Fuchida's strike was a co-ordinated and well-timed effort which came off just as it had been practiced in Japan during late summer. The bombers and fighters of the Rising Sun seemed to be everywhere at once; American confusion was complete. A second wave of 171 planes followed the first and, while Fuchida circled overhead snapping photographs and taking notes, added to the tremendous damage already inflicted. When the attackers Returned aboard their carriers, all were certain of having struck a mighty blow. In Circular No. 2507 sent by the Foreign Ministry to all of its diplomatic missions aboard later in the day, Japan proudly announced:"The Imperial Naval Air Force had damaged three United Stated Battleships and sunk three in the Battle of Hawaii. Those sunk were the Arizona, the Oklahoma, and the West Virginia."
When Commander Fuchida's unannounced raiders first flew onto the scene, the West Virginia was moored outboard of the Tennessee at Quay F6, a short distance south of the Arizona, above the Maryland and Oklahoma, and directly across from the naval stations Southeast Loch. She formed part of an impressive double row of stationary giants making up what was commonly known as "Battleship Row"
Ensign Roman E. Brooks was Officer-of-the-Deck aboard the "WeeVee" when the first Lt. Commander Shigeharu Murata's Kates dropped down to wavetops several hundred yards out to launch their torpedoes. While unable to view these planes, the noise and smoke from explosions in Ford Island were sufficient. The youngster promptly set the ship's bugler and PA system to sounding "Away the Fire and Rescue Party," which order started the crew topside and undoubtedly saved hundreds of the 1,541 officers and ratings aboard. Lt(jg) F.H. White, one of the first officers to reach the deck, saw a Kate preparing to drop and gave the general alarm.
Up the ladders, down the passage-ways, through hatches and along the decks, men climbed, shoved, and otherwise proceeded toward their action stations. A Marine orderly interrupted Captain Mervyn Bennion at breakfast with the news. The 54 year old skipper was one of the first to recall Japanese military heritage. "This is certainly," he remarked while jumping up, "in keeping with their history of surprise attacks." Below as he moved to his post at Central Station, Damage Control Officer Lt. Commander John S. Harper felt the ship shudder as she took the first of seven torpedoes "below and forward."
The West Virginia took a terrible beating as the Japanese "Long Lances" smashed their half ton warheads against her exposed side. One hit the rudder, destroying the internal and external steering arrangement. Four struck the armor belt, bulging the port torpedo defense voids. The force of these blows can be seen in the fact that the 14 inch steel belt was distorted about ten inches out board at the top and 33 inches inboard at the bottom. These hits knocked out all power, lights, communications, and the port side AA batteries. Quickly, the ship took on a 22 degree list and while turning, was hit by two additional "fish," one well above and one at the top edge of the armor belt. This caused destruction of the shell over an area almost 200 feet long and Lt. Commander Harper was soon swamped with reports of extensive flooding in the second and third decks. He immediately passed orders to counterflood all voids on the starboard side, but due to the communications failure, could not reach the various parties involved.
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