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NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive

BB-44 USS CALIFORNIA
1916 - 1921
Construction - Fitting Out

Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - Foxtrot - Tango

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Commissioning - Shakedown, 1922
1923 - 1927
1928 - 1941
Pearl Harbor - 1942
1943 - 1945
1946 - 1959


Tennessee Class Battleship: Displacement 32,300 Tons, Dimensions, 624' (oa) x 97' 4" x 31' (Max). Armament 12 x 14"/50 14 x 5"/51, 4 x 3"/50AA 2 x 21" tt. Armor, 13 1/2" Belt, 18" Turrets, 3 1/2" +1 1/2" Decks, 16" Conning Tower. Machinery, 28,500 SHP; Turbines with electric drive, 4 screws. Speed, 21 Knots, Crew 1083.

Operational and Building Data: Laid down by Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, October 25, 1916. Launched November 20, 1919. Commissioned August 10, 1921. Decommissioned February 14, 1947. Stricken March 1, 1959.
Fate: Sold July 1, 1959 and broken up for scrap.

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BB-44 California82kU.S. Battleship California (BB-44).
Note that there is only one funnel in this drawing.
Digital ID # ggbain 20144v, LC-B2-3635-1. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, from the George Grantham Bain Collection.
Bids950kNavy Yards Bid For U.S. Dreadnoughts.Image and text provided by University of North Texas; Denton, TX.
Photo from El Paso Herald.(El Paso, Tex.) 1901-1931, 17 November 1915, HOME EDITION, Image 1, via chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
BB-44 California44kMayors James Roney of Vallejo & George Drussel of Napa wielded the hammers & Congressman Charles F. Curry and Mayor W. L. Crooks of Benicia heated and held the first rivets to be driven on the keel of the California (BB-44) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 25 October 1916. USN photo # 2890, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California102k Yard Commandant Capt. Frank M. Bennett (left) and Naval Constructor Capt. Henry M. Gleason driving one to the first rivets of California's (BB-44) keel at Mare Island on 25 October 1916. USN photo from the 5 May 2002 edition of the Vallejo Times-Herald, courtesy of Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, submitted by Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California3.78kStart Work On Uncle Sam's New Sea TerrorImage and text provided by Washington State Library; Olympia, WA.
Photo from The Tacoma Times. (Tacoma, Wash.) 1903-1949, 11 November 1916, Image 2, via chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
BB-44 California95k Photo shown the progress on the hull from the stern of the California (BB-44) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 31 Mar 1917. Most of the double bottom and some bulkhead are in place. USN photo # 3096, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California52kWork on the stern deck plating system is in progress in this April 1919 photo at Mare Island aboard the California (BB-44) on the building ways. On the lower left portion of the picture is a deck area with a pattern of wicking laid out on the deck. This is a process called "stop waters" where wicking soaked in red or white lead is laid out to form a gasket on mutli-ply riveted deck systems. The stern of the US Army Transport Dix is just visible through the staging just right and above the workers. Dix was in dry dock #1 at the yard at the time. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California69k The California (BB-44) is seen under construction on 11/1/1919, 19 days before her launching at Mare Island. Two of the ten 2" wire rope reels designed to brake the launching of the ship can be seen to the left of the bow. The system didn't work, California ended up in the mud on the Vallejo side of the Mare Island channel when she was launched. USN photo # 5098, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California153k Possible artwork by F. Muller depicting the California (BB-44) "as she will appear" following her launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Robert M. Cieri. Text courtesy of DANFS.
BB-44 California1.90kPort side stern view of the California (BB-44) on the morning of launching at Mare Island.USN photo #5252, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Photo added 04/05/12.
BB-44 California1.80kPort side bow view of the California (BB-44) on the morning of launching at Mare Island.USN photo #5429, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
Photo added 04/05/12.
BB-44 California219k The stern of the California (BB-44) just prior to her launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. Note that her screws have not been installed. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California187k Capt Henry M. Gleason, Naval Constructor, Head of Hull Division and California Governor William Stephens shake hands during the launching ceremonies for the California (BB-44) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California58k Admiral Rodman & California Governor William Stephens shake hands during the launching ceremonies. USN photo courtesy of Robert M. Cieri.
BB-44 California61k Admiral Rodman, who commanded the American Battle Fleet while it was attached to the British Grand Fleet during WW I & Sec/Navy Daniels share a smile during the launching ceremonies. USN photo courtesy of Robert M. Cieri.
BB-44 California500k California Governor William Stephens is seen with his grand daughter Marjorie Zane and daughter Barbara Stephens Zane (Ship's Sponsor) at the launching of the California (BB-44) at Mare Island on 20 November 1919.USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California170k Mrs. Barbara Stephens Zane, daughter of Governor William Stephens(California) was the sponsor when the California (BB-44) was launched at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. With her is Capt. Frank M. Clark, USN, who was serving as aide. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California139kSponsor Mrs. Barbara Stephens Zane, daughter of Governor William Stephens(California) was sponsor when the California (BB-44) was launched at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. With her is Capt. Edward L. Beach, USN, Commandant, Mare Island Navy Yard. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California154kYoung Marjorie Zane was Maid of Honor when her mother, Mrs. Barbara Stephens Zane, daughter of Governor William Stephens(California) was sponsor when the California (BB-44) was launched at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. The roles had been reversed on 12 August 1919 when the daughter christened the Zane (DD-337) named for her late father. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California168k Mrs. Barbara Stephens Zane, daughter of Governor William Stephens(California) was sponsor when the California (BB-44) was launched at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California29k Photo of Mrs. Barbara Stephens Zane, Sponsor, for the launching of the California (BB-44) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California121The California (BB-44) is ready to be christened on 20 November 1919 at Mare Island Navy Yard. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California302k Sponsor, Mrs. Barbara Stephens Zane is preparing to christen the California (BB-44) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California217k Mrs. Barbara Stephens Zane crashes a bottle of Hetch-Hetchy water to christen the California (BB-44) at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. The sailor in the center playing the trumpet is most likely playing "Anchors Aweigh". Partial text courtesy of David Johnston, USNR, USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California213kSliding down the building ways during her launching, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 20 November 1919. The ship's sponsor, Mrs. R.T. Zane is on the left).USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California245kWaterborn after sliding down the building ways during her launching, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California172k California (BB-44) enters the water during launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California183k California (BB-44) is about mid channel during launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California123k Close-up of California (BB-44) about mid channel during launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California163k Close-up of California (BB-44) is about to hit the Vallejo side of the channel during launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California152kWith flags flying, the stern of California (BB-44) is on the mud on Vallejo side of the channel after her launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California229kNot exactly as imagined: The bow view of California (BB-44) on the mud on Vallejo side of the channel after her launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California107k The California (BB-44) is seen on the mud on the Vallejo side of the Mare Island Channel after launching on 20 November 1919. Photo from the book "Sidewheelers to Nuclear Power" written by by Sue Lemmon & E. D. Wichels, submitted by Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California134k Tugs are seen pulling the California (BB-44) off the mud on Vallejo side of the channel after her launching at Mare Island Navy Yard on 20 November 1919. The boat in the foreground to the left is Mare Island built Ambulance Boat (YH-1). USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California118k Tugs are seen moving the California (BB-44) to her berth at Mare Island after her launching. The large double stack tug is the Navigator YT-39, and there is one of the yards motor tugs along side her. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California141kAerial view of the California (BB-44) in mid stream after her launching at Mare Island on 20 November 1919. Other ships on the yard's waterfront on that date include from the top to bottom are: Tacoma (C-18) & Denver (C-14); below the cruisers are the battleships Nebraska (BB-14) & Georgia (BB-15); below the battleships and partially hiden by smoke are the destroyers Hamilton (DD-141), Litchfield (DD-336), Zane (DD-337) & Kennison (DD-138); below the destroyers is the outfitting berth for California; in dry dock #1 are H-7 (SS-150) & Lamberton (DD-119); and finally the bottom ship is the USAT Madawaska. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California61k The stern launch cradle of the California (BB-44) being cutup for scrap after its recovery from the Vallejo side of the Mare Island Channel after the ship went aground on her launching.USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California73kBow photo of the California (BB-44) at her outfitting dock at Mare Island Navy Yard circa February - March 1920. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California92kCalifornia (BB-44) at her outfitting berth. I believe this photo was taken between 7 February & 24 February 1920. This is based on the fact that the Rhode Island (BB-17) was in dry dock #2 and her gagged mast can be seen in the background above California. Other ships in the background to the left of California are left to right, USAT Mount Vernon and Comfort. The picture shows YD-33 (150 Tons) along side California. The floating crane was used to lift machinery aboard the battleship and the fixed derrick on the California was used to position in the ship. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California614kStern photo of the California (BB-44) at her outfitting dock at Mare Island Navy Yard sometime between 7 February & 24 February 1920. This timeframe established by the dry docking dates of the Rhode Island (BB-17); her masts and stacks are just visible to the right of the California superstructure. Also, USAT Grant & the Comfort are aft of the California. YD-33 is along side of the California. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California251kCaption reads: "Turret installation, California (BB-44), Mare Island, California." Circa March - April 1920. Seattle NARA photo # 6065. 13th Naval District, Records of the Naval District & Shore Establishments,courtesy of Tracy White @ researcheratlarge.com
BB-44 California74kBow photo of the California (BB-44) at her outfitting dock at Mare Island Navy Yard circa April 1920. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California105kCaption reads: "Installing live ring on turret # 1, California (BB-44), Mare Island, California." Circa May 1920. A number of 4 stack destroyers are visible moored to the Mare Island to Vallejo causeway.
There were a large number of the destroyers at the yard in this berthing area in the 1919-1921 years.
Seattle NARA photo # 6060. 13th Naval District, Records of the Naval District & Shore Establishments, courtesy of .
Text courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California103kCaption reads: "Installation of fan turret # 2, California (BB-44), Mare Island, California." Circa May 1920.
The crane is YD-33 (150 tons) purchased in 1918 by Mare Island. Vallejo Yacht Club is just visible to the right of the crane.
Seattle NARA photo # 6063. 13th Naval District, Records of the Naval District & Shore Establishments, .
Text courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California76kCaption reads: "Installation of fan turret # 2, California (BB-44), Mare Island, California." Circa May 1920.
The bell tower of St. Vincent church (on the hill) can just be seen between the crane's boom and the turret.
Seattle NARA photo # 6069. 13th Naval District, Records of the Naval District & Shore Establishments, courtesy of Tracy White @ researcheratlarge.com
Text courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California82kCaption reads: "Turret installation, California (BB-44), Mare Island, California." Circa May 1920.
Stiff leg crane(Left) was used at the yard for launching small tugs and lifting boilers and engines. Used to install the diesel engine in Maumee (AO-2).
Seattle NARA photo # 6071. 13th Naval District, Records of the Naval District & Shore Establishments,courtesy of Tracy White @ researcheratlarge.com
Text courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California40k Model of the California (BB-44) made at Mare Island 9 July 1920 to aid in her construction. USN photo # 5830, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California71k Bow photo of the California (BB-44) at her outfitting dock at Mare Island Navy Yard on 2 August 1920. The US Army Corps Dredge San Pablo is the ship berthed next to the seawall forward of the California. USN photo # 5148, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California85kThe California (BB-44) is seen on the South end of Mare Island on 29 November 1920. She is under tow to Hunter Point Shipyard for dry docking for removal of launching cradle. The ferry to the right of California is the General Frisbie. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California478k The California (BB-44) is under tow in San Francisco bay by several tugs including the steam tug Hercules. Photo courtesy of the SF Maritime NHP, Maritime Research Center, # B5.39,460n, courtesy of Christopher Edwards.
Photo added 12/05/14.
BB-44 California30kThe California (BB-44), in the Mare Island channel with Vallejo in the background on 29 November 1920. She is under tow to Hunter Point Shipyard for dry docking for removal of launching cradle. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California40kThe California (BB-44), is seen in the Mare Island channel with Sperry Mill in the background on 29 November 1920. She is under tow to Hunter Point Shipyard for dry docking for removal of launching cradle. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California62kBows on view of the California (BB-44) in the Mare Island channel on 29 November 1920. She is under tow to Hunter Point Shipyard for dry docking for removal of launching cradle. Note the main battery has not yet been installed. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California40k The California (BB-44) is seen in dry dock at Hunter Point Shipyard on 30 November 1920. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-51 Montana133kCaption reads: "4131 Dept. PW. US Navy yard, M.I. Cal. Driving dolphins for relocation of Dart (Yard Ferry on the right) at outboard end of Montana (BB-51) ways. Yard Labor, allotment 124-3." Note: The two gauged masts of the California (BB-44) being outfitted at Mare Island at the time can be seen in the background (left). A large number of four pipe destroyers can also be seen in the background. Shipyard log of 3/17/21 indicates that there were 24 destroyers at the yard at this time. USN photo # 4131, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California475k Bow photo of the California (BB-44) at her outfitting dock at Mare Island Navy Yard circa late March 1921.
There are 3 four pipe Destroyers moored in the background. Shipyard log of 3/17/21 indicates that there were 24 destroyers at the yard at this time.
Photo courtesy of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum & battleshipiowa.org. & submitted by Bill Gonyo.
BB-44 California715k Bow view of the California (BB-44) at her outfitting berth with YD 33 alongside on 30 March 1921. Note: One of her forward 14" guns has been installed. USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California81k California (BB-44) at her outfitting berth at Mare Island on 1 April 1921. This photo has a rare view of one of the shipyard steam locomotives (She is pulling a tank car). USN photo courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.
BB-44 California142kFitting out at Mare Island Navy Yard, The crane at left is swinging one of her 14"/50 guns onto the ship for mounting, circa June 1921.NHC / USN.
BB-44 California783kSOME PROPELLOR!
One of the four huge bronze screws, measuring 13 feet 6 inches in diameter and weighing 13,900 pounds apiece which, revolving at 170 turns a minute will drive Uncle Sam's newest dreadnought, the mighty California (BB-44) now nearing completion on the Pacific Coast.
Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Photo from New-York Tribune. (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, 17 July 1921, Graphic Section, Image 61, courtesy of chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
BB-44 California1.14kThirty One page PDF - July 1921 - Launching Program - Mare Island History.
The front over of the magazine "The Grizzly Bear", July-August 1921, published by the California (BB-44) prior to her commissioning. It appears that it was printed by the California on an annual basis. Printing cost was covered by advertisements. The ship on the cover is not likely to be California since she didn't have screws installed until late August 1921 and didn't leave dry dock at Hunters Point until September 1921.
Courtesy of Darryl L. Baker.

USS CALIFORNIA BB-44 History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry
(Located On The Hazegray & Underway Web Site, This Is The Main Archive For The DANFS Online Project.)

Crew Contact And Reunion Information
Contact Name: Vincent Nonnon
Address: 23 Green Ave Valley Cottage, N.Y. 10989-1952
Phone: 845-268-7761
E-mail: prunebarge@verizon.net
Note About Contacts.

The contact listed, Was the contact at the time for this ship when located. If another person now is the contact, E-mail me and I will update this entry. These contacts are compiled from various sources over a long period of time and may or may not be correct. Every effort has been made to list the newest contact if more than one contact was found.


Additional Resources
Hazegray & Underway Battleship Pages By Andrew Toppan.

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