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Life of Service, 1918–1941

In November 1918 the Arizona sailed for Europe to join Battleship Division Six serving with the British Grand Fleet, one week after the signing of the armistice. On December 12, she put to sea with the rest of her division, to rendezvous with the transport George Washington, which was carrying President Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference. The Arizona was part of the honor escort that arrived at Brest, France the next day with the president. On the December 13 she sailed from Brest with 238 homeward-bound veterans on board and arrived in New York on the day after Christmas.

During the years between the world wars, Arizona carried on with the routine of a Navy ship in peace time, conducting training, gunnery practice, fleet exercises, cruises and routine shipyard maintenance. Among the events of interest during this time were:

  • In 1920, the Arizona began to carry airplanes on board for scouting and spotting the fall of shells from the ship's guns.
  • In early March 1924, Madeline Blair stowed away on the Arizona and wasn't discovered until April 12. She was apparently attempting to ride to San Pedro (on the way to Hollywood) and was providing favors to crewmen in return for shelter and food. She was discovered after a Chief Radioman happened to overhear a sailor remark on her presence. As a result courts-martial of the men involved were held and twenty-three men were sentenced to prison, the longest for ten years.
  • The Arizona received a thorough modernization beginning in 1929. The entire superstructure was replaced, including the lattice or cage masts which had been in place since construction. Torpedo bulges were fitted, as were additional horizontal armor for protection from air attacks. New boilers and turbines were fitted, the torpedo tubes were removed and new tripod masts replaced the cage masts. The work was completed in March 1931.
  • Upon completion of the modernization, the Arizona carried President Hoover on a vacation cruise in the Caribbean.
  • On March 10, 1933 the Arizona was anchored at San Pedro when the Long Beach earthquake struck. The ship provided a shore party that helped patrol the area, provided communications, set up first aid stations and provided food and shelter for those made homeless by the earthquake.
  • The Warner Brothers movie Here Comes the Navy used the Arizona as one of its locations during spring of 1934. The film starred James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Gloria Stuart. It was also one of the nominees for the Academy Award in 1935.

As relations between the US and Japan declined and the possibility of fighting in the Pacific became more likely, operations at Pearl Harbor were designed to prepare the fleet for war. On October 22, 1941, while conducting exercises with the Oklahoma and Nevada, the Arizona was struck on the port side by the Oklahoma. A V-shaped hole, four feet wide by twelve feet long, was opened in the torpedo bulge. The Arizona was in dry-dock at Pearl Harbor for a few weeks to repair it.

Service, 1918–1941