USS Arizona: Warship, Tomb, Monument
As perhaps the most famous warship in American history, it is indeed ironic that the USS Arizona spent a total of less than 15 minutes actually at war. Her career afloat ended in the millisecond that a Japanese bomb plunged through her armored deck and detonated a million and a half pounds of gunpowder in a magazine, sinking the ship and snuffing out the lives of 1,177 crewmen.
Within a few minutes, she had settled to the bottom, fires still raging out of control. Her career submerged and had begun ignominiously. Officially stricken from Naval Vessel Register in December of 1942, she was stripped of guns and ammunition needed for the war effort, and her superstructure was eventually cut away and scrapped. In the fury of winning the war, a proposition was even floated to use her hull—with almost 1,000 souls entombed within—as a test site for torpedoes. It was rejected.
Gradually, Arizona assumed the role of monument, emblematic of the loss of life both in the December 7 attack and during the war in the Pacific. In 1962, the Arizona Memorial was opened and hosts over a million visitors each year.
This book tells the story of USS Arizona from the planning stages in 1912 to her status as a monument today.
by MacKinnon Simpson