The USS California BB-44 was known as the Prune Barge and also as the Golden State Battleship. Her gestation was rather convoluted. Originally the Battleship California was to be BB-40 and was to be built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as part of the
Battleship 1915 authorizations. On October 14, 1914 the keel of the new battleship was laid down and on October 17 the Bureau of Engineering suggested that one of the three Battleship 1915 ships be fitted with turboelectric drive. As the keel was laid
the commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard announced to the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, “
Mr. Secretary, the keel of the California has been well and truly laid!” (USS California, A Visual History of the Golden State Battleship
by David Doyle) Two battleship 1916 ships were authorized as BB-43 and BB-44 and on December 8, 1915 the Secretary of the Navy announced that BB-44 would be built at Mare Island to be named USS California BB-44. The lobbying
worked and on March 14, 1916 it was announced that BB-40, laid down a year and a half earlier, would renamed
USS New Mexico BB-40 and BB-44 would be named USS California. This interesting history is just a small part of the information
presented in David Doyle’s
USS California, A Visual History of the Golden State Battleship BB-44.
This book on California is 168 pages in length with full color front and back ends. The volume is truly comprehensive in it’s photographic coverage of the USS California with hundreds of photographs covering the life span of the ship from
construction to her final mothball appearance. Photographs form the vast bulk of the presentation with some textual coverage of her history interspersed.  Almost all of the photographs have detailed text captions, illuminating what is seen in the
The first section has the introduction and text on the beginnings or gestation of the USS California from BB-40 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to BB-44 at Mare Island. The section has 54 photographs of the California under construction before she was
launched.  Then there are 53 photographs of the battleship at launch and fitting out. Photographic coverage continues with 36 photographs of the ship in the 1920s. There are 20 photographs of the
California in the 1930s.

The Pearl Harbor attack has major coverage, starting with a detailed text coverage of the
California during the attack. This is followed by 80 photographs showing California during the attack, in her sunken condition and the raising of the ship. I have
never seen most of these photographs and their mass and quality are truly impressive.
The next section is entitled “Return to Puget Sound” and starts with text coverage on the reconstruction of California, followed by 26 photographs showing the ship in transformation. This section is followed by California in action in 1944 in the
Marianas, followed by text on her collision with
USS Tennessee. A total of 35 photographs are in the coverage in thee sections, during which the California was in Measure 32-16d dazzle camouflage received at her reconstruction at Puget Sound.

The next section is entitled, "The Battle of Surigao Strait" in which
California participated. The next 83 photographs cover the rest of the war when in early 1945 California received Measure 21 overall 5N camouflage.  Her voyage back to the US is
covered in 26 photographs, followed by the
California's specification in 1919 and after her reconstruction at Puget Sound. The last textual portion of the book covers he drydocking and mothballing at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. This short section has
five photographs.
Among the photographic coverage are some color photographs, including those on the front and back covers. Color plates are found for the plan and profile of California in Measure 32-16d dazzle camouflage, the profile of California in 1945 with
Measure 21 overall 5N camouflage,  color profile of the OS2U Kingfisher floatplane, color profile of Curtis Seahawk floatplane, and for signal flags’ There are also detailed plan and profile drawings for
California in 1936, California in 1944, 5-
inch/38 turret and handling rooms, and AA fire control organization.
If you are interested in building a model of USS California BB-44 at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the California at Surigao Strait in Measure 32-16d dazzle camouflage, California in 1945 in Measure 21 overall 5N camouflage, or just
interested in the history of
USS California, David Doyle’s USS California, A Visual History of the Golden State Battleship BB-44, is an essential reference. Packed into one inexpensive volume is an outstandingly comprehensive collection of
photographs of
California, complemented by line drawings and color plates.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama