USS UTAH  BB-31 / AG-16

The Forgotten Ship of Pearl Harbor

Photo of USS Utah moments before rolling over on port side.  (Photo courtesy of Department of the Navy)


The Forgotten Ship of Pearl Harbor

The battleship USS Utah was the first ship named after the state of Utah. Her keel was laid on March 15, 1909 and launched on December 23, 1909. She was commissioned on August 31, 1911 and boasted a main battery of ten 12-inch (305 mm) guns in five twin gun turrets.

Utah and and its sister ship Florida were the first to arrive during the 
United States occupation of Veracruz in 1914 during the Mexican Revolution. The two battleships sent ashore a landing party that began the occupation of the city. After the American entrance into World War I, the Utah was stationed at Berehaven in Bantry Bay, Ireland, where she protected convoys from potential German surface raiders. Throughout the 1920s, the ship conducted numerous training cruises and fleet maneuvers, and carried dignitaries, including President-elect Herbert Hoover, on tours of South America twice, in 1924 and 1928.

In 1931, Utah was demilitarized and converted into a target ship and re-designated as AG-16, in accordance with the terms of the London Naval Treaty signed the previous year. She was also equipped with numerous anti-aircraft guns of different types to train gunners for the fleet. She served in these two roles for the rest of the decade, and late 1941 found the ship in Pearl Harbor. She was in port on the morning of 7 December, and in the first minutes of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, was hit by two torpedoes, which caused serious flooding. Utah quickly rolled over and sank; the vast majority of her crew were able to escape, but 58 men were killed in the attack. The wreck remains in the harbor, and in 1972, a memorial was erected near the ship.