As Figure 1 and Figure 2 show, the Lexington and Saratoga typically moored to the northwest of Ford Island. So did the Utah when she was in port.
Figure 1: The Lexington at Pearl Harbor1941 (National Archives 80-G-379385)
Figure 2: The Saratoga at Pearl Harbor, October 22, 1941 (National Archives 80-G-279370)
The fact that carriers often berthed on the northwest side of Ford Island does not come as a surprise to most docents at Pacific Aviation Museum. We often say that “carrier row” was opposite from battleship row relative to Ford Island. However, Figure 3 shows a photo of the Enterprise at her berthing point. Notice that this is on the southeast side of the Ford Island, between the California’s normal berth and the berths of the other battleships on battleship row.
Figure 3: The Enterprise at Pearl Harbor
This may come as a surprise to many docents. However, in addition to the photographic evidence, we have the statement of Commander Lawrence R. Schmeider, whose detailed report on the normal berthing points of a number of ships at Pearl Harbor included information about the Enterprise. He specifically said that the Enterprise usually moored behind the California. Supporting this, the book Battleship Sailorhas a photograph of the Enterprise moored just behind the California’ stern.
If the Enterprise had been moored between the California and the other battleships during the attack, she would have been impossible to miss. To get long enough low-altitude runs to their targets, the 24 Kate torpedo bombers that approached battleship row had to fly through the narrow Southeast Loch. To hit most battleships, the Kates had to veer to the right when exiting the loch. To hit the California, they had to veer left. However, Figure 4 shows that the Southeast Loch pointed like an arrow almost directly at the normal berthing point of Enterprise.
Figure 4: Southeast Loch and Ford Island (National Archives 80-G-192874)
Information about the location of carriers is from Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941 Carrier Locations, Naval History and Heritage Command. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq66-9.htm. Last visited October 29, 2010.
Schmeider, Commander Lawrence R., “The Last Months of Peace at Pearl Harbor,” pp. 51-56 in Paul Stillwell, ed., Air Raid: Pearl Harbor! Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, USA.
All photographs are from the National Archives. They were taken by military personnel and are in the public domain.