Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS California (BB-44), flagship of the Battle Force, was hit forward and aft by two Japanese torpedoes in the early minutes of the Pearl Harbor raid. She was later hit by a bomb and near-missed by another, which caused additional flooding. Though her design included very good protection against underwater damage, California's actual condition was much less satisfactory, with many watertight compartments open and some design details proving unable to resist the effects of torpedo warheads.

 

California had steam up and was nearly ready to get underway when a large mass of burning oil, drifting down "Battleship Row", threatened to set the ship afire. She was ordered abandoned, and, when the crew returned on board sometime later, it was impossible to control her flooding. Despite strenuous efforts, she slowly settled to the bottom of Pearl Harbor, coming to rest on 10 December. The battleship was raised in March 1942 and received repairs and modernization work that lasted until January 1944, over two years after she was sunk. Nearly a hundred of her officers and men were killed in action during the Pearl Harbor attack.