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Pearl Harbor Ship Positions during attack

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Chart of ship positions at
Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

Shown are the approximate positions of the vessels in Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese carrier-borne surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The USS Condor AMc-14 minesweeper, the USS Ward, DD-139 an old destroyer, and the USS Antares, a cargo ship with barge, were outside the harbor and not shown on the chart.

The Condor spotted what looked like a periscope in the water at the entrance to the harbor several hours before the attack and reported the sighting to the destroyer USS Ward who was patrolling the entrance. The Ward attacked and sunk what turned out to be a Japanese midget submarine which was following the Antares, in an attempt to enter the harbor. The sinking of the midget sub became the first military action of the day.

The main objective of the Japanese raid was to disable the American Pacific Fleet. The Japanese hoped to destroy the US aircraft carriers, however none were in the harbor at the time of the raid. The primary target then became the eight battleships, but cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft, were targeted as well.

By the end of the air raid, twenty-one U.S. ships had been sunk or damaged. Most U.S. planes had no chance to take off and 188 were destroyed with 159 damaged. Over 2,400 Americans had been killed. The United States declared war on Japan the next day, ending American support for isolationism.


From a tactical point of view the raid was successful, however, military historians have criticized the Japanese Navy for failing to make a third and fourth attack. Left undamaged at Pearl Harbor, were most of the destroyers, all of the submarines, all of the land based fuel tanks, and most of the repair shops. This allowed Pearl Harbor to successfully support and repair the American aircraft carriers and the remaining naval ships while in the Pacific.

Although the Arizona, Oklahoma, and Utah were beyond repair, the Maryland, Tennessee, Helm, Honolulu, Curtis, and Vestal, were repaired within 3 months. The remaining damaged ships were eventually repaired and some modernized before the end of the war.

Map based on an NHHC chart which has been corrected and color coded.

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