Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor
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Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor is 10 km (6 mi) west of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The harbor has a maximum depth of 18 m (60 ft), making the harbor available to the largest naval vessels. USA remained neutral during the World War II until it was attacked by Japan. Early in the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese submarines and aircraft carrier-based planes launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. Nearby military airfields were also attacked by the Japanese planes, which numbered about 350. Eight American battleships and 13 other naval vessels were sunk or badly damaged, almost 200 American aircraft were destroyed, and approximately 3,000 naval and military personnel were killed or wounded. The Japanese lost 29 aircraft, a large submarine, and 5 midget submarines in the attack. The attack marked the entrance of Japan into World War II (1939-1945) on the side of Germany and Italy, and the entrance of the United States on the Allied side. The final code to launch the attack, “Climb Mount Niitaka,” was radioed to the Japanese task force commander on December 2, 1941. Concealed by a favorable weather front, the task force reached a position 370 km (230 mi) north of Oahu on the morning of December 7. Two Japanese reconnaissance planes flew over Pearl Harbor at about 6 am, and a midget submarine penetrated the inner harbor. They confirmed Japanese intelligence reports that the bulk of the United States fleet was at its base. American Navy and Army units were not on a wartime alert. Military planes parked in compact rows presented an excellent target to the invading Japanese planes, which arrived over Oahu at 7:50 am. The bulk of the American planes were destroyed on the ground in the first minutes of the attack. The Japanese planes then turned against fleet units moored in the harbor, which they bombed for nearly two hours. Four U.S. battleships—the Arizona, California, West Virginia, and Oklahoma—were sunk; the Nevada was beached in sinking condition. Three other battleships, three cruisers, a seaplane tender, and a repair ship were damaged. Also sunk were three destroyers, a target ship, and a minelayer. The Japanese attack, however, failed to destroy workshops and repair facilities, enabling the U.S. Navy to repair and put back into service some of the damaged vessels. The attack also did not target fuel storage depots nor the submarine base, and missed three American aircraft carriers that were at sea. Nevertheless, the losses sustained by the U.S. fleet on December 7 and the loss of two British ships—the Prince of Wales and Repulse—on December 10 gave the Japanese temporary control of the western Pacific. The USS Arizona National Memorial, standing above the remains of the battleship in Pearl Harbor, commemorates the Americans who died in the attack.


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