USS Arizona History
Building and Launch
On March 16, 1914 the New York Navy Yard laid down
the keel to begin construction of battleship number 39, which would later be
named Arizona. The ship was launched June 19, 1915.
Miss Esther Ross, of Prescott, christened the ship, along with the traditional
champagne, with a bottle of the first water to pass over the spillway of
Roosevelt Dam. Construction continued on the floating hull and the ship was
commissioned October 17, 1916.
Arizona experienced considerable problems with her engines requiring months in dry dock to replace.
The work was finished in March 1917, and the Arizona served
with the Atlantic Fleet as a gunnery training ship during World War I.
In November 1918 the Arizona sailed for Europe
to join Battleship Division Six serving with the British Grand Fleet, one week
after the signing of the armistice. On December 12, she rendezvoused with the tranport George Washington, which
was carrying President Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference. The Arizona was
part of the honor escort that arrived at Brest, France the next day with the
president. On the 13th she sailed from Brest with 238 homeward-bound veterans on
board and arrived in New York on the day after Christmas.
In 1920 the Arizona began to carry scout airplanes.
In early March 1924 Madeline Blair stowed away on the Arizona and
wasn't discovered until April 12th. She was apparently attempting to ride to
Hollywood and was providing favors to crewmen in
return for shelter and food. Courts-martial of the men involved were held and twenty three men were
sentenced to prison, the longest for ten years.
The Arizona was modernized
from 1929 to March 1931. The entire superstructure was replaced. Upon completion of the modernization,
the Arizona carried President
Hoover on a vacation cruise in the Caribbean.
The Warner Brothers movie Here Comes the Navy used the
Arizona as one of it's locations during spring of 1934. The film
starred James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Gloria Stuart. The movie was one of the
nominees for the Adademy Award in 1935.
On October 22, 1941, while conducting exercises at Pearl Harbor with the Oklahoma and
Nevada, the Arizona was struck on the port side by the
Oklahoma. A V-shaped hole, four feet wide by twelve feet long was opened
in the torpedo bulge. The Arizona was in dry-dock at Pearl Harbor for a
few weeks to repair it.
December 7, 1941
Japanese aircraft appeared in the air over Pearl Harbor
just before 8:00 am on this Sunday morning.
The Arizona came under attack almost immediately, and at about 8:10
received a hit by a 800-kilogram bomb just forward of turret two on the
starboard side. The forward powder magazines exploded,
gutting the forward part of the ship. The foremast and
forward superstructure collapsed forward into the
void created by the explosion and turrets one and two, deprived of support,
dropped more than 20 feet. The explosion
ignited furious fires in the forward part of the ship.
The majority of the crew members were either killed by the explosion and fire
or were trapped by the rapid sinking of the ship. Many of the survivors
displayed remarkable courage in assisting their shipmates to safety.
Lieutenant Commander Samuel G. Fuqua was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in
leading the rescue of other survivors. The Medal of Honor was also awarded posthumously to Rear
Admiral Isaac Kidd and Captain Franklin Van Valkenburgh. 1,177 of the crew died on the
During the following months and years of World War II, the
destruction of the Arizona came to symbolize the reason the U.S. was
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