Print this pageHistorical Text Archive © 1990 - 2015
Archaeological survey of the submerged hulk of ARIZONA in 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1987 has determined that the battleship lies at a five to ten degree list to port and, while intact, readily evidences the severity of her battle damage. The hull just aft of the bow is distorted and cracked from gunwale to keel on the port side and nearly so on the starboard side, indicating the bow was either nearly blown off or has since settled and cracked. The armored deck forward was blown forward by the force of the explosion that appears to have wrecked ARIZONA; torn and twisted portions of the deck have folded together near the bow, with one large section of deck peeled back toward the port bow and jutting over the side of the hull. Debris consisting of twisted and torn fragments of steel and numerous mis- cellaneous fittings. litter the decks. Surprisingly, even in this severely damaged area, the battleship's teak decks remain intact and undeteriorated except for areas where silt does not protect the deck. The hull is covered with a thick growth of barnacles, oysters, sponges, corals, grasses, and sea anemones, which has retarded ongoing corrosion; nonetheless, the star- board side of the battleship evidences a higher level of corrosion, with loose hull plates that flex and shift with current and tidal flow. Perhaps the most striking hull feature are the rows of deadlights, blastcovers still fixed, that line the hull. Some have air trapped between blast cover and glass of the deadlight and provide an eerie reminder that ARIZONA is the watery grave of some 1,000 men.
Moving aft from the bow, the first major feature encountered is turret 1. With its three 14-inch guns trained forward in a slightly depressed elevation, this turret dropped intact with the deck when the latter col- lapsed. The guns and machinery, as well as the top of turret 2 have been removed, but the armored sides and back plate of the turret mark its posi- tion with the tops of the turret sides visible just above the surface of the water at low tide. The bottom portion of the superstructure remains intact; its formerly enclosed spaces are discernable through the stubs of bulkheads and features such as the base of ARIZONA's stack, the blue and white checked tiles of the galley, and the legs of the galley stoves and other kitchen equipment which remain attached to the deck. A surprising array of small artifacts litter this area; among them dishes and silver- ware. It is at this area that the ARIZONA Memorial spans the wreck and the outline of the superstructure area forms the basic outline of the ship that visitors see on one side of the Memorial.
Moving aft from the superstructure, the stub of the battleship's main- mast rises toward the surface; welded to it is the steel flagstaff from which the Memorial's flag flies. Aft of the mainmast is the barbette for turret 3, which rises above the surface of the water. The round barbette is the most prominent above water feature of the battleship. Attached on support to the port side of the turret 3 barbette and on the port side of the former bridge area are the rusting remains of 1942 steel and concrete quays which were constructed as a new battleship berth. Aft of turret 3 is the submerged barbette of turret 4. This turret was hit a glancing blow by a bomb, and according to one survivor who was standing on the turret when it was hit, "it scooped out the side of the turret with a big mound of molten steel." Another feature aft is the mount for the observation plane's catapult at the stern. the original casemates for the 5-inch/51- caliber guns line the stern quarter; at the stern itself the raised letters forming ARIZONA's name are present.