"The old and the new mainmast settings"

The old mainmast setting in Jack London Square

USS OAKLAND mainmast was torn down
in 1998 to be replaced at another location.


Commissioning, Decommissioning, Striken, and Sold for scrap

The Commissioning Ceremony
17 July 1943

The commissioning ceremony marks the acceptance of a ship as a unit of the
Operating Forces of the United States Navy. At the moment of breaking the commissioning pennant, USS OAKLAND CL-95 became the responsibility of the Commanding Officer who, together with the ship's officers and men, had the duty 
of making and keeping her ready for any service required by our nation in peace
or war.

The symbol above has its origin in European antiquity. During the Middle Ages,
the mark of knights and other nobles was the "coachwhip" pennant. This pennant
was known as a pennon. The size and elaborateness of the design generally
indicated the relative rank and importance of the noble it heralded. On the rare 
occasions that these nobles embarked upon seagoing vessels, they ensured that
their pennons were flown from the ship. The pennons generally flew from the 
vessel's most visible point, usually the forecastle or main mast.

It is believed that the first time the pennon was used independent of feudal 
heraldry dates back to the 17th century during a conflict between the Dutch and
English. Dutch Admiral Martin Harperton Tromp hoisted a broom atop his 
masthead as a symbol of his intent to "sweep" the English Navy from the sea.
British Admiral William Blake countered by hoisting a horse whip to indicate his 
intention to chastise the Dutch fleet. Admiral Blake made good on his boast and
ever since a narrow coach whip pennant, symbolizing the original horse whip, has 
been the distinctive mark of a ship of war and has been adopted by all nations.

The commissioning pennant, as it is called today, is blue at the hoist with a 
horizontal red and white stripe at the fly, and varies in length with the size of the
ship. At one time, there were thirteen white stars in the blue field representing the 
original states, but in 1933 seven white stars became the standard. The 
commissioning pennant is flown at the main on vessels with no flag officers 
embarked. Ships with a high ranking officer embarked will fly a personal or 
command pennant instead.

The Decommissioning Ceremony
1 July 1949

The decommissioning ceremony is a solemn occasion where we gather together 
to say farewell to a legacy of steel, sweat, and blood. This ceremony signifies the 
end of an era in which thousands of sailors have sacrificed their time, energy, and 
on occasion their lives, in order to ensure that the ship's mission was 

Nowhere in Navy Regulations will you find rules that state a ship must have any 
sort of decommissioning ceremony. This custom has risen out of the human need
to reflect upon the loss of something that is a major part of one's life. It is only precedence that dictates that this should be a formal, impressive, and solemn 
event. The decommissioning ceremony for UNITED STATES SHIP OAKLAND CL/CLAA-95 marks the end of six years of service.

During the ceremony, USS OAKLAND will "strike colors" for the last time. The commissioning pennant will be lowered and presented to the ship's final
Commanding Officer. This ceremony will mark the official retirement of 
UNITED STATES SHIP OAKLAND CL/CLAA-95. This ship is retiring before 
her time. After six years of faithful and dependable service, we will surely miss 
her. Fair winds and following seas to a mighty warship with a proud legacy.

The decommissioning ceremony, which marks a Navy ship's last day of active
duty, lasts barely an hour. But the process is much more involved. 
Decommissioning involves unloading every last nut and bolt and slapping on a 
fresh coat of paint to a ship whose eventual fate is most often the scrap yard or 
years of sitting in "mothballs."

Decommissioning is also a time, often stressful, when sailors uproot from their 
home afloat, say goodbye to buddies and wait for new orders, whether good or

It's something every ship must go through. And it's never easy.

Striken from the Navy List
01 March 1959

Sold for scrap to Lerner Co. Of Oakland, California
24 November 1959

For $212,889.66 a small pittance for such a fine ship; a ship so well fought by her officers and men during WWII; a ship that never failed to meet her peacetime commitments.

The USS Oakland mainmast
was raised in its new home
at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park
on Friday, July 12, 2002.

The new mainmast setting in Middle Harbor Shoreline Park.
She can see the sea at last. Rest well my lady in your new home.
I would like to be the first to thank
the Port Of Oakland for choosing this location for
the USS OAKLAND CL /CLAA-95 mainmast

When I was informed by Michael Brock that the mainmast had been removed 
from it's former location in Jack London Square I was not to happy like the rest 
of the officers and crew. They had not advised us of their plans to remove the mainmast as if they were trying to get away without erecting it again. They had 
the mainmast stored out in the open for anyone to get at and do what ever they wanted. Pressure was applied to the Port of Oakland to preserve and erect the mainmast as soon as possible. They have been very cooperative on this matter 
after hearing our complains.

Finally the mainmast of the USS OAKLAND and 
S2 Wentworth George Wall, USNR, KIA,
are having a befitting honor bestowed upon them. 
George was from the city of Oakland.

The mainmast days of huckstering for Jack London Square are over and never 
will the mainmast to be land-locked again. At it's present location you can see Treasure Island where the new crew was trained to man the Oakland. The 
second best landmark on the west coast the Oakland-San Francisco Bay bridge. Then there is Hunter's Point Ship Yard where she was build which can be 
viewed in the distance. This move will make all the officers and crews of the 
USS OAKLAND very happy I am sure. 

It is just like going to sea again.

Anchors aweigh and full speed ahead!!

This web page was created by and
is maintained by Paul D. Henriott
E-mail me at phenriott@rtcol.com
Last updated 31 March 2005