Pearl Harbour, Hawaii
Harbour was established as a U.S. naval base in 1908 and remains a vital part of
the U.S. defence establishment today. Pearl Harbour is a national historic
landmark because of its essential contribution to the rise of the U.S. as a
major power in the Pacific and the crucial role it played in World War II,
beginning with the December 7th attack.
the middle of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Japan transformed
itself from a closed feudal society to a modern industrial and military power.
In the 1930s, under the increasing influence of their military, Japan embarked
on a series of conquests. With the start of World War II in Europe,
resource-poor Japan saw an opportunity to seize European colonies in Southeast
Asia with its resources of oil, coal, rubber and tin.
Relations with the United States had been deteriorating since Japan took Peking
in 1937. Because of rising tensions and continued Japanese aggression, the U.S.
moved its Pacific Fleet to Hawaii in the spring of 1940. In July, the U.S.
placed restrictions on shipments of oil and other war material to Japan. In July
1941, the U.S and other nations froze all Japanese assets. Rather than change
its expansionist policies, Japan chose war with the United States to protect its
While diplomatic efforts were underway to resolve differences with Washington,
naval planners in Japan were considering an attack on Hawaii as early as 1940.
On November 25, 1941, as these negotiations were failing, a fleet of 32
warships, including six aircraft carriers and 432 planes, sailed for Hawaii on a
course north of the usual shipping lanes.
Approximately 30 submarines, five carrying midget subs, sortied a day later to
approach from the southwest.
0600 on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Japan launched the initial strike force of 183
aircraft. At about 0645, an unidentified submarine was depth-charged at the
Pearl Harbour entrance. Subsequently, approaching unidentified aircraft were
detected by radar. Although U.S. forces were on war alert, these indicators of
the impending attack were not communicated to those in command. The first wave
of aircraft struck at 0755 in an attack that lasted half an hour. After a lull,
the second wave of the attack began at 0845 and lasted another hour.
O'ahu’s military airfields were attacked to prevent interdiction of the striking
forces; several hundred U.S. aircraft were damaged or destroyed. Pacific Fleet
aircraft carriers and battleships would be the primary targets. Fortunately, all
three Hawaii-based carriers were at sea. The eight battleships in port were
attacked with bombs and torpedoes designed for the shallow waters of Pearl
Harbour. Five battleships and three other ships were sunk or beached; three
battleships and ten other ships were damaged. More than 2,000 Sailors lost their
lives in the attack, along with several hundred other service members and
the Japanese attack was accomplished according to plan, it was, in retrospect a
strategic failure. U.S. isolationist sentiment dissolved. Moreover, seven months
later, fuel supplies spared in the attack contributed to the defeat of a
Japanese carrier task force by U.S. Pacific Fleet carriers at Midway, in a
battle that turned the tide of the war.
The Arizona Memorial and nearby USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park can be
visited by the general public, visit the National Park Service's
Arizona Memorial website.
The USS Arizona Memorial Complex
USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Centre and Museum is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 5
p.m., but programs end at 3 p.m. Program tickets are free and distributed on a
first-come, first-served basis.
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park is located north of the visitor
centre. The museum grounds are open, but there is a fee for admission to the
museum and Bowfin, except for military members in uniform.
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