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 decade, ARIZONA continued to operate with the Battle Fleet, and took part in the succession of Fleet problems that took the Fleet from the waters of the northern Pacific and Alaska to those surrounding the West Indies, and into the waters east of the lesser Antilles.

On 17 September 1938, ARIZONA became the flagship for Battleship Division 1, when Rear Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, May 1939 to become Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Nimitz was relieved on that day by Rear Admiral Russell Willson.

ARIZONA's last Fleet problem was XXI. At its conclusion, the United States Fleet was retained in the Hawaiian waters, based at Pearl Harbor. She operated in the Hawaiian Operating Area until late that summer, when she returned to Long Beach on 30 September 1940. She was then overhauled at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington., into the following year. Her last flag change-of-command occurred on 23 January 1941, when Rear Admiral Willson was relieved of Commander, Battleship Division 1 by Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd.

The battleship returned to Pearl Harbor on 3 February 1941 to resume the intensive training maintained by the Pacific Fleet. She made one last visit to the West coast, clearing "Pearl" on 11 June 1941 for Long Beach, ultimately returning to her Hawaiian base on 8 July 1941. Over the next five months, she continued exercises and battle problems of various kinds on type training and tactical exercises in the Hawaiian operating area. She underwent a brief overhaul at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard commencing on 27 October 1941, receiving the foundation for a search radar atop her foremast. She conducted her last training in company with her division mates NEVADA (BB-36) and OKLAHOMA (BB-37), conducting a night firing exercise on the night of 4 December 1941. All three ships moored at quays ("keys") along Ford Island on the 5th.

Scheduled to receive tender availability, ARIZONA took the repair ship VESTAL (AR-4) along side on Saturday the 6th. The two ships were thus moored together on the morning of 7 December 1941; among the men on board ARIZONA that morning were Rear Admiral Kidd and the battleship's captain, Franklin Van Valkenburgh.

Remember the Arizona!
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