The attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was the famous surprise attack which caused the entrance of the United States into World War II. The attack was planned by Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who based it off several other successful surprise Naval attacks, including one by US Admiral Harry Yarnell. The actual scale and attack plans were officially planned by Commander Minoru Genda.
The main purpose of the plan was to take away or significantly cripple the American forces in the Pacific, allowing Japan access to much needed resources in Southeast Asia and the Dutch East Indies. They believed a successful attack on the isolated islands would cause the U.S Pacific Fleet to retreat to the bases in California. This would allow the time and space necessary to secure their access and erect a "barrier" defense to protect their control over it.
On November 26, 1941, the carrier battle group Kido Butai (Striking Force) left Hitokappu Wan in the Kuril Islands. Under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, the group was under strict radio silence and the pilots onboard had been training for months, preparing for the battle ahead.
Before the attack was started, the minesweeper USS Condor spotted one of the Japanese fleet's "midget submarines", a two-man submarine sent out to stop ships from leaving or entering the port when the attack started, as well as to do reconnaissance on the damage done, outside the harbor of the bay at 0342. The Condor alerted the USN destroyer Ward, who carried out an unsuccessful search, though later on they attacked and sank a midget submarine, possibly the same one, at 0637. It was one of five midget submarines sent out; of those five, none returned, and of the ten sailors aboard (two for each submarine), only one survived to be the first Japanese prisoner-of-war.
On the morning of December 7th, the Army's Opana Point station detected the first wave of Japanese plans by radar, and called in a warning. The untrained and new officer in charge at the time believed it was the six scheduled B-17 bombers, due to the fact that those planes would come in a few degrees away from the blips, and dismissed it as the operators having not seen a formation as large as US bombers on radar.
The attack began at 7:48 Hawaiian Time, with the Japanese planes hitting Hickam and Wheeler Field, as well as shooting down some planes already in the air. The second wave hit Bellows Field and Ford Island, the Marine and Naval air station in the middle of Pearl Harbor. Men aboard the US ships awoke to the sounds of bombs exploding and calls for General Quarters. Despite the lack of preparation, including locked ammunition lockers, aircrafts parked wing-to-wing to prevent sabotage, and no heightened alert status, many American military personnel served with distinction during the battle. Both Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd and Captain Franklin Van Valkenburgh, commander of the USS Arizona, rushed to the bridge to direct her defense until killed when the ship was hit by an armor-piercing bomb that exploded the forward ammunition. Ensign Joe Taussig got the Nevada underway from cold start during the attack. Another ship, the destroyer Aylwin, got underway with only four officers, all Ensigns with hardly a year's sea duty, onboard, and operated for four days before her commanding officer caught up to her. Captain Mervyn Bennion, commander of the West Virginia, led his men until cut down by fragments from a bomb that hit the Tennessee, moored alongside. The most famous of them all, however, was Doris "Dorie" Miller, an African-American cook aboard the West Virginia, who manned an anti-aircraft gun he had no training in, went beyond his call of duty, and helped to bring his hurt commanding officer to safety. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor.
Ninety minutes later, the attack was over and the damage done. 2403 Americans, 68 of which were civilians, were dead, and another 1178 wounded. Eighteen ships, including five battleships, were sunk, and nearly half of the fatalities were caused by the explosion and sinking of the Arizona. The Nevada, which tried to exit, was beached to avoid blocking the harbor entrance. The Oklahomahad capsized, while many other ships had sustained heavy damage from various torpedoes, some looking worse for wear due to the burning oil from nearby ships. Almost all of the 188 American aircrafts in Hawaii were destroyed.
On December 8th, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the joint session of Congress, calling December 7th "a day that will live in infamy". Congress declared war on Japan, who had cut off relations with the US only a few hours after the attack, and thus entered into World War II with Germany and Italy declaring war on the United States on December 11th, 1941. In 1980, the memorial for the USS Arizona opened, allowing visitors historical information about the attack, boat access to the memorial, and other such services.
The city and port of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii is very important to the Navy and to the security of the United States of America. A number of Navy warships are homeported in Pearl Harbor and many important Naval exercises are conducted in the seas surrounding the Hawaiian Islands.
Current USS Pearl Harbor
USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) was laid down on January 27th, 1995 in Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans, LA. She was launched on February 24, 1996 and officially commissioned on May 30th, 1998. The Pearl Harbor was stationed out of Naval Station San Diego, California.
In January 2000, USS Pearl Harbor departed Naval Station San Diego for its maiden deployment in western Pacific, with the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Amphibious Ready Group (BHR ARG). She returned home in July after participating in Operation Southern Watch and exercises Eager Mace, Eastern Maverick and Sea Soldier. In December 2001 USS Pearl Harbor deployed with the BHR ARG, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
June 18, 2002 The Pearl Harbor returned to San Diego after a six-and-a-half month combat deployment in the Arabian Gulf.
In January 2003 USS Pearl Harbor departed San Diego, as part of Amphibious Task Force West (ATF-W), for an unscheduled deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) including Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In February Pearl Harbor joined a larger amphibious force in the North Arabian Gulf named Task Force 51. In July USS Pearl Harbor returned to homeport after more than six-month underway period.
In July 2005 USS Pearl Harbor departed Naval Base San Diego for a scheduled deployment with the USS Tarawa ESG-1 and 13th MEU in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In September LSD 52 participated in the multinational exercise Bright Star 2005. In October USS Pearl Harbor participated in a multinational humanitarian assistance and support effort Government to bring aid to victims of the devastating Pakistani earthquake that struck Oct. 8. In November-December Pearl Harbor conducted maritime security operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf.
In February 2006 USS Pearl Harbor returned to San Diego after completing a seven-month deployment. In December the dock landing ship arrived in Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to honor those who fought during the attack on December 7, 1941.
In March 2007 USS Pearl Harbor departed San Diego to begin their role in a U.S. Navy Task Group conducting Partnership of the Americas (POA) 2007. The task group participated in several exercises including UNITAS, Teamwork South and PANAMAX 2007. In August USS Pearl Harbor participated in Partnership of the Americas (POA) 2007. In September USS Pearl Harbor returned to San Diego after a six-month deployment.
In May 2008 USS Pearl Harbor departed Naval Base San Diego as part of USS Peleliu (LHA 5) ESG, for a scheduled deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism in the Central Command Area of Responsibility (AoR). In June Pearl Harbor conducted Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Arabian Gulf. In November USS Pearl Harbor returned to homeport after a six-month deployment.
In April 2010 Pearl Harbor completed its participation in a Certification Exercise (CERTEX), with the USS Peleliu ARG. In May USS Pearl Harbor departed Naval Base San Diego for a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility. In July USS Pearl Harbor participated in exercise Benevolent Phoenix 2010. In September LSD 52 was assigned to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, to conduct counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin. In December the dock landing ship arrived in Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a four-day port call to participate in the commemoration ceremonies on the 69th anniversary of the attack of Pearl Harbor. December 18, USS Pearl Harbor returned to homeport after a seven-month deployment.
In October 2011 the dock landing ship returned to San Diego after successfully completing certification exercise (CERTEX) as part of the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). In November USS Pearl Harbor departed Naval Base San Diego for a scheduled deployment. In December USS Pearl Harbor participated in a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief Marine Exercise (MAREX) 2012.
In March 2012 USS Pearl Harbor arrived in Doha, Qatar, to take participation in Doha International Maritime and Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX) 2012. In June USS Pearl Harbor returned to San Diego after more than a seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AoR).
In February 2013 the Pearl Harbor departed Naval Base San Diego to participate in exercise Iron Fist 2013 in the SOCAL Op. Area.