USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) — Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) paused Dec. 7 during their joint task force exercise in the Atlantic Ocean to remember the most devastating attack in the history of the Navy.
America’s armed forces were dealt a devastating blow during the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, resulting in the deaths of more than 3,400.
On the morning of that infamous day, the screaming whine of dive bombers and the distinctive chatter of machine guns jolted Sailors out of their slumber, awakening them to a nightmare that would be etched into their memories for the rest of their lives.
“The story of the Pearl Harbor attacks moves me emotionally,” said Cmdr. Kyle Campbell, the air operations officer for Carrier Strike Group 12. “When you think of how many service members lost their lives that day, it gives you a feeling of deep sorrow.”
A total of 321 Japanese planes took part in the raid, with an additional 39 fighters flying as a secondary line of offense. The enemy’s plan of attack was simple, direct and very effective. It was one of the largest air strikes during this time period and caused severe losses to American defenses, destroying 188 aircraft.
In spite of their great size and powerful capabilities, the battleships tied to the pier named “Battle Ship Row” on Ford Island were left vulnerable to the rain of bombs dropped by the enemy. Hit by high and low level bombing attacks, Sailors were virtually surrounded by the horror unfolding before them.
Within the first minutes of bombs and torpedoes hitting American shores, all of the battleships adjacent to Ford Island suffered great casualties. USS West Virginia (BB 48) and USS Oklahoma (BB 37) were among the first casualties. Around 8:10 a.m., an armor-piercing bomb mortally wounded USS Arizona (BB 39) by igniting the ship’s forward ammunition magazine.
The resulting explosion and fire claimed 1,177 Sailors. It was the greatest loss of life on any ship that day and accounted for half of the total number of Americans killed during the attack.
USS Enterprise (CV 6), which was underway when the attack took place, provided crucial aid to their shipmates that day. Enterprise was one of three carriers that were deployed to offer aid to the ships that were sunk.
Weighing more than 20,000 tons and nearly the length of three football fields, the Yorktown-class carrier Enterprise and her aircraft were sent to defend what remained of the Pacific Fleet.
Vice Adm. William “Bull” Halsey, commander of the Enterprise task force, immediately began hunting for the Japanese forces. Enterprise located, engaged and sank a Japanese submarine, one of many infesting the waters in the region. Enterprise was credited with the first combatant ship sunk by U.S. forces in World War II.
“The Grey Ghost,” as Enterprise was affectionately called, went on to become the most decorated aircraft carrier in World War II and participated in all of the major battles in the Pacific.
The spirit of CV 6 is alive and well on board CVN 65, the Navy’s oldest active combat ship. The portholes located inside the commanding officer’s in-port cabin were originally used aboard her predecessor and were witness to famous battles such as Midway and Guadalcanal.
The Sailors aboard Enterprise are proud to carry on the courageous legacy that their predecessors displayed that infamous day as they prepare to deploy in defense of the nation at the end of the first decade of the new century.
The Enterprise Strike Group consists of Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), the guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Mason (DDG 87), USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), Carrier Air Wing 1 and Destroyer Squadron 2.
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Isaiah Sellers and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rebekah Adler, USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Public Affairs [re-published from www.navy.mil]