USA Tourism, A Tourism Site of the United States.

USS Indianapolis Wreckage Discovered

World War II in the Pacific was characterized by fierce naval battles and immense sacrifices. Among the most heart-wrenching tales is the sinking of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35).

USS Indianapolis: A Tragic Tale

Rediscovering Lost WWII Naval Relics Pearl Harbor

Tragically, while sailing between Guam and Leyte Gulf, she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The ship sank within 12 minutes, and out of her 1,196-strong crew, only 316 survived after enduring days of exposure, shark attacks, and dehydration.

In a significant breakthrough, after 72 years at a depth of 18,000 feet, the USS Indianapolis’s wreckage was located by the Research Vessel Petrel, funded by Microsoft’s Paul G. Allen. The vessel’s bell, still intact, served as a poignant reminder of the ship’s storied past.

The USS Indianapolis, based at Pearl Harbor, was at sea during the infamous attack on December 7, 1941. A week later, she resumed duties, joining Task Force 11. However, her most crucial mission came in 1945 when she delivered parts of the atomic bomb “Little Boy.”

Wreckage of the USS Ward Found

Before the large-scale assault on Pearl Harbor began on December 7, 1941, a skirmish signaled the impending chaos.

The USS Ward: The First Shot

Rediscovering Lost WWII Naval Relics Pearl Harbor

Hours before the aerial attack, the USS Ward (DD-139) detected and fired upon a Japanese midget submarine near Pearl Harbor’s entrance. This destroyer, having fired the first American shots of the Pacific War, would later meet its end on the same date, three years later, at the hands of kamikaze pilots near Ponsol Island.

73 years after sinking, Paul Allen’s research team discovered the USS Ward’s remains near the Philippines.


Wreckage of the USS Lexington Found

The vast expanse of the Pacific hid the USS Lexington (CV-2) for over 75 years until it was found off Australia’s eastern coast.

The USS Lexington: Carrier of the Pacific

Rediscovering Lost WWII Naval Relics Pearl Harbor

While at sea during the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the Lexington would later play a crucial role in the Battle of the Coral Sea. It was here that she was hit by multiple torpedoes and bombs, eventually being scuttled by the USS Phelps (DD-360) after her crew had abandoned ship.

Paul Allen and his team discovered the “Lady Lex” in 2018, surprisingly well-preserved after three-quarters of a century underwater.

Wreckage of Japanese Battleship Hiei Located

The legacy of Paul Allen continues as the R/V Petrel, under his patronage, unveils another significant find from World War II: the wreckage of the Japanese battleship Hiei. This is just one of the numerous warship discoveries made by the vessel.

Rediscovering Lost WWII Naval Relics Pearl Harbor

Early Service of Battleship Hiei

Launched in November 1912, Hiei was commissioned into the Imperial Japanese Navy in August of 1914, being the second of the four powerful Kongo-class battlecruisers. With her formidable arsenal, including eight 14” guns, and her nine-inch-thick armor, Hiei stood as one of the mightiest of her era. Besides her wartime patrolling in China’s waters during World War I, Hiei played a humanitarian role in aiding the rescue operations after the devastating 1923 Great Kanto earthquake.

Her journey as a symbol of strength continued when she was transformed into a gunnery training ship in 1929 and later rebranded as a battleship to align with Japan’s escalating aircraft carrier fleet.


Hiei in World War II

Hiei’s service in the Second World War began with an ominous note. In November 1941, she sailed alongside the aircraft carriers that orchestrated the infamous assault on Pearl Harbor, pulling America into the global conflict.

In 1942, after aiding in the invasion of the Dutch East Indies, Hiei was redirected towards the Solomon Islands, with Guadalcanal as the intended target. However, on November 13, 1942, she faced staunch resistance from American warships, including the destroyer USS Laffey (DD-459). Though she sustained significant damage from the onslaught, it was the USS San Francisco (CA-38) that delivered the crippling blow, rendering Hiei’s steering non-functional. Left with no choice but to move in circles, Hiei became an easy target for American fighters and bombers. By the night of November 14, the mighty battleship met her tragic end, taking down 188 officers and crew members. Hiei’s sinking marked the first instance of a Japanese battleship being defeated by the US Navy during the Pacific War.

Locating the Wreckage

While the first sightings of Hiei’s remains were credited to a Japanese research team, it was the R/V Petrel that employed a remote-operated vehicle to authenticate the ship’s identity. The vessel’s discovery adds to Petrel’s growing list of World War II warship findings, which includes iconic names like USS Ward (DD-139), USS Astoria (CA-34), USS Indianapolis (CA-35), and USS Lexington (CV-2).

The visuals transmitted by the Petrel showcased two of Hiei’s five-inch gun turrets. The ship’s final resting place, aptly named “Ironbottom Sound,” is a poignant reminder of the heavy toll of war, with numerous warships from the Solomon Islands campaign lying beneath its depths.

These discoveries serve not just as a testament to advancements in underwater exploration but as tangible links to a past that shaped the modern world. Each shipwreck is a silent memorial, a reminder of the human cost of war and the brave souls who sailed into the unknown.

The Last Battleship

In June 1944, the USS Missouri was commissioned into the United States Navy, near the conclusion of World War II. The battleship was part of other conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, before its scheduled decommissioning in 1992. This was significant because it was the last battleship commissioned before it was replaced by modern destroyers.

USS Missouri

Her Final Voyage

In December of 1991, fifty years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Missouri returned to Oahu Naval Base for the 50th-anniversary commemoration. Four months later, the crew was given their final instructions on March 31, 1992. The list of tasks was short, and included a letter from the ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain A. Lee Kaiss, who praised the crew and their time together.


Haul Down The Colors

The ceremony attracted special guests such as Command Master Chief Timothy Hofman, Chaplain Lieutenant John Grenham, and Missouri State Representative Ike Skelton. After Grenham gave a speech, Kaiss issued the final order, directing the Executive Officer Captain Ken Jordan to “haul down the colors.” All those attending the ceremony received a commemorative program, which listed the officers, chief petty officers, and crew who were the last to serve aboard the battleship.


Why Is the Battleship Missouri at Pearl Harbor?

The Battleship Missouri is at Pearl Harbor because it serves as a significant symbol of the end of World War II and complements the historical narrative presented there. On September 2, 1945, aboard the USS Missouri, the Instrument of Surrender was signed, officially concluding World War II. Despite the Missouri being commissioned in 1944, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, its presence at Pearl Harbor carries deep symbolic importance.

The location is not just a remembrance of the tragic attack on December 7, 1941, but also a comprehensive journey through the timeline of the war. While the USS Arizona Memorial marks the beginning of the conflict for the United States, the Battleship Missouri represents its culmination, memorializing the end of the war, the sacrifices made, and hope for a peaceful future. Visitors to Pearl Harbor can experience this timeline, from understanding the events leading to the attack to witnessing the exact spot where the war concluded on the Missouri.

The Official Death & Casualties at Pearl Harbor

According to The National WWII Museum on, 2,403 U.S. personnel were killed on December 7th, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. The number breaks down as such:

On top of that, 1,178 were wounded at pearl harbor. Those numbers break down into:

So what happened to the bodies?

The recovery and interment of the bodies of the casualties from the Pearl Harbor attack was a long and difficult process. Many of the dead were entombed within the sunken ships, specifically the USS Arizona, the USS Utah, and the USS Oklahoma.

The USS Arizona still rests at the bottom of the harbor with more than 1,000 sailors and Marines entombed within it. The decision was made to leave them there as it was deemed a more fitting final resting place. Their names are inscribed on the USS Arizona Memorial.

As for the USS Oklahoma, after the attack, it took until 1943 to right the ship and recover remains. Those who could not be identified were interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. Many years later, in 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency started a project to exhume and identify these remains using modern DNA technology, resulting in the positive identification of several dozen servicemen who were then given individual burials.

For the casualties not entombed in the ships, recovery and identification efforts took place immediately following the attack, and those identified were buried with full military honors.

Were all the bodies recovered, and how were they identified?

Due to the nature of the attack and the subsequent sinking of several battleships, not all bodies were recovered from Pearl Harbor. In the chaos that ensued, identification was a formidable challenge. Initially, identification relied on physical recognition, personal belongings, and distinguishing marks or tattoos.

How Many People Died in Pearl Harbor? Pearl Harbor
via Sailor Sattic

Later, dog tags were used to help in identification, but these methods were not foolproof. In more recent years, the advancement of DNA testing has allowed for the identification of some remains that were previously unidentified, and this work continues as part of ongoing efforts to provide closure to the families of those lost.

How did the government support or compensate the families of those killed or wounded?

In the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, the U.S. government provided financial compensation to the families of those killed or wounded. This was in the form of servicemen’s group life insurance, as well as death gratuity, a lump sum payment made to eligible survivors.

Moreover, the government offered education benefits and vocational rehabilitation to veterans and their dependents. Over time, the government has also made efforts to recognize the sacrifices made through commemoration events and memorials.


How did the casualties at Pearl Harbor compare to other battles in World War II?

The attack on Pearl Harbor was one of the deadliest attacks on American soil during World War II, but when compared globally and throughout the duration of the war, the casualties were less than some of the deadliest battles.

For example, the Battle of Stalingrad had estimated casualties upwards of 1 million, and the Battle of the Bulge resulted in approximately 90,000 American casualties. The Pearl Harbor attack was particularly shocking because it was unexpected and it precipitated the United States’ entry into the war.

Were any of the casualties high-ranking officers or notable individuals?

Among the casualties of the Pearl Harbor attack were several high-ranking officers. One of the most notable was Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who was the highest-ranking officer killed at Pearl Harbor. He was aboard the USS Arizona when it exploded and sunk. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

How Many People Died in Pearl Harbor? Pearl Harbor
via Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Franklin Van Valkenburgh, the commanding officer of the USS Arizona, was also killed in action and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.


Are there any firsthand accounts or diaries from survivors of the attack?

Yes, there are numerous firsthand accounts and diaries from survivors of the attack. These personal narratives provide invaluable insights into the experience of that fateful day.

For instance, Lieutenant Commander Samuel Fuqua, who survived the attack on the USS Arizona, kept a diary and provided a vivid account of the attack and the chaotic aftermath.

Other survivors have shared their stories through interviews, books, and at memorial events, contributing to the historical record of that pivotal day.

Can visitors pay respects at Pearl Harbor today, and if so, how?

Visitors can indeed pay their respects at Pearl Harbor today. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii, includes several sites where visitors can learn about the attack and remember those who lost their lives.

The USS Arizona Memorial, accessible by boat, stands above the sunken battleship and serves as a poignant reminder of the lives lost. The memorial includes a shrine room with the names of the Arizona’s killed crew members inscribed on the marble wall.

How Many People Died in Pearl Harbor? Pearl Harbor
via Britannica

There’s also the USS Oklahoma Memorial, the USS Utah Memorial, and the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, which contribute to understanding the historical context and personal sacrifices of the day.

Lastly, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center offers exhibitions and a chance to hear firsthand accounts from survivors. If you want to learn more about visiting Pearl Harbor, please read our things to know before visiting pearl harbor.

To learn more about Pearl Harbor, visit our resource section on visiting Pearl Harbor.

Why Might The USS Arizona Memorial Be Closed?

The USS Arizona Memorial might be closed for various reasons, including repairs and maintenance. It may also be closed if the weather is too severe to safely operate the shuttle boats that take visitors to the memorial.

What To Do If It Is Closed While You Are Visiting

There is plenty to see and do around Pearl Harbor, even if the USS Arizona Memorial is closed. Taking a narrated harbor tour (without actually boarding), along with visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and Visitor Center, might be the next best thing.


For a full list of things to do near Pearl Harbor, check out this article.


What was the U.S.S Utah?

The USS Utah (BB-31/AG-16) was a battleship of the United States Navy that served in World War I and II. She was the first of two dreadnought battleships of the Utah class and was the only one of her class to be sunk by enemy action, when she was torpedoed by Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The USS Utah BB-31 Pearl Harbor

Recommissioned for Training

The USS Utah BB-31 was demilitarized in 1922 and was outfitted with antiaircraft guns for training purposes. She was then recommissioned in 1932 as the USS Utah AG-16. In 1935 she was modified again with 1.1” / 75 caliber antiaircraft guns for experimental testing.


U.S.S Utah Moved to Pearl Harbor

The USS Utah BB-31 was moved to Pearl Harbor in July of 1941 as part of a U.S. Navy plan to bolster defenses at the base following the Japanese attack on China in 1937. The base had become an important staging ground for U.S. operations in the Pacific, and the Navy wanted to ensure that it was adequately protected. The presence of the Utah, along with other battleships, was meant to serve as a deterrent against any potential invasions.

USS Utah BB-31

Her Final Resting Place

The USS Utah was sunk during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The vessel was struck by several torpedoes and capsized, eventually sinking at her berth. A total of 58 crew members died in the attack.

Who can visit the U.S.S Utah Memorial?

Currently, the USS Utah is not accessible to the general public. It can only be visited by those with Military ID who drive themselves to Ford Island.

The attack on Pearl Harbor shocked the people of the island of Oahu, Hawaii. For the many men and women living on the island, it was just a normal, quiet Sunday morning before all hell broke loose. Those living on the island were completely unaware of the potential danger that was about to be inflicted on them. As a result, the surprise attack completely caught them off guard, leaving them in shock and confusion.

Before The Attack On Pearl Harbor

For the many men and women who lived on the island of Pearl Harbor, the morning of December 7th, 1941 started off as just another quiet Sunday morning. Everyone was going about their normal routines. The sky was clear and the sun was shining, and there was no indication that anything out of the ordinary was about to happen. Little did they know that in a few short hours, their peaceful morning would be shattered by the sudden and unexpected attack that would tip the scales, finally pulling the US into the second great world war.

The attack on Pearl Harbor

Shock And Awe

The attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:48 a.m. and lasted one hour and 15 minuets. During this time, the Japanese planes inflicted massive destruction, sinking four battleships, damaging three cruisers and three destroyers, destroying 188 aircraft, and killing 2,403 people. The chaos of the attack was undeniable, with people running for cover and explosions going off all around.


Awaking The Sleeping Giant

The aftermath was one of shock and disbelief for those living on the island. The attack left a path of destruction, with buildings, ships, and aircraft destroyed and many lives taken. The island, which had been so peaceful and tranquil just moments before, was now one of destruction and confusion.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan

For many, the attack was a life-changing event, one that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan, and the US entered World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a turning point in history, as it marked the beginning of the US involvement in the war and set the stage for many of the events that would follow.

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero Model 21 fighter plane was a Japanese-designed aircraft that was released in 1940. It was the most advanced fighter plane of its time, with a powerful engine, maneuverability, and long range. The aircraft was used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, most famously in the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was capable of high speeds and long-range, making it an ideal choice for the Japanese in their fight against the American forces. The A6M Zero Model 21 was used extensively throughout the war and proved to be a formidable opponent for the Allied forces.

A6M Zero Model 21 Fighter Plane

Design Specifications and Capabilities


The A6M Zero fighter plane was designed to be the most advanced fighter plane of its time. It was highly maneuverable, very lightweight and had excellent range, allowing it to out-maneuver and outpace most other aircraft. It was fitted with two 20-mm cannons, two 7.7-mm machine guns, and two 60-kg bombs. It was capable of reaching a maximum speed of 607 km/h and had a range of 3,000 km.


Despite its impressive speed and maneuverability, the A6M Zero Model 21 had several weaknesses, most notably its lack of armor and self-sealing fuel tanks. This made it highly vulnerable to enemy fire, and it often was unable to withstand sustained fire from larger, more heavily armored aircraft. Additionally, its range was limited when compared to other aircraft, meaning it could only stay in the air for a few hours before needing to refuel.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Role of Mitsubishi A6M Zero Model 21

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero Model 21 fighter plane was one of the main aircraft used by the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The aircraft was designed with a combination of lightweight, speed, and maneuverability that made it ideal for the attack, allowing it to outmaneuver American fighters and fighter-bombers. 

Success of Attack

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a resounding success, with Japanese aircraft inflicting heavy damage on the American forces. Out of the 353 Japanese aircraft involved in the attack, the A6M Zero Model 21 was the most successful, accounting for more than half of all American aircraft shot down. The aircraft’s combination of speed, maneuverability, and firepower allowed it to dominate the skies over Pearl Harbor and inflict severe damage on the American forces.


Dethroned by Grumman F6F Hellcat 

Grumman F6F Hellcat


The American-made Grumman F6F Hellcat was designed to outperform the Mitsubishi A6M Zero in every way. It was larger, heavier, and faster than the Zero, with a wingspan of 40 feet and a length of 33 feet. It was powered by a Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine, producing 2,000 hp, and had a top speed of 382 mph. It was armed with six .50 caliber machine guns and could carry up to 1,000 lbs of bombs or rockets.


The Grumman F6F Hellcat had excellent maneuverability, range, and combat endurance, allowing it to stay in the air longer and cover more ground than the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. It was also able to climb faster and higher than the Zero, reaching heights of up to 32,000 feet. Its armament was also superior to the Zero’s, making it a more formidable opponent in air-to-air combat. The Hellcat’s armor was also thicker than the Zero’s, making it more resistant to cannon fire.


Where Can You Find an A6M Zero Model 21 Today?

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero Model 21 is no longer in production, but it is not extinct. One of these iconic fighter planes can still be seen today. The Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California, is home to a rare, restored A6M Zero Model 21 that still flies. The museum also displays a non-flying replica of the plane.

The Planes of Fame Museum in Chino is known for preserving aviation history and honoring the pilots who flew these planes in combat. The A6M Zero Model 21 is a reminder of the courage and skill of the Japanese pilots who flew it during World War II. It is also a reminder of the bravery of the Allied pilots who faced it in battle.

Ford Island before Pearl Harbor

Ford Island, located in the middle of Pearl Harbor, has played a significant role in the history of Hawaii and the United States. Originally known as Moku’ume’ume, the island was renamed in honor of Captain Joseph Ford, a naval officer who was killed in a seaplane accident on the island in 1913.

Aerial view of Ford Island 1954

In the years leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ford Island served as a critical hub for the US Navy. The island was home to numerous facilities, including a seaplane base, repair shops, and barracks for naval personnel. In the days before the attack, many of the US Pacific Fleet’s ships were stationed in and around Pearl Harbor, including several on Ford Island.

What happened to Ford Island during the Pearl Harbor attack?

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack targeted many of the Navy’s ships and facilities, including those on Ford Island. The island was hit by numerous bombs and strafing runs, causing significant damage to the seaplane base and other facilities. Many naval personnel were killed or injured in the attack, and the island remained an active battlefield for much of the day.

In the aftermath of the attack, the US Navy worked to repair the damage to Ford Island and the other facilities in Pearl Harbor. Despite the devastation, the island remained an important part of the Navy’s operations in the Pacific during World War II. Over the course of the war, numerous facilities were constructed or expanded on the island, including additional barracks, hangars, and maintenance facilities.

After the war, Ford Island continued to serve as an important Navy installation. In the years following World War II, the island was home to a variety of naval units and served as a staging ground for numerous military operations. Today, Ford Island remains an active naval base and is home to several commands and units, including the Pacific Fleet’s command headquarters and the USS Missouri Memorial, which is moored at a pier on the island.


In addition to its military history, Ford Island has also been the site of several important cultural and historical events. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh landed his famous Spirit of St. Louis airplane on the island as part of his trans-Pacific flight. More recently, the island was used as a filming location for the movie Pearl Harbor, which depicted the events of December 7, 1941.

In conclusion, Ford Island has a rich and complex history that spans decades of military and cultural significance. From its early days as a naval base to its pivotal role in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the island has played a key role in shaping the history of Hawaii and the United States. Today, Ford Island remains an important part of the US Navy’s operations in the Pacific and a symbol of the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served there over the years.

Scene at the Ford Island Naval Air Station's seaplane base soon after the Japanese attack

Ford Island Bus Tours

The National Park Service offers guided bus tours of Ford Island as part of its Pearl Harbor Historic Sites program. These tours provide visitors with an in-depth look at the island’s history and its role in the events of December 7, 1941.


During the tour, visitors will have the opportunity to explore historic sites on the island, including the USS Missouri Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The tour also includes a drive across the iconic Ford Island Bridge, which spans the channel between Ford Island and the mainland.

Some notes about the tour:

Learn more about the Bus Tour Here

Purchase Tickets Here

The Attack on Pearl Harbor: A Catalyst for the Hawaii Overprint Note

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In the aftermath of the attack, the United States government faced a unique challenge in Hawaii.

With the threat of Japanese invasion looming, it was necessary to distinguish American currency in the islands from potentially counterfeit Japanese currency.

The solution was the creation of the Hawaii overprint note, a series of banknotes with a distinctive overprint that allowed them to be easily identified as genuine US currency.

Design and Production of the Hawaii Overprint Note

The design of the Hawaii overprint note was simple but effective. The overprint, which read “HAWAII” in bold letters, was added to the front and back of the banknotes.

The design of the notes themselves was based on the Series 1935A Silver Certificates, with the exception of the overprint.

The notes were issued in denominations of $1, $5, $10, and $20, and were produced in three different series: 1935A, 1935B, and 1935C.


Collecting: Rarity and Value

Despite being a wartime necessity, the Hawaii overprint note quickly became a sought-after item among collectors.

The limited number of notes in circulation, coupled with their unique design, made them an instant collector’s item.

Today, Hawaii overprint notes are considered one of the rarest and most valuable pieces of US currency.

View Current Hawaiin Overprint Notes for Sale on Ebay.


Historical Significance in American Culture

The attack on Pearl Harbor has played a significant role in the history and legacy of the Hawaii overprint note. The notes were created in response to the attack, and their design and production were closely tied to the war effort.

The notes themselves bear the name “HAWAII” in bold letters, a reminder of the location where the US suffered one of its most devastating military defeats.

The rarity and value of the Hawaii overprint note is directly related to its historical significance. A pristine $20 Hawaii overprint note from the 1935A series, for example, can fetch upwards of $100,000 at auction. Even lower denominations, such as the $1 note, can command prices in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The Legacy of the WWII and the Hawaii Overprint NOte

But the value of the Hawaii overprint note goes beyond its monetary worth. As a unique piece of numismatic history tied to one of the most significant events in American history, the note has captured the attention of collectors and historians alike.

The creation of the note during World War II, and its continued relevance to the study of US currency and wartime propaganda, make it a valuable piece of cultural heritage.

The Hawaii overprint note is a fascinating piece of US currency that continues to captivate collectors and historians. Its design, rarity, and historical significance make it a unique and valuable addition to any collection.

Whether for its monetary value or its cultural importance, the Hawaii overprint note is a piece of numismatic history that is forever tied to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the broader history of World War II.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram