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USS CALIFORNIA ACR-6
USS SAN DIEGO CA-6

The USS California (ACR-6), later renamed San Diego, was a United States Navy Pennsylvania-class armored cruiser. She was launched on 28 April 1904 and commissioned on 1 August 1907.

Joining the 2nd Division, Pacific Fleet, California took part in the Naval Review at San Francisco in May 1908 for the Secretary of the Navy Victor H. Metcalf. In March 1912, USS California went westward for duty on the Asiatic Station, representing American power and prestige in the Far East.

Returning home in August 1912, the Califronia was ordered to Corinto, Nicaragua, then embroiled in internal political disturbance. Here she protected American lives and property, then resumed her operations along the west coast; she cruised off California, and kept a watchful eye on Mexico, at that time also suffering political disturbance.

On September 1, 1914, California was renamed San Diego (in order to free up her original name for use with the Tennessee-class battleship USS California BB-44). She then served as flagship for Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, intermittently until 12 February 1917, when she went into reserve status.

At the opening of World War I, the USS San Diego was placed into full commission on 7 April. The cruiser operated as flagship for Commander, Patrol Force Pacific Fleet, until 18 July, when she was ordered to the Atlantic Fleet. Reaching Hampton Roads on 4 August, she joined Cruiser Division 2, and later broke the flag of Commander, Cruiser Force, Atlantic, which she flew until 19 September.

San Diego's essential mission was the escort of convoys through the first dangerous leg of their passages to Europe. Based on Tompkinsville, New York, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, she operated in the weather-torn, submarine-infested North Atlantic safely convoying all of her charges to the ocean escort.

Early on 19 July 1918, San Diego left the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard bound for New York where she was to meet and escort a convoy bound for France. Her captain ordered a zigzag course at a speed of 15 kn. Visibility was reported as being from 6–8 mi.

At 11:05 the next day, 19 July, San Diego was steaming northeast of the Fire Island Lightship when an explosion occurred on the cruiser's port side adjacent to the port engine room and well below the waterline. The bulkhead at the site of the explosion was warped so that the watertight hatch between the engine room and No. 8 fire room could not be shut, and both compartments immediately flooded. Captain Christy assumed that the ship had been torpedoed and immediately sounded submarine defense quarters and ordered all guns to open fire on anything resembling a periscope. He called for full speed ahead on both engines and hard right rudder, but was told that both engines were out of commission and that the machinery compartments were rapidly flooding. The ship had taken on a 9 list and water began pouring in through one of the 6 in gun ports, flooding the gun deck.

Informed that the ship's radio was not working, Christy despatched the gunnery officer to the mainland with a boat crew to summon rescue vessels.

About 10 minutes after the explosion, cruiser San Diego began to sink. Orders were given to lower the liferafts and boats. Captain Christy held off giving the order to abandon ship until he was certain that the USS San Diego was going to capsize, when the crew abandoned the vessel in a disciplined and orderly manner. Christy was the last man to leave the ship.

USS San Diego had sunk in 28 minutes with the loss of six lives. She was the only major warship lost by the United States in World War I. Two men were killed instantly when the explosion occurred, a crewman who had been oiling the port propeller shaft was never seen again, a sailor was killed by one of the smokestacks breaking loose as the ship capsized, one was killed when a liferaft fell on his head, and the sixth was trapped inside the crow's nest and drowned.

Meanwhile, the gunnery officer had reached shore at Point O' Woods, New York after a two-hour trip, and vessels were at once sent to the scene.

The Navy Department was informed that a German mine laying submarine was operating off the east coast of the US and the US Naval Air Service was put on alert. Aircraft of the First Yale Unit, based at Bay Shore, Long Island, attacked what they thought was a submerged submarine lying on the seabed in around 100 ft and dropped several bombs; it turned out to be the submerged USS San Diego.





This USS California/USS San Diego model features:

- Plank-on-frame, hollow hull construction (very important), weighing less than 10 lbs  (A solid hull of this model would be over 30 lbs which feels like a heavy toy rather than an art piece.)

- Hollow superstructure is comprised of many individual thin pieces of wood glued together, not several solid pieces of wood stacking on top one another.

- Windows are cutouts (not black decals), thanks to the hollow structures.

-  No computer-printed paper deck

- >95% of parts are wood and metal
.

 

40" long x 16" tall x 6" wide, the model was commissioned by a secretary of the US navy.    It  is one of our three custom-built that are  displayed permanently on the USS San Diego LPD-22. 

Let us build a model of your ship by clicking on this link to let us know of your preferences: Commissioning

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