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American ships burn during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.

Although the AP caption doesn’t explicitly name the ship, best bet is that it is the USS California, based on this overhead shot of Battleship Row following the attack. The USS California is the top left ship, and the rising smoke would be from the ships further back, principally the USS Arizona, but also the USS West Virginia which was burning heavily. The only other possibility from this angle is that it is the USS Maryland, but that makes little sense as we would expect to see the USS Oklahoma capsized beside her, and the other ships much closer. The USS Maryland is most likely the ship whose bridge is visible in the distance behind the USS California.

As for the USS California herself, she took heavy damage and sunk at Pearl Harbor, but was refloated and repaired, eventually joining the American forces working their way by island hopping through the Pacific. She would again take damage, this time from a Kamikaze in the Philippines, but was able to be repaired quickly stateside and return in time to join the fleet off Okinawa. As with many of the American battleships after the war, she was quickly mothballed, and eventually sold for scrap in 1959.


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