USS Arizona (BB-39)

USS Arizona (BB-39)

USS Arizona history:

The USS Arizona, was a super-dreadnought battleship of the Pennsylvania Class launched during the First World War, being commissioned in 1916 and given the hull number BB-39. She was named after the State of Arizona, the newest state entered into the union at the time, and was considered the greatest and most powerful battleship to date.

She saw minimal service in the First World War, serving only as a training ship during the conflict, but she was used as an escort ship for President Woodrow Wilson when he sailed to and from Europe for the 1918/19 peace conferences. Between Wilson’s voyages, Arizona was deployed to Turkey to intervene in a growing conflict between Italy and Greece, during which time American citizens in the area took refuge aboard the battleship.

During the 1920’s and early 1930’s, the ship went through a few refits, mainly for the sake of modernization. Shortly after this, in 1934, the ship was featured in the film “Here Comes the Navy”, starring James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, and Gloria Stuart. Gloria Stuart is most famous today for having starred as Old Rose in the 1997 film “Titanic”. 

Arizona was assigned to the US Pacific Fleet. With tensions growing with the Empire of Japan in the late 1930’s and in 1940/41, the Pacific Fleet was positioned at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It was here that the Japanese Navy conducted their surprise attack on the United States on December 7th, 1941. Like all American ships at Pearl Harbor, the Arizona’s crew were unsuspecting and the Arizona was nothing more than a stationary, unprotected target. Only ten minutes into the attack, Arizona had taken several serious hits - the last of which penetrated the ship’s forward magazines, setting off a massive explosion that obliterated the vessel. She was declared a total loss, and her destruction was the cause of 1,177 deaths; approximately half of all casualties during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Some of her forward guns were salvaged, including a couple that were installed on the USS Nevada and were fired on the Japanese islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, near the end of the war in 1945. The memorial built over the wreckage of the USS Arizona is one of the most iconic war memorials in the world.