Friday, April 15, 2016
She's a Bear
I don't know when this postcard was made, but I, at least, have a date range on when the photo was taken. Construction began on the U.S.S. California in 1916, after the beginning of World War 1, but a year or so before U.S. entry into the conflict. She wasn't launched until 1919, so the California didn't see any action in the war to end all wars. After being commissioned, the California became the flagship of America's Pacific Fleet. I wasn't able to find out when she lost that status, but I do know the California was one of the battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor. She was raised and repaired enough that she was able to steam to Bremerton, Washington, under her own power, for a complete refit. There, her two funnels were combined in a single stack, and her superstructure was completely redesigned. Since this photo shows a ship with twin funnels, clearly it was taken between 1919 and 1941. The California returned to active duty in 1944, missing most of the war in the Pacific. She did see service during the American invasion of the Philippines, but was severely damaged by a kamikaze hit, which meant another return to the west coast for more repairs. The California was back on duty for the invasion of Okinawa. After the war ended, unable to fit through the Panama Canal, The California made a trip around the southern tip of Africa to the east coast of the United States, where she was transferred to the reserve list in 1946. She was decommissioned in 1947 and sold for scrap in 1959. One of the things learned in World War 2 was that the age of battleships was over. Naval warfare would now be dominated by submarines, aircraft carriers and smaller ships. Despite all the money and time spent to build, repair, and refit the California, she never played a truly significant part in any war.