy planes flew over to port.
1140 Detroit stood out.

The torpedo planes launched their torpedoes from a height of about 20 feet, for we were looking down on them from the signal bridge, and at a distance of about 500 or 600 yards from the battleships.

Our fire apparently did not effect the high altitude horizontal bombers, for none broke formation. They were flying in a five plane V formation, and only five bombs were dropped from one formation at a time.



U.S.S. Ramapo

Report of action between Japanese and U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor, T.H., on 7 December, 1941

Statement of Lieutenant (jg) C.E. EARL, USN, Gunnery Officer, U.S.S. Ramapo


  1. Time and Place

    Attack by units of the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Forces commenced at about 0755 on Sunday, December 7, 1941, at U.S. Naval forces anchored or moored at Pearl Harbor, T.H.

  2. Units Involved

    The attack was made entirely by Japanese planes of the following types: (1) Dive bomber, (2) torpedo planes, (3) horizontal heavy (four-engined) bombers, and possible fighters.

    The U.S. forces involved (within the writer's observation) consisted of practically all types of ships, including battleships, light and heavy cruisers, destroyers, stores ships, repair ships, oilers and navy auxiliaries, and also included the new "P" boat.

    It could also be seen that bombs were dropped on the Naval Air Station at Ford Island, though their size, location, and damage inflicted was indeterminate from this vessel.

  3. Method of Attack

    The attack commenced with an absolute surprise dive bombing attack on the air station, which was the first indication of any foreign planes being in the vicinity. This was followed (according to best information later available) by a torpedo attack by planes over a practically clear stretch of water, and was aimed solely at the moored battleships on the opposite side of the harbor. Neither the first air station attack nor the torpedo attack was observed by me.

    After my arrival at battle station, additional attacks by dive and horizontal bombers were the only ones observed. The only one which came close to this vessel was a dive attack by about six planes. One formation of seven heavy bombers was observed at about 5,000 feet, in V formation. Fire of all ships on this formation was intense, and while none were observed to fall, the formation was seen to break somewhat and then reform. No Ramapo guns fired on this formation because of the height.

  4. Damage to enemy planes

    Shortly after my arrival on station (five minutes after the attack started) I observed one Japanese plane in a steep glide to the westward with tail in complete flame. The only other plane with possible damage was one with continuous smoke from tail, not heavy, but of such a character as to lead to the belief that it eventually crashed. After defense became organized, an enormous amount of ammunition was expended. At one time, practically a full 90 degree quadrant to an altitude of 45 degrees was pockmarked with bursts of HE in addition to dozens of continuous streams of 1.1 and .50 caliber tracer. In spite of this heavy barrage, enemy planes continued to get through apparently unhit; my principal reaction to this phase was surprise that our gunnery defense was so poor in consideration of the reportedly high scores made in annual practices.

  5. Damage to own units

    When I arrived on station, the damage observed consisted of several smoke columns in the direction of the air station and the terrific effect on the moored battleships. All seemed to be burning, and my first memory of the Oklahoma was that she had already capsized. Quantities of oil burning on the surface of the water were endangering those ships not yet badly damaged, and huge columns of smoke were pouring from several ships. At least two heavy explosions believed to be magazines, were observed in the battleships group, although at the time no note was made of the ships involved. It did, however, produce a ball of flame which easily extended as high as the topmasts of the ships, and thereafter burned with great intensity and volume.

    At mid-afternoon, great quantities of burning oil approached closely to the Maryland, but were observed to be beaten back by men on that ship. The prevailing easterly wind tended to drive the flame down on the ship. That the use of fire hoses were successful in beating back the surface fire was shown by the only slightly (from a distance) scorched stern of the Maryland.

    The only closely observed damage from cause also directly observed was from one of a group of dive-bombers which dove to within 500 feet before pulling out and letting go his lone bomb. The size of this bomb appeared to be about 200 lbs. The pilot's actions were closely observed, principally because he was the only one of the group which came close to this vessel, and was therefore of paramount interest. The dive was first observed at about 1,500 feet, at an intense angle to the horizontal of about 60 degrees. He came cooly through an intense 1.0 barrage, augmented by at least a dozen .50 caliber machine guns which were literally pouring a continuous fire at him. At about 700 feet he was observed to adjust his dive slightly by aileron, let go at 500 feet, just after commencing the pull-out. The bomb, silvery in color, I watched all the way down to its hit in the middle of the Rigel in berth ahead and the bow of the New Orleans in the opposite berth from the Ramapo. In the din of the barrage, its sound was a dull "whoom". The pilot immediately afterward banked to the left and disappeared, apparently unharmed.

    The damage to the Rigel later was observed to be several dozens of holes in her port counter up to about 12" slashes. That to the bow of the New Orleans was 18 holes (by count of the welds made later). No damage was sustained by the Ramapo except one fragment hole in the part bow of the moored motor launch, splintered to about 6" x 2". The New Orleans was the apparent target of the plane.

    Evidence of the closeness of the action to this vessel was later discovered in one .30 caliber machine gun bullet, which was nickel plated, which was dug from the teak of the after 5" gun platform; several fragments, probably from fragmentation of won HE, were picked up on deck in varying sizes.

  6. State of preparedness on board

    The Fact of complete surprise and the time of day, and the day itself being Sunday, greatly contributed to the momentary confusion resulting when the alarm was given. Ready ammunition boxes had already been filled as a matter of policy, but these were locked. The time taken to obtain the keys from officer custody and unlock the boxes caused an unavoidable delay through no fault of personnel. It is believed that delay due to slowness of personnel was negligible. All the crew knew their stations from practice at frequently held drills and problems. Ammunition hoists were promptly manned and replacements ordered up. Some delay in obtaining telephone communication from main fire control to the 3" AA was had, but since the regular 3" AA fire control officer was on station, this was not serious. The short gap was bridged by messenger. Machine guns in the main fire control station were manned and commenced firing within ten minutes after action started, in spite of the aforementioned delays. It is also noted that the Ramapo was among the very first ships to open fire.

    The location of the ship at berth 12 under the large stationary crane was a distinct disadvantage, since it completely blocked one 3" gun until the safety stops in train were removed, to allow that gun to fire across the ship, and seriously hampered both machine guns in the arcs and elevations involved. Four PT boats on deck, under their own officers opened fire, without orders from the ship, from their own .50 caliber turrets, a very commendable action, and it is believed that either shot down or materially contributed to the shooting down of one enemy plane.

    Idle boilers were lighted off and the ship prepared for getting underway if and when ordered to do so. Steam was later put on all filled cargo oil tanks and upon orders from the Captain, the 5" ready ammunition was struck below to minimize danger of explosion from bombs hitting deck.

    All guns, i.e. two 5"/51 caliber, two 3"/50 caliber and two .50 caliber machine guns had previously been placed in complete readiness for firing, including firing locks, pre-set fuses on 3", etc.

  7. Defense (1) by ship, (2) by other forces.
    1. Defense by the ship has been covered as to method by above. A total of about 800 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun ammunition and of 25 rounds of 3"/50 caliber was fired during the day. During the said [?] on the evening of 7 December, one enemy plane was definitely shot down by 3" direct hit at almost point blank range. This plane was seen to crash and burn. Within the limits of the ship's armament, defense was complete, well controlled, and a minimum of ammunition expended for the results obtained.
    2. Defense by other forces as observed appeared to be highly discouraging. Direct effects were only observed in the one instance of the burning plane previously mentioned. The most outstanding item of adverse comment was the continued absence of our own planes in the air for a considerable time after the action started. It was, however, generally conceded that the air station had sustained damage and was unable to get the planes up; consequently, no adverse effect on morale was observed to any appreciable extent.
  8. Morale

    Morale from the beginning to the end was of the highest order in the observation of this observer. The principal emotions were:
    (1) anger at the enemy forces, not for their telling blows, but at the underhanded methods employed in gaining their ends.
    (2) sadness at the loss of so much material and personnel in the form of the battleships and their crews.
    (3) Disappointment that our own planes were slow in getting into the air to assist in the defense.
    (4) Surprise that such an attack was possible on Pearl Harbor.
    (5) Fear was most notably and commendably absent; not one dereliction or defection was noted. There was no 'ducking' even from the dive bombers, and the thought of all hands appeared to be one only, to get every plane as fast as possible.
    (6) Nervousness was undeniably present, but due principally to the intense excitement, it was not noticeable, being kept within each individual man.
    (7) Training showed its value in the way in which each man did his job to the fullest extent, and the unselfishness with which any available man jumped to help his shipmate do the unanticipated ones. For the key men at each gun, little or no direction was necessary; due to the din complete control of target designation was impossible at times, but pointers and trainers picked their own targets, fired when possible and stopped when the target got out of range.

    Because control was not partially local, for which each gun had been repeatedly trained, the men assumed this when impracticable to do otherwise, and were more than proud of their ability to act on their own without officer direction. In this situation the one initial fault noted was to open fire when out of range. This was pointed out at the first lull, and no further trouble was experienced.

    (8) Curiosity and speculation as to what other defense areas had been attacked in other parts of the world. A certain anxiety for friends and relatives on other ships was evident when lulls in the action permitted thoughts of anything except the job at hand.

1. Casualties on the Ramapo

No personnel casualties were experienced, and only those material casualties which have been previously mentioned occurred.

Lieutenant (jg), U.S. NAVY
Gunnery Officer, U.S.S. Ramapo

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 14:58:49 EST 2018