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21 electric motors and controllers powering the winches that righted the capsized USS Oklahoma after the attack on Pearl Harbor, were salvaged from Honolulu’s retired streetcars.

Sunday, August 7th, 2016 by admin

By late July of 1942 the Navy had created a plan to salvage the USS Oklahoma commencing in March 1943. This was a cooperative effort between the Navy and Pacific Bridge Company, a commercial construction and salvage operator. The initial stage in salvage required righting the capsized ship.

This was accomplished by lightening Oklahoma by removing 350,000 gallons of fuel oil, and filling the empty bunkers with air. Next twenty one electric street car motors were installed on Ford Island and connected by cables to the hull of the ship. The street cars had been less used into the late 1930s as cars became more popular, and by the summer of 1941 were pulled from service completely, having been replaced in the Rapid Transport Company with busses and trolley coaches.

Twenty-one concrete foundations were poured near the water’s edge on Ford Island. Seated in them were the electric motors from the Honolulu street cars powering winches. With a system of hauling blocks and pulleys, the winches’ combined strength could exert a titanic 345,000 tons of pulling force. Forty-two miles of one-inch wire ran from the winches, through the blocks, out over a row of 40-foot A-frame towers built on Oklahoma’s hull, and finally to pads welded to the ship.

Finally, twenty-two hundred tons of crushed coral was dumped on the shore side of the ship to prevent sliding.

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