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  USS Oklahoma BB-37
USN
Nevada Class Battleship

27,500 tons
583' x 95.3' x 28.5'
10 × 14 in guns
8 × 5 in guns
2 × 21" torpedo tubes
2 floatplanes
1 catapult in 1942

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c1917

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November 3, 1943

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December 31, 1943

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Justin Taylan 2010

Ship History
Built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation of Camden, New Jersey. Laid down on October 26, 191. Launched March 23, 1914 sponsored by Miss Lorena J. Cruce. Commissioned on May 2, 1916 at Philadelphia, PA with Captain Roger Welles in command. She was the last ship of the U.S. Navy to be installed with vertical triple expansion (VTE) reciprocating machinery instead of steam turbines and had a vibration problem as a result of this power pant.

World War I Service
Joining the Atlantic Fleet with Norfolk, Virginia her home port, Oklahoma trained on the eastern seaboard until sailing on 13 August 1918 with sister ship Nevada to join in the task of protecting Allied convoys in European waters.

Inter War Years
Part of the escort for U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to France, departing December 14, 1918 for New York City and winter fleet exercises off Cuba. She returned to Brest, France on June 15, 1919 to escort President Wilson in George Washington home from his second visit to France, returning to New York on July 8, 1919.

Oklahoma was part of the Atlantic Fleet for the next two years, and was overhauled, trained, and twice voyaged to South America's west coast; early in 1921 for combined exercises with the Pacific Fleet, and later that year for the Peruvian Centennial. She then joined the Pacific Fleet for six years highlighted by the cruise of the Battle Fleet to Australia and New Zealand in 1925.

During early 1927, joined the Scouting Fleet with intensive exercises during the summer Midshipmen Cruise, voyaging to the East Coast to embark midshipmen, then transport them via the Panama Canal to San Francisco, then returned via Cuba and Haiti.

After being modernized at Philadelphia between September 1927 and July 1929, Oklahoma rejoined the Scouting Fleet for exercises in the Caribbean Sea, and then returned to the west coast in June 1930 for fleet operations through spring 1936. That summer she carried midshipmen on a European training cruise, visiting northern ports. The cruise was interrupted with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Oklahoma arrived at Bilbao on July 24, 1936 to rescue American citizens and other refugees, transporting them to Gibraltar and France. Afterwards, arrived at Norfolk, VA on September 11, 1936 and steamed to the West Coast arriving October 24, 1936. Arrived at Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1940 for patrols and exercises.

Pearl Harbor Attack
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Oklahoma was moored at Battleship Row, outboard aside USS Maryland. During the surprise Japanese attack Oklahoma was hit by three aerial torpedoes at the start of the attack. As she began to capsize, two more torpedoes impacted, and her men were strafed as they abandoned ship. Within twenty minutes of being hit, she rolled over until her masts touched the bottom, leaving her starboard side and part of her keel above water.

In total, 20 officers and 395 enlisted men were either killed or missing aboard Oklahoma. Also, 32 were wounded. One of those killed, Father Aloysius Schmitt was the first American chaplain of any faith to die in the Second World War. Oklahoma received one battle star for her World War II service.

Fates of the Crew
Many of her crew who managed to escape climbed aboard USS Maryland and helped operate her anti-aircraft guns.

Meanwhile, many of her crew were trapped inside the capsized hull. Immediately after the attack, heroic efforts were made in an attempt to rescue more crew members. In one effort, civilian Navy yard worked, Julio DeCastro organized a team that rescued 32 sailors.

Salvage
During March 1943, salvage operations began and Oklahoma entered dry dock on December 28, 1943. The battleship was too damaged to repair and was instead decommissioned on September 1, 1944. Afterwards, Oklahoma was stripped of guns, superstructure and usable equipment. On December 5, 1946 sold for scrap to Moore Drydock Company of Oakland, California.

Sinking History
On 17 May 1947, Oklahoma sank in a storm 540 miles off Pearl Harbor while being towed to San Francisco for scrapping.

Memorial
A memorial of black marble and white pillars with each member of the crew killed in action is is located on Ford Island, near USS Missouri BB-63.

References
WFI Research Group - USS Oklahoma

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Last Updated
March 5, 2013

 

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