Previous ships called Arizona

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USS Arizona (1858)

The first USS Arizona was an iron hulled side-wheel steamer in the United States Navy.

Arizona was laid down in 1858 at Harlan and Hollingsworth in Wilmington, Delaware, and completed in 1859. She was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the district called variously "Arizonac," "Arissona," or "Arizona" within the region of northern Mexico known as la Pimerÿ­a Alta ("the Upper Pima Country"). Note that she pre-dates both the territory and state of Arizona.

Arizona operated out of New Orleans carrying passengers and cargo along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States.

On 15 January 1862, Confederate Major General Mansfield Lovell seized her at New Orleans. She was renamed Caroline and served as a blockade runner for the Confederate States of America until Union forces recaptured her in October 1862.

No continuous record of her operations during the next year has been found, but sporadic reports suggest that the ship carried cotton from New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama to Havana, Cuba and returned to those ports with war materiel. Gaps exist in our knowledge of changes in the vessel's owners, name, and registry.

In any case on 28 October 1862, the side-wheeler was operating under a "...provisional register of the English steamer Caroline..." as she steamed from Havana with a cargo of munitions to be delivered to Mobile. That morning, a lookout on Montgomery's topmast head sighted the blockade runner. The Union screw gunboat immediately set out in pursuit of the stranger, beginning a six-hour chase. When Montgomery pulled within range of Caroline, she opened fire with her 30-pounder Parrott rifle and expended 17 shells before two hits brought the quarry to.

Two boats from the blockader rowed out to the former Arizona and one returned with her master, a man named Forbes, who claimed to have been bound for Matamoros, Mexico, not Mobile. "I do not take you for running the blockade," the flag officer, with tongue in cheek, replied, "but for your damned poor navigation. Any man bound for Matamoros from Havana and coming within twelve miles of Mobile light has no business to have a steamer."

Rear Admiral David Farragut sent the prize to Philadelphia where she was condemned by admiralty court. The Federal Government purchased her on 23 January 1863. The Navy restored her original name, Arizona, and placed her in commission on 9 March 1863, Lieutenant Daniel P. Upton in command.

Nine days later, the steamer stood down the Delaware River and headed for the Gulf of Mexico. En route south, she chased and overtook the cotton-laden sloop Aurelia off Mosquito Inlet, Florida, on 23 March and sent her to Port Royal.

Shortly before Arizona joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron at New Orleans, Farragut had led a naval force up the Mississippi past Port Hudson to close off the flow of supplies down the Red River and across the Mississippi to Confederate armies fighting in the East. His warships met a fierce cannonade as they attempted to pass Port Hudson, and only the flagship Hartford and her consort Albatross made it safely through to the strategic stretch of the river between Port Hudson and Vicksburg.

Arizona played an important role in strengthening Farragut's drastically reduced force and opening up communications between its commander and the rest of his squadron. From New Orleans she proceeded to Berwick Bay to join a naval force commanded by Commander Augustus P. Cook which, in cooperation with troops commanded by Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, was operating in the swampy backwaters of the Louisiana lowlands west of the Mississippi.

On 14 April, while carrying army units, she, Estrella, and Calhoun attacked CSS Queen of the West on Grand Gulf, a wide and still stretch of the Atchafalaya River. A shell from Calhoun set fire to cotton which her Southern captors had loaded on that former Ellet ram and blew up her boiler. The burning cotton-clad drifted downstream for several hours before running aground and exploding. The three Union steamers also captured 90 members of the doomed vessel's crew who had jumped overboard to escape scalding.

Six days later, Clifton and Calhoun joined the same force and, working with four companies of Union infantry, took Fort Burton, a Southern battery consisting of two old siege guns emplaced at Butte La Rose, Louisiana. This victory opened for Union ships a passage -- through Atchafalaya Bay and the River of the same name -- connecting the gulf with the Red and Mississippi Rivers. Thus, Farragut could bypass Port Hudson with supplies, messages, and ships.

After this path was clear, Arizona entered the Red River and descended it to its mouth where she met Hartford, Farragut's flagship. On 3 May, she was part of a three-ship reconnaissance force that ascended the Red River until it encountered heavy fire from two large Confederate steamers, Grand Duke and Mary T., supported by Southern shore batteries and snipers. Since the narrow channel prevented their maneuvering to bring their broadsides to bear on their attackers, the Union ships were compelled to retire.

As they descended, the Northern vessels met a large force led by Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter who ordered Arizona and Estella to join him in a much more powerful drive up the Red River. He allowed Albatross, the third ship, to return to the Mississippi to report to Farragut.

The next morning, Porter's force arrived at Fort DeRussy -- an uncompleted stronghold the South had been building on the banks of the river -- and found it abandoned. After partially destroying the fortifications, Porter continued on up stream to Alexandria which surrendered without resistance. Before Porter left the river, Arizona took part in a reconnaissance of the Black River, a tributary of the Red. On 10 May, she joined in an attack on Fort Beauregard at Harrisonburg, Louisiana, on the Ouachita River.

Following her return to the Mississippi Arizona supported operations against Port Hudson which finally fell on 9 July -- five days after the surrender of Vicksburg -- removing the last Southern hold on the river and finally cutting the Confederacy in two.

Arizona then returned to New Orleans for repairs. During this work, Acting Master Howard Tibbito relieved Upton in command of the side-wheeler.

On 4 September, Arizona departed New Orleans and proceeded to Southwest Pass to embark 180 sharpshooters to be distributed among Clifton, Sachem, and herself in a forthcoming attack on Sabine Pass, Texas. She next proceeded to Atchafalaya Bay where she met her consorts and a group of Army transports, distributed her sharpshooters, and continued on to Sabine Pass.

On the morning of 8 September, the combined force crossed the bar and then split, with Sachem and Arizona advancing up the Louisiana (right) channel and Clifton and Granite City moving forward through the Texas (left) channel. When they arrived within range of the Confederate batteries they opened fire preparatory to landing the troops. The Southern gunners did not reply until the gunboats were within close range, but then countered with a devastating cannonade. A shot through her boiler totally disabled Sachem, another carried away Clifton's wheel rope, causing her to run aground under the Confederate guns. Crocker -- who commanded Clifton as well as the whole naval force -- fought his ship until, with ten men killed and nine others wounded, he deemed it his duty "to stop the slaughter by showing the white flag...." After flooding her magazine to prevent its exploding Sachem also surrendered and was taken under tow by CSS Uncle Ben. With the loss of Clifton's and Sachem's firepower, the two remaining gunboats and troop transports recrossed the bar and departed for New Orleans.

The Sabine Pass expedition had, in the words of Commodore Henry H. Bell, "totally failed." Nevertheless, Major General Banks reported: "In all respects the cooperation of the naval authorities has been hearty and efficient...."

Arizona subsequently served on blockade duty along the Texas coast, especially at Galveston.

Later in the year, yellow fever broke out on board Arizona forcing her back to New Orleans until the ship's company had returned to good health. During the month of November, she had made trips to Calcasieu Pass, Vermilion Bay, and Mermentau Lake on convoy and transport trips, and on 10 December she transported Captain John B. Marchand to Forts St. Philip and Jackson to investigate a mutiny. In December 1863, she went to Berwick Bay and, when the rise of water permitted, entered Grand Lake and the Atchafalaya and remained there on constant blockade. In February 1864, she went to New Orleans and, when repaired, returned to Sabine Pass for blockade duty -- one of 14 vessels under Captain Marchand in USS Lackawanna. That duty lasted until September 1864 when she proceeded to New Orleans for repairs. There, she was fitted out for service as the flagship of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. In January 1865, Lieutenant Commander George Brown took command of the ship.

On the evening of 27 February 1865 while underway from South West Pass to New Orleans, 38 miles below New Orleans a fire broke out in the engineer's after storeroom and spread with great rapidity. Brown ordered the magazine flooded and, when no possibility of saving the ship remained, ordered the crew to the boats. Some leaped overboard and swam to shore. The vessel drifted to the west bank of the river grounded, and burned until she exploded 35 minutes past midnight. Out of a crew of 98 on board four were missing.

USS Arizona (1865)

The second USS Arizona was a 3850-ton steam frigate launched in October 1865 as USS Neshamny. She was renamed twice, carrying the name Arizona for less than three months during 1869 before becoming Nevada. Under that last name she was laid up incomplete until she was scrapped in 1874.

USS Arizona BB-39 (1915)

On 4 March 1913, Congress authorized the construction of the USS Arizona (BB-39), a Pennsylvania-class battleship, in honor of the 48th state. Her keel was laid at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 16 March 1914. She was launched on 19 June 1915, sponsored by Miss Esther Ross - daughter of a prominent Arizona pioneer citizen, Mr. W.W. Ross of Prescott, Arizona. She was commissioned at her builder's yard on 17 October 1916, with Captain John D. McDonald in command.

Arizona departed New York on 16 November for shakedown training off the Virginia Capes and Newport, proceeding thence to Guantanamo Bay. Returning north to Norfolk on 16 December to test fire her battery and to conduct torpedo-defense exercises in Tangier Sound. The battleship returned to her builder's yard the day before Christmas of 1916 for post-shakedown overhaul. Completing these repairs and alterations on 3 April 1917, she cleared the yard on that date for Norfolk, arriving there on the following day to join Battleship Division 8.

Within days, the United States forsook its tenuous neutrality in the global conflict then raging and entered World War I. The new battleship operated out of Norfolk throughout the war, serving as a gunnery training ship and patrolling the waters of the eastern seaboard from the Virginia Capes to New York. An oil-burner, she had not been deployed to European waters owing to a scarcity of fuel oil in the British Isles - the base of other American battleships sent to aid the Grand Fleet.

A week after the armistice of 11 November 1918 stilled the guns on the western front, Arizona stood out of Hampton Roads for Portland, England and reached her destination on 30 November, putting to sea with her division on 12 December to rendezvous with the transport George Washington, the ship carrying President Woodrow Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference. Arizona, one of the newest and most powerful American dreadnoughts, served as part of the honor escort convoying the President of the United States to Brest, France on 13 December.

Embarking 238 homeward-bound veterans in the precursor of an Operation Magic Carpet operation of World War II, Arizona sailed from Brest for New York on 14 December, and arrived off Ambrose Light on the afternoon of Christmas Day. The next day, she passed in review before Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, who was embarked in the yacht Mayflower off the Statue of Liberty, before entering New York Harbor in a great homecoming celebration. The battleship then sailed for Hampton Roads on 22 January 1919, returning to her base at Norfolk on the following day.

Arizona sailed for Guantanamo Bay with the Fleet on 4 February, and arrived on the 8th. After engaging in battle practices and maneuvers there, the battleship sailed for Trinidad on 17 March, arriving there five days later for a three-day port visit. She then returned to Guantanamo Bay on 29 March for a brief period, sailing for Hampton Roads on 9 April. Arriving at her destination on the morning of the 12th, she got underway late that afternoon for Brest, France, ultimately making arrival there on 21 April.

The battleship stood out of Brest harbor on 3 May, bound for Asia Minor, and arrived at the port of Smyrna eight days later to protect American lives there during the Greek occupation of that port - an occupation resisted by gunfire from Turkish nationals. Arizona provided temporary shelter on board for a party of Greek nationals, while the battleship's Marine detachment guarded the American consulate; a number of American citizens also remained on board Arizona until conditions permitted them to return ashore. Departing Smyrna on 9 June for Constantinople, Turkey, the battleship carried the United States consul-at-large, Leland F. Morris, to that port before sailing for New York on 15 June. Proceeding via Gibraltar, Arizona reached her destination on 30 June.

Entering the New York Navy Yard for upkeep soon thereafter. the battleship cleared that port on 6 January 1920, to join Battleship Division 7 for winter and spring maneuvers in the Caribbean. She operated out of Guantanamo Bay during this period, and also visited Bridgetown, Barbados, in the British West Indies, and Colÿ³n, Panama in the Canal Zone, before she sailed north for New York arriving there on 1 May. Departing New York on 17 May, Arizona operated on the Southern Drill Grounds, and then visited Norfolk and Annapolis before returning to New York on 25 June.

Over the next six months, the ship operated locally out of New York. During this time she was given the alphanumeric hull classification symbol BB-39 on 17 July, and on 23 August she became flagship for Commander Battleship Division 7, Rear Admiral Edward V. Eberle.

Sailing from New York on 4 January 1921, Arizona joined the fleet as it sailed for Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Canal Zone. Arriving at Colÿ³n, Panama, on the Atlantic side of the isthmian waterway, on 19 January, Arizona traveled through the Panama Canal for the first time on that day, arriving at Panama Bay on the 20th. Underway for Callao, Peru, on the 22d, the fleet arrived there nine days later, on the 31st, for a six-day visit. While she was there, Arizona was visited by the president of Peru. Underway for Balboa on 5 February, Arizona arrived at her destination on the 14th; crossing through the canal again the day after Washington's birthday, the battleship reached Guantanamo Bay on the 26th. She operated thence until 24 April, when she sailed for New York, steaming via Hampton Roads.

Arizona reached New York on 29 April, and remained under overhaul there until 15 June. She steamed thence for Hampton Roads on the latter date, and on the 21st steamed off Cape Charles with Army and Navy observers to witness the experimental bombings of the ex-German submarine U-117. Proceeding thence back to New York, the battleship there broke the flag of Vice Admiral John D. McDonald (who, as a captain, had been Arizona's first commanding officer) on 1 July and sailed for Panama and Peru on 9 July. She arrived at the port of Callao on 22 July as flagship for the Battle Force, Atlantic Fleet, to observe the celebrations accompanying the centennial year of Peruvian independence. On 27 July, Vice Admiral McDonald went ashore and represented the United States at the unveiling of a monument commemorating the accomplishments of Josÿ© de San Martÿ­n, who had liberated Peru from the Spanish yoke a century before.

Sailing for Panama Bay on 3 August, Arizona became flagship for Battleship Division 7 when Vice Admiral McDonald transferred his flag to Wyoming (BB-32) and Rear Admiral Josiah S. McKean broke his flag on board as commander of the division on 10 August at Balboa. The following day, the battleship sailed for San Diego, arriving there on 21 August.

Over the next 14 years, Arizona alternately served as flagship for Battleship Divisions 2, 3 or 4. Based at San Pedro, during this period, Arizona operated with the fleet in the operating areas off the coast of southern California or in the Caribbean during fleet concentrations there. She participated in a succession of fleet problems (the annual maneuvers of the fleet that served as the culmination of the training year), ranging from the Caribbean to the waters off the west coast of Central America and the Canal Zone; from the West Indies to the waters between Hawaii and the west coast.

Following her participation in Fleet Problem IX (January 1929), Arizona crossed through the Panama Canal on 7 February for Guantanamo Bay, whence she operated through April. She then proceeded to Norfolk Navy Yard, entering it on 4 May, to prepare for modernization.

Placed in reduced commission on 15 July, Arizona remained in yard hands for the next 20 months; tripod masts, surmounted by three-tiered fire control tops, replaced the old cage masts; 5 inch (127 mm), 25-caliber antiaircraft guns replaced the three-inch (76 mm) 50s with which she had been equipped. She also received additional armor to protect her vitals from the fall of shot and blisters to protect her from torpedo or near-miss damage from bombs. In addition, she received new boilers as well as new main and cruising turbines. Ultimately, she was placed in full commission on 1 March 1931.

A little over two weeks later, on 19 March, President Herbert Hoover embarked on board the recently modernized battleship and sailed for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, standing out to sea from Hampton Roads that day. Returning on 29 March, Arizona disembarked the Chief Executive and his party at Hampton Roads, and then proceeded north to Rockland, Maine to run her post-modernization standardization trials. After a visit to Boston, the battleship dropped down to Norfolk, whence she sailed for San Pedro on 1 August, assigned to Battleship Division 3, Battle Force.

Over the next decade, Arizona continued to operate with the Battle Fleet and took part in the succession of fleet problems that took the fleet from the waters of the northern Pacific and Alaska to those surrounding the West Indies, and into the waters east of the lesser Antilles.

On 17 September 1938, Arizona became the flagship for Battleship Division 1, when Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz (later to become Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet) broke his flag on board. Detached on 27 May 1939 to become Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Nimitz was relieved on that day by Rear Admiral Russell Willson.

Arizona's last fleet problem was XXI. At its conclusion, the United States Fleet was retained in Hawaiian waters, based at Pearl Harbor. She operated in the Hawaiian Operating Area until late that summer, when she returned to Long Beach, California, on 30 September 1940. She was then overhauled at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, into the following year. Her last flag change-of-command occurred on 23 January 1941, when Rear Admiral Willson was relieved as Commander, Battleship Division 1 by Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd.

The battleship returned to Pearl Harbor on 3 February to resume the intensive training maintained by the Pacific Fleet. She made one last visit to the west coast, clearing "Pearl" on 11 June for Long Beach, ultimately returning to her Hawaiian base on 8 July. Over the next five months, she continued exercises and battle problems of various kinds on type training and tactical exercises in the Hawaiian operating area. She underwent a brief overhaul at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard commencing on 27 October, receiving the foundation for a search radar atop her foremast. She conducted her last training in company with her division mates Nevada (BB-36) and Oklahoma (BB-37), conducting a night firing exercise on the night of 4 December. All three ships moored at quays along Ford Island on the 5th.

Scheduled to receive tender availability, Arizona took the repair ship Vestal (AR-4) alongside on Saturday, the 6th. The two ships were thus moored together on the morning of 7 December; among the men on board Arizona that morning were Rear Admiral Kidd and the battleship's captain, Captain Franklin van Valkenburgh.

Shortly before 08:00, Japanese aircraft from six fleet carriers struck the Pacific Fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor and, in the ensuing two attack waves, wrought devastation on the Battle Line and on air and military facilities defending Pearl Harbor.

On board Arizona, the ship's air raid alarm went off about 07:55, and the ship went to general quarters soon thereafter. Shortly after 08:00 a bomb dropped by a high-altitude Kate bomber from the Japanese carrier Kaga hit the side of the #4 turret and glanced off into the deck below and started a small fire but minimal damage.

At 08:06 a bomb from a Hiryu Kate hit between and to starboard of Turrets #1 & 2. The subsequent explosion which destroyed the forward part of Arizona was due to the detonation of the ammunition magazine, located in an armoured section under the deck. Most experts seem to agree that the bomb could hardly have pierced the armour. Instead, it seems widely accepted that the black powder magazine (used for aircraft catapults) detonated first, igniting the smokeless powder magazine (used for the ship's main armament). A 1944 BUSHIP report suggests that a hatch leading to the black powder magazine was left open, with perhaps inflammable materials stocked nearby. A US Navy historical site goes as far as to suggest that black powder might have been stockpiled outside of the armoured magazine. However, it seems unlikely that a definitive answer to this question might be found. Credit for the hit was officially given to Japanese pilot Tadashi Kusumi. The cataclysmic explosion ripped through the forward part of the ship, touching off fierce fires that burned for two days; debris showered down on Ford Island in the vicinity.

Acts of heroism on the part of Arizona's officers and men were many, headed by those of Lieutenant Commander Samuel G. Fuqua, the ship's damage control officer, whose coolness in attempting to quell the fires and get survivors off the ship earned him the Medal of Honor. Posthumous awards of the Medal of Honor also went to Rear Admiral Kidd, the first flag officer to be killed in the Pacific war, and to Captain Van Valkenburgh, who reached the bridge and was attempting to fight his ship when the bomb hit on the magazines destroyed her.

The blast that destroyed Arizona and sank her at her berth alongside of Ford Island consumed the lives of 1,177 of the 1,400 on board at the time - over half of the casualties suffered by the entire fleet on the "Day of Infamy".

Placed "in ordinary" at Pearl Harbor on 29 December, Arizona was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 December 1942. Her wreck was cut down so that very little of the superstructure lay above water; after her main battery turrets and guns were removed to be emplaced as coast defense guns.

The wreck of Arizona remains at Pearl Harbor, a memorial to the men of her crew lost that December morning in 1941. On 7 March 1950, Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet at that time, instituted the raising of colors over her remains; and legislation during the administrations of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy designated the wreck a national shrine on 30 May 1962. A memorial was built across the ship's sunken remains, including a shrine room listing the names of the lost crewmembers on a marble wall. While the superstructure and main turrets were removed, the ring of one of the turrets remains visible above the water. Memorial services are regularly held in the shrine, with an ever-smaller number of Arizona survivors attending over the years. Warships of the Japanese Navy and other navies routinely salute Arizona when passing through Pearl Harbor.

As of 2005, more than 60 years after the explosion that destroyed Arizona, oil leaks from the hulk still rise to the surface of the water. Survivors from the crew say that the oil will continue to leak until the last survivor dies. Many of the survivors have arranged for their ashes to be placed in the ship, among their fallen comrades, upon their death and cremation. The Navy, in conjunction with the National Park Service, has recently overseen a comprehensive computerized mapping of the hulk, being careful to honor its role as a war grave. The Navy is considering nonintrusive means of abating the continued leakage of oil to avoid the further environmental degradation of the harbor. This abatement may very well occur when the last surviving crewmember dies.

Arizona (BB-39) was awarded one battle star for her service in World War II.

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