Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor

Anyone else noticed the Knox-Class Destroyer Escort in the movie Pearl Harbor?  This is the 2001 version with Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and the smokin’ hot Kate Beckinsale.  This isn’t the best war movie ever made, but I think they did good overall by mixing in CG with the live action and practicals.  Maybe we’re supposed to focus more on the “love story” thread running through the movie.  I noticed it years ago after the DVD first came out, but now have a blog to mention my finding.  Maybe I’m a bit too picky, but I don’t know what their props department was thinking to be that flagrant.  I suppose the credits at the end of the movie would show if they had naval consultants and they are to blame.  It would have maybe made the illusion a little more believable if they had at least painted over the hull numbers, since there were no 4-digit hull numbers back then.  Or maybe I’m a bit too familiar with that profile and the hull number sequence, 106x.  The unique-to-class “mack” structure is what made me pause and rewind the very first time I saw the attack sequence.

It turns out the ship was the USS Whipple (DE/FF-1062) and at the time of the movie filming, was decommissioned.  I think back in 1972 they were homeported in Pearl Harbor.  When I went on my first Westpac on the USS Francis Hammond (DE/FF-1067) in 1972, we hooked up with the Whipple and Destroyer Squadron 33 for transit to Manila or Subic Bay in the Philippines.  They participated with us in the SEATO exercise “Seahawk” in the South China Sea with naval forces from the Philippines, United Kingdom, Australia,  New Zealand and Thailand in February 1972.  Our paths also crossed a few times in the Gulf of Tonkin as both of us were involved in NGFS and plane guard duties.  They mostly chased around the USS Hancock (CVA-19) when on Yankee and Dixie stations.

The USS Whipple was constructed started in 1967, commissioned in 1970 and decommissioned in 1992 exactly the same age as the USS Francis Hammond.  The Whipple was eventually sold to the Mexico.  I’ve included a few frames from the movie here.

Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor battle scene with knox class DE/FF visible.

Notice ship below the lowest plane. Located on DVD #1 at 1:27:53

Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor battle scene with knox class DE/FF visible.

No mistaking that "mack" (mast/stack). Located on DVD #1 at 1:30:33

Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor battle scene with knox class DE/FF visible.

Familiar 5" 54 caliber gun mount on bow. Located on DVD #1 at 1:32:47

5 Responses to Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor

  1. Keith Winterowd says:

    I noticed the Whipple in the movie Pearl Harbor too. It was kinda neat for me since I was stationed on her for about 2 years from 76 – 78 at Pearl Harbor.

  2. Larry Winkler says:

    I also was thrilled to see the Whipple several times during the movie since I was a plank owner and proudly served aboard her during her first WesPac cruise (70-72). Whipple was previously a film star when she was used in the filming of “Hawaii Five-0” episode 23, “Follow the White Brick Road” in 1972. It was a privilege to be onboard for the taping and to personally meet with Jack Lord and DanO. As a thank you to the Whipple, she was given a private copy of the episode to show as a crew movie and granted special permission to play the “Hawaii Five-O” theme song over the loud speakers whenever Whipple was breaking away after a “replenishment at sea” which was a very cool way of departing the scene. In the Pearl Harbor movie during the boxing match scene onboard the battleship, notice that the Whipple has a ringside seat.

  3. SGM (R) Mike Spalding says:

    “Resources Beyond Calculation”…way back when the movie first came out, I noticed my ship immediately. As you stated, the distinctive mack makes it hard to miss. I was a crew member 1982-84 and steamed two West Pac deployments aboard her. It was a great time, I was too young and immature to realize what a great “snap shot in time” those days were. I got out of the Navy in late 1984, I was out for 6 years then joined the Army in 1990. I just retired in late 2022 as a Sergeant Major. Lifetime of military memories, beginning with FF 1062.

    Ding ding…ding ding…..Whipple, departing.

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