Pearl Harbor relic found in Baltimore basement
The 14,000-ton Naval Auxiliary Service collier Vestal was christened in 1908 and later was redisignated a repair ship in the Navy proper becoming USS Vestal (AR-4).
Vestal deployed “Over There” in 1918, serving in Queenstown, Ireland with the U.S. fleet during World War I then made her way to the Pacific where she was moored at berth F 7, off Ford Island, to provide services to USS Arizona during the battlewagon’s scheduled period of tender upkeep when the Japanese planes came buzzing into the harbor on that infamous Sunday morning.
Hit by two Japanese bombs of her own, Vestal was nearly pulverized by Arizona‘s magazine explosion. Listing, ablaze and heavily damaged, the old repair ship saved herself and her skipper, Commander Cassin Young, later came away with the MOH for his actions.
Her mooring quay is still a place of honor at Pearl to this day.
Remarkably, Vestal survived and went on to conduct forward repairs in the war zones of the South Pacific, keeping the battleships South Dakota and Washington; carriers Saratoga and Enterprise; cruisers Minneapolis, St. Louis, HMNZS Achilles, HMAS Hobart, San Francisco, and Pensacola among others in the fight and afloat at desperate times when their loss would have been a great blow to the war effort.
Decommissioned and stricken, she was sold to breakers and disappeared in 1950.