The New Naval Warfare: First Blood

Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries

The attack on Pearl Harbor was devastating to American battleships. Not so to the Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers and submarines, which were at sea during the attack. They remained fully functional and would help redefine the way the United States waged war at sea. Unlike the battleships of old, the USS Enterprise and her sister carriers were floating airbases, each home to more than 2,000 servicemembers as well as a fleet of aircraft, which took flight from her deck to attack and destroy Japanese aircraft and naval vessels. Part of this gallery presents the quieter side of life aboard ship: clean beds, regular meals, and even recreation. An “exterior” section takes visitors onto the flight deck, where story panels introduce three key naval actions (Doolittle Raid, Coral Sea, and Midway), and the Midway theater dives deeper into the Pacific’s most pivotal battle. Actual footage of planes in action—taking off, landing, and even crashing—on the Enterprise flight deck completes the illusion of being onboard ship as visitors take in key themes of the new naval warfare, including dire submarine fatalities, the ethics of code-breaking work, and the dramatic speed with which the tides of war can shift.

Made possible through a gift from Lt. Commander Alden J. “Doc” Laborde, USN

Additional funding provided by the Strake Foundation, Houston, Texas; Tom & Gayle Benson; Dean Hallett; and Enterprise Holdings Foundation