Skip Navigation


January 5, 1942
USS West Virginia, January 5, 1942

Despite the extensive damage, some of those who examined the USS West Virginia after Pearl Harbor believed she could be repaired. These men, including Acting Captain Lt. Commander William White, believed it might be possible to raise the ship because it lay on an almost even keel. Planning for salvage operations began a week after the attack, but the West Virginia was low on the priority list due to the extensive damage it had suffered.
Efforts to raise the battleship began in early 1942. Huge cofferdams were built, weighted, and lowered by derricks to form a huge outer wall around the ship. Captain Homer N. Wallin, who headed the Salvage Division, utilized tremic cement to seal the cofferdams. The water and debris in the ship were then pumped out, while skimmers retrieved nearly 40,000 gallons of fuel oil. On May 17, 1942, the West Virginia floated and was towed to Drydock No. 1, where the cement was dynamited off the ship.

'A' braces for patch, portside March 16, 1942
"A" braces for patch, portside
March 16, 1942

Captain Homer W. Wallin and Lieutenant Commander William White
Captain Homer W. Wallin, salvage officer,
and Lieutenant Commander William White,
during salvage operations, 1942

Removing patches on the USS West Virginia
View of port side amidships seen from floor
of Drydock No. 1, as patches were being removed.

USS West Virginia

En route to No. 1 Drydock, June 9, 1942
En route to No. 1 Drydock
June 9, 1942

USS West Virginia in Drydock No. 1
USS West Virginia in Drydock No. 1
June 14, 1942

USS West Virginia

USS West Virginia

Salvage Report of Captain William White

The USS West Virginia remained in Drydock No. 1 for nearly one year. The wooden cofferdams were replaced with steel, a gun turret and steering gear were repaired, a new rudder was constructed and installed and the electric drive machinery was restacked and rewound. On May 7, 1943, the battleship departed for Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington. Here the West Virginia was modernized with new deck armor, a new ventilation system, increased armament, radar and many other features.

USS West Virginia in dry dock at Bremerton
Drydock in Bremerton, Washington

Previous | Next

Table of Contents