Pearl Harbor Sites in Chronological Order


By: Mark Loproto

Pearl Harbor tours are planned out with predetermined itineraries based on each site’s location rather than a historical timeline. If you consider the Pearl Harbor sites in chronological order, each one has its place in the timeline of the Pearl Harbor attack and the history of World War II and beyond.

The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the first stop on any Pearl Harbor tour, is your introduction to the events of December 7, 1941. The Visitor Center isn’t a part of the historic timeline, since it didn’t exist unil many years after the war. Its exhibits, Road to War and Attack! showcase artifacts from the time, including newspaper articles, photos, and memorabilia.

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial straddles the wreckage of the battleship, the first of the Pearl Harbor sites in chronological order

USS Arizona Memorial straddles the wreckage of the sunken battleship

Considering the Pearl Harbor sites in chronological order, then, the USS Arizona Memorial would be first on the timeline. One of the ships moored along Battleship Row on the morning of the attack, USS Arizona (BB-39) was the first battleship to come under fire.Shortly after the attack began, a bomb pierced her forward magazine, causing her to explode and sink, taking the lives of 1,177 of her men. One of two battleships irreparably damaged that morning, her wreckage still sits at the bottom of the harbor where she sank. Built directly above the sunken hulk of the ship, the USS Arizona Memorial was completed in 1962. The USS Arizona Memorial program is typically the first part of all Pearl Harbor tours.

Remembrance Circle and USS Oklahoma Memorial

The Pearl Harbor Remembrance Circle

The Pearl Harbor Remembrance Circle

There are two sites that would come next on a chronological Pearl Harbor timeline. The Pearl Harbor Remembrance Circle is a dedication to all those who died during the events of December 7, 1941, while the USS Oklahoma Memorial, on Ford Island, was erected to pay tribute to the 429 men killed when their ship capsized and sank. Both sites commemorate losses incurred on the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

USS Oklahoma Memorial

USS Oklahoma Memorial

Bowfin Submarine

View of the Bowfin Submarine

Visitors come aboard the Bowfin submarine

Next on the list of Pearl Harbor sites in chronological order, we fast forward one year from the attack to December 7, 1942. The nation was at war and the conflict required ships of all varieties. On this day, the one-year anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, the US Navy launched USS Bowfin (SS-287). The Balao-class submarine became one of the most successful warships of World War II, completing nine wartime patrols and sinking 20 enemy ships.

Battleship Missouri

Battleship Missouri is the last of the Pearl Harbor sites in chronological order.

Battleship Missouri

On January 29, 1944, the USS Missouri (BB-63) was launched as the last battleship completed for the US Navy. She played an important part of the history of World War II as the ship on which Japan’s surrender was signed. Commemorating the end of the war, this makes her the last Pearl Harbor site in the chronological order. Just as the USS Arizona Memorial marks the beginning of the War in the Pacific, the Battleship Missouri represents its end.

Logistically, Pearl Harbor tours can’t strictly follow this timeline, but knowing where each site fits in chronologically helps visitors better understand the events that unfolded nearly 80 years ago.

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