A Pictorial History
by Ernest Arroyo and Stan Cohen
During the weeks following the Japanese raid, a great deal of repair work was done by the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, assisted by tenders and shipâ€™s crewmen. These efforts, lasting into February 1942, put the battleships Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee; cruisers Honolulu, Helena, and Raleigh, destroyers Helm and Shaw, seaplane tender Curtiss, repair ship Vestal and the Floating Drydock YFD-2 back into service, or at least got them ready to steam to the main-land for final repairs. The most seriously damaged of these ships, Raleigh and Shaw were returned to ac-tive duty by mid-1942. Five more battleships, two destroyers, a target ship and a minelayer were sunk, or so severely damaged as to represent nearly total losses. These required much more extensive work just to get them to a point where repairs could begin. Starting in December 1941 and continuing into February 1942, the Navy Yard stripped the destroyers Cassin and Downes of serviceable weapons, machinery and equipment. This material was sent to California, where it was installed in new hulls. These two ships came back into the fleet in late 1943 and early 1944.
To work on the remaining seven ships, all of them sunk, a salvage organization was formally established a week after the raid to begin what would clearly be a huge job. Commanded from early January 1942 by Captain Homer N. Wallin, previously a member of the Battle Force Staff, this Salvage Division labored hard and productively for over two years to refloat five ships and remove weapons and equipment from the other two. Among its accomplishments were the refloating of the battleships Nevada in February 1942, California in March, and West Virginia in June, plus the minelayer Oglala during April-July 1942. After extensive shipyard repairs, these four ships were placed back in the active fleet in time to help defeat Japan. The Salvage Division also righted and refloated the capsized battleship Oklahoma, partially righted the capsized target ship Utah and recovered material from the wreck of the battle-ship Arizona. However, these ships were not returned to service, and the hulls of the last two remain in Pearl Harbor to this day.
All this represented one of historyâ€™s greatest salvage jobs. Seeing it to completion required that Navy and civilian divers spend about 20,000 hours underwater in about 5,000 dives. Long and exhausting efforts were expended in recovering human remains, documents, ammunition and other items from the oil-fouled interiors of ships that had been under water for months. Uncounted hours went into cleaning the ships and otherwise getting them ready for shipyard repair. Much of this work had to be carried out in gas masks, to guard against the ever-present risk of toxic gases, and nearly all of it was extremely dirty.
â€”Naval History and Heritage Command
The authors have used Vice Admiral Homer N. Wallinâ€™s book, Pearl Harbor, Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal for most of the text. Hundreds of period photographs are included along with the results of an extensive nationwide search for remaining artifacts of the ships that are on display.
About the authors:
Ernest Arroyo, a retired production manager for a national printing firm has been a student of U.S. Naval history for more than 50 years. In 2001 he wrote the acclaimed book â€œPEARL HARBORâ€ published by Pacific Historic Parks (formally: The Arizona Memorial Museum Association) and a co-author of â€œATTACK ON PEARL HARBORâ€ (formally EAST WIND RAIN) a highly popular pictorial account of the Pearl Harbor attack. He is co-author of â€œMY PEARL HARBOR SCRAPBOOK â€“ 1941â€
Mr. Arroyo maintains a large collection of U.S. Navy ship photographs and a personal reference library and has received acknowledgments for contributions of numerous photos and associated data in over two dozen books on naval and maritime subjects.
Mr. Arroyo lives and writes at his home in Stratford, Connecticut.
Stan Cohen is a native of Charleston, West Virginia, and a graduate geologist. After many years as a geologist, in the ski business, and director of a historical museum, he established Pictorial Histories Publishing Company in 1976 in Missoula, Montana and has authored or co-authored 71 books and published over 350 more. He is the director of the Museum of Mountain Flying in Missoula, and involved with several other historical associations. His other Pearl Harbor bookâ€”Attack on Pearl Harbor has been in print since 1981.