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Photo Details
Photographer:Gordy [View profile]Title:USS CALIFORNIA BB44Added:May 13, 2013
Location:Wellington, New Zealand
Photo Category: Battleships


Career (US)
Name: USS California
Ordered: 28 December 1915
Builder: Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 25 October 1916
Launched: 20 November 1919
Commissioned: 10 August 1921
Decommissioned: 14 February 1947
Struck: 1 March 1959
Fate: Sold for scrap, 10 July 1959
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Tennessee-class battleship
Displacement: 32,300 tons (40,950 after refit)
Length: 624.5 ft (190.3 m)
97.3 ft (29.7 m) (original)
114 ft (35 m) (rebuilt)
Draft: 30.3 ft (9.2 m)
Speed: 21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h)
Complement: 57 officers, 1,026 men
Sensors and
processing systems: CXAM RADAR from 1940[2]
Armament: As built:
12 14 in (360 mm)/50 cal guns (4x3)
14 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns
4 3 in (76 mm)/50 guns
2 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes
After reconstruction:
12 14 in (360 mm)/50 cal guns
16 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns (8x2)
56 Bofors 40 mms (11x4, 5x2)
31 Oerlikon 20 mm cannons
Belt: 813.5 in (203343 mm)
Barbettes: 13 in (330 mm)
Turret face: 18 in (457 mm)
Turret sides: 910 in (229254 mm)
Turret top: 5 in (127 mm)
Turret rear 9 in (229 mm)
Conning tower: 11.5 in (292 mm)
Decks: 3.5 in (89 mm)

Photo Credits: The Alexander Turnbull Library NZ

Details: Wikipedia

Cheers and GB

Vessel Identification
Pennant no.:BB44
Technical Data
Vessel type:-

Additional Information
AIS Information
AIS information: N/A
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Photo Comments (15)

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Al Ruff on May 14, 2013 17:14 (3 years ago)
Thank you Peter for your extensive explanation. Well done. We all learn something new every day, so I'm good for weeks to come.
Regards, Al
REG on May 14, 2013 12:01 (3 years ago)
"Pfftt..Battleship...Big waste of steel...Give me a carrier anyday...That's what won the war in the Pacific..
Battleships should be melted down and use the steel to make more carriers...Useless ships."

This is a typical example of 20-20 hindsight. One must bear in mind that this battleship was laid down in 1916 and completed in 1921. At that time there were no aircraft carriers. In those days naval strategists, both in the U.S. and Japan, were thinking in terms of The Battle of Jutland, not The Battle of Midway. The 'Big Gun' was universally acknowledged to be the final arbiter in any battle at sea. Up until the late 1930s the airplane was regarded as little more than a reconnaissance vehicle, and an aerial platform from which to direct the guns of the battleships. That was the reason why all the battleships carried seaplanes.

It was a tremendous shock to the U.S. Navy's Admirals when the Japanese torpedoed this, and other battleships, at Pearl Harbor. It was thought to be impossible to launch aerial torpedoes in the shallow water of a harbor. The general belief was that the torpedoes either would hit the bottom of the harbor and explode, or else simply bury themselves in the mud. Of course, the British had already done that very thing at Taranto a year earlier, so one would think that the American Admirals should have known better!
mar_picado on May 14, 2013 10:48 (3 years ago)
My Dad's first billet after getting his wings in 1939, was as an OS2U pilot on the USS Idaho(BB-42)during Neutrality Patrol in 1940. And I remember him saying how gunnery practice was conducted by sending coordinates of the shots back to the ship by Morse code.
ozzy76 on May 14, 2013 10:41 (3 years ago)
@ Chris..Shooting down 23 aircraft..Very good..But HOW many years did it take to build a battleship..versus how long did id take to turn out aircraft..
How many men were tied down in the shipyards and in the crewing, of these ships.
How many men , 3,000 - 4,000 to man a battleship..And it claimed 23 aircraft..
A waste of resources..
How much sea time did Bismark, Tirpitz, Yamamoto spend in WW2??
I#'m afraid when you add up, the VASt amount of manpower, steel, resources ans Money tied up in these "capital" ships you'll find they were a waste.
As for protecting Enterprise..A number of destroyers with oil tanker support would have been more effective and cheaper..
the Battle of Jutland in WW1, The only battle between Battleships was inconclusive..
As a Weapons system the battleship consumed TOO many resources and delivered TOO few returns.
Also, the USa lost it's battleships in Pearl Harbour..But still won the war..
I still stand by my argument..After WW2, The Capital ship was the aircraft carriers..And The Submarine..came of age also.
Gordy on May 14, 2013 06:09 (3 years ago)
Good one Peter, you cleared that up for us, I thought it had something to do with the range etc...excellent response, ty.
Tony Conroy on May 14, 2013 05:03 (3 years ago)
The passengers on the Devonport ferry getting a good view of the American sailor's at work.
Gordy on May 14, 2013 03:46 (3 years ago)
TY Chris and all, much appreciated!
Gordy on May 14, 2013 03:45 (3 years ago)
I am not sure but I think the clock had to do with finding the range for the big guns. Maybe some one else knows about that but I think its to do with the angle of the gun barrels to find the right angle for the distance and drop of the shells...please inform me if not so, I would like to know more...also they might be used for stipulating the angle of incoming aircraft and vessels etc Gordy
Chris Howell on May 14, 2013 03:43 (3 years ago)
USS California is shown at Auckland during the visit between 11/25th August 1925 of the US Pacific fleet, still the largest naval force ever seen at one time in Australia or NZ.

The double ended ferry is the NGOIRO, Built in 1921 laid up 1974.
Chris Howell on May 14, 2013 03:36 (3 years ago)
Superb Gordy

Obviously Ozzy76 your naval knowledge is limited, both were necessary in WW2, as to the Pacific the battleship USS South Dakota, shot down 23 Japanese planes while alongside the carrier USS Enterprise, which saved her from destruction at the Battle of Santa Cruz, later many a carrier was grateful to have battleships in the screen while under Kamikaze attack.

Although of course the carriers helped won the war in the Pacific, unlike a battleship they were limited by weather conditions,which of course ensured the tactics for their use were different.

As to modern times in Vietnam for example a strategic bridge cost 50 carrier pilots, a battleship could have knocked it down in minutes without any cost in lives or planes.

As to more recently, in the last shooting war the Falklands, the carriers were hamstrung by not only weather but missile threats, both would have been of little consequence to Britain's last battleship Vanguard had she still been around.
Patagualino on May 14, 2013 02:12 (3 years ago)
Hi Al, Yes that clock is a new one on me too. As regards the flag at the jack-staff: Squadron or Battle Group flag?
Al Ruff on May 13, 2013 23:59 (3 years ago)
Sorry, I forgot to say GREAT photo. Al
Al Ruff on May 13, 2013 23:57 (3 years ago)
Can anyone tell me the story on the clock on the forward crowsnest? What's the flag on the bow?
ozzy76 on May 13, 2013 22:10 (3 years ago)
Pfftt..Battleship...Big waste of steel...Give me a carrier anyday...That's what won the war in the Pacific..
Battleships should be melted down and use the steel to make more carriers...Useless ships.
Mr. DOT on May 13, 2013 20:56 (3 years ago)
just wonderful scene! mrdot.
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