The USS West Virginia was outboard of the USS Tennessee and located here, at berth F-6 when Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor on December 6th, 1941. The West Virginia was hit with five 18 inch torpedoes on the port side (left) two 15 inch armor piercing bombs. The bombs eventually caused explosive charges to detonate from fire damage from the bombs. The USS West Virginia was badly damaged but the vessel was able to be rebuilt and participated in many engagements in the South Pacific during the final years of World War II.
The USS West
Virginia (also known as the We Vee) was one of the ships rebuilt for battle
that was sunk by the Japanese at Pearl harbor. The West Virginia’s length
was 624'0; beam. 94' 3 1/2,
and was built by Newport News Shipbuilding in 1920. On December 7 1941, the
West Virginia lay moored at Pearl Harbor, at berth F-6 outboard of USS
Tennessee. Shortly before 08:00, Japanese planes, flying from a six-carrier
task force, commenced their well-planned attack on Pearl Harbor. West Virginia
took five 18 inch (457 mm) aircraft torpedoes in her port side and two bomb
hits, those bombs being 15 inch (381 mm) armor-piercing shells fitted with
fins. The first bomb penetrated the superstructure deck, wrecking the port
casemates and causing that deck to collapse to the level of the galley deck
below. Four casemates and the galley caught fire immediately, with the
subsequent detonation of the ready-service projectiles stowed in the casemates
The second bomb
hit further aft, wrecking one Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane atop the
high catapult on Turret III and pitching the second one on her top
on the main deck below. The projectile penetrated the four inch (102 mm) turret
roof, wrecking one gun in the turret itself. Although the bomb proved a dud,
burning gasoline from the damaged aircraft caused some damage.
though, ripped into the ship's port side; only prompt action by Lieutenant
Claude V. Ricketts, the assistant fire control officer who had some knowledge
of damage control techniques, saved the ship from the fate that befell USS
Oklahoma moored ahead. She, too, took torpedo hits that flooded the ship and
caused her to capsize.
officer, Captain Mervyn Sharp Bennion, was killed during the attack and was
awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously, for devotion to duty and courage.
African American sailor, Doris Miller, Mess Attendant Second Class, was awarded
the Navy Cross by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. Miller was the first African
American to be awarded the Navy Cross. Miller manned an anti-aircraft machine
gun defending the ship from further damage from the Japanese planes. Millers
heroism was inspirational other African Americans fighting in the war. Spills
from the damage of the USS Arizona encircled the West Virginia and helped fuel
the fire that caused damage to the ship. In all, 106 men died on the West
Virginia, and sadly, 66 of those men were found days after trapped in a
compartment after running out of air.
The West Virginia
was floated and taken to dry dock for repairs and then she set sail in July
1944 and fought in battles against the Japanese at the Battle of Leyte Gulf and
Leyte Landings, operations in the Philippines, and the Battle of Okinawa.
Sadly, as many other ships from the war, the
USS West Virginia was decommissioned
placed in dry dock until she was sold for scrap in 1959. The West
Virginia was an excellent example of American pride being rebuilt after the
Japanese attack and was directed back at Japan and eventually defeating Japan.
After sustaining great damage at Pearl Harbor, West Virginia, went on to fight
strong in WWII and earned five battle stars.
After an illustrious career, she was decommissioned in 1947 and
eventually sold for scrap in 1959.