top of page

USS California: 1921 - 1959


USS California, a 32,300 ton Tennessee class battleship was built at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California. She was commissioned in August of 1921. For 20 years, from 1921 - 1941, California served first as flagship of the Battle Fleet. Her primary activities included Army-Navy exercises, tactical and organizational development problems, and fleet concentrations for various purposes. Intensive training and superior performance won her the Battle Efficiency Pennant for 1921-22, and the Gunnery "E" for 1925-26. In the Summer of 1925, the California led the Battle Fleet and a division of cruisers from the Scouting Fleet on a successful good-will cruise to Australia and New Zealand. In 1940, The California deployed to Pearl Harbor in 1940.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor


On December 7, 1941, during the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS California was hit with a Japanese bomb that exploded below deck setting off her antiaircraft ammunition magazine. The explosion killed about 50 of her crew. Another bomb hit rupturing her bow causing her to sink into the mud at the bottom of Pearl Harbor with only her superstructure remaining above the surface. When the attack was over, 98 of the USS California's crew were killed with another 61 wounded.

USS California after the Pearl Harbor attack


In March of 1942, nearly 4 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the California was brought to the surface and dry docked at Pearl Harbor for repairs. In June of that year, she traveled to Puget Sound Navy Yard in Washington under her own power for a major reconstruction job. She received improved protection, stability, anti-aircraft battery and an upgraded fire control system. During the rest of the war, she played an integral part of America's victory in the pacific. During that time, she was struck by a Japanese kamikaze plane, which killed 44 of her crew and injured another 155. Her surviving crew made temporary repairs on the spot in order for her to finish her mission in the invasion of the Philippines. After California's nearly 4 decades of loyal service to her country, she was de-commissioned and scrapped in late 1959.

USS California (BB-44)

bottom of page