The Battleships of Pearl Harbor

Sunday, December 7, 1941 was a beautiful morning on the Hawaiian island of Oahu until suddenly Japanese Forces attacked Pearl Harbor. Eighteen months earlier Franklin D. Roosevelt as a deterrent transferred the United States Pacific fleet to Pearl Harbor. After the attack, a good number of the battleships were salvaged and repaired which allowed for them to return for combat in 1943 and 1944 for some of the largest naval battles of the Pacific War. Consequently, the Japanese gained a temporary advantage in the Pacific War; and began a number of advances during early 1942.

By 1943, the USS Tennessee was back in combat; and in 1944 even sank the Japanese Yamashiro battleship off Leyte Gulf for a degree of revenge. Japanese aircraft bombarded the USS Nevada, but the battleship’s crew beached the ship after taking heavy fire. Japanese torpedoes bombarded the Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor.

At Pearl Harbor, the ship was hit by a number of bombs, and one of them penetrated the forward ammunition magazines. The battleships were among the primary ships of this fleet, which the United States hoped might provide a deterrent in the Pacific to the Japanese. In 1941, the United States decided to move its Pacific Fleet to the naval base of Pearl Harbor as tensions with Japan mounted.

The Battleship Missouri is the last battleship ever built by the U.S. and marks the site of the Japanese surrender that ended World War II. The entry room houses nine state flags for which the battleships were named; the assembly room oversees the remains of the USS Arizona below; and the shrine room engraves the names of the lost into a marble wall. The program starts with a short documentary in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater.

The place is now home to some of the most iconic memorials and museums. Perhaps most captivating is the chance to meet survivors and listen to their harrowing stories at the visitor center. The audio history tours are available in English, French, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, German and Spanish. Together, these sites represent one of the most solemn and historical pilgrimages that visitors make in Oahu.