The DPAA’s Battleship USS Oklahoma Underwater Disinterment and Recovery Project has recently hit the 200th identification, and the agency is now moving forward with plans to do the same for those unidentified Sailors and Marines from USS West Virginia and USS California as well.
“Over the years, America has faced many conflicts: World War II, Korean War, Vietnam and more. Unfortunately, sometimes service members do not come home, their whereabouts unknown. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) had made it their mission to use improved technology to help reunite service members and their families. Recent advances in technology have allowed scientists and researchers to explore underwater landscapes in search of the remains of missing Sailors. Video by Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Stinson / All Hands Magazine”
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steampunk navies of the 1866-1938 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
– Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday, July 11
Here we have the old battleship USS Oklahoma in 1917, note the experimental splinter type camoflauge pattern. The Okie was brand new at the time and just narrowly avoided going overseas for service in European Waters during World War One. Instead she served as a member of BatDiv 6, protecting Allied convoys on their way across the Atlantic. After years of spending time in the Pacific and the Scouting Fleets, Oklahoma was modernized from 1927 to 1929. She rescued American citizens and refugees from the Spanish Civil War in 1936; after returning to the West coast in August of that year, she spent the rest of her life in the Pacific. She was sunk by Japanese bombs and torpedoes on 7 December 1941, in the attack on Pearl Harbor, taking 429 of her crew with her as she capsized.
One of those killed—Father Aloysius Schmitt—was the first American chaplain of any faith to die in World War II. Thirty-two others were wounded, and many were trapped within the capsized hull. Julio DeCastro, a Hawaiian civilian yard worker organized a team that saved 32 Oklahoma sailors. Some of those who died later had ships named after them such as Ensign John England for whom USS England (DE-635) and USS England (DLG-22) are named.
Three Medals of Honor, three Navy and Marine Corps Medals and one Navy Cross were awarded to sailors who served onboard the Oklahoma during the attack.
She was uprighted in 1943, but unlike most of the other battleships damaged in the Pearl Harbor attack, she was never repaired and returned to duty. Instead, Oklahoma was stripped of her guns and superstructure, and sold for scrap. She sank while under tow to the mainland in 1947.
Her sistership, the USS Nevada, had slightly more luck.
Displacement: 27,500 long tons (27,900 metric tons)
Length: 583 ft (178 m)
Beam: 95.3 ft (29.0 m)
Draft: 28.5 ft (8.7 m)
Speed: 20.5 kn (23.6 mph; 38.0 km/h)
Capacity: 2,042 short tons (1,852 metric tons) of fuel oil
Complement: as built:
864 officers and men
Armament: as built:
10 × 14 in (360 mm)/45 cal guns (2×3, 2×2)
21 × 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns (soon reduced to 12)
in the late 1920s:
8 × 5 in (130 mm)/25 cal guns
2 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes were added.
Belt: 13.5 to 8 in (340 to 200 mm)
Bulkheads: 13 to 8 in (330 to 200 mm)
Barbettes: 13 in (330 mm)
Turrets: 18 in (460 mm)
Decks: 5 in (130 mm)
Conning tower: 16 in (406 mm), 8 in (203 mm) top
Aircraft carried: as built:
3 floatplanes, 2 catapults
2 floatplanes, 1 catapult[