USS Arizona HistoryProvided by Vincent James Vlach, Jr.

Launching of USS Arizona


Vincent James "Jim" Vlach, Jr. was a USS Arizona Survivor. He provided us with this history of the USS Arizona in 1999. Jim spent years researching and fine-tuning the history of the ship both from official records and his time on the ship. He was instrumental in creating the lists of casualties and survivors in the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor. He continued to follow up and correct these lists until his death in 2008. He was our "go-to" guy for factual information regarding the USS Arizona and is greatly missed.

Over the next six months, the ship operated locally out of New York. During this time she was given the alphanumeric hull designation, BB-39, on 17 July 1920, Division 7, Rear Admiral Edward V. Eberie.

Sailing from New York on 4 January 1921, ARIZONA joined the Fleet as it sailed for Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Canal Zone. Arriving at Colon, on the Atlantic side of the isthmian waterway, on 19 January 1921, ARIZONA transited the Panama Canal for the first time on that day, arriving at Panama Bay on the 20th. Underway for Callao, Peru, on the 22nd, the Fleet arrived there nine days later, on 31 January 1921, for a six-day visit. While she was there, ARIZONA was visited by the President of Peru.

Underway for Balboa on 5 February 1921, ARIZONA arrived at the destination on the 14th; transiting the canal again the day after Washington's Birthday, the battleship reached Guantanamo Bay on 6 March 1921. She operated there until 24 April 1921, when she sailed for New York, steaming via Hampton Roads. ARIZONA reached New York on 29 April 1921, and remained under overhaul there until 15 June 1921. She steamed thence for Hampton Roads on the latter date, and on the 21st steamed off Cape Charles with Army and Navy observers to witness the experimental bombings of the ex-German submarine U-117.

Proceeding thence back to New York, the battleship there broke the flag of Vice Admiral John D. McDonald (who, as captain, had been ARIZONA's first commanding officer) on 1 July 1921 and sailed for Panama and Peru on 9 July 1921. She arrived at the port of Callao on 22 July 1921 as flagship for the Battle Force, Atlantic Fleet, to observe the celebrations accompanying the centennial year of Peruvian Independence. On 27 July 1921, Vice Admiral McDonald went ashore and represented the United States at the unveiling of a monument commemorating the accomplishments of San Martin, who had liberated Peru from the Spanish yoke a century before.

Sailing for Panama Bay on 9 August 1921, ARIZONA became flagship for Battleship Division 7 when Vice Admiral McDonald transferred his flag to WYOMING (BB-33) and Rear Admiral Josiah S. McKean broke his flag on board as commander of the division on 10 August 1921 at Balboa. The following day, the battleship sailed for San Diego, arriving there on 21 August 1921.

Remember the Arizona!
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