Oklahoma Disaster

Photograph of U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized in Pearl Harbor

National Archives #80-G-19941

The Oklahoma was one of two battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor that never rejoined the Fleet, the other being the Arizona. Oklahoma was hit by several torpedoes in just a few minutes, and counterflooding did not take place quickly enough to prevent the ship from capsizing. Most of her crew were not on board or were able to escape, but hundreds remained trapped in the hull, and only about 40 were successfully rescued by teams equipped with welding torches and cutting tools.

Photo of Oklahoma under salvage

National Archives #80-G-410533

The Oklahoma was later righted using powerful winches set in concrete on the nearby shore of Ford Island. She was refloated in order to clear the harbor, but her hull structure was so wrecked when she capsized that she  was not considered worth repairing. Sold as scrap after the war, she foundered while under tow to San Francisco and was lost in deep water.


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