Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor

December 6, 2011

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