What ships are still in Pearl Harbor?

Archive: information and pictures from 2000

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The surroundings of Waikiki and Honolulu can be easily explored with buses. Commercial tours also go to the highlights, which are quite comfortable, but you always arrive somewhere in hordes and are outside the control. My tip is "The bus", convenient, inexpensive and with local flavor.

A must is a visit to the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, but you should allow at least half a day for this. Of Waikiki from drives in every half hour Shuttle bus to the Visitor center. The journey takes about three quarters of an hour, which is about half an hour faster than taking the public bus.

Visiting the memorial is free and is an important part of the program, especially for Japanese tourists. Depending on the rush, you wait a long time, we were very lucky, we were able to go through the barrier and just 10 minutes later we were sitting in the cinema.


7.12.1941: It's Sunday on Oahu. The US Navy’s 130 warships are only partially manned at Pearl Harbor. To protect against saboteurs, the largest ships lie close together in the center of the port.

A few days earlier, the Japanese fleet with 33 warships, including 6 aircraft carriers, set sail from northern Japan in the direction of Hawaii. Since the fleet is taking a course north of the usual shipping routes, it reaches the intended attack position 220 miles north of Oahu unnoticed on the morning of December 7, 1941.

6:00 am: The first wave with 183 Japanese attack aircraft lifts off the aircraft carriers. The flight time is 2 hours. The night before, 5 mini-submarines, each manned by 2 men and 2 torpedoes, were launched by large submarines 10 miles from the port entrance. The task is to penetrate the port of Pearl Harbor and to cause as much damage as possible after the start of the air raid.

6:30 am: The destroyer USS Ward, patrolling Pearl Harbor, discovers one of the submarines and sinks it. The fleet commander is alerted, there is no alarm, incomprehensibly.

7:00 am: A radar station on Oahu detects planes approaching from the north. The officer in charge thinks she is an American B-17 bomber squadron, which is supposed to be on the way either from the mainland or from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and does not give an alarm.

7:48 am: The first Japanese fighter bombers drop their bombs on the Kanehoe military airfield in northern Oahu.

7:55 am: The first wave of attacks reached its goal completely undisturbed and its leader, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, broadcasts the message: "To, To, To" and "Tora, Tora, Tora" to inform his fleet of the start of the attack and the successful surprise effect. In Pearl Harbor 3 American cruisers are hit by torpedoes at the same time.

8:05 am: The first bombs fall on Honolulu. The attack extends to the naval airports of Ford Island, Hickam, Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station, Ewa Marine Corps Air Station, Wheeler and Bellows Field. There the planes stand together in groups for better protection against sabotage and are therefore an easy target for the Japanese bombers.

8:50 am: The second wave of attacks arrives. Much of the fleet is hit by bombs and torpedoes. The harbor is a flaming inferno. Only 11 of 394 aircraft stationed on Oahu can soar for defense, the rest being devastated.

10:00 a.m: The last planes of the second wave of attacks turn and return to their carriers. 29 Japanese planes are low loss.

The sad result: 3,435 dead, 8 battleships, 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers and 7 support ships have sunk or badly damaged. Alone on the "USS Arizona" dropping 1,177 men of the crew on the "USS Oklahoma" 400 men, the training ship "USS Utah" sinks with 5 men, so will they "USS California" and the "USS West Virginia" sunk. The "USS Maryland", the "USS Nevada", the "USS Pensillvania" and the "USS Tenessee" are badly damaged. The "USS Nevada" is still trying to get to the open sea, but has to be stranded so that she does not sink in the harbor entrance and block it. 164 aircraft are destroyed and 159 damaged.

The attack is still not a total success! The US Pacific Fleet is destroyed, but the aircraft carriers are not in port at the time of the attack. These aircraft carriers are used in the Battle of War Midway give the turning point. The shipyards, tank facilities and the submarine base in Pearl Harbor suffered only minor damage. Most importantly, the American people, who were previously divided about America's involvement in World War II, now agree to fight Japan and its allies.

Here you can check everything again in English: Pearl Harbor

The memorial

The Arizona Memorial is one of the most visited attractions in Hawaii. Right on Highway 90 and at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base lies that Visitor center, 13 km northwest of Honolulu Harbor. It has existed here since 1980.

A 20-minute film is an essential part of the tour. During the waiting time you can visit the small museum with interesting historical images and some models of the "USS Arizona" - one shows the ship in its current state under water with the memorial above. The boats leading to the wreck of the "USS Arizona" drive out.

After a short address from a veteran, the film shows the attack Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the battleship "USS Arizona" and briefly the prehistory of the war. Many interesting original recordings from both the American and Japanese sides have been brought together here. The easy-to-understand text appeared to us to be rather unpatethical and informative by American standards. The purest educational vacation. After the film, it goes from the exit of the cinema to the landing stage for the boats.

If you come here early in the morning, it is not that crowded. You get a number like the public order office, which is called when the assigned tour begins. Admission is free, but proper clothing and respectful behavior are expected!

A 60-meter-long white building has been erected across the wreck, which is only a few meters under water. The "USS Arizona" then sank in just 9 minutes after being hit by a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb at 8:10 am, which penetrated the upper deck and detonated the ammunition chamber. Today it is still the final resting place for 1,102 crew members at a depth of 12 meters. The names of all the soldiers killed are engraved on a large marble wall at the head of the memorial. It's a strange feeling to be standing over so many corpses. After about 20 minutes the boat drives back to the Visitor center.

The ship sits so firmly in the mud of the harbor basin that it was decided not to lift it, but to make it a memorial. A rusted turret is still sticking out of the water and you can make out the superstructure and outlines of the ship. Oil is still rising from the engine room and tanks. Superstition says that as long as there is still one of the 60 or so survivors, it will stay that way. The first picture shows such a small puddle of oil. The many colorful fish swimming around among the rubble do not seem to bother the oil in such small quantities.


Various souvenirs can be bought in the memorial's souvenir shop. Anyone who finds something suitable here - and if it's just postcards - gets it a little cheaper than elsewhere, as the small shop no longer adds tax to the prices shown. As part of the national monument, the shop may be exempt from this.

Outside the memorial area on the harbor side is a small park. If you cross the parking lot, you come to another memorial for the sunken submarines of the US Navy. In addition, various types of torpedoes are exhibited in front of a small museum. Admission to the museum was quite steep at 12 U $ per person. For 6 U $ more you could also see the inside of the original World War II submarine "Bowfin" anchored there.

If you added another 6 U $, there was still a visit to the famous "USS Missouri", also "Mighty Mo" called that now behind the "USS Arizona" has moored. The Japanese surrender was accepted on this ship, and it was also modernized in 1991 in the Gulf War against Iraq. There is an extensive tour that costs 12 U $ alone without the submarine package described above.

If you are interested in these things, this is certainly a unique opportunity to see such ships from the inside - even at these prices. You can spend most of the day doing it.

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