Pearl Harbor Attack

The USS Vestal entered service as a fleet collier named the Erie. In 1912 she was decommissioned as a collier and underwent conversion into a fleet repair ship. On September 13, 1913, the USS Vestal was commissioned into the US Navy as a repair ship. When the alphanumeric system was put in place for ship classification in the 1920s, she received the designation AR-4. The USS Vestal supported US Navy ships through WWI. In the spring of 1940, the USS Vestal was moved to the US Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, she was moored next to the USS Arizona Battleship just off Ford Island. When the Japanese attacked, they commenced firing her anti-aircraft guns at the attacking planes. She was hit by two armor-piercing bombs. One exploded deep within her hull, causing fires that required flooding her ammunition magazines. The second bomb punched straight through the ship. Then a massive explosion rocked the USS Vestal. The Battleship Arizona’s forward magazines had exploded. Many of the ship’s crew were blown overboard, and fires broke out all over the ship as oil leaking from both ships ignited. One of the crew members who had been blown overboard was Commander Cassin Young. He swam back aboard the Vestal and began the fight to save his ship. In a panic, someone has called to abandon the ship. Upon returning to the ship, Commander Cassin Young countermanded that order and the order was given to get the ship underway as being next to the furiously burning Battleship USS Arizona was the worst place to be at that time. Unfortunately, once underway, it was found that she had taken too much damage and had developed a list. Commander Cassin Young ordered the ship to be grounded to keep her from sinking. For his actions during the Japanese attack, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Cassin Young would go on to be Captain of another Pearl Harbor Survivor, the Heavy Cruiser USS San Francisco. He would lose his life in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on the night of November 13, 1942.

The USS Vestal would be repaired and continue serving as a repair ship across the Pacific Theater. Starting before she was even repaired, teams from the USS Vestal brought cutting tools and torches to attempt to rescue men trapped in the capsized USS Oklahoma Battleship. She was decommissioned on August 14, 1946. Below is a list of the personnel killed on December 7, 1941. Please view the list to learn the names of those who lost their lives on that day.

The U.S. Navy repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4) beached on Aiea shoal, Pearl Harbor, after the Japanese raid. She is listing from damage caused by two bombs that hit her during the attack., U.S. Navy photo 80-G-19933, National Archives Identifier (NAID) 306551, PD-USGov

The U.S. Navy light cruiser USS St. Louis (CL-49) comes alongside the repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4) for initial repair of torpedo damage received in the Battle of Kolombangara, 13 July 1943. Photographed at Tulagi, Solomon Islands, about 20 July 1943., Unknown author, U.S. Navy photo 80-G-258905, PD-USGov


S. No. Name, Rank S. No. Name, Rank
1 Harold R. Arneberg, F3c 5 William Duane, CBM (PA)
2 Lowell B. Jackson, Sea2c 6 Charles W. Jones, Msmth2c
3 Raymond J. Kerrigan, MM1c 7 Guy E. Long, Sea2c
4 William H. Reid, F1c