The USS Oklahoma was our first battleship equipped with 14-inch rifle main battery. She was the second unit of the Nevada Class, built at Camden, New Jersey in 1914-16. Commissioned in May 1916. The Oklahoma was 583 feet long with a maximum beam of 95 feet. She had a maximum displacement of 27,500 Tons. This shows gunnery training in 1917, during World War I.

At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on 1 January 1920. Note aircraft flying-off platforms installed atop her second and third main battery gun turrets [Via]

The Oklahoma was extensively modernized in 1927-29 to make her less vulnerable to air and torpedo attack. In July 1936, she was dispatched to Europe to evacuate US citizens during the Spanish Civil War.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese torpedo exploding against hull of the Oklahoma. The Oklahoma’s berth provided the clearest approach path for Japanese torpedo bombers along battleship row. 

The Oklahoma was hit by 9 torpedoes because of her position opposite the inner harbor, which allowed Japanese bombers a clear approach path. Each torpedo struck the Oklahoma’s port side at higher levels because the ship began listing soon after the first torpedo detonated.

This plot was assembled by John F. DeVirgilio (1991) [Via]

The Oklahoma had her bilge inspection covers removed for a scheduled inspection the following day (Dec 8th). This precluded counter flooding to prevent her from capsizing. Although 32 sailors wee saved after 3 days, 415 of her crewmen perished days.

Salvage efforts concentrated on the least damaged ships first, the Oklahoma and Utah were the last ships to receive serious attention. The Navy contracted with Pacific Bridge Company of San Francisco.

Most important salvage problems were:

  • Refloating of the sunken hull required all hull leaks to be patched.
  • Gaping torpedo holes were covered with enormous timber cofferdams.
  • Concrete patches used beneath the cofferdams.
  • Biggest challenge was gaps between hull plates because frame was distorted by plates because frame was distorted by capsizing and salvage roll over.
  • Divers stuffed kapok into gaps between hull plates as water was pumped from hull. This eventually worked. [Via]

Commander F.H. Whitaker points to a section of the hull on a model of capsized USS Oklahoma, during planning for salvage of the battleship sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack [Via]

Salvage operations on board USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. View looking down from boiler room toward 3rd deck, through access hole at 1st platform level into forced draft blower room [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Salvage personnel pose outside an airlock on the ship's capsized hull after working in the main air bubble inside the hull [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. View showing patches on the hull, covering holes used to extract fuel oil from the capsized battleship [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Righting winches #1 through #12, constructed on Ford Island. These winches were used to retract cables connected to the capsized hull of the battleship, in order to right the ship [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Hauling blocks and tackles under preliminary tension, viewed from aft of the capsized battleship [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Workers disconnect temporary holding pendant from hauling part of righting tackle after connection to winch drum [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Aerial view of the capsized battleship during righting operations, looking aft. Ship is at about 132° position [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Looking forward on the offshore side of the capsized battleship, at the 109° position [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. The capsized battleship seen during the righting process, at the 90° position [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Stern view of the ship during the righting process, at the 40° position [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. View aft of the ship at the 34° position [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Overhead view of the ship at the 10° position, showing the righting winches constructed ashore [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Aerial view from the starboard bow, with the ship in the 2°-10° position during righting operations [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Initial lifting of section of main cofferdam patch, ready for installation [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. The refloated battleship enters drydock. Note the cofferdam sections on the ship's port side [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. View of the refloated ship in drydock, looking forward along the undamaged starboard side [Via]

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. View of the ship's hull in drydock, looking forward from about frame 95 under the port side of the ship. Note the cofferdam patch beginning at frame 76 [Via]

After she was raised and her hulk patched up she basically sat around Pearl for the remainder of the war. It was decided that she should be scrapped and while under tow to the West Coast she encountered a storm, developed a list, capsized and sank (again), almost taking the two tugs down with her. The current final resting place of Oklahoma is unknown.

Source: 

SuperSixFour (imgur.com) | web.mst.edu | Selected photos from the Captain FH Whitaker Collection
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