In response to the Imperial Japanese Navy’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is storied to have stated that “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant.” Regardless of whether the admiral actual spoke or wrote these words, an industrial sleeping giant was indeed awoken as the American military machine began constructing weapons of war at an unprecedented pace.
New production only tells one side of the sleeping giant awoken by the attack on Pearl Harbor, however. A unique aspect of the American war effort was ability to repair damaged equipment and return the refurbished weapons to the battlefield. Even though it never again sailed as a warship, the USS Oklahoma illustrates the impressive recovery efforts that characterized the United States’ involvement in World War Two.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, The Oklahoma was moored at Battleship Row along with the USS Arizona and other Navy warships. Taking at least five torpedo hits, the Oklahoma capsized and ultimately rolled onto her side.
As the smoke and flames of the attack subsided, the long process of salvaging the Oklahoma began. Over a period of eight months, preparations were made to right the vessel – a process that was not totally complete until June 16, 1943. The Oklahoma was then transported to a dry dock where it was made sea worthy. Unfortunately, the ship was lost while being transported to San Francisco for scrapping in a storm after the war.
Despite the eventual loss of the Oklahoma, the following photographs depict the herculean efforts employed to salvage the vessel. By any measure, it was not an easy task to right the ship. However, the commitment to repairing equipment damaged in battle contributed to the American war effort and was a key component in victory over Axis powers.