Tag Archives: 7th Dive

Diving the Forgotten Battlewagon

While everyone is quick to point out that there were eight American battleships in and around Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor, there was actually a ninth– past Warship Wednesday alumni, USS Utah.

Battleship Number 31, USS Utah, at rest in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, January 1920.

Built as a 22,000-ton Florida-class dreadnought, Battleship # 31 was disarmed of her impressive battery of ten 12-inch guns in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty in 1931, converted to a radio-controlled target ship, and redesignated AG-16.

Although it was unlikely she would have gotten her teeth back in WWII had she not rolled over and sank following hits by Japanese aerial torpedos, the old Utah was, like Arizona, never fully salvaged. A few years after the attack her hull was partially righted and moved closer to Ford Island, where she remains today. Some 58 members of her crew died during the attack, and a memorial is in place, but it is not open to the public.

A birds-eye view of the USS Utah Memorial with the flag at half-mast. NPS photo

Utah is often described as “The Forgotten Ship of Pearl Harbor.” 

However, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in partnership with the National Park Service – Submerged Resource Center, recently conducted the first-ever virtual interactive live-dive of the USS Utah. The dive included NPS divers and U.S. Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU 1), including a 1940s vintage Mark V hard hat rig that is often used to inter remains on Arizona.

Last Arizona Vet, arriving via Mark V

The ashes of Lauren Bruner, a survivor of the 7 December 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu, be placed inside the wreckage of the USS Arizona (BB-39) in an interment ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial on Oahu, Hawaii, Dec. 8. Bruner is the 44th and expected to be the last, crew member to be interred in accordance with this U.S. Navy ritual.

As noted by the AP, 

“On Dec. 7, 1941, then-21-year-old Lauren Bruner was the second-to-last man to escape the burning wreckage of the USS Arizona after a Japanese plane dropped a bomb that ignited an enormous explosion in the battleship’s ammunition storage compartment.

He lived to be 98 years old, marrying twice and outliving both wives. He worked for a refrigeration company for nearly four decades.”

The last three living Arizona survivors plan to be laid to rest with their families, but Bruner decided to rejoin his old friends.

The dive was accomplished by U.S. Navy divers and Army personnel of the 84th Engineer Battalion’ s 7th Dive det– the latter of which have been training this last week to use two spun copper Mark V dive helmets and matching suits in the ceremony.