USS California (BB-44)
|USS California in Hampton Roads making preparations|
After conducting their exercises, the fleet anchored in Hampton Roads. It was on April 20, 1939, that the Navy unexpectedly ordered the ships to depart the region post haste and return to the West Coast. In September 1939, the fleet conducted another major exercise off the coast of Southern California.
After the war, she remained in the region for several fleet exercises and naval reviews before being sent to Philadelphia for modernizations allowed under the Washington Naval Treaty. After completing this program, she returned to Naval Operating Base Norfolk. In 1939, the Navy redeployed her to Hawaii.
|USS Oklahoma during the 1927 Naval Review in Hampton Roads|
|USS Oklahoma in the Elizabeth River, downtown Norfolk, 1939.|
The third ship to present today is USS Arizona. Battleship number 39 spent much of her post-World War I career in Hampton Roads before being deployed for the first time to the Pacific in the mid-1920s. Like many of the older battleships, the Navy selected her to be modernized (as opposed to outright scrapping) and sent her back to Hampton Roads.
Between 1929 and 1931, workers at Norfolk Naval Shipyard upgraded several of Arizona's systems. The upgrades were similar to ones Yard workers gave to Nevada. This included two-inches of armor on the deck; anti-torpedo bulges along the side of the ship; a new fire control system; the removal of the old-fashioned cage observation towers; a new steam-launched catapult for the ship's aircraft; and brand new turbines and boilers that had been originally slated for the battleship Washington (BB-47). Fortunately for historians, a Navy photographer took some very good pictures of the ship during this overhaul.