Statement of Lieutenant Commander, T.T. Beattie, U.S. Navy, Navigator, U.S.S. West Virginia.
About five minutes to eight I was in the wardroom just finishing breakfast, when word come over the loud speaker from the officer-of-the-deck, "away fire and rescue party". This was followed immediately by a second announcement over the loud speaker "Japanese are attacking, all hands general quarters", and the general alarm was rung.
I hear several dull explosions coming from other battleships. Immediately I left the wardroom and ran up the starboard passage way to the bridge. The Captain was just ahead of me proceeding in the same direction.
At this time the ship listed at least five or six degrees and was steadily listing more to port. The Captain and I went to the conning tower, our battle stations, and at this time dive bombing attacks started to take place and numerous explosions were felt throughout the ship. Upon testing our communications with central station and to the guns we found they were disrupted. I suggested to the Captain as long as no communications were in the battle conning tower that we leave there and attempt to establish messenger communication and try to save the ship. We went out on the starboard side of the bridge discussing what to do. During all this time extremely heavy bombing and strafing attacks occurred. The ship was constantly shaken by bomb hits.
The Captain doubled up with a groan and stated that he had been wounded. I saw that he had been hit in the stomach probably by a large piece of shrapnel and was very seriously wounded. He then sank to the deck, and I loosened his collar. I then sent a messenger for a pharmacist's mate to assist the Captain.
Just then the U.S.S. Arizona's forward magazines blew up with a tremendous explosion and large sheets of flame shot skyward, and I began to wonder about our own magazines and whether they were being flooded. I posted a man with the Captain and went down to the forecastle where a number of the crew and officers had gathered. I got hold of a chief turret captain to check immediately on the magazines and flood them if they were not flooded at this time. Large sheets of flame and several fires started aft. Burning fuel oil from the U.S.S. Arizona floated down the stern of the ship. Just then the gunnery officer Lt. Comdr. Berthold came aboard and I asked him to try to flood the forward magazines. I dispatched another gunner's mate to the forward magazines. Shortly thereafter I was informed that the after magazines were completely flooded but that they were unable to flood the forward magazines, as the water was now almost to the main deck.
I then sent word to Lieut. Ricketts and Lieut. (jg) White, who were now on the Flag Bridge with the Captain and told them that I was very anxious to get the Captain on the forecastle and send him to the hospital, and to get some lines and a stretcher and lower him down from the bridge. They sent word back that the Captain was very much against being moved and that he preferred to stay where he was.
I then saw the First Lieutenant on the forecastle and told him that I thought he was now the Commanding Officer and asked him if he had been able to close watertight doors and do any counter flooding. He told me that the ship was counter flooded, and central station had to be evacuated due to flooding. No other damage control measures were possible.
he then asked me to look after all evacuation of the wounded. I had the men on the forecastle search those parts of the ship which were still accessible for wounded men. large numbers were brought on deck and loaded in the boats that were along side and were sent to Ford Island, the Solace and the Naval Hospital. During all this time the ship was being subjected to heavy dive bombing and strafing attacks. I then told the men on the forecastle whenever they saw an attack coming to get under cover. The ship had listed over about fifteen degrees and was resting in the bottom. Water level had risen to above the level of the main deck and it was impossible to get on this deck or below.
At about this time a large oil fire swept from the U.S.S. Arizona down the port side of the U.S.S. West Virginia. We had no water on board as the fire mains and machinery were out of commission and we were unable to do any fire fighting at all. I got into a motor launch to go to the stern of the ship to investigate the fire. The smoke was so heavy I could not see aft of the bridge. As I got into the boat a sheet of flame swept on top of us and we barely managed to get free of the fire. I then had the boat take me aft. The burning oil on the water swept by the ship and I managed to return to the quarterdeck. I realized then that the ship was lost.
The attack lasted approximately thirty minutes. We were able to fire all our ready ammunition on the A.A. batteries, but were unable to replenish it as the ship was flooded. I then told the men on the quarterdeck with the exception of a small working party to leave the s hip. I believe at this time that all the wounded had been taken off the ship and it was extremely dangerous for anyone to remain aboard; that nothing could be done to save the ship and shell from the secondary batteries were constantly exploding due to the intensive heat of the fire midships.
Large quantities of fuel oil floating down from the U.S.S. Arizona were constantly catching fire and created a serious hazard to the Tennessee. With the ship's boats and several officers and men we attempted to get oil and debris that had collected between the ships. We worked for about an hour and a half and finally cleared out most of the oil and debris.
I saw the Executive Officer shortly thereafter on the quarterdeck and I reported to him what I had done. About 2:30 in the afternoon I left the ship with the permission of the Executive Officer and went over to Ford Island.
The conduct of the crew and officers was outstanding. There was no confusion and every man and officer did his duty as well as he was able under the conditions.
Lieut-Comdr., U.S. Navy
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