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NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive

BB-44 USS CALIFORNIA
1946 - 1959

Radio Call Sign: November - Alpha - Foxtrot - Tango

To Additional Pages

1916 - 1919 Construction - Launching
1920 - June 1921
Fitting Out

July 1921 - Launching Program - Mare Island History
August - December 1921 Commissioning / Shakedown
1922 - Scenes from the Ship's Welfare Fund
1923 - 1927
1928 - 1940
Pearl Harbor - 1942
1943 - 1945


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 California51k Postwar photo showing California's (BB-44) main stern guns. USN photo.
BB-44 California18kPost card dated 25 Oct 1945; "Homeward Bound. Because of the "Blisters" added to our sides during refitting after Pearl Harbor, we can't navigate the Canal, so we are on a different course. Arrived at Singapore today." Courtesy of Richard Leonhardt.
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard667kPhoto taken from Bldg. 620 of Drydock # 5 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
The Tennessee (BB-43) in the foreground and the fore section of the California (BB-44) outboard at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard sometime after 8 May 1946. Note that they are both still flying their ensigns and jacks, so both are still in commission. The South Dakota (BB-57) is in the left background.
Across the pier past the California are two 4-stack crusiers of the Omaha class. Stripping is apparently underway on the CLs, with at least one smokestack (on the nearest -- inboard -- ship) removed. Some of the stacks on the outboard ship are hidden behind those of the inboard ship.
It appears that the cruisers might be painted in measure MS-21 camouflage, but only two appear to have ended the war in this pattern: Detroit (CL-8) and Trenton (CL-11).
Seven of these crusiers were decommissioned and sold for scrap at the Phila. Navy Yard:
(1) Omaha (CL-4) scrapped beginning 2/46. (MS-22) dated 1945.
(2) Cincinnati (CL-6) scrapping beginning 2/27/46. (MS-22) dated 1945.
(3) Raleigh (CL-7) scrapping beginning 2/27/46. (MS32/1D) dated 1944.
(4) Detroit scrapping beginning 2/27/46. (MS22 & MS21) dated 1945.
(5) Concord (CL-10) scrapping beginning 2/27/47. (MS33/2F) dated 1944.
(6) Trenton (CL-11) scrapping beginning 12/29/46. (MS21) dated 1945.
(7) Marblehead (CL-12) scrapping beginning 2/27/46.(MS22) dated 1945.
It is possible that the outboard cruiser (further from the camera) may not be in measure 21. The stack appears a bit lighter and that would mean cruisers in measure 22 would also have to be included. Note that #4 stack of the outboard cruiser is obscured by #3 of the inboard ship (which also looks a little bit lighter?). In any case both Richmond (CL-9) and Memphis (CL-13) would also have to be considered. This is especially true since Richmond was in MS 21 in late 1945.
Also in the background is the former Olympia (ex-C-6) (IX-40).
Notice the flatcar going to the storage yards on other side of the lift bridge to Bldg. 750. It is full of single barrel 20mm A.A. mounts is in the foreground on the train/trolley tracks.
USN photo courtesy of Pieter Bakels. Partial text and photo i.d. and a lot of homework courtesy of Mike Green, Aryeh Wetterhorn, Chuck Haberlein, Tracy White & Joe Lewis & Ron Reeves (HTC) USNR (ret.)
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard330k California (BB-44) in the foreground and the fore section of the Tennessee (BB-43) outboard at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard sometime after 8 May 1946. USN photo courtesy of floatingdrydock.com. & submitted by David Buell. Photo i.d. courtesy of Joe Lewis.
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard102kBattleships in dry-dock; Tennessee (BB-43) & California (BB-44) taken between 8 May and 27 October 1946.
This photo comes from the U.S.Naval Institute and has an accompanying photocopy identifying all of the surrounding ships.
It does identify the two cruisers as Detroit (CL-8) (inboard) and Trenton (CL-11)(outboard). It also identifies two returned U.K. DEs: HMS Rupert (DE-96) outboard of Olympia (ex-C-6) (IX-40), and HMS Berry (DE-3) ahead of the cruisers, and visible in the California's photo (it's still wearing its British hull #--K312).
The Naval Institute photo was taken at a later date, as more of the "packaging" on the two battleships had been completed.
According to Tennessee's deck logs, she entered Drydock #5 with California on 8 May 1946.
South Dakota (BB-57) (mid-stern section visible at upper left of photo) subsequently entered Drydock #4--the 1946 "Navy Day" program from the shipyard indicates that this had taken place by 27th October of that year.

The four CLs that were scrapped in Drydock #4 at the Philadelphia NSY were: Omaha (CL-4), Cincinnati (CL-6), Raleigh (CL-7) and Marblehead (CL-12).
I have two documents from the 4th Naval District, and of course they give different completion dates for the scrapping of these ships. The first document (dated 1 Apr 46) indicates that scrapping was completed on 27 February of that year; the second document (also dated 1 April 46) gives the completion date as 10 March 1946.
(My notes also indicate that scrapping was completed at the yard on nine ex-destroyer types as of 29 March 46: Litchfield (DD-336), Pruitt (DD-347), Jouett (DD-396), Clark (DD-361), Balch (DD-363), Sampson(DD-394), Schley (DD-103), Stringham (DD-83) and Whipple (DD-217).

The remaining CLs; Detroit (CL-8), Trenton (CL-11), Richmond (CL-9), Concord (CL-10) and Memphis (CL-13) were all sold to the Patapsco Scrap Co. of Baltimore. The sales bid (B-76-47AV T) was opened on 6 Dec 46; the five ships were sold for $336,140 (or $67,228 each), and custody of the ships was transferred to Patapsco between 27 December 46 and 21 January 47.
Note also that the attached photo distinctly shows that both cruisers have all four funnels--I think it's an optical illusion that either of these had had any of them removed.

The "light colored objects" in front of the two cruisers might "possibly" be barbettes from the Illinois (BB-65). According to drawings in the 1945 "Gun Mount and Turret Catalog", these two items appear to be about the same diameter as the barbettes for the two BBs' Tennessee & California; 14"/50 triple gun turrets; inside diameter 31 feet, from the same source -- outside diameter would have been about 33 feet. The Illinois barbettes would have an inside diameter about 37 1/4 feet, outside diameter rather over 39 feet.
USN photo submitted by Joe Lewis, courtesy of U.S.Naval Institute. Majority text by Joe Lewis.
Chuck Haberlein contributed to the (BB-65) i.d. with text.
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 216k The US armed forces ship storage yard at Philadelphia, PA, 29 August 1946.
The battleship South Dakota (BB-57) is in the foreground. The Tennessee (BB-43) is to the upper left and the California (BB-44) is to the lower right.
Note also the Los Angeles (CA-135) & Chicago (CA-136) in Drydock # 4.
Photographer: Sam Shere, courtesy of time.com. via / images.google.com & Life. Photo i.d. courtesy of Ron Reeves (HTC) USNR (ret.) Photo added 11/24/08.
BB-43 & 44 103k The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1947. On the upper right side near the channel entrance, the mothballed battleships Tennessee (BB-43) and California (BB-44) are in a drydock. USN photo courtesy of Joe MacDonald.
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard53k "Aerial view of the Philadelphia Navy Base Shipyard and reserve fleet basin, March, 1948. Battleships in dry-dock in lower right include the Tennessee (BB-43), California (BB-44), and South Dakota (BB-57). The Spanish-American Olympia (ex-C-6) (IX-40), still on display in Philadelphia, is docked at the extreme right." USN photo # NA 80-G-392457, courtesy of "Volunteer State Battlewagon- U.S.S. Tennessee (BB-43)" by Myron J. Smith, Jr., submitted by Mike Green.
BB-44 California138kReserve Fleet Basin, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Pennsylvania. Photographed on 19 May 1955 with numerous cruisers, escort carriers, and auxiliaries in reserve. The nearest ship is the never-completed Hawaii (CB-3), which lacks its previously-installed three 12" gun turrets.
The cruisers outboard of Hawaii are (in unknown order) Honolulu (CL-48), Columbia (CL-56), Denver (CL-58), Galveston (CL-93), and Portsmouth (CL-102).
To their left are Tranquility (AH-14), Sanctuary (AH-17), and Pocono (AGC-16).
Behind Hawaii (from left to right) are Montpelier (CL-57), Houston (CL-81), Huntington (CL-107), Savannah (CL-42), Cleveland (CL-55), and Wilkes-Barre (CL-103).
Beyond them (from left to right) are Wichita (CA-45), Oregon City (CA-122), Chester (CA-27), and New Orleans (CA-32).
The cruisers on the left side of the basin (from front to rear) are Minneapolis (CA-36), Tuscaloosa (CA-37), San Francisco (CA-38), Augusta (CA-31), Louisville (CA-28), and Portland (CA-33).
Among the other ships in reserve in the basin are Fomalhaut (AE-20), Webster (ARV-2), Albemarle (AV-5), Tangier (AV-8), Pocomoke (AV-9), Chandeleur (AV-10), Abatan (AW-4), Mission, San Carlos (AO-120), Prince William (CVE-31), Anzio (CVE-57), Block Island (CVE-106), Palau (CVE-122), and San Carlos (AVP-51).
Moored in the shipyard at the extreme left are Tennessee (BB-43), California (BB-44), and Cabot (CVL-28).
Official U.S. Navy Photograph,USNHC # 80-G-668655, now in the collections of the National Archives.
BB-43 Tennessee 112k The Tennessee (BB-43)& California (BB-44) awaiting scrapping by Bethlehem Steel Co. 1959. USN photo courtesy of Joe MacDonald.
(NISMF)926kA guest studies a painting depicting the history of battleships. The artwork was painted by George Skybeck and presented to the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association during their annual banquet at Honolulu, Hawaii, on 8 Dec 1991. USN photo # DN-SC-92-05391, by PHC Carolyn Harris, courtesy of dodmedia.osd.mil, Defense Visual Information Center.
World War II Memorial371k A quote made by Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz is inscribed on a granite wall at the National World War II Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Fleet Adm. Nimitz was the United States signatory to the surrender terms aboard the battleship Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay, Japan on 2 Sept. 1945, thus ending World War II. Established by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the memorial honors all military veterans of World War II, the citizens on the home front, the nation at large, and the high moral purpose and idealism that motivated the nation's call to arms. On 29 May 2004, the memorial will be formally dedicated with an estimated 200,000 people expected to attend, and includes 100,000 visiting veterans of all wars. U.S. Navy photo # N-0295M-011 by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain, courtesy of news.navy.mil.

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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