***********The WWII Navy Diver Bracelet

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Made with WWII Navy Dress Blue uniforms

Navy divers were plunged into the war with the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. The raid began at 0755, 7 December 1941; by 0915 that same morning, the first salvage teams were cutting through the hull of the overturned battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) to rescue trapped sailors. Teams of divers were put to work recovering ammunition from the magazines of sunken ships, to be ready in the event of a second attack. The immense salvage effort that followed at Pearl Harbor was highly successful. There were 101 ships in the harbor at the time of the attack and most sustained damage. The hardest hit were the battleships, being one of the primary targets of the raid. Six battleships were sunk and one was heavily damaged. Four of these were salvaged and returned to the fleet for combat duty; the USS Oklahoma was righted and refloated but sank en route to a shipyard in the United States. Only the USS Arizona (BB-39) and the former battleship USS Utah (AG-16) could not be salvaged. Battleships were not the only subjects of the salvage effort. Throughout 1942 and part of 1943, Navy divers worked on destroyers, supply ships, and other badly needed vessels, often using makeshift shallow water apparatus inside water and gas-filled compartments. In the course of the Pearl Harbor effort, Navy divers spent 16,000 hours underwater during 4,000 dives. Contract civilian divers contributed another 4,000 diving hours. While divers in the Pacific were hard at work at Pearl Harbor, a major challenge was presented to the divers on the East Coast. The interned French passenger liner Normandie, rechristened as the USS Lafayette (AP-53), caught fire alongside New York City's Pier 88. Losing stability from the tons of water poured on the fire, the ship capsized at her berth. To clear the vitally needed pier, the ship had to be salvaged. The Navy took advantage of this unique opportunity for training by using the New York site for a new diving and salvage school. The Naval Training School (Salvage) was established there in September 1942, and was transferred to Bayonne, N J in 1946. Salvage operations were not, of course, the only missions assigned to Navy divers during the war. Many dives were made to inspect sunken enemy ships and to recover materials such as code books or other intelligence items. One Japanese cruiser yielded not only $500,000 in yen, but also provided valuable information concerning plans for the defense of Japan against the anticipated Allied invasion. Source: Naval History and Heritage Command