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USS Arizona, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack


U.S. S. Arizona  

Receiving Barracks, Pearl Harbor, T.H.

December 13, 1941 


From: The Commanding Officer.  
To: The Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.  
Subject: Action Report U.S.S. Arizona (BB39) December 7, 1941.
Reference: (a) CincPAC Conf. Despatch 102102 of Dec. 1941.
Enclosures: (A) Statement of Ensign Jim D. Miller, U.S. Navy.
(B) Statement of Ensign G. S. Flannigan, USNR.
(C) Statement of Ensign D. Hein, U.S. Navy.
(D) Statement of Ensign R. J. Bush, U.S. Navy.
(E) Statement of Ensign A. R. Schubert, U.S. Navy
(F) Statement of Ensign H. D. Davison, U.S. Navy.
(G) Statement of J. A. Doherty, CGM, U.S. Navy.
(H) Statement of Lt. Commander. S. G. Fuqua, U.S. Navy.
  1. In accordance with reference (a) the following report is submitted.
    1. Offensive measures taken:

      The air raid alarm was sounded immediately when the attack was apparent. General quarters was sounded and word was passed to set material condition Zed. The antiaircraft battery and 50 caliber machine guns fired on the enemy planes as long as personnel at the guns were alive. It is believed that condition Zed was only partially set before the ship was irrepairably damaged.

    2. Damage to enemy:

      While it cannot be definitely established it is believed that machine guns from this vessel shot down two Japanese planes.

    3. Own losses:

      Personnel losses and casualties have been submitted to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet under separate correspondence.

    4. Damages:

      The U.S.S. Arizona is a total loss except the following is believed salvageable: fifty caliber machine guns in maintop. searchlights on after searchlight platform, the low catapult on quarter deck and the guns of numbers 3 and 4 turrets.

  2. Statements regarding the action of personnel who were on board during the attack are attached as enclosures.
  3. The Executive Officer, the senior surviving officer, was not on board at the time of the attack.


Copy to


    (with encl.)





I had gotten up at about 0745, and had started to dress when a short air raid alarm sounded. The Arizona's air raid alarm consisted of the sounding of three blasts of a warning howler over the general announcing system. What I heard was only one short blast as though some one had accidentally touched the switch. I felt one explosion near the ship which seemed to me like a no-load shot on No. 2 Catapult. However it was followed by two more explosions, and I decided it was not a no-load shot, but of course had no idea just what the explosions were. Then the word was passed to set Condition ZED below the third deck. I slipped on a uniform and started to go down to the third deck to check up on the water tight doors and hatches. I still did not realize that there was actually an air raid. As soon as I came up to the second deck from the lower wardroom, I met a gunner's mate who said he was trying to find the magazine keys. I went into the Captain's cabin to call him and get the keys if possible. The Captain was not there. I then looked in the Gunnery Officer's Stateroom to see if I could get the keys from him, but he was not in either. By that time the gunner's mate had left me, and I went on down to the third deck.

General Quarters was sounded. I went into Turret III through the lower handling room to the booth, took the turret officer's station and manned the 2JE phones to Plot. Communications to Plot were OK. However, Turret III was the only turret I heard on the line. Shortly after I had reached the booth the turret was shaken by a bomb explosion of not very great intensity. After a minute or two a much more terrific explosion shook the turret. Smoke poured in through the overhang hatch, and I could see nothing but reddish flame outside. The 2JE phones went dead, all power went off the turret, and all lights went out. From all reports that I could get from inside the turret, the turret was not even half manned. I believe that it was at about this time that a bomb hit on the starboard side of the quarterdeck next to Turret IV, penetrated down to the third deck and exploded. From later examination I found that this bomb had glanced off the side of Turret IV and then had penetrated the decks. My lower handling room crew was shaken up, and water began coming into the lower handling room. Explosion gases were filling the turret from the overhang hatch and from openings into the lower room. I stepped outside the turret to see what the condition was on the quarterdeck. There were several small fires on the deck and awnings. I noticed several badly burned men lying on deck and saw Ensign Anderson, who had been Junior Officer of the Deck, lying on deck with a bad cut on his head.

I figured that with the turret not completely manned, with all power off, and with the turret full of suffocating gas we could do nothing toward repelling the attack. I sent the word into the turret for all hands to come outside and fight fires. All hands came out. Ensign Field and Ensign Flanagan were at their battle stations in the lower handling room. They were the last to come out of the turret and reported to me that everybody had gotten out and that all hatches in the turret had been closed behind them. I found all fire hoses already connected to plugs on the quarterdeck, but there was no water on the fire mains. An attempt to call the center engine room on the ship's service telephones was unsuccessful because the ship's service telephones were out of commission. It was also impossible to reach the engine room because of fire and smoke and gas. The First Lieutenant was on the quarterdeck and in charge. About all we could do was to try to put out fires and drag some of the wounded men under the protection of the overhangs of the turrets. We put out several of the small fires – papers and awnings on deck – with buckets of water. Fuel oil was coming up from some place on the port side and was catching on fire. The ship was down by the bow, and the quarterdeck began to become awash starting at the break of the deck at frame 88. The main and forecastle decks forward of frame 88 were ablaze. Oil on top of the water was feeding the fire. At one time the First Lieutenant asked me if I had seen the Captain or the Admiral. I told him I had been in the Captain's cabin and had not seen him. He wanted me to go down into the cabin and check again. White, T.A., BM2c, and myself went down into the cabin and looked around, felt in the Captain's bed, but could find no trace of him. However, it was dark and smoke was bad, and it is possible that we could have missed him. Nevertheless, I am sure he was not there. We did not go into the Admiral's cabin. We came back up to the quarterdeck.

Our boats, which were tied up to the quays and booms, were manned by some of the men who had swum to them from the side of the ship. One of the first boats which came alongside was a motor launch from the Solace with a medical rescue party. This boat took all our stretcher cases off the quarterdeck. Of these men the only ones that I recognized were Ensign Schubert, Ensign Anderson, Stephenson, H.D. Sea1/c, and a ship's cook, name unknown. Most of the men who were burned were unrecognizable. Shortly after the stretcher cases had been removed to the Solace motor launch, the First Lieutenant ordered abandon ship. All of our guns had ceased firing, the main, forecastle, and boat decks were burning; smoke obstructed a view of the foremast and the forward part of the ship. All officers quarters aft were flooded and the quarterdeck forward was awash. Our life rafts were cut down and put into the water [and] all hands ordered to go over the side. Men found the rafts difficult to paddle, and most of them crawled aboard motor launches or started swimming toward Ford Island. The First Lieutenant, Ensign Field, and about half a dozen men and myself were the last to leave in one of our fifty-foot motor launches. We picked up quite a few more men who were swimming toward the island. We made the officers' landing at Ford Island, and all hands went ashore except the boat crew, Ensign Field, and the First Lieutenant. The latter said that he was going back out and try to pick up any more men he could find. I was told to remain in charge of the men on Ford Island. We went to the air raid shelter at the northeastern corner of the island. All injured men were sent to the air station hospital as fast as possible. The rest remained in the air raid shelter until the raid was clear.

/s/ Jim D. Miller
Ensign, U.S. Navy.





About 8 o'clock I heard the air raid siren. I was in the bunk room and everyone in the bunk room thought it was a joke to have an air raid on Sunday. Then I heard an explosion. I was undressed. I climbed into some khaki clothing and shoes. Then the General alarm bell went.

I made for my GQ [general quarters] station. I don't remember any word passed over the speaker system. My station was the lower room of turret 3. Just as the men and I go down the ladder leading to the passageway between the lower rooms of turret 3 and 4 a bomb exploded. The lights went out. It seemed to be on the third deck, starboard side between turrets 3 and 4. When that bomb hit, it made a whish with a gust of hot air and sparks flew. There followed a very nauseating gas and smoke immediately afterwards. Before this time, condition ZED had been set in the lower room of turret 3, and the men in the passage and I were unable to get out of the passageway. I beat on the door for some minutes before someone inside the turret opened the door. We got all the men that we could find in the passageway into the lower room, and then dogged down the passageway door. We were unable to dog down the door of the port passageway between 3 and 4 because it had been sprung by an explosion. The air in the turret was fairly clear for a while, but finally gas or smoke starting coming in. The men made quite a bit of confusion at first but they were very obedient when Ensign Field and I ordered them to keep quiet. About this time we got a flashlight and saw the turret was very misty with smoke. Just after this, we heard hissing noise which was later discovered to be air leaking from holes in the forward transverse bulkhead of the lower room. Ensign Field tried to get central station on the ship's service phone, but the phones were out. We also tried the sound powered phones which were also out. Conditions from smoke were getting worse and worse. It was then that we decided that we would have to leave the lower room. We sent men up the ladder to open the hatches to the electric deck, shell room and pits. The men had difficulty opening the first hatch. Men were coughing badly when it was finally opened. We sent them up to the pits on the double. There were two men and Ensign Field and I left in the lower room when water entered the lower room. It was about 8 inches deep when Ensign Field and I finally left. We were the last two up. We climbed the ladder closing all the hatches behind us. I took charge of the men in the pits, and Ensign Field went out on deck to help Lt.Cdr. Fuqua. We saw smoke entering the pits through the pointers and trainers telescope slots. I urged the men to take off their shirts, and we closed the openings with the clothes. After a short time, we got word from Ensign Field to come out on deck. When we got out on deck, the ship seemed to be ablaze from the boatdeck forward. We then unlashed the liferaft on the starboard side of turret three, and threw it in the water. I sent the men aboard the raft and shoved it off. I was then called aft, and helped wounded men in the barge, leaving for Ford Island and helped men to the front of the airraid shelter and into trucks taking them to medical aid. By this time, the ship was ablaze from forward of turret three to the bow. There were not boats to make another trip when I returned to the landing. I went into the air raid shelter.

Ensign, D-V(G), USNR.





I left the J.O.[junior officers] Mess at General Quarters. As I went to the boat deck, I noticed that some of starboard A.A. guns were firing. I think they were the forward ones. Then I went up to the signal bridge. I looked around and saw that there was nothing that I could do. I saw the admiral on the signal bridge. Then I went up to the nav bridge. The only people up there were the captain, the quartermaster and myself. The quartermaster asked the captain if he wanted to go into the conning tower but the captain did not want to, making phone calls. Suddenly the whole bridge shook like it was in an earthquake, flame came through the bridge windows which had been broken by gunfire. We three were trying to get out the port door at the after end of the bridge during all this shaking, but could not. We staggered to the starboard side and fell on the deck just forward of the wheel. Finally I raised my head and turned it and saw that the port door was open. I got up and ran to it, and ran down the port ladders, passing through flames and smoke. Then I climbed half way down the signal bridge ladder and had to jump to the boat deck as it was bent way under. Then I climbed down a handrail to the gally deck. The flames and smoke on the boat deck and galley deck were decreasing in intensity; I believe they were powder flames. I walked aft and down the ladder to the port quarterdeck. Then I walked to the other side and down the officer's ladder to the barge.

Just before all this shaking the quartermaster reported that a bomb had struck No. 2 turret.

Ensing, U.S. Navy.




[Enclosure (D)]




At about two or three minutes before 0800 Sunday, I was asleep in my room when I faintly heard a siren. Shortly thereafter I distinctly heard G.Q. I put some clothes on and went up from lower wardroom country to the second deck. Lt. C.T. Janz was sending everyone in the vicinity to shelter below the armored deck. I went down with Lt. Janz and about forty enlisted men. Before we could close the hatch, there were three violent blasts with flame and powder fumes entering the compartment. I then told all personnel in the vicinity to get out and go topside to avoid the gas. About twenty (20) enlisted personnel and myself went topside. I saw the entire ship forward of #3 turret to be a raging fire. I asked Ensign Davison about fighting the fire and he told me there was no water in the fire main. Shortly thereafter, Ensign Davison and myself got three boats clear of the oil fire on the water and picked up the men in the water who had jumped to get clear of the fire. We took several boatloads of badly burned and injured men to Ford Island landing and continued picking up men in the water between the ship and the shore. I took one boat alongside the quarter of the Arizona and waited until everyone gathered on the stern had been taken off. Ensign Lenning, Ensign Miller and Lt. Comdr. Fuqua made sure no one could be rescued from the after end of the ship before they left. We then picked the men up out of the water and put everyone ashore at Ford Island landing. Lt. Comdr. Fuqua took one boat and left to search the water for injured men. After sending all injured men to the dispensary, we took the remainder to the air raid shelter below Admiral Bellinger's quarters. Ensign Davison assisted me in directing the rescue work even though he was badly burned himself.




[Enclosure (E)]


December 11, 1941


At about 0755 Sunday, December 7, I was shaving in the wardroom head of the U.S.S. Arizona. I heard the air raid siren sound over the announcing system for about one second's duration, followed by the Passed word, "Air Raid". At the same time I could hear scattered gunfire. I went to the my room and looked out the port, where I saw several low-winged monoplanes at low altitude flying away from the line of moored battleships, apparently having finished a bombing or torpedo attack. I then heard the general alarm sound and the word passed for general quarters, and put on a pair of dungarees and slippers to go to my general quarters station, secondary Conn.

There were during this time one or more explosions which filled the air with fumes and vented out the port. The worst explosion filled the inboard end of the room with flame and left a residue of orange smoke which continued to vent out the port. By this time the ship was down by the bow and sinking so rapidly that the lines from the ship to the after key were snapping. I took a breath of air from out the port and went into the passageway, aft and up through a stores hatch which had been blown open.

Lt. Comdr. Fuqua was directing operations on the quarter deck. I assisted in opening the hatches and in getting the wounded, chiefly burn cases, into the launches sent from the U.S.S. Solace. The ship was still sinking rapidly and oil was burning on the water and spreading aft. Because of the damage received there was no pressure on the firemain with which to fight the fire. I left the ship in the gig and returned in a motor boat with which we make two trips to the Ford Island landing removing men from the ship. We picked up Ensign Lennig, U.S.N.R. from the water, and I had the boat crew leave me off at the U.S.S. Solace to have a cut on head and burns on my hand and arm dressed.

Ensign, U.S. Navy.





It was just before colors, in fact, I had already sent the messenger down to make the 8 o'clock reports to the Captain. Then I heard a dive bomber attack from overhead. I looked through my spyglass and saw the red dots on the wings. That made me wonder, but I still couldn't believe it until I saw some bombs falling. The first one hit up by the air station. I sounded the air raid alarm and notified the Captain. The Captain and Lt. Comdr. Fuqua came on deck, and the Captain went on up to the bridge. Mr. Fuqua told me to sound General Quarters. About that time we took a bomb hit on the starboard side of the quarterdeck, just about abreast of No. 4 turret. We grabbed the men available and started dropping the deck hatches and leading out hoses on the quarterdeck. About this time, the planes that had made the initial dive bomb attack strafed the ship. Mr. Fuqua and I told all hands to get in the marine compartment. It was reported to us that we had a bomb in the executive officers' office. Mr. Fuqua told me to call the center engine room and get pressure on the fire mains. Then he went up to the boat deck. I told the Boatswain's mate of the watch to do that. Then I went into the O.D.'s booth to do it myself. Just after I stepped in the booth we took another hit which seemed to be on the starboard side of the quarterdeck just about frame 88. The Boatswain's mate and I were trapped in the booth by the flames. We started out of the booth, trying to run through the flames aft on the quarterdeck. We couldn't get through so we went over the lifeline into the water. I was conscious of a sweetish, sickening smell to the flame. After I got in the water, my first intention was to go to the key and then onto the quarterdeck or swim to the gangway and get aboard. But after I took one look at the ship, I decided that it was useless, she had settled down by the bow, and appeared broken in two. The foremast was toppled over; she was a mass of flames from the forecastle to just forward of turret 3. I was helped into a motor launch by Ensign Bush and another man. Then we in turn took the motor launch and picked up as many survivors as we could find in the water. We took them over to the landing at Ford Island. There we were met by Air Station Marines, who helped us get the wounded ashore. After we had unloaded the motor launch Ensign Bush and I took the barge, which had come up and took it back over alongside the quarterdeck where we gathered another load of injured. On our return to Ford Island, we noticed three more boats alongside the Arizona, so we proceeded to the air raid shelter. Then I went up to the dispensary for first aid treatment.

Ensign, U.S. Navy





I was in the chief's quarter when the air raid alarm sounded. At the same time I heard something hit. I went immediately to my battle station – which is the A.A. Battery. When I arrived on the boat deck, I saw the forecastle waving up and down and fire and smoke coming up through seams of the deck.

I went to the port side to see if the ammunition hoists were rigged and they were okay. I then went to the starboard side and the crew was rigging No. 1-3 hoist for hoisting ammunition.

I noticed No. 3 gun wasn't firing due to safety bearing when the foot firing mechanism cut out. I was then shocked and surrounded by smoke and flames. I was backing away from the smoke and I can't remember much from then on.

I was in the water and was helped in a boat and from there to a hospital.

Only man dead and I'm not sure was Anderson, BM2c I think was hit by machine gun bullets.





[Enclosure (H)] Statement of Lt. Comdr. S.G. FUQUA, U.S.N. of the attack on the U.S.S. ARIZONA, 7 December 1941.

  1. I was in the ward room eating breakfast about 0755 when a short signal on the ship's air raid alarm was made. I immediately went to the phone and called the officer of the deck to sound general quarters and then shortly thereafter ran up to the starboard side of the quarter deck to see if he had received word. On coming out of the ward room hatch on the port side, I saw a Japanese plane go by, the machine guns firing, at an altitude of about 100 feet. As I was running forward on the starboard side of the quarter deck, approximately by the starboard gangway, I was apparently knocked out by the blast of a bomb, which I learned later had struck the face plate of No. 4 turret on the starboard side and had glanced off and gone through the deck just forward on the captain's hatch, penetrating the decks and exploding on the third deck. When I came to and got up off the deck the ship was a mass of flames amidships on the boat deck and the deck aft was awash to about frame 90. The antiaircraft battery and machine guns apparently were still firing at this time. Some of the Arizona boats had pulled clear of the oil and were lying off the stern.
  2. At this time I attempted, with the assistance of the crews of No. 3 and No. 4 turrets to put out the fire which was coming from the boat deck, and which had extended to the quarter deck. There was no water on the fire mains. However, about 14 CO2's were obtained that were stowed on the port side and held the flames back from the quarter deck in order to pick up wounded who were running down the boat deck out of the flames. I placed about 70 wounded and injured in the boats, which had been picked up off the deck aft and landed them at the Ford Island landing. This was completed about 0900 or 0930. Not knowing whether the Captain or the Admiral had ever reached the bridge, I had the Captain's hatch opened up, immediately after I came to, and sent Officers Ensign G.B. Lenning, U.S.N.R. and Ensign J.D. Miller, U.S.N. down to search the Captain's and Admiral's cabins to see if they were there. By that time the Captain's cabin and Admiral's cabin were about waist deep in water. A search of the two cabins revealed that the Admiral and Captain were not there. Knowing that they were on board I assumed that they had proceeded to the bridge. All personnel, but 3 or 4 men from turrets No. 3 and No. 4 were saved.
  3. About 0900, seeing that all guns of the antiaircraft and secondary battery were out of action and that the ship could not possibly be saved, I ordered all hands to abandon ship.
  4. From information received from other personnel on board, a bomb had struck the forecastle, just about the time the air raid siren, at 0755. A short interval thereafter, there was a terrific explosion on the forecastle, apparently from the bomb penetrating the magazine. Approximately 30 seconds later a bomb hit the boat deck, apparently just forward of the stack and one went down the stack and one hit the face plate of No. 4 turret. It is not known whether a torpedo hit the ship, but I have heard indirectly that the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Vestal stated that 2 torpedoes passed under his vessel which was secured alongside the Arizona, and struck the Arizona.
  5. The first attack occurred about 0755. I saw approximately 15 torpedo planes, which had come in to the attack from the direction of the Navy Yard. These planes also strafed the ship after releasing their torpedoes. Shortly thereafter there was a dive bomber and strafing attack of about thirty planes. This attack was very determined, planes diving within 500 feet before releasing bombs. I believe there was a third attack of horizontal bombers about 0900, these planes came in from ahead at a height of about 10,000 feet. There were about twelve planes in the flight that I saw.
  6. The personnel of the antiaircraft and machine gun batteries on the Arizona lived up to the best traditions of the Navy. I could hear guns firing on the ship long after the boat deck was a mass of flames. I can not single out any one individual who stood out in acts of heroism above the others, as all of the personnel under my supervision conducted themselves with the greatest heroism and bravery.

Lt-Comdr., U.S. Navy.


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



Published: Fri Feb 16 11:33:13 EST 2018