Torpedo Hits on Battleship Row

Torpedo planes attack "Battleship Row" at about 0800 on 7 December, seen from a Japanese aircraft. Ships are, from lower left to right: USS Nevada (BB-36) with flag raised at stern; USS Arizona (BB-39) with USS Vestal (AR-4) outboard; USS Tennessee (BB-43) with USS West Virginia (BB-48) outboard; USS Maryland (BB-46) with USS Oklahoma (BB-37) outboard; USS Neosho (AO-23) and USS California (BB-44). West Virginia, Oklahoma and California have been torpedoed, as marked by ripples and spreading oil, and the first two are listing to port. Torpedo drop splashes and running tracks are visible at left and center. White smoke in the distance is from Hickam Field. Grey smoke in the center middle distance is from the torpedoed USS Helena (CL-50), at the Navy Yard's 1010 dock. The Executive Officer of the torpedo strike aircraft, Lieutenant Hirata Matsumura of IJN Hiryu, broke off his attack on USS Utah (AG-16) and came around over Hickam Field to attack West Virginia. According to historian David Aiken, Matsumura's navigator, Petty Officer 1st Class Takeo Shiro, photographed this view of Petty Officer 3rd Class Yasumi Oku's torpedo hit on West Virginia. Oku was Matsumura's wingman from IJN Hiryu. In the December 1999 issue of Naval History Magazine, a group of retired Naval imaging specialists speculated that the dark object in the center of the water is a Japanese Ko-hyoteki ("Type A Target") class midget submarine that penetrated the harbor and fired torpedoes at Oklahoma and West Virginia. Many historians discount this possibility, and argue the object is just an air-dropped torpedo cavitating in Pearl Harbor's shallow waters. According to Aiken, the foaming white water at right center is from a torpedo stuck in the harbor bottom. Japanese writing in lower right states that the image was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
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Archival Identifier: 
Date Photographed: 
Sunday, December 7, 1941
Pearl Harbor
United States of America