U.S. Navy Battleships - USS Oklahoma (BB 37)
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Displacement: 27,500 tons
Speed: 20.5 knots
Armament: Ten 14" guns; twenty 5" guns; four 21" torpedo tubes
Text from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships published by the Naval Historical Center
Oklahoma (BB-37) was laid down 26 October 1912 by New York
Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; launched 28 March 1914;
sponsored by Miss Lorena J. Cruce, and commissioned at
Philadelphia 2 May 1916, Captain Roger Welles in command.
Joining the Atlantic Fleet with Norfolk her home port, Oklahoma
trained on the eastern seaboard until sailing 13 August 1918
with sister ship Nevada to join in the task of protecting Allied
convoys in European waters. In December she was part of the
escort as President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France, departing
the 14th for New York and winter fleet exercises in Cuban
waters. She returned to Brest 15 June 1919 to escort President
Wilson in George Washington home from his second visit to
France, returning to New York 8 July.
A part of the Atlantic Fleet for the next two years, Oklahoma
was overhauled, trained, and twice voyaged to South America's
west coast; early in 1921 for combined exercises with the
Pacific Fleet, and later that year for the Peruvian Centennial.
She then joined the Pacific Fleet for six years highlighted by
the cruise of the Battle Fleet to Australia and New Zealand in
1925. Joining the Scouting Fleet in early 1927, Oklahoma
continued intensive exercises during that summer's Midshipmen
Cruise, voyaging to the East Coast to embark midshipmen,
carrying them through the Panama Canal to San Francisco, and
returning by the way of Cuba and Haiti.
Modernized at Philadelphia between September 1927 and July 1929,
Oklahoma rejoined the Scouting Fleet for exercises in the
Caribbean, and returned to the west coast in June 1930 for fleet
operations through spring 1936. That summer she carried
midshipmen on a European training cruise, visiting northern
ports. The cruise was interrupted with the outbreak of civil war
in Spain, as Oklahoma sped to Bilbao, arriving 24 July 1936 to
rescue American citizens and other refugees, whom she carried to
Gibraltar and French ports. She returned to Norfolk 11 September
1936, and to the West Coast 24 October.
Oklahoma's Pacific Fleet operations during the next four years
included joint operations with the Army and the training of
She was based at Pearl Harbor from 6 December 1940 for patrols
and exercises, and was moored in Battleship Row 7 December 1941
when the Japanese attacked. Outboard alongside USS Maryland (BB 46),
Oklahoma took three torpedo hits almost immediately after the
first Japanese bombs fell. As she began to capsize, two more
torpedoes struck home, and her men were strafed as they
abandoned ship. Within 20 minutes after the attack began, she
had swung over until halted by her masts touching bottom, her
starboard side above water, and a part of her keel clear. Many
of her crew, however, remained in the fight, clambering aboard
Maryland to help serve her antiaircraft batteries. Twenty
officers and 395 enlisted men were either killed or missing, 32
others wounded, and many were trapped within the capsized hull,
to be saved by heroic rescue efforts. Such an effort was that of
Julio DeCastro, a civilian yard worker who organized the team
which saved 32 Oklahoma sailors.
The difficult salvage job began in March 1943, and Oklahoma
entered drydock 28 December. Decommissioning 1 September 1944,
Oklahoma was stripped of guns and superstructure, and sold 5
December 1946 to Moore Drydock Co., Oakland, Calif. Oklahoma
parted her tow line and sank 17 May 1947 540 miles out, bound
from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco.
Oklahoma received 1 battle star for World War II service.
Updated: 30 July 2009