Earl Hinz  USS Utah, Hawaii

USS Utah

"The Forgotten Memorial at Pearl Harbor."

  Only if you take the cruise around Pearl Harbor will you become acquainted with the fact that there are two battleship memorials. The USS Arizona gets top billing from the National Park Service but on the back side of Ford Island lies the USS Utah on it side, a victim of Japanese treachery on December 7, 1941 as much as any other military facility on Oahu. It is hardly mentioned in the National Park Service information and it is impossible to get to except by commercial tour boat passing alongside. Although the memorial pier itself is on Ford Island, access to Ford Island is denied the public except for tours to the USS Missouri.

  The USS Utah was commissioned in 1911 and had a strange variety of missions. As a battleship it displaced 21,825 tons and mounted five turrets of twin 12-inch guns. A torpedo belt 12-inches thick surrounded the waterline but proved of little value when struck by two Japanese torpedoes on December 7th.

  In 1931 it was converted to a target ship for aircraft bombing practice and had a wooden deck overlaid the weather deck. In 1935 it was additionally converted to an anti-aircraft testing and training ship and it continued in both roles until the attack. One myth from the attack says the Japanese planes thought it to be an aircraft carrier and attacked it with torpedoes, but the Imperial Fleet Command had not even put it on its target list. On being hit it, rolled over taking 58 personnel to a watery grave. There would have been more fatalities but for heroic measures of other sailors to rescue those trapped.

  Salvage was delayed until 1943 because of its low potential to be returned to fruitful service during the war. When salvage was underway, it over-rolled and lay down on its other side where it rests today. Because it could contribute so very little to the war effort, it was left where it was. The present memorial was built in 1972.

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