Allied Warships

USS Arizona (BB 39)

Battleship of the Pennsylvania class

NavyThe US Navy
PennantBB 39 
Built byNew York Navy Yard (New York, New York, U.S.A.) 
Laid down16 Mar 1914 
Launched19 Jun 1915 
Commissioned17 Oct 1916 
Lost7 Dec 1941 

Scheduled to receive tender availability, USS Arizona took the repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4) along side on Saturday 6 December 1941. The two ships were thus moored together on the morning of 7 December; among the men on board USS Arizona that morning were Rear Admiral Kidd and the battleship's captain, Capt. Franklin Butler van Valkenburgh.

Shortly before 0800 on the 7th, Japanese aircraft struck the Pacific Fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor, and in the ensuing two attack waves, wrought devastation on the Battle Line and on air and military facilities defending Pearl Harbor.

On board USS Arizona, the ship's air raid alarm went off about 0755 and the ship went to general quarters soon thereafter. Insofar as it could be determined soon after the attack, the ship sustained eight bomb hits; one hit on the forecastle, glancing off the face plate of turret II to penetrating the deck to explode in the black powder magazine, which in turn set off adjacent smokeless power magazines. A cataclysmic explosion ripped through the forward part of the ship, touching off fierce fires that burned for two days; debris showered down on Ford Island in the vicinity.

Acts of heroism on the part of Arizona's officers and men were many, headed by those of Lt Comdr Samuel Glenn Fuqua, the ship's damage control officer, whose coolness in attempting to quell the fires and get survivors off the ship earned him the Medal of Honor. Posthumous awards of the Medal of Honor also went to Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, the first flag officer to be killed in the Pacific war, and to Capt. Van Valkenburgh, who reached the bridge and was attempting to fight his ship when the bomb hit on the magazines destroyed her.

Total losses were severe, 1104 Navy KIA + 73 Marines for a total of 1177 crew out of 1514 at time of loss.

Placed "in ordinary" at Pearl Harbor on 29 December 1941, Arizona was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 December 1942. Her wreck was cut down so that very little of the superstructure lay above water; her after main battery turrets and guns were removed to be emplaced as coast defense guns. Arizona's wreck remains at Pearl Harbor, a memorial to the men of her crew lost that December morning in 1941. On 7 March 1950, Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet at that time, instituted the raising of colors over Arizona's remains, and legislation during the administrations of Presidents Dwight David Eisenhower and John Fitzgerald Kennedy designated the wreck a national shrine. A memorial was built; it was dedicated on 30 May 1962.


Commands listed for USS Arizona (BB 39)

Please note that we're still working on this section
and that we only list Commanding Officers for the duration of the Second World War.

1Isaac Campbell Kidd, USN17 Sep 19383 Feb 1940
2Cdr. Ellis Hugh Geiselman, USN3 Feb 19405 Sep 1940
3Capt. Harold Cecil Train, USN5 Sep 19405 Feb 1941
4Capt. Franklin Butler van Valkenburgh, USN5 Feb 19417 Dec 1941 (+)

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Media links

All the Gallant Men

Donald Stratton

The USS Arizona

Jasper, Joy Waldron

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