Arizona Capitol Museum displays USS Arizona items

The Arizona Capitol Museum exhibit includes USS Arizona silver service, photographic timeline of the vessel and a portion of the ship’s hull.

While most famous for its Dec. 7, 1941 sinking at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and as a battle cry during World War II, the USS Arizona’s first launch was held June 19, 1915 with great fanfare out of New York Naval Yard.

The ship’s launch was watched by 70,000 spectators and christened by Esther Ross of Prescott, with a bottle of the first water to flow over the Roosevelt Dam and champagne.

The completion of the Pennsylvania class ship took another 16 months at the cost of $13 million; which would be more than $300 million today, according to a press release.

In 1917, a funding effort was launched across the state of Arizona to pay for a silver service to use for entertaining dignitaries as the ship traveled the world serving as a floating embassy.

That silver service was removed from the ship prior to its sinking and is on display at the Arizona Capitol Museum in Phoenix as part of “Flagship of the Fleet: The life and death of the USS Arizona,” according to the release.

In addition to the silver service, the exhibit includes an interpreted photographic timeline of the Arizona and features a portion of the ship’s hull recovered as part of a salvage operation and a U.S. flag that may have belonged to Commanding Officer Capt. Franklin Van Valkenburgh, according to the release.

In Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, just across the street from the Arizona Capitol Museum, there is one of the ship’s gun barrels that had been removed for relining previous to Pearl Harbor, but saw action on the USS Nevada at D-Day when it covered Utah beach.

The Arizona Capitol Museum is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Entry to the museum is free.

Free parking is available in Wesley Bolin Plaza at 17th avenue and Washington street. For more information call 602-926-3620 or visit www.azlibrary.gov/AZCM.

The AZCM is a branch of the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State.

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