DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
USS Phelps, Report of Pearl Harbor Attack
% Fleet Post Office
Pearl Harbor, T.H.
December 30, 1941.
The Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Offensive Measures taken during Air Raid by Japanese Forces on
Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 -- report of.
(a) CincPAC despatch 102102, December 1941.
- On December 7, 1941, this vessel was moored in a nest of
destroyers alongside the U.S.S. Dobbin in berth X-2, undergoing
tender overhaul. The order of ships, starboard to port, was Dobbin,
Worden, Hull, Dewey, Phelps and MacDonough.
A "cold iron" watch was being stood in the Engineering
Department. The ship was receiving steam, electricity, fresh
and flushing water from the Dobbin.
- At 0758 the gangway watch observed bombs being dropped from
planes diving on Ford Island and on ships moored in vicinity
of the U.S.S. Utah.
- The ship went to general quarters at once (0758) and shifted
the electric load form the tender to #1 and #2 Emergency Diesel
Generators. The forward 1.10 mount commenced firing at 0802.
The after 1.10 mount opened fire at approximately 0815, it having
been necessary to reassemble portions of the breech mechanisms
which had been removed for overhaul. The gun captains of both
these mounts showed splendid initiative in opening fire as soon
as their mounts were sufficiently manned. Fire from the .50 caliber
mounts was hampered by proximity of adjacent ships.
- Orders were given to light fires under #1 and #2 boilers
and close up #3 and #4 boilers which were open for cleaning steam
sides of superheaters. Fires were lighted under #1 and #2 boilers
at 0825; and at 1040 and 1214 for #3 and #4 boilers; respectively.
At 1250 all boilers were on the line.
- At 0926 the ship got underway, with boiler power for 26 knots,
and stood out to sea via the North Channel. At 0950 the ship
cleared the entrance buoys and stood south with general orders
to conduct anti-submarine search in the Off Shore Patrol area.
At this time the QC apparatus was reported back in commission.
- At 1000 joined the St. Louis as inner anti-submarine
screen and operated with that vessel, the Montgomery,
Lamson and Blue until the detachment joined the
Task Force Commander, Comdesbatfor in Detroit, at approximately
- Thereafter the vessel operated as directed by Comdesron ONE
in Worden until its return to Pearl Harbor on December
- Damage sustained: None.
- Casualties to personnel: None.
- Damage inflicted:
- Two planes (torpedo planes) of a nine plane formation,
which came out of the smoke cloud of the burning battleships
and flew at an altitude of about 100 feet over Ford Island under
fire of the after 1.10" mount, were observed to catch fire
when they reached the North Channel. These planes were probably
under fire from other vessels also. They were not observed to
- One plane (VB or VF) flying northwestward at an altitude
of 200 feet under fire of the forward 1.10" mount caught
fire and crashed ashore somewhere to the northward. Because of
the extremely short range and apparent accuracy of the fire,
it appears that credit for this plane can be claimed by the Phelps.
- Several other strafing and dive bombing targets were engaged
by both 1.10" mounts; planes invariably sheered off.
- Conduct of personnel: The conduct of all hands was exemplary
and deserving of the highest praise. Their initiative, willingness
and coolness under fire were remarkable. No important item was
left undone and every evolution required of them was accomplished
smartly and enthusiastically.
- Special mention is made in case of the following personnel:
- Lieutenant B.E.S. Trippensee, U.S.N., Engineer Officer,
showed splendid initiative in coordinating the many details required
to prepare the ship for getting underway under stress of attack.
He was the senior officer on board and when ready, he took the
ship out (0926) and operated as described in paragraph 5, 6,
and 7. The ship was handled smartly and intelligently throughout,
he personally conning the ship almost continuously for a period
of 33 hours. Lieutenant Trippensee's action is worthy of the
- Ensign F.E. Bell, D-V(G), U.S.N.R., attached to the staff
of Comdesron ONE, who assumed the duties of Communication Officer
and whose knowledge of communications was invaluable.
- Leslie T. LOVETT, 380 34 30, GM1c, U.S.N., and John H.W.
COTES, 371 83 63, GM1c, U.S.N., gun captains of the 1.10"
gun mounts. who controlled the fire of these weapons, opening
fire upon their own initiative within a few minutes of the commencement
of the attack. The action of LOVETT will be made the subject
of a special request for advancement in rating.
- Bert ELLSTROM, 368 09 63, CWT(AA), U.S.N. and Edgar S. DeWitt,
371 52 24, CWT(PA), U.S.N., who directed the reassembly of the
fireroom auxiliaries and boilers which were being repaired.
- Ralph WITON, 305 25 74, TM1c, U.S.N., who directed the work
of the torpedomen, succeeding getting one torpedo ready for firing
in spite of heavy weather which made running of torpedoes out
of tubes extremely hazardous and difficult. He subsequently succeeded
in getting six other torpedoes partially ready.
- Joe S. Harrison, 380 55 94, EM1c, U.S.N., whose initiative
in shifting the electric load from the Dobbin to the Emergency
Diesel generators added greatly to the early fighting efficiency
of the ship.
Source: Enclosure (E) to CINCPAC
action report Serial 0479 of 15 February 1942, World War II
the Modern Military Branch, National Archives and Records Administration,
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.