On December 7, 1941, the Hawaiian Islands were suddenly and deliberately attacked by Japanese aircraft just before 0800. The USS Arizona came under attack almost immediately, and received a hit by an 800-kilogram bomb, gutting the forward part of the ship.
The USS Arizona was completed on March 16, 1914. The ship was launched on June 19, 1915. Miss Esther Ross, from Prescott, christened the ship along with traditional champagne. Arizona departed from New York for training off the Virginia capes; within months the United States entered World War I. Arizona operates out of Norfolk throughout the war, it served as a gunnery training ship, it also patrolled the waters of the eastern seaboard.
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Arizona was also part of the escort that carried American President Woodrow Wilson to the peace conference in December of 1918. In 1929 Arizona was in the yard for 20 months for alterations. She was placed back in full commission on March 1, 1931. Over the next decade, Arizona continued to operate with the Battle Fleet out of San Pedro, California, and to part in a series of fleet problems that took the ship all over the Pacific and to the west coast of the United States.
The United States Fleet was retained in Hawaiian waters, based at Pearl Harbor. She operated in the Hawaiian Operating Area until late that summer, when she returned to Long Beach on September 30, 1940. Her last flag change-of-command was on January 23, 1941, when Rear Admiral Wilson was relieved as Commander, Battleship Division one by Admiral Isaac C. Kidd.
The battleship returned to Pearl Harbor on February 3, 1941, to resume the intensive training maintained by the Pacific Fleet. She made one last visit to the West coast, clearing “Pearl” on June 11, 1941, for Long Beach, ultimately returning to her Hawaiian base on July 8. Over the next five months, she continued exercises and battle problems of various kinds on type training and tactical exercises in the Hawaiian operating area.
She underwent a brief overhaul at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard commencing on October 27, 1941, receiving the foundation for a search radar atop her foremast. She conducted her last training in company with her division mates Nevada and Oklahoma, conducting a night firing exercise on the night of December 4, 1941. All three ships moored at quays along Ford Island on the fifth.
Shortly before 0800, Japanese aircraft from six fleet carriers struck the Pacific Fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor, and in the ensuing two attack waves, sought devastation on the Battle Line and on-air and military facilities defending Pearl Harbor.
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