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Commanders-in-Chief Plaque from the Flaghsip USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)

Brass plaque with Commanders in Chief of the Flagship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)

Title: Plaque, Commander-in-Chief, USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)
Accession #: NHHC 1950-19-A
Circa: 1916-1941
Size: 32.5 x 12.5
Medium: Brass
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command

One brass plaque listing the names of the Commanders-In-Chief of the flagship USS Pennsylvania. The plaque is topped by an eagle with outstretched wings, sitting atop the American shield with two crossed fouled anchors behind it. There is a four-star admiral’s flag engraved into the metal on both sides of the eagle. The main body of the plaque is a vertical rectangle with its bottom portion narrowing to a point. Centered on the two long sides is an art deco border.

The list of names:

Henry T. Mayo                    12 Oct 1916- 30 Jun 1919

Henry B. Wilson                  30 Jun 1919- 30 Jun 1921

Hilary P. Jones                     30 Jun 1921- 19 Aug 1921

Hillary P. Jones                     27 Mar 1923- 18 Apr 1923

Frank H. Schofield                15 Sep 1931- 10 Aug 1932

Richard H. Leigh                  10 Aug 1932-10 Jun 1933

David F. Sellers                    10 Jun 1933- 15 Jun 1934

Joseph M. Reeves                 16 Nov 1934- 24 Jun 1936

Arthur J. Hepburn                 24 Jun 1936- 29 Jan 1938

Claude C. Bloch                    29 Jan 1938- 6 Jan 1940

J.O. Richardson                     6 Jan 1940- 1 Feb 1941

H.E. Kimmel                          1 Feb 1941- 17 Dec 1941

William S. Pye                      17 Dec 1941- 31 Dec 1941

Chester W. Nimitz                31 Dec 1941

This plaque documents the Commanders-in-Chief who served aboard the flagship USS Pennsylvania. Shortly after her commissioning in June 1916, the Pennsylvania was made the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet under the command of Admiral Henry T. Mayo. General Order 94, issued in December 1922, combined the US Atlantic Fleet and the US Pacific Fleet into the United States Fleet. Under the United State Fleet, Pennsylvania became the flagship for the United States Battle Fleet. The Battle Fleet operated in the Pacific and was comprised of the newer battleships and the aircraft carriers. In 1930, the United States Battle Fleet was changed to United States Battle Force. General Order 143 from February 1941 eliminated the United States Fleet name, separating the fleet into its previous division of US Atlantic Fleet and US Pacific Fleet, each with its own Commander-in-Chief. Pennsylvania retained her status as the flagship of the US Pacific Fleet.

USS Pennsylvania was in drydock at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941. On 31 December, Admiral Nimitz took command of the US Pacific Fleet. His is the last name to appear on the plaque.

Documents show that this plaque was removed from the Admiral’s cabin, presumably in 1946 following her return to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for repairs and preparation for the atomic bomb tests. The plaque came to NHHC from Puget Sound in 1950, a few years after the ship was scuttled following her participation in Operation Crossroads.  

Published: Thu Apr 16 09:20:47 EDT 2020