uss arizona (bb 39)


Not long after Pearl Harbor was attacked and the fighting moved elsewhere the enormous task of salvage and cleanup began. It was a task that would last most of the war. Reports and analysis of the vessels that had been damaged or sunk were made and sent back to the command in Washington, DC, for consideration. Photos were taken to document the different states of the vessels being worked on.

The reports provided a steady flow of information that was important to the operation and the decisions made by higher authorities about the efforts being made. This can be seen in the different reports. All but two ships were salvaged, the USS Arizona (BB-39) & the USS Utah (AG-16). (The USS Oklahoma [BB-37] was refloated, but the hulk sank while under tow to San Francisco in 1947).

These records would become a part of the War Damage Reports, which would comprise of similar reports for vessels that were damaged or sunk throughout the war.

Currently these reports are only available in paper format. The War Damage Reports are found under NAID 1105681 in the National Archives Catalog (

#PearlHarbor75 U.S. Navy #WWIIstories #PearlHarbor


The USS Utah (AG-16), which served as an anti-aircraft gunnery training vessel at the time of the attack, had sustained damaging hits from torpedoes and a bomb. The Utah quickly took in water, formed a serious list and it became evident that the ship would capsize. 

After the attack an attempt at salvage was made, but was unsuccessful and no further attempts were made. The Utah, along with the USS Arizona (BB-39) were the only two ships not to be refloated and salvaged.

A report written by Commander John F. Warris, Executive Officer of the Utah on January 7, 1942 highlights the damage the ship sustained during the attack and the issues it faced with flooding and capsizing.

Two enclosures are included. One from T. H. Thompson, “B” Division Officer regarding the distribution of fuel in the tanks and the other from Lieutenant (Jr. Gr.) P. F. Hauck regarding efforts made to close hatches when the flooding began.

Document: NAID 1105681 (Records of the Bureau of Ships, RG 19) Declassification number NND 960035.

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 on board USS Solace (AH-5).