USS West Virginia (BB-48) and USS Tennessee (BB-43) After Japanese Air Attack

USS West Virginia (BB-48) settled on the bottom with an almost even keel; her colors are still flying from her stern mast. USS Tennessee (BB-43) although relatively undamaged, is wedged between West Virginia and the mooring quays. The two battleships were moored in berth F-6 on Sunday December 7, 1941. Perhaps as many as nine torpedoes hit West Virginia, in addition to bombs, and she sank upright due to quick counterflooding by her Fire Control Officer. Two modified air-dropped naval shells hit Tennessee, but neither completely detonated, instead the explosive slow burned. One hit Tennessee's Turret Two, causing the centerline gun to crack and putting the entire turret out of commission. The other hit Turret Three, piercing the four-inch (100 millimeter) armor and damaged the structure and rammer of the left gun. The explosion of the magazines aboard Arizona at 0805 Hours showered Tennessee with burning powder and debris. Tennessee's forward magazines were purposely flooded as a precaution against the many fires on the ship. These fires were ominous for a long period and were so intense as to warp the stern plates and cause some pulling out of hull rivets. At 1647 Hours, a secondary explosion on board USS Arizona (BB-39) caused Tennessee to raise speed to five knots in an attempt to clear the burning fuel oil drifting down Battleship Row. However, West Virginia's sinking caused Tennessee to be pinned against the quays, and she could not move even at 10 knots. At 1703 she shut down her engines but continued to run fire hoses off her stern to drive away the fire from Arizona. Several attempts were made to free the ship. About 650,000 gallons (246,000 liters) of oil were removed by pumping while work progressed on the quay and its buffer. The work proved more onerous than expected and was finished by dynamite blasting about December 16. In the meantime, repair ship USS Medusa (AR-1) and Pearl Harbor Navy Yard patched the warped plates by welding, and blanked off a number of air ports. When Tennessee was finally freed she was moved to the Navy Yard where all inside damage was repaired. The ship was ready for service by December 20.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives and Records Ad
Archival Identifier: 
Date Photographed: 
Sunday, December 7, 1941
Pearl Harbor
United States of America