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USS California - History

USS California - History



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USS California

USS California (BB-44)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 11/01/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

USS California (BB-44) served as one of the key components of the American Navy push to Tokyo, Japan during actions in World War 2 (1939-1945). Despite the bulk of her notable service coming in this grand war, the vessel was actually a product of the First World War (1914-1918) and laid down before America had formally committed to that conflict. She became a Pearl Harbor veteran surviving the Japanese assault of December 1941 and was wholly modernized in 1942 to become essentially an all-new fighting platform. Like so many other American warships of the war, USS California became a decorated participant and survivor of the Second World War. A weathered and aging workhorse whose services were no longer needed in the age of aircraft carriers and attack submarines, the vessel was stripped of her useful parts and her hulk sold for scrapping during the early Cold War period.

During World War 1 (1914-1918), the United States government approved the construction of a new, two-strong battleship group to be known as the Tennessee-class. This group would include the lead ship, USS Tennessee (BB-43), and her sister, USS California (BB-44). The latter was ordered on December 28th, 1915 and construction undertaken by Mare Island Naval Shipyard of California. Her keel was laid down on October 25th, 1916 and she was launched to sea on November 20th, 1919 - just after the Armistice was signed to end the fighting in Europe.

Regardless the vessel was commissioned on August 10th, 1921. Her construction on the American West Coast gave her easy access to the important Pacific region though her design was such that she was allowed to traverse the Panama Canal to reach the East Coast. Her initial assignment was with the Pacific Fleet/Battle Fleet to which she served as flagship for a good twenty-year period (1921 into 1941). This period was relatively quiet compared to the fighting witnessed in the World War prior and her duties ranged from goodwill stops and joint service exercises (Army and Navy) to general gunnery and crew training. In 1929, her armament was updated for the better. In May of 1940, she was given a radar fit for a decided advantage on the battlefield. She was assigned to Hawaii amidst growing tensions with the Empire of Japan concerning the Pacific region.

USS California was in Hawaiian waters when all boiled over into total war between the two nations. The Japanese enacted their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in an attempt to cripple the U.S. Pacific Fleet and USS California made up one of the many vessels of "Battleship Row" in the assault. The attack commenced on December 7th, 1941 and formally thrust the United States into World War 2 on the side of the Allies.

During the attack, California took two torpedoes that resulted in severe damage which created additional problems from flooding. The situation was made worse with a direct bomb hit on her deck which set off ammunition stores that claimed the lives of some fifty sailors. Beyond the flooding, the damaged warship and her crew now had to content with fires spreading about. In all, California lost one hundred sailors in the attack and suffered over sixty wounded. Despite the damage and having flooded enough to settle on the bottom of the harbor, however, she remained repairable. An initiative to float her was put into action and in late March of 1942, this was done as her hull was lifted into dry dock for critical repair work.

Once the vessel was patched to make her seaworthy, California made her way to the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Washington for more substantial repair work. Some of her systems were completely replaced with more modern solutions and her profile was forever changed when her two smoke funnels were combined into a single, more efficient, structure. Her AA protection was improved and her Fire Control System (FCS) was upgraded. Flooding control was also addressed through a new compartment arrangement. California also received a revised beam which precluded her traversing of the Panama Canal, ensuring her future combat service now lay primarily in the Pacific Theater.

USS California was not made battle-ready until late January of 1944. She completed her shakedown cruise off the California coast as her new systems and overall design were tested. Her first course of action was in supporting Allied forces in the invasion of the Marianas where her powerful main battery was brought to bear against inland enemy positions - the guns being used to "soften" the enemy prior to the amphibious assault. She was used in similar fashion during the American assaults on Guam and Tinian during July-August.

From there, California was called to support the operation to take back the Philippines. She took part in the Battle of Surigao Strait in October of 1944. The Allies were able to claim the victory and liberate Leyte Island in the process, leading the eventual liberation of the entire Philippine archipelago. This victory also claimed vital oil supplies away from the Japanese war machine.

In January of 1945, USS California was the victim of a Japanese kamikaze strike which claimed forty-four of her crew and injured 155 in one fatal blow. Repairs were made as best as possible to keep her battle-worthy without wholly removing her from the war. California remained on station until the end of the month to which she was then sent back to Puget Sound for much-needed repairs.

USS California was then back in action to support the Allied landings at Okinawa, one of the final stepping stones to the Japanese mainland. She began this leg of her war tour in June of 1944 and remained on station until July 21st. She was assigned as part of Task Force 95 and entered the East China Sea for other work until the Japanese surrender came in mid-August. California was recalled to Okinawa by way of the Philippines for September and supported Allied landings at Honshu. She remained on station until October 15th.

Finally recalled stateside, USS California made it to Philadelphia along the American East Coast by way of Singapore, Ceylon, and South Africa on December 7th, 1945 - exactly four years to the day of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl. She entered reserve status on August 7th, 1946 and was formally decommissioned on February 14th, 1947 - her service to a grateful nation now complete. Her presence was struck from the Naval Register on March 1st, 1959 officially ending her career with the United States Navy. Her hulk was sold for scrapping on July 10th, 1959.

During her tour of duties, USS California claimed a total of seven Battle Stars and was awarded the World War 2 Victory Medal and the Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia Clasp). During her time afloat, she was affectionately known as "The Prune Barge". Her sister ship, USS Tennessee (BB-43), fared equally well and herself became a proven war veteran having earned 10 Battle Stars, citations, and medals. She too was sold for scrapping - on the same day as her sister USS California.


U.S.S. CALIFORNIA

The United States Navy brought USS California into service with her commission in August 1921. For the next couple of decades, the ship worked throughout the Pacific area. She often acted as flagship during this time. In 1925, she was part of the major naval visit to Australia and New Zealand. In 1940, she reported, along with much of the Pacific fleet, to Pearl Harbor.

On December 7, 1941, USS California was in port when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor. The ship sustained heavy damage from bombs and torpedoes. Within a few days, she was at the bottom of the harbor. For the next couple of years, the Navy worked to salvage and modernize her. She didn’t come out of dry dock until January of 1944. She was there for the invasions of Saipan, Guam, and Tinian during the summer of 1944. As autumn arrived, she participated in the invasion of Leyte and the Battle of Surigao Strait. The opening of 1945 brought USS California into action at Lingayen Gulf. However, on January 6, she sustained damaged from a kamikaze plan. After repairs, she returned to action in June 1945 to help finish the Okinawa campaign. After the war, the Navy decommissioned her in February 1947 and sold her for scrap in 1959.


USS California - History

The fifth ship to bear the name CALIFORNIA (BB- 44) was launched 20 November 1919 by Mare Island Navy Yard sponsored by Mrs. R. T. Zane and commissioned 10 August 1921, Captain H. J. Ziegemeier in command and reported to the Pacific Fleet as flagship.For 20 years from 1921 until 1941, CALIFORNIA served first as flagship of the Pacific Fleet, then as flagship of the Battle Fleet (Battle Force), U.S. Fleet. Her annual activities included joint 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 CALIFORNIA led the Battle Fleet and a division of cruisers from the Scouting Fleet on a very successful good-will cruise to Australia and New Zealand. She took part in the Presidential reviews of 1927, 1930, and 1934. She was modernized in late 1929 and early 1930 and equipped with an improved antiaircraft battery.


In 1940 CALIFORNIA switched her base to Pearl Harbor On 7 December 1941 she was moored at the southernmost berth of "Battleship Row" and was with other dreadnoughts of the Battle Force when the Japanese launched their aerial attack. As she was about to undergo a material inspection, watertight integrity was not at its maximum consequently the ship suffered great damage when hit. At 0805 a bomb exploded below decks, setting off an antiaircraft ammunition magazine and killing about 50 men. A second bomb ruptured her bow plates. Despite valiant efforts to keep her afloat the inrushing water could not be isolated and CALIFORNIA settled into the mud with only her superstructure remaining above the surface. When the action ended, 98 of her crew were lost and 61 wounded. On 26 March 1942 CALIFORNIA was refloated and dry docked at Pearl Harbor for repairs. On 7 June she departed under her own power, for Puget Sound Navy yard where a major reconstruction job was accomplished, including improved protection, stability, AA battery, and fire control system.


CALIFORNIA departed Bremerton 31 January 1944 for shakedown at San Pedro, and sailed from San Francisco 5 May for the invasion of the Marianas. Off Saipan in June, she conducted effective shore bombardment and call fire missions. On 14 June she was hit by a shell from an enemy shore battery which killed one man and wounded nine. Following Saipan, her heavy guns helped blast the way for our assault force in the Guam and Tinian operations (18 July-9 August). On 24 August she arrived at Espiritu Santo for repairs to her port bow damaged in a collision with her sister ship, the USS TENNESSEE (BB-43).


On 17 September 1944 CALIFORNIA sailed to Manus to ready for the invasion of the Philippines. From 17 October to 20 November she played a key role in the Leyte operation, including the destruction of the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Surigao Strait (25 October). On 1 January 1945 she departed the Palaus for the Luzon landings. Her powerful batteries were an important factor in the success of these dangerous operations driven home into the heart of enemy-held territory under heavy air attack. On 6 January while providing shore bombardment at Lingayen Gulf she was hit by a kamikaze plane 44 of her crew were killed and 155 were wounded. Undeterred she made temporary repairs on the spot and remained carrying out her critical mission of shore bombardment until the job was done. She departed 23 January for Puget Sound Navy Yard, arriving 15 February, for permanent repairs.


CALIFORNIA returned to action at Okinawa 15 June 1945 and remained in that embattled area until 21 July. Two days later she joined TF 95 to cover the East China Sea minesweeping operations. After a short voyage to San Pedro Bay, P.I., in August, the ship departed Okinawa 20 September to cover the landing of the 6th Army occupation force at Wakanoura Wan, Honshu. She remained supporting the occupation until 15 October, then sailed via Singapore, Colombo, and Capetown, to Philadelphia, arriving 7 December. She was placed in commission in reserve there 7 August 1946: out of commission in reserve 14 February 1947 and sold 10 July 1959. She was scrapped later that same year.

CALIFORNIA received seven battle stars for World War II service. Today, the ship's bell rests in a memorial in Capital Park in Sacramento. A fitting tribute to a fine ship and her crew


USS California - History

The United States Ship (USS) California was the second of that name She was an Armored Class Cruiser, assigned number 6. She was laid down in 1902 and launched 28 April 1904 by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Calif. sponsored by Miss F. Pardee and commissioned 1 August 1907, Captain V. L. Cottman in command. She was powered by two coal burning, four cylinder, triple expansion steam engines, which drove her two 37,000 pound bronze/magnesium propellers.

Joining the 2d Division, Pacific Fleet, the California took part in the naval review at San Francisco in May 1908 for the Secretary of the Navy. Aside from a cruise to Hawaii and Samoa in the fall of 1908, the cruiser operated along the west coast, sharpening her readiness through training exercises and drills. In December 1911 she sailed for Honolulu, and in March 1912 continued westward for duty on the Asiatic Station.

After this service representing American power and prestige in the Far East, she returned home in August 1912, and was ordered to Corinto, Nicaragua, then embroiled in internal political disturbance. Here she protected American lives and property, and then resumed her operations along the west coast she cruised off California, and kept a watchful eye on Mexico, at that time also suffering political disturbance (1).

In September 1914 the California was renamed the San Diego to make her original name available for assignment to a battleship, as directed by Congress. She served as flagship for Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, intermittently until a boiler explosion put her in Mare Island Naval Ship Yard in reduced commission through the summer of 1915 (1).

The USS San Diego on 28 January 1915 while serving as flagship of the Pacific Fleet. Her name had been changed from the California on 1 September of the previous year.

On 21 January 1915 the San Diego suffered a boiler explosion. While taking the half hour readings of the steam pressure at every boiler, Ensign Robert Webester Cary Jr. had just read the steam and air pressure on number 2 boiler. He had just stepped through the electric watertight door into number 1 fire room when the boilers in number 2 fire room exploded. In fire room number 2 at the time was Second Class Fireman Telesforo Trinidad, of the Philippines and R. E. Daly, along with one other man. Ensign Cary stopped and held open the watertight doors which were being closed electrically from the bridge, and yelling to the men in No. 2 fire room to escape through these doors, which 3 of them did do. Ensign Cary held the doors open for a full minute with the escaping steam from the ruptured boilers around him. For His extraordinary heroism Ensign Cary was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor2,3. He would later retire with the rank of Rear Admiral. Fireman Telesforo Trinidad was driven out fire room No. 2 by the explosion, but at once returned and picked up R. E. Daly, Fireman Second Class, whom he saw injured, and proceeded to bring him out. While coming into No. 4 fire room, Trinidad was just in time to catch the explosion in No. 3 fire room, but without consideration of his own safety, passed Daly on and then assisted in rescuing another injured man from No. 3 fire room. Trinidad was himself burned about the face by the blast from the explosion in No. 3 fire room. For his extraordinary heroism Fireman Second Class Trinidad was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor also for this incident (2).

The San Diego returned to duty as flagship through 12 February 1917, when she went into reserve status until the opening of World War I. Placed in full commission 7 April, the cruiser operated as flagship for Commander, Patrol Force Pacific Fleet (1).

USS San Diego ACR-6 (ex-USS California) about 1917. Officers are Rear Admiral W.B. Caperton and his staff

On April 6, 1917, California Governor William D. Stephens received a telegram from the Secretary of the Navy calling the State’s Naval Militia into Federal Service. Upon the Governor’s orders the Naval Militia was immediately directed to assemble at their Armories and prepare for muster. The following organizations were mustered in as National Naval Volunteers: First Division, San Francisco Second Division, San Francisco Third Division, San Diego Fourth Division, Santa Cruz Engineer Section, Fourth Division, Santa Cruz Fifth Division, Eureka Sixth Division, Santa Barbara Seventh, Eight, and Ninth Divisions, Los Angeles Aeronautic Section, Ninth Division, Los Angeles Tenth Division, San Diego Eleventh Division, Los Angeles First Engineer Division, San Francisco Second Engineer Division, Los Angeles and the First Marine Company, Los Angeles. The entire organization was subsequently mobilized on board the USS Oregon, USS San Diego, USS Huntington (4) and USS Frederich (5).

On April 15th Lieutenant Adolph B. Adams and his 5th Division, California Naval Militia left with the San Francisco and Santa Cruz Divisions for Mare Island. At Mare Island the Division reported to George W. Williams on the USS Oregon and were assigned to the Armored Cruiser USS San Diego. On April 17th, sixteen men of the division were transferred to the USS Frederich (5). Between May 31st and July 18th 1917 those of the Division that were aboard the USS San Diego participated in Convoy duty along the California coast. One mission was a trip from Honolulu, Hawaiian Territory to Port Townsend with an interned German vessel under convoy escort (6). These duties entitled all the members of the ship to the “Escort” bar for their World War I Victory Medals.

On 18 July, the USS San Diego was ordered to the Atlantic Fleet. Reaching Hampton Roads, Virginia on 4 August, she joined Cruiser Division 2, and later bore the flag of Commander, Cruiser Force, Atlantic, which she flew until 19 September. San Diego's essential mission was the escort of convoys through the first dangerous leg of their passages to Europe. Based on Tompkinsville, New York, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, she operated in the weather-torn, submarine-infested North Atlantic safely convoying all of her charges to the ocean escorts1. Prior to the sinking of the USS San Diego, Lt. Adolph B. Adams was transferred off the ship and assigned to the USS Tallahassee at the Panama Canal Zone (6).

On 8 July 1918, the San Diego left Portsmouth, New Hampshire, en route to New York. She had rounded Nantucket Light and was heading west. On 19 July 1918, she was zigzagging as per war instructions on a course for New York. The Sea was smooth, and the visibility was 6 miles. At 11:23 AM, a huge explosion tore a large hole in her port side amidships. The explosion crippled the port engine. Captain Christy immediately sounded the submarine defense quarters, which involved a general alarm and closing of all watertight doors. Soon after two more explosions ripped through her hull. These secondary explosions were later determined to have been caused by the rupturing of one of her boilers and the ignition of one of her magazines. The ship immediately started to list to port. Captain Christy ordered the starboard engine rung up to full speed and headed toward the shore in an attempt to ground the San Diego in a salvageable depth of water. Soon afterward the starboard engine quit. The Officers and crew quickly went to their battle stations. Guns were fired from all sides of the warship at anything that could be a periscope or submarine. Her port guns fire until they were awash. Her starboard guns fired until the list of the ship pointed them into the sky. Under the impression that a submarine was in the area, the men stayed at their posts until Captain Christy gave the order “All hands abandon ship” after the starboard engine quit. At 11:51 AM the San Diego sunk only 28 minutes after the initial explosion. As per Navy tradition Captain Christy was the last man off the ship. As the Captain left the ship, the crew in the lifeboats gave him a cheer and burst in to signing the National Anthem. As the Officers and crew watched from their lifeboats the San Diego capsized and sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean about 8 miles off Long Island’s south shore. Today she lies in water ranging from 65 to 116 feet deep.


1920 Painting of the USS San Diego sinking by Francis Muller

A drawing showing the current state of the USS San Diego.

Other ships in the area picked up most of the survivors, but four lifeboats full of men managed to row ashore, three at Bellport, and one near Lone Hill Coast Guard Station. The USS San Diego was the only major warship lost by the United States in World War I. A special note is the fact that the only California Naval Militiaman to died in World War I was a member of the Fifth Division, California Naval Militia. He was Engineman 2nd class James Frances Rochet, of Blue Lake, California.

The original casually report ranged from 30 to 40 men. Apparently, the muster rolls on the San Diego were not saved. The only list of men on board was the payroll of 30 June 1918, but since the end of June, they had received and transferred over 100 men. When the Navy finalized the casualties, the official count was six deaths, and six wounded.

The deaths from this sinking were ( Footnote 7):

Rank and Branch James Frances Rochet Mrs. C. H. Dean, Blue Lake, CA Mare Island, CA Engm 2cl, USNNV Clyde Chester Blaine Bertha Blaine, Lomita, CA Los Angeles, CA Engm 1cl, US Navy Paul John Harris John W. Harris, Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati, OH Seam 2cl, US Navy Thomas Everett Davis Alma Davis, Mansfield, LA New Orleans, LA Engm2cl, US Navy Andrew Munson Karna Munson, St. Paul, MN Minneapolis, MN Machm2cl, US Navy Thomas Oran Frazier Lockard Thomas, Charleston. WV Parkersburg, WV Machm2cl, US Navy

The exact type of enemy action is not known. Much debate has taken place since the sinking, whether it was a torpedo, German mine, or sabotaged by a German Agent named Kurt Jahnke. Captain Christy wrote in his final log that they had been torpedoed. The Navy, however, found and destroyed five to six German mines in the vicinity. So the official reason listed by the Navy for the loss is considered a mine laid by the U-156. The U-156 did not return from this war patrol, she many have been sunk by a U.S. mine. Therefore, there are no concrete facts about the role the U-156 played in the sinking of the USS San Diego.

As for the German Submarine U-156’s activities the following is known (Footnotes 8 and 9):

July 19, 1918: U. S. S. San Diego (armored cruiser), displacement 13,680 tons possibly sunk by mine, probably laid by German submarine U-156, 10 miles from Fire Island lightship six killed, six wounded..

July 21, 1918: Perth Amboy, tug, gross 435 tons attacked with gunfire by German submarine U-156 in western Atlantic, three miles off Orleans, Massachusetts salvaged no casualties.

July 21, 1918: Lansford, barge, gross 830 tons sunk with gunfire by German submarine U-156, in western Atlantic, three miles off Orleans, Massachusetts salvaged no casualties.

July 21, 1918: Barge No. 403, gross 422 tons sunk with gunfire by German submarine U-156 in western Atlantic, three miles off Orleans, Massachusetts salvaged no casualties.

July 21, 1918: Barge No. 740, gross 680 tons sunk with gunfire by German submarine U-156 in western Atlantic, three miles off Orleans, Massachusetts salvaged no casualties.

July 21, 1918: Barge No. 766, gross 527 tons, sunk with gunfire by German submarine U-156, in western Atlantic, three miles off Orleans, Massachusetts salvaged no casualties.

July 22, 1918: Robert & Richard, schooner, gross 141 tons sunk with bombs by German submarine U-156, in western Atlantic, 60 miles southeast of Cape Porpoise no casualties.

August 2, 1918: Dornfonstein, Canadian Lumber Schooner, gross ? tons looted and burned by German submarine U-156 (U-56 in newspaper article) in the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, no casualties.

August 3, 1918: Rob Roy, Canadian Fishing Boat, gross 111 tons sunk with bombs by German submarine U-156 (U-56 in newspaper article), East of the Bay of Fundy, no casualties.

August 3, 1918: Muriel, Canadian Fishing Boat, gross 120 tons sunk with bombs by German submarine U-156 (U-56 in newspaper article), East of the Bay of Fundy, no casualties.

August 3, 1918: Annie M. Perry, Canadian Fishing Boat, gross 116 tons sunk with bombs by German submarine U-156 (U-56 in newspaper article), East of the Bay of Fundy, no casualties.

August 20, 1918: A. Platt Andrew, schooner, gross 141 tons sunk with bombs by raider Triumph (Triumph had prize crew from U-156) in western Atlantic, 52 miles southeast of Cape Canso, Nova Scotia no casualties.

August 20, 1918: Francis J. O'Hara, schooner, gross 117 tons sunk with bombs by raider Triumph, manned by prize crew from U-156, in western Atlantic 52 miles southeast of Cape Canso no casualties.

August 21, 1918: Sylvania, schooner, gross 136 tons sunk with bombs by raider Triumph, manned by prize crew from U-156, in western Atlantic, 90 miles southeast of Cape Canso no casualties.

August 25, 1918: J. J. Flaherty, schooner, gross 162 tons sunk with bombs by German submarine U-156 in western Atlantic no casualties.

One of the newspaper articles published in the Halifax Herald said that the German U-boat Captain told the captured crew of the Gladys M. Hollett the following: He had orders to sink the Lunenburg Fishing Fleet, He had knowledge of the Lunenburg fleet, and taking the captives further into his confidence told them that at one time he had commanded a Gloucester fishing vessel. Further articles relate that this Captain claimed to have been employed in the Fishing fleets from 1896 to 1916, and had a summer home in Maine (8).

On 26 July 1918, the USS Passaio arrived over the wreck. Two divers were sent down to report on the condition of the San Diego. They reported the following: “many loose rivets lying on the bottom…Masts and smoke stacks are lying on the bottom under and on the starboard side of the ship…Ship lies heading about north depth of water over starboard bilge is 36 feet…Air is still coming out of the ship from nearly bow to stern. It seems likely that as the air escapes and she loses buoyancy, she may crush her superstructure and settle deeper”. From this report the Navy concluded that the vessel was not salvageable. As quoted from their letters to the Chief of Naval Operations. “In view of the reported condition and position of the San Diego, the Bureau is of the opinion that an attempt to salvage the vessel as a whole, or to recover any of the guns, would not be warranted”. They did have concerns about the site being a hazard to navigation and the possibility of dynamiting her to increase the depth of water over the wreck. On 15 October 1918 the USS Resolute took another sounding on the site. It found that the wreck had 40 feet of water over her, so the wreck was not blown up (10).

In 1962, the salvage rights to the San Diego were sold for $14,000. The salvage company planned to blow up the wreck and sell it for scrap metal. Several groups including the American Littoral Society, Marine Angling Club, and National Party Boat Owners Association banded together and lobbied. After a lot of bad publicity, public outcry and financial compensation, the salvage company agreed to give up the salvage rights. Today the wreck is a National Historic Site (10).

As for the mystery of the sinking of the USS San Diego, a new angle has been added to the equation. In the winter 1999 edition of Endeavor Magazine, a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill appeared an article entitled Why She Sank by Mark Briggs. The article was about Dr. Russell Van Wyk, a professor of History and Assistant Dean the School of Arts and Sciences at Chapel Hill. In the article Dr. Van Wyk explains how he gained access to a 70 page Soviet Report that included Official German documents and the 1945 interrogation of German Spy Kurt Jahnke and his wife Johanne-Dorotheja. The report led Van Wyk to report that Jahnke had arranged for one of his agents to place explosives in the boiler room of the USS San Diego, which caused the sinking of the Armored Cruiser (11).

In response to this article Raymond Mann, a historian at the Naval Historical Center in Washing, D.C., and editor of the Dictionary of American fighting Ships, said Van Wyk's findings appeared "extremely apocryphal" although he had not seen Van Wyk's work. Mann went on to say "It's pretty generally accept wisdom around here that it was a mine laid by U-156 that got her". It appears the Navy is staying with their original theory that the USS San Diego struck a mine laid by the German submarine U-156, which caused her sinking (12).

In support of the Navy’s theory I offer the following information from the Monday, 5 August 1918 issue of the Gloucester Herald Newspaper (8).

Three More Fishermen Fall Prey

Another raid on the fishing fleet by German U-boats occurred off Sea Island, Yarmouth County, on the Nova Scotia coast on Saturday and three vessels are known to have been sunk while the submarine captain boasted of others he destroyed on the Boston and Gloucester fleet on Friday afternoon. News is now anxiously awaited from the various vessels of the fleet fishing to the eastward. The sunken vessels are sch. Rob Roy, Capt. Charles Freeman Crowell, sch. Muriel, Capt. Eldredge Nickerson, and sch. Annie M. Perry, Capt. James Goodwin. The crews of these crafts landed on the Nova Scotia coast yesterday at Woods Harbor, Shelburne, Lockport and other ports.

Following is the crew lists of schs. Muriel and Rob Roy, that of sch. Annie Perry not being available.

Crew of Sch. Rob Roy:

    Charles F. Crowell, 45, master, Gloucester
    Leo P. Hanrahan, Gloucester Benjamin L. Cooler, 34, engineer, Gloucester
    Percy Adams, 29, Lynn Thomas J. Perry, 43, Gloucester
    William H. Malone, 64, Gloucester Charles A. McNeil, 53, East Boston
    Arthur Muise, 24, Essex Joseph Pettipas, 40, Rowley
    Michael Clark, 22, Gloucester Winnie R. Goodwin, 22, Gloucester
    James Dort, 32, Gloucester Leander Williams, 29, Gloucester
    William Dunnaghue, 41, South Boston Joseph Rose, 36, Gloucester
    Simon V. Nelson, 34, Gloucester Samuel Farrell, Gloucester
    Hjinth Briand, 26, Gloucester Crew of sch. Muriel:
    Elbridge Nickerson, master
    Isaiah W. D'Entremont Moses Nickerson, cook
    Augustus Nickerson Cornell Goodwin
    James Belleveau John L. Brown
    William Doucette Bernard Porter
    Gilbert Abbott John L. Smith
    George D'Entremont Nathaniel Nickerson
    Willard Larkin Joseph Crowell
    James Gardiner Amos Forbes
    Gardner Hamilton Howard Chetwynd

These vessels all left on Friday afternoon for the fishing grounds, the Muriel and Annie M. Perry for drifting and the Rob Roy shacking. None of the crafts had fish on board. The commander of one submarine told an American skipper that he had sunk more American schooners hailing from Boston and Gloucester, Friday afternoon. He did not give the names of the vessels or mention what became of the crews.

The raid on the American fishing fleet took place within a few hours cruising distance of the spot where the British lumber sch. Dornfonstein was looted and burned by a U-boat at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, Friday morning.Whether one or more raiders was concentrated in the depredations among the fishing fleet was not clear form the dispatches from the points where the crews landed.

According to the fishermen, the men on the submarine which attacked them reported there were four U-boats operating off the American coast.

Naval officials, however, viewed the statement of the German sailors with suspicion. It was pointed out that it would have been easy for one submarine to come up in the midst of the fishing fleet and destroy the helpless craft at will as long as there were any within range of her powerful guns.

The Rob Roy was owned by the Gorton-Pew Vessels Company and was built at Essex in 1900. She was equipped with gasoline auxiliary power and up to this spring had been engaged in mackerel seining during the spring and summer season. Capt. Firth, high line seiner last year in sch. Mary F. Curtis, commanded her for several seasons. The Rob Roy was 111 tons gross and 77 tons net, 96 feet long, 23.6 breadth and 14.6 feet depth. Her present skipper, Capt. Freeman Crowell, is a well known master mariner.

The Muriel was owned by the Atlantic Maritime Company and was built at Essex in 1893. She was 120 tons gross, and 83 tons net, and measured 104.9 feet long, 24.3 feet breath and 11.3 feet depth. She has been engaged in drifting since May under command of Capt. Elbridge Nickerson.

The Annie M. Perry was owned by G. F. Rio of Boston. She was built at Essex in 1903, and was 116 tons gross and 75 tons net. The Perry measured 97 feet long, 24.1 feet breadth and 11.3 feet depth. Capt. James Goodwin commanded her in drift fishing. Her crew was shipped in Boston and there was no available list here this forenoon.

The latest raid makes a total of four of the fishing fleet that are known to have fallen prey to the U-boats. The Robert and Richard was the first submarine victim, being sunk off the southeastern coast of Maine of the morning of July 22.

It is believed that it is the U-56 which has been doing the raiding. According to statements made by members of the crew of the submarine to sailors who were taken aboard the submarine when the British schooner Dornfonstein was burned at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy last Friday, the U. S. S. San Diego was sunk by a mine laid by the U-56, the same submarine that attacked the Dornfonstein.

It is believed that this is the same submarine that sunk the Robert and Richard, as it answers the description given by Capt. Robert Wharton, who said that the U-boat which destroyed his vessel was about 200 feet long.

The United States cruiser San Diego was sunk off Fire Island last month by a mine laid by the German submarine U-156, which captured and burned the Canadian schooner Dornfonstein in the Bay of Fundy last Friday, according to statements made by members of the crew of the submersible to sailors from the sailing ship who were taken on board the submarine.

The captain and crew of the Dornfonstein arrived at a Canadian port late Saturday night, after having been held on the U-boat for five hours and then ordered tot take to their lifeboats. Upon their arrival they were questioned by the naval authorities.

They said that members of the U-boat crew told them there were four submarines operating off the Atlantic coast, but they expected more to arrive soon. Naval officers here were inclined to discredit this story of reinforcements, asserting that it was probably told to cause alarm among the civilian population in coastal town.

According to the survivors' story, all but the captain were taken into the interior of the submarine, passing through the engine room to what they described as a "sort of hold." The captain, however, was kept on deck.

While held prisoners the sailors were offered a meal of bully beef and rice and were assured by their captors that they could eat the food without fear of poison, as the U-boat was "not after them"

The submarine, according to the Dornfonstein's crew, was more than 200 feet long and mounted two guns said by the Germans to have a caliber of 5.9. She carried a crew of at least 70.


From this article it is evident that the U-156 (U-56 in newspaper article), was aware of the sinking of the USS San Diego by a mine, and were taking credit for the incident.

Specifications of the USS San Diego

Displacement (weight) 13,680 tons
Length 503'11"
Beam (width) 69'7"
Draft 24'1"
Speed 22 knots
Complement 829 officers and men
Armament 4-8", 14-6", 18-3", and 2-18" torpedo tubes.
Class Pennsylvania

#4. Report of the Adjutant General (State of California) 1920.

#5. Newspaper article from the Humboldt Standard 23 March 1958, Naval Reserve, Long a part of Humboldt, by Charles H. Hurlbut, HMC Historian, USRN Electronics Facility, Eureka.

#6. Newspaper Article from the Humboldt Times 14 March 1930, Attack Fatal to Prominet Eurekan, Obituary of Lieutenant Adolph Berry Adams.

#7. Website: Ancestry.com database: U.S. Naval Deaths, World War I.

Members of the Fifth Division California Naval Militia who Served in World War I.

All were enrolled into the National Naval Volunteers on 18 April 1917 (4)

Adolph Barry Adams, Lieutenant (Commanding)
W. E. Torry, Lieutenant Junior Grade
Carl T. Wallace, Lieutenant Junior Grade
H. S. Acorn, Yeoman 2nd Class
F. T. Blondin, Electrican 2nd Class
F. B. Garner, Yeoman 3rd Class
L. J. Guglemetti, Yeoman 3rd Class
J. H. Hillflicker, Electrician
T. F. McGeorge, Electrician 3rd Class
I. L. Brown, Seaman
J. G. Brooks, Seaman
A. J. Bell, Seaman
C. L. Brown, Seaman
F. E. Bulfinch, Seaman
R. C. Benefield, Seaman
J. A. Burrows, Seaman
H. D. Connett, Seaman
G. W. Carl, Seaman
W. Chilcott, Seaman
R. A. Coats, Seaman
W. F. Diehl, Seaman
F. D. Davis, Seaman
W. R. Dean, Seaman
L. Delgrandy, Seaman
C. Delgrandy, Seaman
W. Day, Seaman
L. Evans, Seaman
E. Eckholm, Seaman
C. Foss, Seaman
J. T. Foster, Seaman
J. R. Flowers, Seaman
H. W. Griffin, Seaman
F. E. Helms, Seaman
R. Harmout, Seaman
L. S. Hanley, Seaman
J. F. Haney, Seaman
J. D. Jones, Seaman
J. L. Judd, Seaman
G. H. Kerr, Seaman
G. R. Kern, Seaman
M. E. Kniss, Seaman
A. R. Klemp, Seaman
W. R. Manning, Seaman
A. Marks, Seaman
A. E. Norton, Seaman
J. L. Neff, Seaman
W. H. Nickolson, Seaman
F. W. Petersen, Seaman
S. L. Porter, Seaman
C. G. Ramsdell, Seaman
J. F. Rochet, Seaman
R. C. Shortridge, Seaman
J. O. Sanders, Seaman
R. I. Shields, Seaman
H. J. Saffell, Seaman
A. A. Sundfers, Seaman
J. W. Wyatt, Seaman
C. Williams, Seaman
Earl Anerson, Seaman 2nd Class
G. D. Brittain ,Seaman 2nd Class


Battleship USS California: How She Got Revenge for Pearl Harbor

The battleship was seriously damaged during the attack and soon sank in the days that followed. However, her salvage, repair and modernization were completed by the Pearl Harbor and Puget Sound Navy Yards.

There was no shortage of “heroes” on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, and for their efforts, which went above and beyond on that fateful morning, a total of fifteen men of the U.S. Navy were awarded the Medal of Honor. Four of those awards went to sailors and one officer aboard the stricken USS California (BB-44), and tragically of the four only one survived the day.

The warship had been the flagship of the Battle Force and was hit forward and aft by two Japanese torpedoes in the early minutes of the sneak attack. Soon after, the thirty-two-thousand-ton Tennessee-class battleship, which had been commissioned in 1921, was hit by another bomb. Designed to include good protection against underwater attacks, the vessel was showing her age however and proved unable to resist the impacts from the torpedoes as many of the watertight compartments were not properly closed.

In the early stages of the attack, the USS California attempted to get underway, but began to take on water just as a large mass of burning oil threatened all of “Battleship Row.” The crew fought gallantly to control the flooding and to engage the Japanese via the anti-aircraft guns. At the time neither the ship’s commanding officer, Captain J. W. Gunkley, nor the executive officer, Commander E. E. Stone, were aboard. Instead, for the first hour, the fate of the ship fell to junior officers including Ensign Herbert C. Jones.

Ensign Jones led the efforts to keep the supply of ammunition flowing to the ship’s anti-aircraft batteries. He was mortally wounded when the bomb hit the ammunition storage compartment, and he refused to leave telling the sailors, “Leave me alone! I’m done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off.” Jones was just twenty-three years old.

Chief Radioman Thomas Reeves also helped pass ammunition until he was overcome by fire, while Machinist’s Mate First Class Robert Scott was among those sailors who sought to help his fellow crewmen. He reported to his battle station, worked an air compressor, and remained at his post until the end.

Gunner Jackson Pharris organized a group of men to carry ammunition up from the magazines and rescued several sailors. He was the only one of the four men to survive the battle. He spent time after the battle in the hospital, recovering from the fuel oil that had gotten into his lungs. He was among the crew of California to return to the warship and was commissioned an officer. Lieutenant Pharris received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman at a ceremony at the White House on June 25, 1948.

USS California Repaired and Returned to Battle

The battleship was seriously damaged during the attack and soon sank in the days that followed. However, her salvage, repair and modernization were completed by the Pearl Harbor and Puget Sound Navy Yards. This was completed in January 1944 and she returned to action, providing heavy gunfire support for the invasions of Saipan, Guam and Tinian during June and July 1944.

The USS California then took part in the Leyte Campaign in October and November of that year, and was part of the Battle of Surigao Strait, the last fight between opposing battleships.

In January 1945, the battleship then participated in the Lingayen Gulf invasion, during which she was damaged by a kamikaze suicide attack. However, the warship remained in action for more than two weeks before heading back to the U.S. for repairs. Quickly patched up, the USS California then took part in the final stages of the Okinawa campaign and then served in the early occupation duties after Japan’s surrender.

The warship was formally decommissioned in February 1948, and after a dozen years in the Reserve fleet, was sold for scrap in July 1959.


USS California - History

California III
(BB-44: dp. 32,300 1. 624'6" b. 97'4" dr. 30'3” s. 21
k., cpl. 1,083 a. 12 14", 14 5", 4 3", 2 21" tt., cl.Tennessee )

The fifth California (BB - 44) was launched 20 November 1919 by Mare Island Navy Yard sponsored by Mrs. R. T. Zane, and commissioned 10 August 1921 Captain H. J. Ziegemeier in command and reported to the Pacific Fleet as flagship.

For 20 years from 1921 until 1941, California served first as flagship of the Pacific Fleet, then as flagship of the Battle Fleet (Battle Force), U.S. Fleet. Her annual activities included joint Army-Navy exercises, tactical and organizational development problems, and fleet concentrations for various purposes. Intensive training and superior performance won her the Battles Efficiency Pennant for 1921-22, and the Gunnery "E" for 1925-26.

In the summer of 1925 California led the Battle Fleet and a division of cruisers from the Scouting Fleet on a very successful good-will cruise to Australia and New Zealand. She took part in the Presidential reviews of 1927, 1930, and 1934. She was modernized in late 1929 and early 1930 and equipped with an improved antiaircraft battery.

In-1940 California switched her base to Pearl Harbor. On 7 December 1941 she was moored at the southernmost berth of "Battleship Row" and was with other dreadnoughts of the Battle Force when the Japanese launched their aerial attack. As she was about to undergo a material inspection, watertight integrity was not at its maximum consequently the ship suffered great damage when hit. At 0805 a bomb exploded below decks, setting off an antiaircraft ammunition magazine and killing about 60 men. A second bomb ruptured her bow plates. Despite valiant efforts to keep her afloat, the in rushing water could not be isolated and California settled into the mud with only her superstructure remaining above the surface. When the action ended, 98 of her crew were lost and 61 wounded.

On 26 March 1942 California was refloated and dry docked at Pearl Harbor for repairs. On 7 June she departed under her own power, for Puget Sound Navy Yard where a major reconstruction job was accomplished, including improved protection, stability, AA battery, and fire control system.

California departed Bremerton 31 January 1944 for shakedown at San Pedro, and sailed from San Francisco 5 May for the invasion of the Marianas. Off Saipan in June, she conducted effective shore bombardment and call fire missions. On 14 June she was hit by a shell from an enemy shore battery which killed one man and wounded nine. Following Saipan, her heavy guns helped blast the way for our assault force in the Guam and Tirrian operations (18 July 9 August). On 24 August she arrived at Espiritu Santo for repairs to her port bow damaged in a collision-with Tennessee (BB 43).

On 17 September 1944 California sailed to Manus to ready for the invasion of the Philippines. From 17 October to 20 November she played a key role in the Leyte operation, including the destruction of the Japanese fleet in the Battle of Surigao Strait (25 October). On 1 January 1945 she departed the Palaus for the Luzon landings. Her powerful batteries were an important factor in the success of these dangerous operations driven home into the heart of enemy-held territory under heavy air attack. On 6 January while providing shore bombardment at Lingayen Gulf she was hit by a kamikaze plane 44 of her crew were killed and 155 were wounded. Undeterred she made temporary repairs on the spot and remained carrying out here critical mission of shore bombardment until the job was done. She departed 23 January for Puget Sound Navy Yard, arriving 15 February, for permanent repairs.


Shipbuilding [ edit | edit source ]

Mare Island Naval Shipyard constructed at least eighty-nine seagoing vessels. Among the more important ships & boats built were:

Jupiter became the first United States aircraft carrier renamed USS Langley.

  • 1858 USS Saginaw – sloop-of-war, wood
  • 1872 USS Mohican – sloop-of-war, wood
  • 1875 USS Monadnock – monitor, steel
  • 1886 USRC Cosmos – RevenueCutter, wood
  • 1904 USS Intrepid – training ship, steel barque
  • 1907 USS Prometheus – collier, steel
  • 1911 USS Jupiter – collier, steel. Later converted to aircraft carrier USS Langley
  • 1913 USS Kanawha – tanker, steel
  • 1913 USRC Guard - Revenue Cutter Service harbor tug, wood ⎛]
  • 1913 USS Palos – gunboat, steel
  • 1913 USS Monocacy – gunboat, steel
  • 1914 USS Maumee – tanker, steel
  • 1915 USS Cuyama – tanker, steel
  • 1916 USS Shaw, destroyer - steel
  • 1916 USS California – battleship, steel (32,500 ton)
  • 1916 USS Caldwell – destroyer, steel
  • 1917 Fifteen submarine chasers - wood
  • 1917 Fairfax – destroyer (Destroyers for Bases Agreement) ⎜]
  • 1917 Taylor – destroyer
  • 1918 Boggs – destroyer (World War II)
  • 1918 Kilty – destroyer (Guadalcanal campaign - Philippines campaign (1944-45) - Battle of Okinawa)
  • 1919 Kennison – destroyer (World War II)
  • 1918 Ward - destroyer (Attack on Pearl Harbor – Guadalcanal campaign - Philippines campaign (1944-45))
  • 1918 Claxton – destroyer (Destroyers for Bases Agreement) ⎜]
  • 1919 Hamilton – destroyer (invasion of North Africa - Philippines campaign (1944-45))
  • 1920 Montana – battleship (43,200-ton) (scrapped under terms of the Washington Naval Treaty)
  • 1920 Litchfield – destroyer (World War II)
  • 1920 Zane – destroyer (Attack on Pearl Harbor – Guadalcanal campaign)
  • 1921 Wasmuth – destroyer (Attack on Pearl Harbor)
  • 1922 Trever – destroyer (Attack on Pearl Harbor – Guadalcanal campaign)
  • 1922 Perry – destroyer (Attack on Pearl Harbor - Battle of Peleliu)
  • 1922 Decatur – destroyer (World War II)
  • 1927 USS Nautilus – submarine (sank 6 ships in 14 World War II Pacific patrols) ⎝]
  • 1928 USS Chicago – cruiser (Battle of Savo Island - Battle of Rennell Island)
  • 1931 USS San Francisco – cruiser (Attack on Pearl Harbor - Battle of Cape Esperance - Naval Battle of Guadalcanal - Battle of the Philippine Sea⎞] - Philippines campaign (1944-45) - Battle of Okinawa)
  • 1934 USS Smith – destroyer (Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands - Philippines campaign (1944-45))
  • 1934 USS Preston – destroyer (Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands - Naval Battle of Guadalcanal)
  • 1935 USS Henley – destroyer (Attack on Pearl Harbor - Guadalcanal campaign)

With the prelude to, and the outbreak of World War II, the Mare Island Naval Shipyard specialized in submarines, and other than a few submarine tenders, no more surface ships were built there. MINSY continued building non-nuclear subs through the Cold War including two of the three Barracuda-class submarines and the Grayback, an early guided missile launcher. In 1955, Mare Island was awarded the contract to build Sargo, the first nuclear submarine laid down at a $3 base. The shipyard became one of the few that built and overhauled nuclear submarines, including several UGM-27 Polaris submarines. 1970 saw the launching of USS Drum, the last nuclear submarine built in California. In 1972, the Navy officially ceased building new nuclear submarines at Mare Island, though overhaul of existing vessels continued. The Nautilus was decommissioned at Mare Island in 1980, then rigged for towing back to Groton, Connecticut to serve as a museum of naval history. ⎟]

Five of the seven top-scoring United States submarines of World War II were built at Mare Island.

  • 1936 USS Pompano – submarine (sank 6 ships in 7 World War II Pacific patrols ⎠] )
  • 1936 USS Sturgeon – submarine (sank 9 ships in 11 World War II Pacific patrols ⎡] )
  • 1937 USS Swordfish – submarine (sank 12 ships in 13 World War II Pacific patrols ⎢] )
  • 1939 USS Fulton – submarine tender (World War II)
  • 1939 USS Tuna – submarine (sank 4 ships in 13 World War II Pacific patrols ⎣] )
  • 1939 USS Gudgeon – submarine (sank 11 ships in 12 World War II Pacific patrols ⎤] )
  • 1941 USS Sperry - submarine tender ⎥] (World War II)
  • 1941 USS Silversides - submarine ⎦] (sank 23 ships in 14 World War II Pacific patrols (3rd highest number for a U.S. submarine) ⎧] )
  • 1941 USS Trigger - submarine ⎦] (sank 18 ships in 12 World War II Pacific patrols (11th highest number for a U.S. submarine) ⎨] )
  • 1942 USS Bushnell - submarine tender ⎥] (World War II)
  • 1942 USS Wahoo - submarine ⎩] (sank 20 ships in 7 World War II Pacific patrols (6th highest number for a U.S. submarine) ⎪] )
  • 1942 USS Whale - submarine ⎩] (sank 9 ships in 11 World War II Pacific patrols ⎫] )
  • 1942 USS Sunfish - submarine ⎩] (sank 15 ships in 11 World War II Pacific patrols ⎝] )
  • 1942 USS Tunny - submarine ⎩] (sank 7 ships in 9 World War II Pacific patrols ⎬]Vietnam War)
  • 1942 USS Tinosa - submarine ⎩] (sank 16 ships in 11 World War II Pacific patrols ⎬] )
  • 1942 USS Tullibee - submarine ⎩] (sank 3 ships 4 World War II Pacific patrols ⎭] )
  • 1943 USS Howard W. Gilmore - submarine tender ⎥] (World War II)
  • 1943 USS Seahorse - submarine ⎮] (sank 20 ships in 8 World War II Pacific patrols (6th highest number for a U.S. submarine) ⎯] )
  • 1943 USS Skate - submarine ⎮] (sank 10 ships in 7 World War II Pacific patrols ⎬] )
  • 1943 USS Tang - submarine ⎮] (sank 24 ships in 5 World War II Pacific patrols (2nd highest number for a U.S. submarine) ⎰] )
  • 1943 USS Tilefish - submarine ⎮] (sank 2 ships 6 World War II Pacific patrols ⎱] )
  • 1944 USS Spadefish - submarine ⎲] (sank 21 ships in 5 World War II Pacific patrols (4th highest number for a U.S. submarine) ⎧] )
  • 1944 USS Trepang - submarine ⎲] (sank 11 ships in 5 World War II Pacific patrols ⎫] )
  • 1944 USS Spot - submarine ⎲] (sank 1 ship in 3 World War II Pacific patrols ⎫] )
  • 1944 USS Springer - submarine ⎲] (sank 4 ships in 3 World War II Pacific patrols ⎫] )
  • 1945 USS Nereus - submarine tender ⎥]
  • 1945 USS Stickleback - submarine ⎲] (1 World War II Pacific patrol ⎱] )
  • 1947 USS Tiru - submarine ⎲]
  • 1951 USS Bass - submarine
  • 1951 USS Bonita - submarine
  • 1957 USS Grayback - submarine ⎳]
  • 1957 USS Sargo - submarine ⎴]
  • 1959 USS Halibut - submarine ⎵]
  • 1959 USS Theodore Roosevelt - submarine ⎶]
  • 1960 USS Scamp - submarine ⎷]
  • 1961 USS Permit - submarine ⎸]
  • 1961 USS Plunger - submarine ⎸]
  • 1962 USS Andrew Jackson - submarine ⎹]
  • 1963 USS Woodrow Wilson - submarine ⎹]
  • 1963 USS Daniel Boone - submarine ⎹]
  • 1963 USS Stonewall Jackson - submarine ⎹]
  • 1964 Bathyscaphe Trieste II - deep submergence bathyscaphe
  • 1965 USS Kamehameha - submarine ⎹]
  • 1965 USS Mariano G. Vallejo - submarine ⎹]
  • 1967 USS Gurnard - submarine ⎺]
  • 1968 USS Guitarro - submarine ⎺]
  • 1969 USS Hawkbill - submarine ⎺]
  • 1969 USS Pintado - submarine ⎺]
  • 1970 USS Drum - submarine ⎺]

Riverine training [ edit | edit source ]

Aerial photo of southern Mare Island and the shipyard facility

In 1969, during the Vietnam War, the US Navy transferred their Brown Water Navy Riverine Training Operations from Coronado, California to Mare Island. Motorists traveling along Highway 37 from the Vallejo/Fairfield areas to the Bay Area, which passes through Mare Island, could often see US Navy Swift Boats (PCF-Patrol Craft Fast) and PBRs (Patrol Boat River), among other riverine type boats, maneuvering through the sloughs of what is now the Napa-Sonoma State Wildlife Area, which borders the north and west portions of Mare Island. US Navy Reserve Units may still operate the slough portions of the State Wildlife Area for training purposes, as the navigable waters are considered public property. The US Navy Brown Water Riverine Forces inactivated after the Vietnam War, maintaining only the US Naval Reserve PBRs and auxiliary craft at Mare Island, until the 1996 base closure.


The Official Tall Ship of the State of California

Californian was built from the ground up in 1984 at Spanish Landing in San Diego Bay. She was launched with great fanfare for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. In July 2003, the Governor signed a bill into law designating the Californian as the official tall ship of the State of California. She is the only ship to carry this prestigious title.

Since her launching in San Diego the ship has played host to thousands of adventure travelers, sailing enthusiasts, students and history buffs up and down the West coast. She has also made voyages to Hawaii, Mexico and the East coast of the United States. Californian casts a distinctive and instantly recognizable silhouette and has become one of the most well known tall ships in America.

The Californian is a replica of the 1847 Revenue Cutter C.W. Lawrence, which patrolled the coast of California enforcing federal law during the gold rush. The Revenue Cutter Service, along with four other federal maritime agencies, was consolidated into the United States Coast Guard in 1915.

The acquisition of the Californian by the Maritime Museum of San Diego in June 2002 was made possible by the Hughes and Sheila Potiker Family Foundation. In the winter and spring of 2003, she underwent a complete overhaul including a haul out, re-stepping the masts, replacing the standing rigging, new sails and mechanical systems and a re-design and re-furbishing of the areas below deck. The work was completed with a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego uses her for a variety of dockside and at sea educational programs along with public adventure sails ranging from a half-day to more than a week. Her annual tour of the California coast each summer offers residents and visitors throughout the state an opportunity to enjoy the State’s Official Tall Ship.


Battleship Row

The USS Nevada was moored behind Arizona on December 7, 1941, and was the only battleship to get underway that morning. Though she was run aground off Hospital Point to avoid blocking the channel, the effort to escape boosted morale among service members that day.

After many missions in the Pacific, Nevada was sent to Europe. On June 6, 1944, she served as the flagship for the D-Day invasion. The USS Nevada was the only ship present at both Pearl Harbor and Normandy.

USS Arizona

The USS Arizona was a Pennsylvania-class battleship built in the mid-1910s. Commissioned in 1916, Arizona stayed stateside during World War I. Later on she was sent to the Pacific Fleet, based in Pearl Harbor, HI.

The USS Arizona was hit multiple times in the first few minutes of the attack. One bomb penetrated the armored deck near the ammunition magazines in the forward section of the ship, causing a massive explosion and killing 1,177 of the sailors and Marines on board. Irreparably damaged, the USS Arizona still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

USS Vestal

The USS Vestal was a repair ship moored next to the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. The Vestal was badly damaged during the attack, hit by bombs intended for the battleships. Crew members of the USS Vestal played a vital role in rescuing sailors on the nearby USS Arizona.

This image shows the USS Vestal on December 7, 1941, just after the Pearl Harbor attack.

USS Tennessee

The USS Tennessee was the lead ship of her class of battleships. She was launched in April 1919 and served in various places before arriving at San Pedro, California, where she spent the next 19 years.

The USS Tennessee was sent to the Pacific in 1940 along with the other battleships, as part of President Roosevelt’s plan to deter Japanese expansion. Moored next to the USS West Virginia, the Tennessee was damaged during the Pearl Harbor attack but was repaired and modernized.

USS West Virginia

The USS West Virginia was commissioned in December 1923. She took part in training and tactical development operations until 1939, and was sent to Pearl Harbor in 1940.

On Dec 7, 1941, the USS West Virginia was sunk by six torpedoes and two bombs, killing 106 crew members. In May 1942, the ship was salvaged and sent away to be repaired. She would later play a key role in many Pacific battles, and was present at Tokyo Bay during the Japanese surrender.

USS Maryland

The USS Maryland was commissioned in July 1921. She was used for many special occasions and training operations.

In 1940, the USS Maryland was moved to Pearl Harbor with the rest of the fleet. She was moored at Battleship Row next to the USS Oklahoma on the morning of December 7, 1941. The USS Maryland was only slightly damaged by bombs during the attack and lost four crewmembers. In June 1942, she became the first ship damaged at Pearl Harbor to return to duty.

USS Oklahoma

The USS Oklahoma was a Nevada-class battleship commissioned in 1916. She served in WWI, protecting convoys crossing the Atlantic. Modernized in the late 1920s, Oklahoma was sent to the Pacific in the late 1930s.

On December 7, 1941, Oklahoma's port (left) side was hit by eight torpedoes at the very start of the attack. In less than twelve minutes, she rolled over until her masts touched the bottom, trapping hundreds of men inside and under the water. Four hundred twenty-nine crew members died. Of those trapped inside, only 32 could be rescued.

USS California

The USS California was a Tennessee-class battleship completed just after World War I and commissioned in August 1921. She served as the flagship of the Pacific Fleet for twenty years.

The USS California was sunk on December 7, 1941, during the Pearl Harbor attack, and 105 of her crew members died. The USS California was salvaged and reconstructed, however, and went on to serve for the remainder of World War II.

Ships not on Battleship Row

USS Pennsylvania

The USS Pennsylvania was commissioned in June 1916 and attached to the Atlantic Fleet. In 1922, she was assigned to the Pacific Fleet for fleet tactics and battle practice.

The USS Pennsylvania was in drydock undergoing repairs on December 7, 1941. She was one of the first ships to open fire on the Japanese planes. Pennsylvania was bombed and badly strafed 31 servicemembers aboard were killed. The USS Pennsylvania was repaired in March 1942 and sent back into service in the Pacific.

USS Utah

The USS Utah was a Florida-class dreadnought battleship completed in 1911. She served in WWI and throughout the 1920s. In 1931, Utah was demilitarized and converted into a target ship. She was also equipped with anti-aircraft guns for gunnery training.

On December 7, 1941, the USS Utah, moored on the other side of Ford Island and hit by torpedoes at the start of the attack, quickly rolled over and sank. Fifty-eight of Utah's crew died. The ship was never salvaged and remains where it sank in Pearl Harbor.


Watch the video: USS California - Guide 005 Human Voice (August 2022).

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