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Pearl Harbor resurrection: the warships that rose to fight again (+video)

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“The available documentary evidence suggests that, of those five, the Oklahoma and Nevada were lost because of design defects, the West Virginia was simply overwhelmed by force her defenses were not meant to thwart, and the California was sunk because of the performance of her officers and crew,” wrote Thomas C. Hone in a Naval History Magazine survey of the damage republished in 2012.

The USS Arizona was destroyed by an explosion in its forward magazine that thoroughly wrecked the vessel. It lies on the floor of the harbor to this day, serving as a memorial to those who died on Dec. 7, 1941.

Three US cruisers, three destroyers, a target ship, and a minelayer were also sunk or heavily damaged.

Recovery work started immediately. Within three months most of the smaller ships and three of the battleships – the USS Pennsylvania, the USS Maryland, and the USS Tennessee – were either returned to service or refloated and steamed to the continental US for final repairs.

Resurrection of the rest of the fleet took longer. The shallow water of the anchorage made work on the battleships possible, but not easy. The USS Nevada, for instance, had one large and many small holes in her hull. Her interior was full of water and many compartments were burned out.

“Most significantly, her deficiencies in watertight integrity, which had led to her sinking in the first place, now had to be made good under very difficult circumstances,” notes the official Navy History and Heritage Command account of the effort.

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