USS UTAH BB-31 / AG-16
The Forgotten Ship of Pearl Harbor
Salvage on the old target and training ship USS Utah was a limited venture. Though consideration had been given to refloating her by pumping the capsized hull full of air and towing her in that condition over to a drydock for scrapping, that project was quickly seen to be far more difficult than it was worth. The work actually done used the righting gear previously employed on USS Oklahoma to roll Utah partially upright, thus moving her closer to Ford Island and away from the busy shipping channel. This was carried out from the fall of 1943 into the spring of 1944, leaving the ship on the bottom of Pearl Harbor with only some of her starboard deck edge showing above water. She remains in that location to this day. Some of Utah's guns and other equipment were also recovered.
The work of salvage divers was extremely hazardous, the wrecked ships contained numerous hazards, any of which could cut his air hose and cause his death, and they also contained highly toxic gasses. They often worked in total darkness and had to communicate with the men on the surface via a telephone cable. The divers had to be exceptionally talented to and needed a great amount of coordination senses and balance to work with welding torches, suction hoses, and heavy equipment in the confines of the shattered ships. During the salvage operations a number of divers lost their lives. Learn more about the Pearl Harbor salvage divers here: The Remarkable Salvage Divers of Pearl Harbor
Photo Gallery: USS Utah Salvage Attempt 1943-1944