Monday, June 30, 2014

Repairs to battleship USS California

Two and a half years after she was badly damaged and sunk by Japanese torpedoes and bombs at Pearl Harbor, the rebuilt battleship USS California reentered combat in the Pacific. One of her early tasks was to provide heavy gunfire support for the invasions of Saipan, Guam, and Tinian during June and July 1944.

On June 14, while California was bombarding Saipan, she was hit by a shell from a Japanese shore battery, killing 1 man and wounded 9. On today's date in 1944, the ship finished making her way to Eniwetok where she was received alongside my dad's ship, USS Hector, for repairs to her damaged guns. The barrels were replaced by spares from Hector and all other damage was restored by July 3. Back into action, those same guns helped clear the way for the assaults on Guam and Tinian from July 18 to August 9.

In October and November of that year, California took part in the Leyte Campaign, including the October 25th Battle of Surigao Strait, history's last fight between opposing battleships. In January 1945, California participated in the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines. Damaged by a kamikaze attack on January 6, she remained in action for more than 2 weeks before returning to the states for repairs and an overhaul.

California returned to the Western Pacific in June 1945, in time to take part in the final stages of the Okinawa Campaign. She covered occupation activities in the wake of Japan's surrender, then sailed for Philadelphia in December 1945. The USS California was decommissioned in February 1947 and sold for scrap in 1959.

USS California, 1945

Launched in 1919, this venerable flagship of the Pacific earned 7 battle stars for her World War II service.

Sources: Naval Historical Center; USS California War Diary June & July 1944

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