California file photo [1196]

USS California

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassTennessee-class Battleship
Hull NumberBB-44
BuilderMare Island Navy Yard
Commissioned1 Aug 1921
Sunk1 Feb 1947
Displacement32300 tons standard


ww2dbaseUSS California, a 32,300-ton Tennessee class battleship, was built at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, and commissioned in August 1921. During the 1920s and 1930s, she actively participated in the activities of the United States Battle Fleet, often acting as flagship. In 1925, California was one of the ships that conducted a major trans-Pacific cruise to Australia and New Zealand.

ww2dbaseWith most of the fleet, California deployed to Hawaii in 1940 and was based there as tensions rose in the Pacific over the next year. When Japanese carrier planes raided Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, she was badly damaged by torpedoes and bombs, slowly settling to the harbor bottom over the next few days. Her salvage, repair and modernization represented a major undertaking by the Pearl Harbor and Puget Sound Navy Yards and was not completed until January 1944.

ww2dbaseOver two and a half years after she was sunk, California reentered combat, providing heavy gunfire support for the invasions of Saipan, Guam and Tinian during June and July 1944. In October and November, she took part in the Leyte Campaign, including the 25 October 1944 Battle of Surigao Strait, history's last fight between opposing battleships. In January 1945, California participated in the Lingayen Gulf invasion. Damaged by a "Kamikaze" suicide plane on 6 January, she remained in action for more than two weeks before steaming to the U.S. for repairs and an overhaul.

ww2dbaseCalifornia returned to the Western Pacific in June 1945, in time to take part in the final stages of the Okinawa campaign. She covered occupation activities in the wake of Japan's surrender, then sailed for the Atlantic by way of the Indian Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope. After her arrival at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in December 1945, the battleship was generally inactive until her formal decommissioning in February 1947. After twelve years in the Reserve Fleet, USS California was sold for scrapping in July 1959.

ww2dbaseSource: Naval Historical Center

Battleship USS California (BB-44) Interactive Map

USS California Operational Timeline

1 Aug 1921 California was commissioned into service.


Launch of USS California at Mare Island Navy Yard, 20 Nov 1919California steaming at high speed, circa 1921California underway circa 1921Christmas party for disadvantaged children, San Pedro, California, aboard the USS California, 1921
See all 31 photographs of Battleship USS California (BB-44)

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
30 Jul 2010 03:39:31 AM

I had a dear friend who was aboard the California on that day 6 Jan.,1944. He told me a lot of stories about the Kamikazi attack. He was severely wounded and remained partially blind from that day on. Eulis Wilson thank you for serving.
2. Anonymous says:
6 Jan 2011 07:13:47 PM

what does BB stand for?
3. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
6 Jan 2011 08:24:33 PM

To Anonymous of 6 Jan 2011: "BB" is the US Navy designation for battleships.
4. Dale Cottrell says:
28 Mar 2015 11:28:02 AM

Does anyone remember Lt. George Cottrell, gunnery officer, killed 6 Jan 1945?? Thank you. Dale
5. Dennis Dejak says:
30 May 2016 09:46:24 AM

My Uncle Edward Oster was a survivor of the kamakazi crash that killed 44 of his mates. He was burned badly but survived ,but also had nightmares for a long time.
6. Tamela Pyke says:
24 Sep 2016 06:45:24 PM

My Uncle Jack Leander Warren was killed by a kamikaze on January 06 1945. He was 21 years old.
7. Anonymous says:
25 Jan 2017 08:02:44 PM

My great grandfather survived the Kamikaze attack on the USS California's radar station. The plane hit his station and lit his friend's lungs on fire. He managed to avoid the burning fuel and drag his friend out on the deck. Unfortunately, his friend passed away before help could arrive.
8. Anonymous says:
26 May 2017 08:06:42 PM

My uncle Peter Anthony Scurto from Chicago was a Lieutenant Jr. Grade and was killed in the kamikaze attack on January 6, 1945 as well. He was 26. May the souls of your loved ones rest in peace and know we are grateful for their sacrifice,
9. kandy russell says:
17 Oct 2017 01:23:39 PM

My dad Earl Loren Henry Jr. fought at Pearl Harbour on the U.S.S. California, helped a friend on the deck of the ship as it was attacked but his friend lost his life and my dad had nightmares for life. Bless these men for their valor.
10. Kandy russell says:
5 Nov 2017 11:09:01 AM

Does anybody know or remember my dad Earl Loren Henry 3rd that was on the U.S.S. California during the Pearl Harbor attack.

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More on USS California
» Leahy, William
» Rochefort, Joseph
» Turner, Richmond

Event(s) Participated:
» Attack on Pearl Harbor
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Okinawa Campaign

» US Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, Enclosure E, USS California (1)
» US Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, Enclosure E, USS California (2)

Battleship USS California (BB-44) Photo Gallery
Launch of USS California at Mare Island Navy Yard, 20 Nov 1919
See all 31 photographs of Battleship USS California (BB-44)

Famous WW2 Quote
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944