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US Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, Enclosure E, USS California (2)

Editor's Note: The following content is a transcription of a period document or a collection of period statistics. It may be incomplete, inaccurate, or biased. The reader may not wish to take the content as factual.

22 Dec 1941


Pearl Harbor, T.H.
December 22, 1941

From: Commanding Officer.
To: Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Subject Report of Raid (Revised), December 7, 1941.
Reference (a) CinCPac Despatch 102131 of December, 1941.
(b) C.O. California Serial 1002 of December 13, 1941.

1. Since submitting reference (b), additional information has become available from a study of individual reports received from personnel of this ship and therefore makes desirable the submission of this revision of reference (b).

2. A complete report of damage is in the process of preparation as exact information in the premise becomes available.


Prior to the air raid by the Japanese Air Forces on December 7, 1941, the U.S.S. California was berthed at Fox-Three, starboard side to with boiler #1 in use for auxiliary purposes. The Material Condition of the ship was X-Ray except voids A-146-V, A-148-V, A-184-V, A-186-V, A-188-V, A-137-V, A-139-V, B-119-V, B-123-V, and B-109-V, which were open preparatory to complete necessary maintenance work. The ship was fueled to 95% capacity. 400 rounds of 50 calibre ammunition were at machine guns #1 and #2. 50 rounds of 5" A.A. ammunition were in ready boxes. All other ammunition was in the magazines. Guns #1 and #2 had been designated as the ready guns. All 5"/25, 3"/50 and A.A. 50 calibre machine guns were completely ready for use and ready to load in all respects. The battery was not manned except machine guns #1 and #2.

The ship's senior line officer aboard was Lieut. Comdr. M.N. Little, U.S. Navy; Lieut. Comdr. H.E. Bernstein, U.S. Navy, was the officer with the Head of Department Duty.

The attack was marked initially by the bombing of facilities of the Naval Air Station, Ford Island, and a strafing of the ship at 0755. The General Alarm was sounded and General Quarters was ordered. Main Control was ordered to make all preparations for getting underway and by 0800 the main and auxiliary steam lines were warmed.

The ship's company went promptly to their battle stations, with the stations above deck under a strafing attack. Condition Zed was ordered set. Communications were established between Conn, Fire Control, Central Station, and Main Control, and their subsidiary stations. Before the strafing attack was over the torpedo planes commenced their attack on the battleships moored at the interrupted quays.

By 0805, 50 calibre machine guns #1 and #2 opened fire and were shortly followed by #2 and #4 5" A.A. guns. The shortage of ammunition immediately available at the guns were acute, and orders were issued to ammunition parties to expedite the service of it to the guns.

Before the foregoing order could be executed the ship was struck at 0805 with three torpedoes, two at about frame 110 port, the other at about frame 47 port. These torpedoes struck almost simultaneously and their effect due to the incompleted setting of Condition Yoke and Zed proved far reaching and disasterous. The ship commenced listing to port and the Commanding Officer ordered counter-flooding to limit list to four degrees.

Forward in the vicinity of Forward Ordnance Repair, by the rupture of fuel tanks, the third deck commenced flooding with fuel. The strength of the fumes were such as to overcome the ammunition party attempting to expedite the delivery of ammunition. The rupture of fuel oil tanks forward introduced water into the fuel system and before it was cleared, light and power was lost on the ship at a critical time. The flooding of compartments in close proximity to the torpedo hits prevented the necessary access to make possible some control of damage.

The instantaneous flooding of compartments on the third deck directly inboard of the forward torpedo hit was probably due to the fact that the man-holes to five (5) voids in that area were open. The voids noted in paragraph one were opened in order to inspect for possible leakage from fuel tanks, which had been filled when the ship fueled to 95% capacity. The five (5) voids starboard were closed by repair parties, the five (5) voids, however, on the port side were still open when the torpedo struck. The fuel oil tanks between the inner and outer voids were probably ruptured by the explosion and the oil probably driven up through the open man-holes of the voids into the spaces directly above them.

The Port Thrust Block Room C-106-E flooded rather rapidly after the torpedo hit at frame 110, due to either a ruptured deck or bulkhead, or both. The compartment was evacuated and a hatch in the trunk leading to it was dogged down. The pressure under this hatch was such, however, that the hatch was bulging and it is very probable that it carried away, flooding the Engineer's store room and gyro compass room C-304-A, which is immediately above the port thrust block room. No other main machinery spaces were flooded immediately subsequent to the torpedo hits. The Center Motor Room was eventually flooded by the ventilation duct carrying away.<

The cause, therefore, of the flooding of the compartments in line with the after torpedo hit is not clearly established. There appears good reason to believe that either the tank tops of the fuel oil tanks in that area were ruptured or that the man-hole covers were blown off or buckled and that again the longitudinal bulkhead between the third deck spaces directly over the fuel tanks and the living spaces inboard on the third deck were either ruptured or severely strained and leaking. The prevalent opinion among men stationed on the third deck during the engagement, all of whom were driven out by the flooding and oil fumes, seems to be that flooding subsequent to the torpedo hit was probably through ventilation systems, few of which were secured. The time available between the sounding of the General Alarm and the time the repair party personnel in third deck areas were forced to evacuate their stations was totally inadequate for anything like complete setting of Conditions Yoke and Zed. Only the most obvious openings such as doors and hatches could be secured and in some cases, even this was done in darkness and in the presence of heavy oil fumes which spread through the entire third deck area rapidly after the torpedo hits. This flooding through ventilation systems is probably due in part to failure to close the deck and bulkhead fittings of the systems and in part to the rupture of ventilation ducts themselves. In one case at least, that of the Center Motor Room, it was definitely established before the area was evacuated, that the ventilation duct itself was ruptured and water pouring through the opening.

The general flooding on the second deck and into the Machine Shop flat from that deck was due to the effect of the bomb hit at 0830 which hit abreast casemate #1 at frame 59, penetrated the main deck and exploded on second deck, and which completely destroyed the watertight integrity of the first and second decks between frames 26 and 100 approximately, and between the second deck and the machinery spaces (third deck) reached by the large centerline hatch about frame 65.

About 0810 Fire Control ordered all 5"51 personnel to assist in the 5" A.A. ammunition service. About 0815 Control ordered turret crews to assist in 5" A.A. ammunition supply. The effectiveness of Turret I and II was restricted in this capacity for access to the 5" handling rooms was cut off by the flooding of the lower handling room access trunks, and subsequently access via the forecastle and the third deck was blocked by the fire that developed from the bomb hit at 0830. Turret III personnel advanced along the partially flooded starboard ammunition passageway to frame 48. Oil was leaking through the door at frame 48. The fumes of fuel oil in Compartment A-518 made it untenable.

In the meantime an additional group was organized, Ensigns H.C. Jones, W.F. Cage, and I.W. Jeffery, to assist further in the ammunition supply. Repair V sent a party to assist in this supply.

About 0810 the light and power was off the ship. Ammunition was obtained from A-23 1/½-M and passes into Handling Room A-233-M and up Hoist #11, #21, #13, and #23 by hand operation. Men in this vicinity were overcome with fuel oil fumes and had to be removed. Gunner J.C. Pharris, with replacements from the broadside guns, succeeded in removing the overcome men and getting sixty-two rounds from magazines to the guns. Ensign E.R. Blair obtained, with a 10-hand working party, 1600 rounds of belted 50 calibre machine gun ammunition from the 50 calibre magazine in the torpedo hold forward before that compartment flooded. No further ammunition thereafter was available or obtained from the ship's magazines during the engagement.

The ship was badly shaken by either a near bomb hit or torpedo hit at 0820. Main Radio was flooded and abandoned. Compartment A-518 started to fill with fuel.

Three dive bombing attacks were made between 0815 and 0915, coming successively from the starboard bow, from ahead, and from port bow. The explosion of near hits along starboard side caused minor sized holed amidship between the armor belt and gallery deck. On the dive bombing attack, at 0830, a hit was made abreast casemate #1, frame 59, penetrated the main deck and exploded on the second deck starboard. This hit started a fire amidships on the second deck frames 51 to 77, main deck, frames 51 to 87, and in casemates #3, #5, and #7. This fire remained largely uncontrolled due to the loss of pressure on fire main and the lack of sufficient fire extinguishers to cope with it until tugs came alongside about 1015 to supply fire protection.

A horizontal bombing group had, at 0825, dropped four bombs which fell harmlessly between the bow and the Northern quay of berth Fox-Two.

Light and power, pressure on fire main were restored at about 0845 and maintained until 1000. Such restoration was effected by lighting off the after four boilers with cold oil and natural draft. During this process the after plant was isolated and was ready in all respects for getting underway at about 0910. Engineering plant was secured on orders to abandon ship.

At 0845, Commander E.E. Stone, Executive Officer, returned to the ship and assumed command of the ship, and Commander Battle Force returned aboard.

At 0900, Captain J.W. Gunkley, Commanding U.S.S. California, returned aboard. Lieut. Comdr. O.F. Naquin, the Engineer Officer, and Lieut. Comdr. K.V. Dawson, the Gunnery Officer, returned aboard about 0905.

At 1002 the Captain, with the approval of Commander Battle Force, due to the enveloping flame from fuel oil fire on surface of the water, ordered the ship to be abandoned temporarily.

At 1015, the order to abandon ship was cancelled, flames from the water having cleared the ship, and battle stations topside were manned and a large number of men returned from the beach to resume work. A large number remained to procure fire fighting equipment on Ford Island. The fire aboard ship was fought with all available fire equipment on board and such that was obtained from Ford Island - and extensive salvage operations of movable gear was started. The ship was listing about 8° to port. The engineering plant suffered no mechanical or electrical casualty that would have prevented its operation during the engagement. The fire in A-611, however, produced such heat and smoke in the forward engine room as to make its operation possible only with great difficulty.



Five (5) killed.
Six (6) wounded.


Forty-eight killed.
Fifty-eight wounded.
Forty-five missing.


At 0830 shot down one enemy dive bomber with forward machine guns, which crashed in flames.

At 0832, one enemy plane shot down over Ford Island by either own fire or that of another ship.


The following named men and officers were outstanding in their work during battle in the ammunition supply and in removing wounded:

SKILLMAN, J.H., Comdr.(SC) USN   JEFFERY, I.W., Ens., USNR (Deceased)
CAGE, W.F., Ensign, USNR   JONES, N.C., Ens., USNR (Deceased)
NEWMAN, J., C.S.K. (PA), USN   REEVES, T.J., C.R.M. (PA), USN (Deceased)
KEENER, J.C., S.K.1c., USN   LONDON, J.F., S.K.1c., USN
BELL, C.R., G.M.3c., USN   CLEVELAND, E., Sea.1c., USN
NIX, J.P., Sea.1c., USN   BONTHIUS, R.C., Sea.2c., USN
DORAN, G.F., Sea.2c., USN    

For outstanding work in removing wounded trapped in either closed compartments or in compartments afire:

HALL, B.C., Ensign, USN   HALL, C.H., Ensign, USN
WALKER, W., Jr., Ens. USN   KIRKPATRICK, R.D., Jr., Ens., USN
SETTLE, R.L., Ens., USN   MC GRATH, T.P., Ens., USN
CHAMPION, C.H., Ens., USN   LEWIS, W.A.J., Ens., USN
GUNNELS, C.W., Ens., USN   NICHOLSON, A.T., Jr., Ens., USN
RUDDEN, T.J., Jr., Ens., USN   FAIN, E.M., Ensign, USNR
LYDEN, C.J., Ens., USNR   TAYLOR, L.S., Ens., USNR
OBMON, S., Boatswain, USN   MILLER, R.W., Ch.Elect., USN
BELDEN, E.W., M.M.1c., USN   BLY, C.L., M.M.1c., USN
BEZVODA, S.F., E.M.1c., USN   MAXWELL, O.R., E.M.1c., USN
ILLIAN, E., E.M.1c., USN   ALFORD, L.B., E.M.1c., USN
WARD, D.E., B.M.2c., USN   FLEMING, C.H., M.M.2c., USN
FRANCK, D.E., E.M.3c., USN   COON, R.V., E.M.3c., USN
LITZ, C.L., E.M.3c., USN   WAITE, J.E., E.M.3c., USN
GREENBAUM, H., E.M.3c., USN   WILSON, K.L., E.M.3c., USN
TOTH, R.J., F.2c.1, USN   GARY, T.J., Sea.2c., USN (Deceased)
PLUARD, F.D., F.3c., USN   GALYEAN, C.W., F.3c., USN
SAMUEL, H., F.3c., USN   EBBERSON, L.F., F.3c., USN
BROOKS W.M., M.Att.1c., USN   BACOT, J.D., M.Att.1c., USN
CELESTEINE, B., M.Att.1c., USN   WALLACE, H., Jr., M.Att.2c., USN

For obtaining ammunition from other ships, under fire:

APPLEGATE, H.A., Pay Clerk, USN   PAVLIN, B.F., E.M.3c., USN

For treatment of wounded although burned about face and arms from fires nearby his station:

JEWELL, J.D., Commander, (MC), U.S. Navy.

FLEMING, W.S., B.M.1c., USN, Gun Captain of 5"/25 gun #4, who, although wounded, continued to direct his gun crew and by his coolness and example, under fire, instilled confidence in the men about him.

BALDWIN, R.M.,C.Y. (PA), USN, for his outstanding work in performing duties of Damage Control Officer in a very efficient manner while the First Lieutenant commanded the ship.


Copy to: Combatfor

United States National Archives, Modern Military Branch

Added By:
C. Peter Chen

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