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USS Oglala CM-4

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Pearl Harbor attack - capsized  USS Olaga

USS Oglala at Pearl Harbor

The USS Oglala was a US Navy minelayer that had originally been a civilian coastal steamer. On the morning of December 7, 1941, the old minelayer Oglala was moored at the Navy Yard, pier 1010, outboard to the cruiser USS Helena.


Shortly before 8:00 AM a wave of planes appeared over Pearl Harbor, but the surprised men below did not immediately recognized them as Japanese. “Rear Admiral William R. Furlong, in Minelayer Oglala, who had studied Japanese plane types, recognized the torpedo-bombers when they zoomed up the main channel between him and Ford Island; and as he happened to be senior officer present afloat, he ordered the signal hoisted, All ships in harbor sortie,” The Two-Ocean War (p58). ,

According to the action reports, general quarters was called on the Oglala at about 7:55 AM. A torpedo was seen coming towards her which traveled under the Oglala and hit the Helena. This explosion along with bomb damage caused flooding on the minelayer which could not be controlled, and she began to list.


The USS Oglala in 1942, after repairs

During the attack, men scrambled to man the anti-aircraft gun as well as the three machine guns on the Oglala, and the crews reported definite hits. In his action report, Admiral Furlong stated that he ordered all hands to abandon the ship shortly after 9:00AM. He remained behind with the gun crew who continued to fire until the ship's list was so great that they were unable to man the gun, at which point they abandoned the ship as well. Although injuries were reported fortunately there was no loss of life on the Oglala during the attack.

The photo above, left, shows the USS Oglala on December 9, 1941, capsized at pier 1010. She was later refloated, and repaired as shown in the 1942 photo above, right.

U.S. Navy Photographs


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Damage report on USS Oglala
February 15, 1942

"Oglala sunk by one aircraft torpedo which passed under the ship from the starboard side and exploded against the starboard side of the Helena. Vessel sank slowly at ten-ten dock, capsized against the dock about 11/2 hours after being struck. This vessel is probably not worth salvaging but plans are being made to remove her from the berth that she now occupies."