WEATHER – Fine & Sunny:
Well, after a good nights sleep, we slept in so well that we almost missed the early morning pick-up for our tour today. Initially, I read it as 6.30am but it was actually 7am, so that gave us a bit of breathing space. As it turned out the pick-up point was right opposite our hotel AND there were others waiting as well. The coach finally appeared at 7.15am – we were told he was operating on MOUNTAIN TIME! (MT) Once underway our destination was to visit the PEARL HARBOUR VISITORS CENTRE. Here we were able to start to grasp what really happened back on that fateful day, the 7th December 1941, at 7.55am. (Hawaiian Time) A Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appeared out of the clouds above the island of OAHU. In close formation a swarm of 360 JAPANESE WARPLANES followed, descending FULL ON onto THE HARBOUR & U.S.NAVAL BASE AT PEARL HARBOUR, in a ferocious assault. Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. Out of all the ships damaged or sunk three (3) of those 2 Battleships – THE USS ARIZONA (BB-39) & USS OKLAHOMA (BB-37) & one (1) Battleship/Cruiser – THE USS UTAH (AG-16) never came back into service. In the case of THE USS ARIZONA it sank instantly, whereas THE USS OKLAHOMA & USS UTAH both capsized then sank in the harbour.
|#||BUILT||TOP SPEED KNOTS||
1 torpedo hit, 0805 hours; 8 bomb hits, 0810 hours; ship was half sunk.
|5 torpedo hits; ship capsized; 429 men dead; 32 survivors – cut out of hull in following days.|
|2 torpedo hits; capsized to port.|
With the assault of the 360 JAPANESE WARPLANES and a KAMIKAZE PILOT, twenty one (21) ships were sunk in PEARL HARBOUR, which caused major devastation. Miraculously, eighteen (18) of those twenty one (21) ships were returned to service. In addition to the above 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed and 2,403 U.S. non-combatant (2,335 neutral military personnel and 68 civilians) were killed.
So, what caused all this? – The background to the conflict:
Because at the time back in 1940-41 JAPAN was very dependant on primarily the supply of US STEEL & OIL EXPORTS. The US placed an embargo on sales to JAPAN until JAPAN agreed to leave the CHINESE TERITORIES. At the time PM KONOE, (The prime minister of Japan) tried to contact the UNITED STATES for a meeting but PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT refused, citing their continued involvement with CHINA. On October 16, 1941, PM KONOE resigned as the prime minister and was replaced by the pro-military GENERAL HIDEKI TOJO. The Japanese called for a pre-emptive strike against the US PACIFIC FLEET AT PEARL HARBOUR, including strikes on the PHILIPINES, NETHERLANDS, EAST INDIES & BRITISH COLONIES, Interestingly, unless a diplomatic break through was to happen between the UNITED STATES and JAPAN the JAPANESE EMPEROR was planning to declare an attack in December. It was then that JAPAN decided to go to war and bomb PEARL HARBOUR on December the 7th 1941, knowing (FULL WELL) it would spark a reaction.
At 9.30am we were ushered into a large theatrette and watched a film with rather dramatic footage of the actual attack. From there we boarded a US NAVY SHUTTLE BOAT and were taken out to THE USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL – A SHRINE OF REMEBERENCE.
Upon entering the memorial the mood was very sombre. An index on the far wall of all names of all those on board (at the time) who were interred with her below, was very humbling. In the centre of the shine (on the floor) there was a large circle opening allowing viewing into the water beneath, where one could view the outline of the top deck of the ship, as it lay resting on the floor of the harbour. Bear in mind that it’s been there for some 70+ years, so is carrying a lot of silt now. 🙁 One observation to the right hand side of the monument showed oil on the surface of the water. We were told that is leaking from the ship’s fuel tanks at the rate of around two gallons a day.
It goes without saying that it is definitely an inspirational credit for those who designed and built the monument in honouring those who are with the ship and also remembering all of those who perished as a result of that fateful day.
We re-boarded our shuttle boat taking us back to the mainland and then back onto the coach where we headed onto another huge monument – THE USS BATTLESHIP – MISSOURI, THE “MIGHTY MO” as she is affectionately known, is an Iowa class battleship, the largest ever built by the UNITED STATES. Her sister ships include the USS NEW JERSEY, USS IOWA and USS WISCONSIN. She was larger in size and weight than her fallen sister ship the USS ARIZONA, which she still watches over to this day.
THE MIGHTY MO carries a lot of history. We were able to tour this living museum which pays a wonderful tribute to its service. It was on her decks that the signing of the INSTRUMENTS OF SURRENDER for the EMPIRE OF JAPAN took place. It was also the first occasion where the JAPANESE used a KAMIKAZE PILOT in times of war – 1941. THE MIGHTY MO is a wonderful ambassador and fitting tribute to those fallen at PEARL HARBOUR of what the USS NAVY had and could do with those who served in her.
During our visit to the USS MISSOURI which is effectively a living museum, that pays a wonderful tribute to the service it has done. We started on the top main deck, up on the bow and made our way under a main battery of 3 massive guns, (more like modern day canons) In short I’ve listed some of the fire power on-board:
THE USS MISSOURI’S main armament consisted of nine massive 16 inch (406mm)/50 cal mark 7 large guns/cannons mounted in three turrets. These packed a huge punch and were controlled mechanically and electronically from the two gun directors. They could all be fired at the same target if the ship had its full broadside facing it. The remarkable part of it was that these guns had pin-point accuracy up to 23 miles away. She had a secondary armament of 20 smaller 5 inch (127mm)/38 cal mark 12 guns in turrets all positioned in the mid section and 80 (40mm)/56 cal anti-aircraft guns and 49 (20mm)/70 cal anti-aircraft cannons for defence against small boats and aircraft. She also possessed two CIWs turrets for defence against guided missiles.
From there we made our way to the abeam of the starboard to learn that this was where the INSTRUMENT OF SURRENDER was signed ending WORLD WAR II. The actual signing took place on the deck of USS MISSOURI in TOKYO BAY on September 2, 1945. Just a bit further along we learned that the USS MISSOURI was hit by a JAPANESE KAMIKAZE PILOT on April 11, 1945, during the BATTLE of OKINAWA. Needless to say our tour guide was extremely informative. We were then given free roam of the vessel for another 45 minutes before heading off around 3pm.
For some reason unbeknown to me we didn’t go onto THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL CEMETERY OF THE PACIFIC (Informally known as PUNCHBOWEL CEMETERY) we arrived back at our hotel round 4.30pm.