Friday, December 9, 2011

The Aftermath at Pearl, 3

My dad, Frank Dolan, recalled that when his ship, Vestal, was beached following the attack, it became stuck in the mud. “Our propeller, going in reverse, was of little help in getting us off, and we were scheduled for drydock. Our captain who was just outside the bridge had all available men topside to go to the portside and then at his command we all ran to the starboard side. Portside to starboard. Portside to starboard. With our propeller reversing and in this rocking motion, we were finally able to get off the mud.”

Although damaged, the Vestal participated in the post-attack salvage operations, sending repair parties to the overturned hull of the battleship Oklahoma so that weldors could cut into the ship and rescue men trapped there when she capsized. Dad participated in the rescue of some survivors but did not do any actual cutting. He visited the scene of the Oklahoma a couple of times to bring oxygen and acetylene from the Vestal.

Over the ensuing days, Vestal's men repaired their own ship because yard facilities in the aftermath of the Japanese surprise attack were at a premium. Within a week of the raid, Vestal's crew had pumped out the oil and water that had flooded the compartments below the waterline and cleared out the damaged and gutted holds—all work that had to be completed before the rebuilding process could begin. There were many ships to repair. In addition to repairs to the Vestal, Dad's work took him to the Indianapolis, Pyro and many other ships he could not recall 70 years later. From December 13-20, he was temporarily transferred to the Curtis to repair bomb damage it sustained during the attack.

Sources: Frank L. Dolan's Pearl Harbor As I Remember; Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, V. 7: T-V

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