Pearl Harbor

Shown above, we’re on a boat to see USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The USS Arizona was sunk in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, prompting the US to enter World War II. The USS Missouri, the battleship where Japan surrendered to end World War II, is anchored to the left of the Arizona Memorial.

The USS Arizona was so severely damaged that is was left in place. This memorial was built in 1962 to honor the more than 1,700 sailors and officers of the USS Arizona who died in the attack.

USS Arizona memorial
USS Arizona memorial

At the Memorial, a gun turret ring and oil slick are grim reminders of the sunken ship. The rusted ring sticking out of the water supported a turret with 14-inch guns that could fire 19 km. It was too difficult to drain the fuel oil from the sunken ship, so the Arizona still leaks oil every day.

USS Arizona gun turret ring and oil slick
USS Arizona gun turret ring and oil slick

Two museums provide the background leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the campaign in the Pacific leading to Japan’s surrender. Providing a balanced viewpoint, the museums discussed reasons for Japan to attack Pearl Harbor:

  • The oil and steel embargo that the US placed on Japan, where Japan was forced to choose among retreating from China, going back to a pre-industrial country, or going to war. From wikipedia,

    In 1940 Japan invaded French Indochina in an effort to embargo all imports into China, including war supplies purchased from the U.S. This move prompted the United States to embargo all oil exports, leading the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) to estimate it had less than two years of bunker oil remaining and to support the existing plans to seize oil resources in the Dutch East Indies.

  • Japan’s development of a torpedo that could be used in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor. The US military thought Pearl Harbor was too shallow for torpedoes, so ships weren’t protected from torpedoes.
  • Roosevelt’s decision to move the US Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor, which increased the value of attacking Pearl Harbor

Admission to the USS Arizona Memorial and the two museums is free, and online reservations are highly recommended. Some tickets are given out to people without reservations each day, but one might not get a ticket or wait hours for the timed admission to the Arizona Memorial.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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