In May of 1916, the USS Oklahoma was the 37th battleship commissioned by the United States Navy. After her sea trials, she joined the Atlantic Fleet and saw duty on the Eastern Seaboard, where she protected convoys during World War I. In the years leading up to World War II, she cruised the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea.
In October of 1936, the battleship was transferred to the Pacific Fleet. She operated for four years out of her homeport in San Pedro, California, before being moved to Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1940. Her last mooring took place on December 5, 1941, when she took her place with six other battlewagons in a location that would forever be known as "Battleship Row."
To the crew, she was affectionately know as "The Okie." A battleship was a small town gone to sea, her inhabitants mostly young and far from home.
The USS Oklahoma capsized at 8:08 A.M., approximately 12 minutes after the first torpedo hit. Hundreds of men were trapped below her decks. They found themselves in a bizarre world turned upside down, in pitch-black darkness, as compartments filled with water. Death came to 429 officers, sailors and Marines, marking the second greatest loss of life at Pearl Harbor.
Of the 14 men trapped in D-57, three made a daring escape. They swam nearly 20 feet down the trunk space, 35 feet out of the hatch and across the upside down deck, and finally ascended almost 30 feet to the water's surface. Ordinary men with extraordinary courage swam approximately 90 feet to freedom.
In 1944, the Oklahoma was salvaged and raised at Pearl Harbor. Because new battleships of greater strength and size had been added to the fleet, she was denied future service and decommissioned. In 1947, she was sold for scrap but sank in a storm while being towed to the West Coast.
Last updated: September 13, 2017