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Historical photo shows USS Arizona on its maiden voyage

The second and last Pennsylvania class battleship was named in honor of State 48, and sank during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Arizona may not have a coastline, but there’s part of our state that will always be out to sea. A photo of the USS Arizona setting out on her maiden voyage perfectly captures the triumph and tragedy of that connection.

The USS Arizona was the second – and final – Pennsylvania class “super-dreadnought” battleship commissioned by the United States Navy. Commissioned in 1916, she didn’t see action during World War I, but escorted President Woodrow Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference at the war’s conclusion. In the following years, she was mostly deployed for relief efforts and training exercises before being moved with the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1940 as a deterrent against Japanese forces.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor, and the USS Arizona was struck by an armor-piercing bomb, triggering an explosion that devastated the ship. 1,177 officers and crewmen were killed in the bombing, and the vessel sunk to the bottom of the harbor where it remains to this day.

USS. Arizona, then one of the largest and newest of Uncle Sam’s sea fighters passing out to sea under the Brooklyn Bridge on her first voyage since being put in commission.

Posted by I Love Warships on Friday, July 21, 2023

A lesser-known fact is that the ship is connected to Arizona in more than just name alone. She was christened by then-17-year-old Esther Ross of Prescott, Arizona. Ross was the daughter of a prominent pharmacist from the town and was personally chosen by Arizona’s first governor, George W.P. Hunt, to represent the state.

The USS Arizona’s construction was completed in the summer of 1915, shortly after Arizona ratified a ban on liquor. And to honor the state’s growing temperance movement, Ross christened the ship with a very nontraditional two bottles: one of sparkling wine from Ohio, and the other a bottle of water taken from the Roosevelt Dam.

After the bombing, the USS Arizona was considered too far gone to repair, but parts of the ship lived on, as the National World War II museum detailed. Much of the ship’s weaponry remained at least partially above the water, and multiple guns were salvaged to bolster Hawaii’s defenses. Eventually a “Battery Arizona” was constructed on O’ahu’s leeward coast from the initial guns salvaged from the ship. Another turret was installed as the “Battery Pennsylvania” at Mokapu Point. A third set was eventually salvaged, and installed onto the USS Nevada.

While the USS Nevada saw combat up to the end of the war, it didn’t fire its main guns in the final bombardments of the Japanese coastline. Rather, it was a test firing of the Battery Pennsylvania that gave the USS Arizona its final sendoff.

“What can be said with authority is, as the Empire of Japan was preparing to surrender in the last days of World War II, the USS Arizona’s triple guns thundered from a high ridge over the Pacific one final time,” wrote National WWII Museum Curator Cory Graff.

But it’s that photo of the ship passing triumphantly under the Brooklyn Bridge that captures the enduring spirit of the USS Arizona.



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