Pearl Harbor, the Missing Carriers: USS Enterprise, USS Lexington and USS Saratoga

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One of the most interesting things about the Pearl Harbor attack is what ships were not present, the American aircraft carriers. In 1941 the aircraft carrier was still considered by most naval leaders to be a support to fleets of battleships. Despite the fact that Admiral Yamamoto relied on his carrier strike force for the attack on Pearl Harbor, even he did not recognize that the day of the battleship’s supremacy was at an end. So here is the story of the ships that were missing on December 7th 1941.
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Padre Steve's World...Musings of a Progressive Realist in Wonderland


On the morning of December 7th 1941 8 of the 9 Battleships assigned to the US Pacific Fleet were in Pearl Harbor. Seven, the USS California, USS Maryland, USS Oklahoma, USS Tennessee, USS West Virginia, USS Arizona and USS Nevada were moored on Battleship Row. The USS Pennsylvania was in the massive dry dock which she shared with the destroyers USS Cassin and USS Downes. The USS Colorado, a sister ship of Maryland and West Virginia was at the Puget Sound Naval Yard being overhauled.


USS West Virginia sinking at left and USS Tennessee burning at Pearl Harbor

At the time both the United States Navy and the Japanese Imperial Navy still viewed the Battleships as the heart of the fleet and the essence of naval power. Aircraft Carriers were still viewed as an adjunct and support to the traditional battle line.

Japanese-carriersJapanese Aircraft preparing to launch at Pearl…

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