Torpedoing of the USS Arizona
by Parks Stephenson
Copyright © 2010 Parks Stephenson
Newspaper print, "Attacking U.S. Battleship by Special Submarine on December 7. 1941," published on February 20, 1943. Drawn by Takahashi Katou.
In the decades since the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, one question continues to provoke polarised debate between veterans, historians and even government officials: was the USS Arizona torpedoed during the attack? In our search for potential targets at which I-16tou might have fired, Tom Taylor and I had to confront the mystery.
During my visits to the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, I had often heard from US Park Service guides that Arizona was never torpedoed. I had read the summary of the surveys conducted on the wreck by the National Park Service to the effect that no evidence of torpedo damage could be found. Historians quoted often the 1942-3 damage and salvage reports, which according to them stated unequivocally that salvage diving operations proved there was no torpedo damage. Experts like David Aiken and John DiVirgilio had carefully tallied the bomb and torpedo drops and concluded that no torpedo hit Arizona. So when Tom approached me with a witness to a torpedo attack on Arizona, I was at first highly skeptical.