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  Field Notes From
At Pearl Harbor

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View Field Notes
From Author

Priit J. Vesilind

View Field Notes
From Photographer

David Doubilet

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Joseph S. Stancampiano (top) and David Doubilet

image: pencil
At Pearl Harbor

Field Notes From Photographer
David Doubilet
Visibility is very low in Pearl Harbor, so it was amazing to swim along the hull for the first time and see the fuzzy distant outline of the enormous guns of the Arizona’s first turret. I swam under them and looked up to see the big barrels silhouetted against the surface of the water. It was imposing, the one graphic element that made the ship come alive.
Lighting the Arizona in very dirty water was frustrating. We used big 6,000-watt, constant-burning movie lights, but they barely did the job in the murky water. Divers from the Navy’s Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit helped us move all the cables and the two generators that powered the lights. Everything weighed hundreds of pounds. All of the equipment had to be moved, rearranged, and dragged along the ship until I could get the pictures. We lit the guns, the portholes, the hatches, everything that had to be photographed. Every photograph had to be planned carefully. It was a lot of work. The No. 3 barbette, the base of the gun turret, is visible from the memorial. It breaks through the surface of the water and opens to the sky. After gaining special permission, I went inside it with my assistant, Jennifer Hayes.
The ship is built around four barbettes, great iron wells going straight down to the keel. Layers of rainwater trapped within the walls form an algae garden. Just below, great lengths of timber used in the initial salvage lean against the walls. We came out covered with oil that slowly leaks from the vessel.
The light was very spooky and ethereal within the barbette. It was mysterious, and haunting.

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