It was a sight that Donald Stratton, a Pearl Harbor survivor, thought he would never see again.
The remotely-operated underwater vehicle snaked through the corridors and rooms of the U.S.S. Arizona, revealing to him images of how the battleship’s insides looked before it was bombed by the Japanese 15 minutes into America’s “Day of Infamy.”
“The phone was there on the desk and the lightbulb was in the socket. It’s just kind of eerie,” said the seaman first class, who was on board the ship on Dec. 7, 1941. “I never thought you could see something like that 75 years later.”
Stratton’s experience seeing the interior of the sunken ship is featured in the upcoming “Pearl Harbor: Into the Arizona” film on PBS, scheduled to air at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday and will be rebroadcast again at 10 p.m. ET on Nov. 28, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the attacks.
The film follows a crew operating the vehicle to explore the lower decks of the U.S.S. Arizona for the first time since it sank, according to the network.
In one scene, a sink appears as if it is attached to the ship’s floor due to a high sediment buildup. On a shelf in the officer’s ward room, white soap dishes believed to be made of porcelain are free of debris, standing out in a sea of brown and green as they are illuminated by the vehicle’s lights.
One thing the crew didn’t see was potential human remains of the 1,177 sailors and Marines who died onboard the ship, due to sediment accumulation over the years.
“Working inside the Arizona is obviously a very sensitive issue with the loss of life there,” Brett Seymour, deputy chief of the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center, says in a video clip previewing the film.
Scott Pawlowski, chief of cultural resources at the Arizona Memorial -- where guests can view the ship from above -- believes the film will help bring veterans together.
“This is another way to allow the survivors to remember what it was like,” he said. “To see what their shipmates endured and to strengthen that bond.”