BIW Ships During the Pearl Harbor Attack

Bath Iron Works built several of the ships that played a role in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941: three Clemson-class destroyers USS Preble (DD-345), USS Sicard (DD-346) and USS Pruitt (DD-347), Farragut-class destroyer USS Dewey (DD-349) and Sampson-class destroyer USS Allen (DD-66).

USS Pruitt was being overhauled at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. At 07:53, Japanese planes flew over the base at low altitude. Within minutes some of Pruitt’s crew had made it to other ships and fired their first bullets. Others manned fire hoses and helped distribute ammunition during the attack.

USS Sicard had arrived at the Navy Yard two weeks earlier and was under overhaul. The ship had ammunition only for its .30-caliber machine guns. Her crew helped operate the guns of the cruiser New Orleans (CA-32) and the destroyer Cummings (DD-365).

USS Preble was also being overhauled and was unable to get underway. Because the ship was without necessary guns and ammunition, a large number of Preble’s crew handled ammunition, fought fires, and cared for the wounded aboard Pennsylvania (BB-38).

USS Dewey was undergoing tender overhaul. She opened fire on the enemy planes, getting underway that afternoon to patrol the area.

USS Allen was moored in East Loch to the northeast of Ford Island. According to the Allen’s official report on the attack (

“At 0755, ROBERTS, S.M.3c, saw a plane dive from the east and drop a bomb in the Arizona which soon burst into flames. Sounded General Quarters and manned Guns No. 5 and No. 6 – 3″-50 caliber. Under the direction of Lt.(jg) TRITLE, Gunnery Officer and Officer-of-the-Deck, assisted by KRAMBUHL, C.T.M., ammunition was broken out from magazines for 3-inch guns and 50-caliber machine guns and first shot was fired at attacking planes between ten and fifteen minutes after alarm sounded.

“Two planes were definitely shot down by this ship’s fire – one by Gun No. 6 and the second by starboard waist 50-caliber. The latter plane exploded in mid-air and was seen by bridge personnel to fall between USS Detroit and Ford Island. The former fell in hills about one mile northwest of AIEA mill stack. Our fire persisted for approximately 45 minutes, expending 57 rounds of 3-inch and 600 rounds of 50-caliber. It is possible a third plane was shot down by Gun No. 6, although fire from other ships were also concentrated on it.”

The Allen’s official report concludes: “The Commanding Officer wishes to call to the attention of his immediate superiors the coolness, initiative, and courage displayed by the crew, many of whom were unfamiliar with rapid fire, particularly while under attack.”

The Bath-built Lamson and Drayson were also in the area on December 7, but were not in port at the time of the attack. USS Lamson was at sea returning from patrol when the Japanese attacked. However, within hours, she began scouring the area on antisubmarine patrol. USS Drayton was underway as plane guard for the USS Lexington when the Japanese attacked. Drayton returned to Pearl Harbor the next week after searching for Japanese raiders.