USS OKLAHOMA REMAINES PRESERVATION PROJECT
THE Story of USS Oklahoma BB-37
At the onset of World War II when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the battleship USS Oklahoma BB 37 was birthed outboard of the USS Maryland BB 46 in battleship Row. The first torpedo hit the ship just before 8 o'clock in the morning. Within minutes the ship sustained damage from multiple torpedo hits and capsized.
Some of the sailors were able to evacuate and swim to the Maryland or the shore of Ford Island while other personnel manned smaller boats to begin to pull survivors from the water. In the hours after the attack, crew members still trapped inside were rescued by cutting holes in the hall. 32 men were saved this way of the 429 Sailors and Marines entombed. 388 including, 14 Marines remained in the ship.
The first disinterment of these men started in early 1943 When the Oklahoma was righted and raised to allow the bodies to be removed. Very few were immediately identified but there remains 393 buried among the unknowns at the national Memorial Cemetery known as the punch bowl. Right after the attack it was determined that there are an additional 198 from the battleships Arizona, West Virginia, California, Nevada Pennsylvania, Tennessee and later from the aircraft carrier Enterprise. As of today, these servicemen are still listed as MIAs (missing in action).
The Oklahoma was then dry docked, stripped of its armor, fuel and ammunition and finally sold for scrap for $47,126 in 1946. After being towed for approximately 700 miles to California the ship sank in a storm. The hull has been located and photographed but due to the water depth, no attempts were or ever will be made to re-float it.
About 10 years ago, approximately 100 of these remains were disinterred in a program started to identify the remains and return them to their families. Other mass grave sites are yet to be excavated.
We are going to provide a public awareness campaign, attend family update meetings, continue research to identify and locate families. Publish periodic information newsletter to families in a timely manner, monitor disinterment and identification progress by connecting with knowledgeable contact within the Department of Defense. We will continually update local veterans organizations across the country and maintain a strong presents on social media with progress updates and continue public appearances with USS Oklahoma exhibits.