Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About

World War II Database

California file photo [1196]


CountryUnited States
Ship ClassTennessee-class Battleship
Hull NumberBB-44
BuilderMare Island Navy Yard
Commissioned1 Aug 1921
Sunk1 Feb 1947
Displacement32,300 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

Last Major Revision: Jan 2005

Battleship California (BB-44) Interactive Map


Launch of USS California at Mare Island Navy Yard, 20 Nov 1919; note the sponsor Mrs. R. T. Zane (left, woman with hat), a bugler (center), a motion picture camera with its operator, and a US Navy captain (waving hat) on the platformCalifornia steaming at high speed, circa 1921
See all 33 photographs of Battleship California (BB-44)

California Operational Timeline

1 Aug 1921 California was commissioned into service.
20 Oct 1942 USS California arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for extensive repairs following the Pearl Harbor Attack.
31 Jan 1944 USS California departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
5 May 1944 Battleships USS Maryland, Colorado, Washington, and California escorted by destroyers USS Mugford, Bagley, Sterett, Wilson, Shaw, Helm, Ross, and Selfridge departed San Francisco, California bound for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
10 May 1944 Battleships USS Maryland, Colorado, Washington, and California escorted by destroyers USS Mugford, Bagley, Sterett, Wilson, Shaw, Helm, Ross, and Selfridge arrived at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii from San Francisco.
12 Oct 1944 Task Group 77.2 consisting of battleships USS Tennessee, USS California, USS Pennsylvania, USS Maryland, USS West Virginia, and USS Mississippi with cruisers USS Honolulu, USS Portland, USS Minneapolis, USS Denver, and USS Columbia departed Seeadler Harbor, Manus bound Leyte Gulf, Philippines.
19 Oct 1944 USS Honolulu, USS Tennessee, USS California, and USS Portland began two days of shore bombardments on Leyte, Philippines in advance of Army landings.
1 Nov 1944 A battleship force on station at the northern entrance to Surigao Strait consisting of battleships USS Mississippi, California, and Pennsylvania screened by cruisers USS Phoenix, Boise, Nashville, and HMAS Shropshire along with destroyers Ammen, Bush, Leutze, Newcomb, Bennion, Heywood L. Edwards, Robinson, Richard P. Leary, Bryant, and Claxton came under an intense Japanese air attacking force that included special attack aircraft. USS Ammen sustained a glancing blow from a Yokosuka P1Y 'Francis' that caused considerable topside damage and killed 5 men. An Aichi D3A 'Val' crashed across Abner Read's main deck as it dropped a bomb down one the destroyer's stacks that exploded in the engine room. Abner Read jettisoned her torpedoes which immediately began their runs toward other ships in the group. Abner Read began sinking by the stern and 20 minutes after the attack, she rolled over and sank. 24 were killed. Meanwhile, Mississippi and Nashville had to take emergency evasive actions to avoid the torpedoes.
15 Feb 1945 USS California arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to repair battle damage and an overhaul.
24 Apr 1945 USS California departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

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.
11. Greg tully says:
22 Feb 2018 03:28:33 PM

My father Louis Edward Tully servered on the California from 1932 to 1940 electricians mate would like to see if any old crew photos were available or crew lists. Please respond
12. Anonymous says:
7 May 2018 07:11:06 AM

My Great Grandfather Sebastian Gomez fought on board the USS CALIFORNIA in ww2 . Proud that he gave everything for and returned home. His Brother was an airman that died in Battle.
13. Bruce Seery says:
27 May 2018 08:00:54 PM

My father, Marvin Seery, served on the California 1944-1946 in the radar room. Celebrated his 18th birthday in Toykyo 1945.
14. Dr. Scott A. Ogburn, Ph.D. says:
10 Oct 2018 05:31:49 AM

October 10th, 2018

My father, Dr. Hugh Bell Ogburn, Ph.D. Was the Senior
Damage Control Officer on
the U.S.S. California from late 1944 - October 1945. Kindly let me know if there are any photos and or Lists of Officers on board the U.S.S. California
during late 1944 - October 1945. Thank you.
Best regards,
Dr. Scott A. Ogburn, Ph.D.
in Sacred Architecture
(son of Dr. Hugh Bell Ogburn, Ph.D.)
Pennsburg, PA 18073

15. john f bowlin says:
30 Oct 2018 08:17:21 PM

My father James F. Bowlin was serving on BB-44 on Dec 7th and was badly burned by the 551 lb. bomb that dropped into the deck. It was only 20 years ago that I first got to hear his first hand account of that horrific morning.
He was from Class 21 of Lakehurst N.J's Aerographer school earlier in 1941. I would love to find a photograph of that class if one exists.
16. Vickie Cesna says:
7 Dec 2018 09:35:06 AM

My grandfather, Milton Desoto, was a gunner's mate on the USS California when it was hit at Pearl Harbor. He had to jump into the water and swim in the oil and fiery waters to try and reach safety. HIs parents received a telegram that stated he had died in action that day. Luckily, that was not true.

It was very hard for him to talk about that day and what happened. I have a few newspaper articles, especially from around the major anniversary dates of Pearl Harbor, in which he was interviewed. I know that he and my grandmother enjoyed returning to Pearl Harbor for the 25th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Sadly, they both passed away before the 50th anniversary.

The high school where my children went to school have a class, Harlem Vets Project, that interviews Veterans and then make videos of these interviews in order to preserve this history. My husband and I have been involved in supporting this class since it began.

If anyone has any details about the USS California and Pearl Harbor, and would be ok with me passing this information on to the class, I would appreciate it.
17. JAG says:
18 Feb 2019 04:25:45 PM

Looking for information on my uncle Salvatore DiMarino who was on the USS California at Pearl Harbor.
18. Clifford Buxton says:
27 May 2020 05:23:17 PM

My Grandfather George Fitzgerald was serving on board BB-44 USS California during the Pearl Harbor attack. I believe he was a machinist in the engine room. If anyone has information, I would appreciate if you contacted me.
19. Terry Komlei says:
28 Dec 2021 02:13:21 PM

This is not my relative, however I have found something belonging to a sailor who served aboard the USS California, it is a name tag. The name is J.R. Hagedorn, stationed at San Pedro, Calif. At the time the tag was printed.

I am a Navy vet. and have never seen a tag anything like this. If anyone knows a relative of this man, please let me know. I would be happy to get this little bit of history back to his family.
20. Willie Lowery says:
15 Sep 2022 05:50:22 PM

My dad Willie D Lowery served on the USS California during WWII. He served as a plane spotter in the crows nest. I haven't found any information online. I would be very grateful for any info about his service.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments


1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB
More on California
» Cates, Clifton
» 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 California (BB-44) Photo Gallery
Launch of USS California at Mare Island Navy Yard, 20 Nov 1919; note the sponsor Mrs. R. T. Zane (left, woman with hat), a bugler (center), a motion picture camera with its operator, and a US Navy captain (waving hat) on the platformCalifornia steaming at high speed, circa 1921
See all 33 photographs of Battleship California (BB-44)

Famous WW2 Quote
"We no longer demand anything, we want war."

Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!