Pearl Harbor -- USS Oklahoma

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by WMReardon, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. WMReardon

    WMReardon Junior Member

    The USS Oklahoma was one of the two American battleships which was never restored to service after being sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor. (The other of course being the Arizona.) Capsized by several torpedo hits and accompanying flooding, she was eventually righted and drydocked for possible repair, but the Navy determined that given the extent of the damage and the ship's age, she should be written off instead. The vessel was stripped, and the hull was eventually lost at sea while being towed back to the West Coast for scrapping.

    However, I have a book, Collier's Pictorial History of World War 2, originally published in 1946, which includes a statement that the US Navy announced in February of 1944 that the Oklahoma had been restored to fleet duty. It is of course possible that the author simply got his facts wrong, but I'm wondering if the Navy did, in fact, issue a false news release claiming the Oklahoma had been repaired and was back in the fight -- perhaps as a bit of a morale-booster to the folks back home, to give them the impression that only the Arizona had been a total loss from the attack on Pearl. And at the time of the book's publication, word might not yet have gotten out to the general public about the ship's actual fate, hence the inclusion of this incorrect report. However, I've been unable to confirm from any other source that the Navy did actually make such a claim in 1944. Does anyone out there have any knowledge about this?
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    The websites appear to agree with you.

    During 1943, Oklahoma was the subject of a massive salvage undertaking, involving turning her upright, patching her damages and refloating her. She was drydocked late in the year to be stripped of guns and other equipment and repaired sufficiently to make her relatively watertight. Too old and badly damaged to be worth returning to service, Oklahoma was formally decommissioned in September 1944. She was sold for scrapping in December 1946, but sank while under tow from Hawaii to California in May 1947.

    USN Ships--USS Oklahoma (BB-37)


    The Day the USS Oklahoma Died

  3. WMReardon

    WMReardon Junior Member

    Hi Smudger, and thanks for the welcome. You're right, as there really isn't any doubt about what actually happened to the Oklahoma. It can be confirmed from many sources that she was never repaired, beyond what was necessary to make her temporarily seaworthy for towing. My question is more about whether the author of the one book I cited simply made a glaring error in saying that the US Navy had claimed the ship had been restored to duty, or if he was accurately relating that the Navy had -- if falsely -- made such a claim. I guess I could go try to find a library which has old newspapers from the time on microfilm or in digital form to see if I could verify the existence of such a press release, but was hoping someone in the forum might have some knowledge of this.
  4. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Everything I have read states that the ship was just too badly damaged as the hull was ripped right open due to multiple torpedo hits.

    She was only patched up and pumped out to refloat her in order to remove everything salvageable, before being sent for breaking up, but sinking before making the west Coast.

    Perhaps the press may have thought that when the ship was refloated, it meant that the ship was being salvaged to return to fighting order as was the case with several others.

    If my memory serves me correctly, one of the sunken Battleships was later salvaged and took part in the shelling of the Normandy beaches during the D Day Landings.

  5. WMReardon

    WMReardon Junior Member

    Yes, two battleships which were sunk outright at Pearl (West Virginia and California) were eventually raised, repaired, and returned to the fleet, along with 4 others which were less seriously damaged. And I believe that one or more of them ended up in the European Theater as shore-bombardment vessels. Only Oklahoma and Arizona were total losses.
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

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