History of Pearl Harbor


Pearl Harbor Shipyard

The US Pacific Fleet is lucky that the Japanese strategy in attacking Oahu did not include destroying the Pearl Harbor Shipyard, located at the southern area of the harbor. Many of the ships that were damaged during the Pearl Harbor attack were repaired in the Naval Shipyard. In fact over 7000 ships were repaired during WWII

Explosion of the USS Shaw at Pearl Harbor

Iconic Pearl Harbor image of an explosion on USS Shaw while in Pearl Harbor Shipyard

For battleships, like Nevada and California, repairs made in the shipyard were enough to get the ships in condition to travel to the mainland for overhaul. For Arizona and Utah, it was determined that they would not go to the shipyard and not return to service. Arizona and Utah remain where they were sunk.

The repair of Nevada included patching a 48 foot long and 25 foot high torpedo hole. This was first attempted by divers underwater. The patch was not holding correctly and Nevada was eventually dry docked. In total divers from the shipyard spent over 20,000 hours underwater salvaging ships from the attack.

Not destroying the Naval Shipyard is considered by many historians to be one of the major mistakes that the Japanese made during their attack.  The others are not destroying the oil tanks east of the Pearl Harbor shipyard and not destroying the submarine yard.

Historic Pearl Harbor Shipyard

The Pearl Harbor Shipyard Today

The Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard turned 100 in 2008. The United States history at Pearl Harbor goes back further to the reign of King Kalakaua when Pearl Harbor was a coaling station.

The shipyard is 112 acres and consists of 114 buildings and 4 drydocks. It serves the Pacific Fleet keeping ships and submarines ready for action. What is now called Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard was long referred to as Navy Yard Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor is home to Virginia-class attack submarines.  Now 90% of the work done at Pearl Harbor shipyard is on submarines. Much of the work done in the shipyard is incredibly dangerous underwater repairs. By sending the divers underwater the shipyard is able to save on the expense of dry docking ships and submarines.