Today, the rusting hulk of the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) sits at the bottom of Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona Memorial, honoring the 1,177 men who perished when the ship exploded and sank during the attack of December 7, 1941, stands directly above. Those who visit the memorial may think they’ve heard everything there is to know about the sunken battleship. But even a ship this well known and thoroughly documented may hold some secrets. Here are a few lesser-known facts about USS Arizona.
USS Arizona was Named to Honor the Newest State
It’s no secret that USS Arizona was named to honor the state, but there was a reason the name was chosen when it was. On February 14, 1912, the United States admitted the territory of Arizona into the union as the 48th state.
The USS Arizona Memorial Trophy
In 1986, the Navy created the USS Arizona Memorial Trophy in honor of USS Arizona and her lost crewmen. Every two years, the Navy chooses a ship that has demonstrated the highest level of combat readiness. The Chief of Naval Operations selects the ship to receive the honor.
The trophy itself is a 3′-tall bronze statue depicting a sailor holding up a miniature version of the historic battleship.
USS Monterey (CG-61) is the most recent ship to receive the prestigious award.
The Earthquake of 1933
After a devastating earthquake hit Long Beach, CA on March 10, 1933, the crew of USS Arizona did their part to help. Moored at San Pedro, she launched a shore party to assist with patrolling, communications, and erecting first aid stations. In addition, crew members handed out food and helped find shelter for those made homeless by the earthquake.
A Starring Role
Another of the interesting facts about USS Arizona is that she served as a filming location. The 1934 James Cagney film Here Comes the Navy featured Pat O’Brien and Gloria Stuart. Here Comes the Navy was a romantic comedy that earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
Arizona was one of two filming locations that later met with tragedy. The other was the rigid airship USS Macon (ZRS-5), which was destroyed in an accident in 1935.
No More Burials on the Sunken Ship
After the passing of Lauren Bruner in September 2019, there are no plans for the remaining Arizona survivors to have their ashes placed aboard the battleship. As of March 2020, only two of the ship’s survivors remain. Ken Potts and Lou Conter both plan to be buried rather than being interred within their former ship.