From: NAVY DEPARTMENT COMMUNIQUES 1-300 AND PERTINENT PRESS RELEASES,
DECEMBER 10, 1941 TO MARCH 5, 1943, Office of Public Relations, U.S.
Navy, 1943, pp. 140-143.
Hold for release-a. m. paper-Sunday, December 6, 1942
Radio release 9 p. m., e. w. t.-December 5, 1942
THE JAPANESE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR,
DECEMBER 7, 1941
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft temporarily
disabled every battleship and most of the aircraft in the Hawaiian area.
Other naval vessels, both combatant and auxiliary, were put out of
action, and certain shore facilities, especially at the naval air
stations, Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay, were damaged. Most of these
ships are now back with the fleet. The aircraft were all replaced
within a few days, and interference with facilities was generally
limited to a matter of hours.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 2 surface ship task forces
of the Pacific Fleet were carrying out assigned missions at sea, and 2
such task forces were at their main base following extensive operations
at sea. Discounting small craft, 86 ships of the Pacific Fleet were
moored at Pearl Harbor. Included in this force were 8 battleships, 7
cruisers, 28 destroyers and 5 submarines. No U. S. aircraft carriers
As result of the Japanese attack five battleships, the Arizona,
Oklahoma, California, Nevada, and West Virginia; three destroyers, the
Shaw and Downes; the mine layer Oglala; the target ship Utah, and a
large floating drydock were either sunk or damaged so severely that they
would serve no military purposes for some time. In addition, three
battles, the Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Tennessee, three cruisers, the
Helena, Honolulu, and Raleigh, the seaplane tender Curtiss and the
repair Vestal were damaged.
Of the 19 naval vessels listed above as sunk or damaged, the 26-
year-old battleship Arizona will be the only one permanently and totally
lost. Preparations for the righting of the Oklahoma are now in process,
although final decision as to the wisdom of accomplishing this work at
this time has not been made. The main and auxiliary machinery,
approximately 50 percent of the value, of the Cassin and Downes were
saved. The other 15 vessels either have been or will be salvaged and
The eight vessels described in the second sentence of paragraph
three returned to the fleet months ago. A number of the vessels
described in the first sentence of paragraph three are now in full
service, but certain others, which required extensive machinery and
intricate electrical overhauling as well as refloating and hull
repairing, are not yet ready for battle action. Naval repair yards are
taking advantage of these inherent delays to install numerous
modernization features and improvements. To designate these vessels by
name now would give the enemy information vital to his war plans;
similar information regarding enemy ships which our forces have
subsequently damaged but not destroyed is denied to us.
On December 15, 1941, only 8 days after the Japanese attack and at
a time when there was an immediate possibility of the enemy's coming
back, the Secretary of the Navy announced that the Arizona, Shaw,
Cassin, Downes, Utah, and Oglala had been lost, that the Oklahoma had
capsized and that other vessels had been damaged. Fortunately, the
salvage and repair accomplishments at Pearl Harbor have exceeded the
most hopeful expectations.
Eighty naval aircraft of all types were destroyed by the enemy. In
addition, the Army lost 97 planes on Hickam and Wheeler Fields. Of
these 23 were bombers, 66 were fighters, and 8 were other types.
The most serious American losses were in personnel. As result of
the raid on December 7, 1941, 2,117 officers and enlisted men of the
Navy and Marine Corps were killed, 960 are still reported as missing and
876 were wounded but survived. The Army casualties were as follows: 226
officers and enlisted men were killed or later died of wounds; 396 were
wounded, most of whom have now recovered and have returned to duty.
At 7:55 a. m. on December 7, 1941, Japanese dive bombers swarmed
over the Army Air Base, Hickam Field, and the naval air station on Ford
Island. A few minutes earlier the Japanese had struck the naval air
station at Kaneohe Bay. Bare seconds later enemy torpedo planes and
dive bombers swung in from various sectors to concentrate their attack
heavy ships at Pearl Harbor. The enemy attack, aided by the element of
surprise and based on exact information, was very successful.
Torpedo planes, assisted effectively by dive bombers, constituted
the major threat of the first phase of the Japanese attack, lasting
approximately a half-hour. Twenty-one torpedo planes made 4 attacks,
and 30 dive bombers came in in 8 waves during this period. Fifteen
horizontal bombers also participated in this phase of the raid.
Although the Japanese launched their initial attack as a surprise,
battleship ready machine guns opened fire at once and were progressively
augmented by the remaining antiaircraft batteries as all hands promptly
were called to general quarters. Machine guns brought down two and
damaged others of the first wave of torpedo planes. Practically all
battleship antiaircraft batteries were firing within 5 minutes;
cruisers, within an average time of 4 minutes, and destroyers, opening
up machine guns almost immediately, average 7 minutes in bringing all
antiaircraft guns into action.
From 8:25 to 8:40 a. m. there was a comparative lull in the raid,
although air activity continued with sporadic attack by dive and
horizontal bombers. This respite was terminated by the appearance of
horizontal bombers which crossed and recrossed their targets from
various directions and caused serious damage. While the horizontal
bombers were continuing their raids, Japanese dive bombers reappeared,
probably being the same ones that had participated in earlier attacks;
this phase, lasting about a half-hour, was devoted largely to strafing.
All enemy aircraft retired by 9:45 a. m.
Prior to the Japanese attack 202 U.S. naval aircraft of all types
on the Island of Oahu were in flying condition, but 150 of these were
permanently or temporarily disabled by the enemy's concentrated assault,
most of them in the first few minutes of the raid. Of the 52 remaining
naval aircraft, 38 took to the air on December 7, 1941, the other 14
being ready too late in the day or being blocked from take-off
positions. Of necessity therefore, the Navy was compelled to depend on
antiaircraft fire for its primary defensive weapon, and this condition
exposed the fleet to continuous air attack. By coincidence, 18 scout
bombing planes from a U. S. aircraft carrier en route arrived at Pearl
Harbor during the raid. These are included in the foregoing figures.
Four of these scout bombers were shot down, 13 of the remaining 14
taking off again in search of the enemy. Seven patrol planes were in the
air when the attack started.
It is difficult to determine the total number of enemy aircraft
participating in the raid, but careful analysis of all reports makes it
possible to estimate the number as 21 torpedo planes, 48 dive bombers,
and 36 horizontal bombers, totaling 105 of all types. Undoubtedly
certain fighter planes also were present, but these are not
distinguished by types and are included in the above figures.
The enemy lost 28 aircraft due to Navy action. In addition, three
submarines, of 45 tons each, were accounted for.
The damage suffered by the U. S. Pacific Fleet as result of the
Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, was most serious, but the repair
job now is nearly completed, and thanks to the inspired and unceasing
efforts of the naval and civilian personnel attached to the various
repair yards, especially at Pearl Harbor itself, this initial handicap
soon will be erased forever.
ADDITIONS TO NAVY DEPARTMENT PEARL HARBOR RELEASE
Insert in 2d sentence, 1st paragraph, page 1:
. . . facilities, especially at the Army Bases, Hickam and Wheeler
Fields, and the naval air stations . . .
Insert after paragraph 3, page 3:
There were a total of 273 Army planes on the Island of Oahu on December
7, 1941. Very few of these were able to take off because of the damage
to the runways at Hickam and Wheeler Fields.
Insert in 1st sentence, last paragraph, page 3:
. . . Navy action, and the few Army pursuit planes that were able to
take off shot down more than 2O Japanese planes.
Page maintained by Larry W. Jewell, firstname.lastname@example.org. Created: 12/12/96 Updated: 12/12/96