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Why did they leave the USS Arizona underwater?

Why did they leave the USS Arizona underwater?


020801-N-8794V-006.ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (August 1, 2002) — Sailors aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, “Man the Rails” prior to pulling in during a recent port visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and Carrier Air Wing Fourteen (CVW 14) are enroute to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Third Class Kittie VandenBosch.

The USS Arizona was left underwater in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor for a few reasons.

Firstly, the ship sustained significant damage from the attack. And became considered beyond repair. Salvaging the ship would require a tremendous amount of resources, time, and manpower. All of which became needed elsewhere in the war effort.

Secondly, the ship had become a tomb for the over 1,100 crew members who perished in the attack.

Arizona (BB39) Port Bow, Underway - NARA - 5900075 - 1930.jpg
Arizona (BB39) port bow, before being modernized at Norfolk Naval Shipyard between May 1929 and January 1930.

Moving the ship or attempting to salvage it could have disturbed the remains of the crew members and would have been seen as disrespectful to their memory.

Lastly, leaving the ship underwater served as a powerful symbol of the sacrifices made by the crew members of the USS Arizona and the other ships that were lost in the attack. The wreckage of the ship became a memorial to those who had lost their lives, and the decision to leave it underwater was seen as a way of honoring their sacrifice.

2 April 1914 photo of the USS Arizona (BB-39) construction. In addition, the raised floors that will support the machinery is easily visible here and fuel storage tanks will be constructed under this platform.
Building progresses: BB-39 under construction (Photo dated May 3rd, 1914). build05.jpg (1001×716) (

The USS Arizona was a Pennsylvania-class battleship commissioned by the United States Navy in 1916. Named after the state of Arizona. Additionally, designed to become one of the most powerful battleships in the world at the time. Equipped with twelve 14-inch guns(each turret had 3 guns), making it one of the most heavily-armed ships in the Navy.

View of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt and Commandant Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves, USN, at the keel-laying of USS ARIZONA (BB-39) in 1914.

The USS Arizona saw action in World War I and was one of the few American battleships to survive the war. In the years that followed, the ship was used for training and was modernized to keep pace with new developments in naval technology. However, the ship’s most significant moment in history would come on December 7, 1941, when it was attacked by the Japanese during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

During the attack, the USS Arizona was hit by several bombs, one of which struck the ship’s forward ammunition magazine. The resulting explosion was so powerful that it destroyed the entire forward section of the ship and caused it to sink within minutes. 1,177 crew members were killed in the attack, making it the single deadliest event in the history of the USS Arizona.

View of Waterfront Looking North from Top of Building Number 6, U.S.S. Arizona at Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1911.
The propeller shaft and aft cradle of the USS Arizona the day before its launch in 1915.

The Bomb that Sank USS Arizona

Firstly, the Japanese turned an obsolete 16 inch shell from the Nagato class battleships into a Bomb and sunk the USS Arizona.

Arizona‘s launch, 19 June 1915.
Starboard rear quarter view of the U.S. Navy battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia (USA), in March 1931 following her modernization. Moreover, to the right are the destroyers USS Blakeley (DD-150) and USS Biddle (DD-151).
After being modernized the ship takes President Herbert Hoover, left, on a vacation cruise to the Caribbean as he walks with Secretary of War Patrick Hurley in March 1931 from the Life and Legacy of the USS Arizona exhibit at the University of Arizona Special Collections in Tucson. Courtesy of UA Special Collections.
A Sack race Recreation on board a battleship, circa 1916-1917. This ship is either USS Pennsylvania (Battleship # 38) or USS Arizona (Battleship # 39). Moreover, the original image, copyrighted by N. Moser, New York, is printed on post card (AZO) stock.

Pearl Harbor

Aichi D3A1 dive bombers prepare to take off from a Japanese aircraft carrier during the morning of 7 December 1941 to attack Pearl Harbor.

Moreover, the Japanese modified obsolete Type 88 shells in 1939–40 to create the Type 99 Number 80 Mk 5 armor-piercing bomb.

Arizona on the East River, New York City (1916).
USS Arizona. Photo: US Navy
Image result for japanese pearl harbor dive bomber

The Japanese used them during the attack on Pearl Harbor and one pierced the deck of the USS Arizona and caused her to explode. 

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Simplistic representation of the explosion on Arizona.

The Battle of Midway : America’s Greatest Naval Victory.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Japanese planes view.jpg
Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island shortly after the beginning of the Pearl Harbor attack. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. Furthermore, a torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). In addition, other battleships moored nearby are (from left): NevadaArizonaTennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California. Moreover, on the near side of Ford Island, to the left, are light cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, target and training ship Utah and seaplane tender TangierRaleigh and Utah have been torpedoed, and Utah is listing sharply to port. Japanese planes are visible in the right center (over Ford Island) and over the Navy Yard at right. U.S. Navy planes on the seaplane ramp are on fire. Lastly, Japanese writing in the lower right states that the photograph was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry.
Pearl Harbor on October 30, 1941, looking southwest.
May be an image of outdoors and text

In addition, the Japanese engineers removed the armor-piercing cap and windscreen from the shell. Furthermore, they machined down the body, with a desire to reduce weight. Lastly, the Japanese engineers installed a new, thinner, base plug with two fuses. 

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Arizona transits the Panama Canal in 1921
Arizona transits the Panama Canal in 1921.

Battle of Coral Sea

Route followed by the Japanese fleet to Pearl Harbor and back.
Arizona with ship’s complement (1924).
Arizona being modernized in Norfolk, June 1930.
D3A1 Akagi.jpg
Aichi D3A1 from carrier Akagi.
USS Arizona by Donn Thorson.

The filling was replaced by 23 kilograms (50 lb) of trinitroaniline.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and National Park Service (NPS) personnel collected short-term (1 month), high-resolution physical oceanographic measurements at the USS Arizona Memorial (USAR) in April, 2005, furthermore, to better understand the nature of flow surrounding the mostly submerged historic ship. Scientists deployed two bottommounted oceanographic instruments in water depths less than 10 m on either side of the USS Arizona’s hull. Moreover, this study supports the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center (NPS-SRC) research directed at understanding and characterizing the nature and rate of natural processes affecting deterioration of the National Historic Landmark (NHL) USS Arizona. Moreover, the purpose of these measurements was to collect high-resolution and spatially-extensive hydrographic data to better constrain the nature of fluid flow around the submerged vessel’s hull and near the Memorial.
Arizona burning after the Japanese attack.

The Battle Off Samar : 25 October 1944.

Moreover, a view of number 3 turret, with a Nieuport 28 airplane on the flying-off platform, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, circa spring 1921. In addition, Note: airing hammocks and mainmast details.
U.S.S. Arizona in 1924 Library of Congress.

Moreover, the bomb weighed 796.8 kilograms (1,757 lb).

The visible superstructure of Arizona after her sinking.
In further conclusion, an aerial view of the USS Arizona Memorial, showing the wreck and oil seepage from the ship’s bunkers.
Lastly we will never forget the sacrifice these brave men gave that day.
The ship’s engineering crew posed by one of the gun turrets circa 1928 from the Life and Legacy of the USS Arizona exhibit at the University of Arizona Special Collections in Tucson, moreover, note, a couple of African-Americans on the crew. Courtesy of UA Special Collections
Arizona at the New York City naval review, furthermore, Arizona ten dreadnoughts that paraded past Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.
An aerial view of the USS ARIZONA Memorial off the northeast end of Ford island, moreover, the actual battleship, sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, is visible directly beneath the memorial due to the low tide and calm water.
Arizona after her modernization during the 1930s. A history of the USS Arizona : A History In Pictures
USS Arizona in 1931 after her modernization.
USS Arizona, Submerged off Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Honolulu County, HI Library of Congress.

Following the attack, the wreckage of the USS Arizona remained in the waters of Pearl Harbor, becoming a symbol of American sacrifice and resilience. In 1949, a memorial was built on the site of the wreck to honor those who died in the attack. Today, the USS Arizona Memorial is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hawaii and serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by American servicemen and women during World War II.

In conclusion, an aerial view of USS Arizona (BB-39) memorial and mooring blocks with credit to the USN Date: 1999. USS Arizona : A History In Pictures


Why did they leave the USS Arizona underwater?