Pearl Harbor Attack - Effects of Torpedo Strike

Pearl Harbor Attack - Effects of Torpedo Strike American History Disasters Social Studies Visual Arts World History World War II Famous Historical Events

This captured Japanese photo, taken by an attack pilot, depicts a huge burst of sea spray after a successful torpedo strike at Battleship Row.

We learn more about this specific captured photo from the Naval History & Heritage Command:

Halftone reproduction of a photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on the ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about southeast, with Honolulu and Diamond Head in the right distance.

Torpedoes have just struck USS West Virginia and USS Oklahoma on the far side of Ford Island.

On the near side of the island, toward the left, USS Utah and USS Raleigh have already been torpedoed.

Fires are burning at the seaplane base, at the right end of Ford Island. Across the channel from the seaplane base, smoke along 1010 Dock indicates that USS Helena has also been torpedoed.

Where, exactly, was “Battleship Row,” at Pearl Harbor? How many battleships were moored there? Were aircraft carriers in port on the morning of December 7, 1941?

For answers to those questions, we turn to “Overall Views of the Pearl Harbor Attack,” at the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command:

When the first Japanese attack wave arrived over Pearl Harbor seven of their primary targets, the U.S. battleships, were moored along "Battleship Row,” on the eastern side of Ford Island. Another battleship was in drydock in the nearby Navy Yard.

Other moorings which the Japanese believed might include battleships, or the equally important aircraft carriers, were at the Navy Yard's 1010 Dock and along Ford Island's western side.

The Japanese initially hit airfields, including that on Ford Island. Dive bombers attacked there at about 7:55 AM, destroying many aircraft, among them PBY patrol planes at the island's southern tip. This attack prompted the dispatch of the famous message "Air raid, Pearl Harbor -- this is no drill,” the outside World's first indication that war had come to the Pacific.

Within a few moments, torpedo planes attacked from east and west, with one of the latter torpedoing the USS Helena at 1010 dock. Others, from the same direction, hit USS Utah and USS Raleigh, off the western side of Ford Island.

The great majority of the torpedo planes came in from the east, flying up the waterway between Pearl Harbor Navy Yard and the Submarine Base to hit the ships on that side of Ford Island. They put two "fish" into USS California, at the southern end of the row.

At the northern end, another struck USS Nevada. The outboard ships in the center of "Battleship Row,” USS Oklahoma and West Virginia, each had their port sides torn open by many torpedoes.

As the torpedo planes were completing their work, horizontal bombers swept up "Battleship Row", dropping armor-piercing bombs. Several ships were hit. One received a death blow, as USS Arizona blew up with a tremendous explosion.

Planes of the second attack wave revisited some of the ships already hit, and also spread destruction in the Navy Yard, where they bombed the drydocked battleship Pennsylvania and three destroyers.

Other dive bombers went after the Nevada, which had left her berth and was trying to get to sea. Very heavy anti-aircraft gunfire greeted these aircraft, whose losses were significantly greater than those of the first attack wave.

The raiders had no opportunity to hit American aircraft carriers, all of which were at sea, and did not target fuel storage, most cruisers and destroyers, submarines and most maintenance facilities.

However, in just under two hours they had wrecked the U.S. Pacific Fleet's battleship force, ensuring that it would not interfere with Japan's plans for conquest.

American forces, who were totally surprised by the attack, nonetheless were able to man anti-aircraft weapons. We can see evidence of anti-aircraft shell bursts in this photo.

The huge column of black smoke is coming from the crippled and burning USS Arizona (BB-39) 

Click on the top image for a detailed view of this historic photograph.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 10, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Dec 11, 2016

Media Credits

Photo, U.S. Navy Historical Center.



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"Pearl Harbor Attack - Effects of Torpedo Strike" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 10, 2016. Oct 13, 2019.
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