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USS Long Beach (CGN-9)

USS Long Beach
USS Long Beach
United States
Name: Long Beach
Namesake: Long Beach, California
Ordered: 15 October 1956
Builder: Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts
Laid down: 2 December 1957
Launched: 14 July 1959
Sponsored by: Mrs. Marian Swanson-Hosmer
Acquired: 1 September 1961
Commissioned: 9 September 1961
  • 1 May 1995
  • (deactivated on 2 July 1994)
In service: 0
Out of service: 1
Reclassified: as CGN-9 1 July 1958
Struck: 1 May 1995

Superstructure and Nuclear Reactor recycled at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard 25 September 2002.

Hull auctioned for scrap to Tacoma Metals on 12 July 2012 for around $900,000
General characteristics
Class & type: Long Beach-class cruiser
Displacement: 15,540 tons
Length: 721 ft 3 in (219.84 m)
Beam: 71 ft 6 in (21.79 m)
Draft: 30 ft 7 in (9.32 m)
Propulsion: 2 C1W nuclear reactors; 2 General Electric turbines; 80,000 shp (60 MW); 2 propellers
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h)
Range: Nuclear
Complement: 1160 officers and men
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Aircraft carried: None. landing pad available for one helicopter
Motto: "Strike Hard, Strike Home"

USS Long Beach (CLGN-160/CGN-160/CGN-9) was a nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser in the United States Navy. She was the only ship of her class and the third Navy ship named after the city of Long Beach, California.

Long Beach was laid down 2 December 1957, launched 14 July 1959 and commissioned 9 September 1961. Long Beach deployed to Vietnam during the war and served numerous times in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. Long Beach was celebrated as the first nuclear‑powered surface warship in 1961, but just over 30 years later, nuclear power was deemed too expensive to use on surface ships smaller than an aircraft carrier. Long Beach was decommissioned in the post-cold war draw down instead of refueling her 1 May 1995. What remained of the hull after the superstructure had been removed was sold for scrap in 2012 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.


  • Configuration 1
  • Weapons suite 2
  • History 3
    • 1970s 3.1
    • 1980s 3.2
    • Fate 3.3
  • Milestones 4
  • Commanders 5
  • Awards 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Artist's concept of nuclear powered cruiser design from 1956.

The ship was designed as an "all-missile" ship from the very beginning, but was fitted with two 5"/38 caliber gun mounts amidships on the orders of President Kennedy. Long Beach was also the last cruiser built on a traditional long, lean cruiser hull; later new-build cruisers were actually converted frigates (DLG/CG USS Leahy (DLG-16), USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25), USS Belknap (DLG-26), USS Truxtun (DLGN-35), and the California and Virginia classes) or uprated destroyers (the DDG/CG Ticonderoga class was built on a Spruance class destroyer hull).

Long Beach was first laid out to be a smaller frigate, but expanded to a cruiser hull due to the ship being slated for the Regulus nuclear cruise missile or, later, 4 launching tubes for the Polaris missile,[3] which would occupy the space taken up by the 5"/38 caliber gun mounts and the ASROC system. The open space just aft of the bridge "box" was to be the area for these.

In addition to steel, Long Beach was built with 450 tons of structural aluminum.[4] Because of this unusually high quantity of aluminum, she was assigned the voice radio call sign "Alcoa".[4]

The ship was propelled by two nuclear reactors, one for each propeller shaft, and was capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots (56 km/h). The high box-like superstructure contained the SCANFAR system, consisting of the AN/SPS-32 and AN/SPS-33 phased array radars. One of the reasons Long Beach was a one-ship class was because it was an experimental platform for these radars, which were precursors to the AN/SPY-1 phased array systems later installed on Aegis warships (Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers). At the time, Long Beach had the highest bridge of any ship smaller than an aircraft carrier.

Weapons suite

The original weapons suite consisted of:

  • Talos long range Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) with a range in excess of 80 nmi (150 km).
  • Terrier medium range SAMs with a range in excess of 30 miles (48 km).
  • ASROC system capable of delivering a torpedo or depth charge at a range of 10,000 yd (9.1 km).
  • Two twin 12.75 inch torpedo launchers that could fire the Mark 46 torpedo.
  • Two 5"/38 caliber gun, capable of surface and shore bombardment to a range of 18,000 yd (16 km).

The ship went through several modifications by the time she was decommissioned. The final weapons suite consisted of:

  • Two forward launchers for the Standard extended range missiles. These replaced the Terrier and the Talos.
  • The rear launcher for the Talos was replaced with 2 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile box launchers. Each launcher held 4 missiles.
  • Two Phalanx CIWS were added aft of aft mast.
  • Two RGM-84 Harpoon ship-to-ship missile launchers were added. Each launcher held 4 Harpoons.

The 5"/38's and the ASROC were retained, and several 12.7mm (50-cal) were installed as needed.


Long Beach was originally ordered as CLGN-160. She was reclassified CGN-160 in early 1957, but was again reclassified as CGN-9 on 1 July 1957. Her keel was laid down on 2 December 1957 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts. She was launched 14 July 1959, sponsored by Mrs. Marian Swanson-Hosmer, the wife of Craig Hosmer, retired rear admiral and Congressman from California. She was commissioned on 9 September 1961, with Captain Eugene P. Wilkinson in command.[5] Wilkinson had also been the first to command the first nuclear submarine, Nautilus.[6] At commissioning, the ship was reported to have cost $320 million ($2.53 billion today),[7] which was over budget from earlier estimates of $250 million.[8]

RIM-8 Talos missile launcher on USS Long Beach, July 1961

During construction in January 1960, it was widely reported that Long Beach was sabotaged when anti-mine (degaussing) electrical cables were found to have been intentionally cut in three places.[9] It was the second of three incidents at Fore River Shipyard at that time.[10]

Long Beach served in the Atlantic Fleet from her commissioning in 1961 until completing her first refueling in early 1966, when the cruiser was transferred from the home port of Naval Station Norfolk to Naval Station Long Beach, California.

The first nuclear‑power surface warship in history, Long Beach was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and home ported at Norfolk. The guided‑missile cruiser conducted extensive shakedown testing of her complex weapons and propulsion systems from 2 October to 16 December 1961; her performance proved the nuclear cruiser a capable warship. Between 28 December and 6 January 1962 she conducted operational tests of her missiles off Puerto Rico, then sailed for Bremerhaven, Germany, arriving 15 January for courtesy calls in north European ports.[5]

Returning to Norfolk 7 February, Long Beach trained off the east coast and in the Caribbean, on 10 April joining in Atlantic Fleet exercises off North Carolina and Virginia as flagship for Adm. Robert H. Dennison, Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet. She was reviewed by President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson during this time.[5]

Operation "Sea Orbit" — USS Bainbridge, Long Beach, and Enterprise.

After overhaul and installation of new equipment at Philadelphia, Long Beach trained in the Caribbean and sailed 6 August 1963 to join the 6th Fleet in its Mediterranean peacekeeping operations. She returned to Norfolk 20 December for coastal and Caribbean operations through 28 April 1964 when she sailed for the Mediterranean to join aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25) in the formation of the first all nuclear‑powered task group 13 May. The force operated in the Mediterranean testing its unique capabilities until 31 July when it sailed. under Rear Adm. Bernard M. Strean from Gibraltar on an around‑the‑world cruise. This operation, Sea Orbit, reminiscent of the cruise of the Great White Fleet in 1907‑09, demonstrated the strategic mobility of U.S. naval nuclear‑powered surface forces independent of normal fleet logistic support. During 58 steaming days Long Beach steamed over 30,000 miles at an average speed of 25 knots, without being refueled or resupplied. In the course of the voyage, numerous foreign dignitaries visited the ship during visits off both coasts of Africa and in‑port calls at Karachi, Pakistan; Melbourne, Australia; Wellington, New Zealand; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[5]

Long Beach returned to Norfolk from this cruise 3 October 1964 to join in exercises off the east coast and in the Caribbean. On 4 June 1965 she sailed for the Global Strategy Conference at the Naval War College, Newport, where Vice Adm. Kleber S. Masterson, Commander 2d Fleet broke his flag in the ship. Back in Norfolk 23 June 1965, Long Beach resumed training and upkeep prior to her transfer to the Pacific Fleet. She sailed 28 February 1966 for her new home port and namesake, Long Beach, California, and arrived 15 March 1966.[5]

RIM-2 Terrier missile launch from USS Long Beach, October 1961

The summer of 1966 was spent in training and orienting midshipmen in the tactics and operations involved in the modern nuclear Navy. After a period of leave and upkeep in the fall, Long Beach sailed 7 November 1966 from Long Beach for the Far East.[5] During this initial cruise, the cruiser served primarily as the Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone (PIRAZ) unit in the northern Gulf of Tonkin. As such, her main responsibility was to "sanitize" returning US air strikes, ensuring that no enemy aircraft were attempting to evade identification by hiding amongst returning friendlies. Additionally, the ship provided support for an on-board Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter unit. During this tour, Long Beach was responsible for directing the downing of one Soviet-made An-2 'Colt' aircraft that was attempting to engage South Vietnamese naval units. The shoot-down was executed by an F-4 Phantom II fighter under the control of a Long Beach Air Intercept Controller (AIC). The cruiser returned to Long Beach, California, in July 1967. In 1968 the ship was redeployed to the Gulf of Tonkin, shooting down a MiG fighter plane with a RIM-8 Talos missile 23 May 1968,[11] at a range of 65 miles. In June of the same year, she downed another MIG,[11] this one at 61 miles. She also directed other MIG kills by American fighters. She was the first ship to down an aircraft using SAMs in the Vietnam war and the incidents were not immediately publicized because it was feared the use of SAMs would undermine the 1968 Paris Peace Accords. Long Beach received a Navy Unit Commendation for the actions.[11]


Artist's impression of Long Beach following conversion to Aegis cruiser.

Long Beach received a Combat Action Ribbon for action on 26 April 1972,[12] a few days after the Battle of Đồng Hới. After Vietnam Long Beach performed routine duties in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, although in 1975 she served escort duties for an ad-hoc U.S. task force during the Mayagüez incident. Around this time, Long Beach was identified as being suitable for conversion to accommodate the newly developed Aegis combat system, as part of the plans for a force of nuclear powered Aegis cruisers, but that plan was not implemented.[13] In 1975 the ship changed home ports to San Diego, California.[14] When the Talos missile system was removed in 1978 two 4-cell Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers were installed aft.


In 1980 the vessel rescued 114 Vietnamese boat people off the coast of Vietnam.[14] 9 January 1980, Long Beach returned to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to undergo a mid-life conversion, during which time the SCANFAR system, consisting of the AN/SPS-32 and AN/SPS-33 radars, was removed from the forward superstructure and enhanced flagship facilities were installed, along with modern radars like the AN/SPS-48. The Standard SM-2ER missiles and the associated modern electronics replaced the obsolete Terrier system. In addition, two Phalanx CIWS close-in weapon systems were installed, and the Harpoon Surface-to-surface missile launchers were re-sited. Beginning 5 January 1985 the BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile system was installed, including two 4-cell armored box launchers.[14]

Long Beach deployed throughout the 1980s, conducting Tomahawk cruise missile test launches, serving as an escort for the USS Missouri task force, and providing aircraft carrier escort support after the Gulf War of 1991. Long Beach deployed to the region beginning 28 May 1991 to support Operation Provide Comfort, which was after Operation Desert Storm was over and major hostilities had ended in late February 1991.[15]


Hull of USS Long Beach CGN-9 sitting in PSNS yard awaiting recycling in March 2011. Picture taken from top of hill in Port Orchard looking north across the water to the shipyard.

Due to cuts in the defense budget after the 1991 Gulf War, the decision was made to decommission all nuclear cruisers from the Navy as their reactor cores ran down. As Long Beach had been refueled during her 1970 refit, her third refueling was due in the early to mid-1990s. As a consequence, a decision was made to decommission her in 1994. A deactivation ceremony occurred on 2 July 1994 at Norfolk Naval Station, and the ship was then towed over to Newport News Shipbuilding where her entire superstructure was removed and her reactors were defueled and removed, along with any radioactive parts. After this work was completed in the winter of 1995 the hull was towed through the Panama Canal to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Long Beach was stricken on 1 May 1995, over 33 years after she had entered service.

On 13 July 2012, Long Beach was sold [16] for recycling as prescribed for nuclear-powered vessels by Code 350 of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash.


USS Long Beach c.1989.
  • 2 December 1957 — Keel laid in Bethlehem Steel Company's Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts.[5]
  • 14 July 1959 — launching; Mrs. Craig Hosmer christened the ship as her sponsor.[5]
  • 5 July 1961 — USS Long Beach underway for the first time using her own nuclear power.[14]
  • 9 September 1961 — USS Long Beach is commissioned as the first nuclear-powered surface vessel at the Boston Naval Shipyard.[5]
  • 2 October 1961 — Change of Home port to Norfolk, Virginia.
  • 6 August 1963 — 1st deployment to the Mediterranean.[5]
  • 28 April 1964 — 2nd deployment to the Mediterranean for "Nuclear Task Force One".[5]
  • 15 March 1966 — USS Long Beach and City of Long Beach, California[5][14] unite for first time.
  • 7 November 1966 — 1st West Pac deployment.[5]
  • 1 May 1967 — Deployed to Gulf of Tonkin.
  • 9 December 1967 — Present at Long Beach to welcome RMS "Queen Mary" on her first call ever to her new home port.
  • 15 April 1968 — 2nd West Pac deployment.[5]
  • 11 August 1969 — 3rd West Pac deployment.
  • March 1970 - Overhaul in Vallejo, California.[14]
  • 1 July 1970 — USS Long Beach begins refueling at Mare Island Naval Shipyard.
  • 28 March 1972 — 4th West Pac deployment.[14]
  • 1 May 1973 — 5th West Pac deployment.
  • 7 November 1974 — 6th West Pac deployment.
  • 7 June 1975 — Change of homeport to San Diego, California.[14]
  • 15 September 1976 — 7th West Pac deployment.
  • 4 April 1978 — 8th West Pac deployment.
  • 7 January 1980 — 9th West Pac deployment.[14]
  • 6 October 1980 — Begins Comprehensive Overhaul Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.[14]
  • 13 January 1984 — 10th West Pac deployment.[14]
  • 9 January 1985 — Selected Restricted Availability at Bremerton, Washington.[14]
  • 13 May 1986 — 11th West Pac deployment.
  • 25 July 1987 — 12th West Pac deployment.
  • 19 October 1987 — Participated in Kuwaiti tanker reflagging and provided anti-aircraft cover during Operation Nimble Archer.
  • 13 October 1988 — North Atlantic Treaty Organization Ship Visit.
  • 18 September 1989 — 13th West Pac deployment/world cruise.
  • 28 May 1991 — 14th West Pac deployment in support of Operation Provide Comfort.
  • 8 April 1992 — Comprehensive overhaul, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
  • 12 May 1993 — Underway Counter Narcotics Patrol, Central America.
  • 8 November 1993 — Underway Counter Narcotics Patrol, Caribbean.
  • 6 May 1994 — Change of homeport to Norfolk, Virginia.
  • 2 July 1994 — Deactivation ceremony, Norfolk Naval Station.
  • 20 March 1995 — Removal of superstructure, reactors and radioactive parts completed.
  • 13 July 2012 — Sold by auction[16] for scrap, Bremerton, WA.


  • 9 September 1961 – 11 September 1962: Captain Eugene P. Wilkinson[17]
  • 11 September 1962 – 23 August 1966: Captain Frank H. Price[17]
  • 23 August 1966 – 15 June 1968: Captain Kenneth C. Wallace[17]
  • 15 June 1968 – 25 September 1972: Captain William A. Spencer[17]
  • 25 September 1972 – 24 October 1975: Captain Frank R. Fahland[17]
  • 24 October 1975 – 18 July 1978: Captain Harry C. Schrader[17]
  • 18 July 1978 – February 1982: Captain Edmund B. Bossart[17]
  • February 1982–1985: Captain Fredrick Triggs, III[17]
  • February 1985 – September 1988: Captain Marvin J. Weniger[17]
  • September 1988 – November 1990: Captain John C. Pollock, III[17]
  • November 1990 – April 1993: Captain William R. Burns, Jr.[17]
  • April 1993 – 1 May 1995: Captain Keith P. Bersticker[17]


Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Combat Action Ribbon Joint Meritorious Unit Award
with 1 star
Navy Unit Commendation
Meritorious Unit Commendation
with 1 star
Navy E Ribbon with
wreathed Battle "E" Device
National Defense Service Medal
with 1 star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
with 1 star
Vietnam Service Medal
with 6 stars
Southwest Asia Service Medal
with 1 star
Humanitarian Service Medal Sea Service Deployment Ribbon Special Operations Service Ribbon
Vietnam Campaign Medal Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • 1 September 1987 – 2 September 1987 Persian Gulf[12]
  • 20 September 1987 – 26 September 1987 Persian Gulf[12]
  • 29 September 1987 – 28 October 1987 Persian Gulf[12]
  • 30 October 1987 – 29 November 1987 Persian Gulf[12]
  • 17 January 1990 – 31 January 1990 Persian Gulf[12]
Combat Action Ribbon
  • 26 April 1972[12]
Humanitarian Service Medal
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Meritorious Unit Commendation
  • 19 November 1966 – 8 June 1967[12]
  • 10 April 1972 – 30 November 1972[12]
Battle Efficiency Award
  • 1 July 1977 – 31 December 1978[12]
  • 1 January 1985 – 30 June 1986[12]
  • 1 July 1986 – 31 December 1987[12]
  • 1 January 1988 – 30 June 1989[12]
  • 1 January 1991 – 31 December 1992[12]
  • 1 January 1993 – 31 December 1993[12]
Navy Unit Commendation
  • 7 May 1968 – 20 October 1968[12]
Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon
  • 15 November 1993[12]
Southwest Asia Service Medal
  • 6 July 1991 – 12 October 1991[12]
Vietnam Service Medal
  • 29 November 1966 – 6 January 1967[12]
  • 1 February 1967 – 1 March 1967[12]
  • 12 March 1967 – 7 April 1967[12]
  • 5 May 1967 – 13 June 1967[12]
  • 4 May 1968 – 11 June 1968[12]
  • 21 June 1968 – 11 July 1968[12]
  • 13 July 1968 – 7 August 1968[12]
  • 12 September 1968 – 23 October 1968[12]
  • 3 September 1969 – 11 October 1969[12]
  • 26 October 1969 – 4 December 1969[12]
  • 10 December 1969 – 12 December 1969[12]
  • 20 December 1969 – 22 December 1969[12]
  • 1 January 1970 – 25 January 1970[12]
  • 13 April 1972 – 23 June 1972[12]
  • 1 July 1972 – 31 July 1972[12]
  • 8 August 1972 – 6 September 1972[12]
  • 15 September 1972 – 16 October 1972[12]
  • 25 October 1972 – 22 November 1972[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Blackman, Raymond V. B. Jane's Fighting Ships (1970/71) p.425
  2. ^ a b Polmar, Norman "The U.S. Navy: Shipboard Radars" United States Naval Institute Proceedings December 1978 p.144
  3. ^ "Polaris will be carried on "A" ship". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. 1 August 1959. p. 10. 
  4. ^ a b USS Long Beach Association. "CGN-9 VITAL STATISTICS". USS Long Beach Association. 2003. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Long Beach III".  
  6. ^ "Nautilus IV".  
  7. ^ "First Nuclear Cruiser Commissioned". The Tuscaloosa News. 10 September 1961. p. 36. 
  8. ^ "First Nuclear Cruiser Schedule Lags". Sarasota Journal. UPI. 24 August 1960. p. 16. 
  9. ^ "Sabotage Probed on Atom Ship". The Pittsburgh Press. UPI. p. 20. 
  10. ^ "Sabotage Hinted on Third Ship". The Miami News. UPI. 11 January 1960. 
  11. ^ a b c Horton, Bob (2 February 1970). "Missile Success Lauded". The Day. Associated Press. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an "Navy Unit Award website". Retrieved 21 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "CGN 9 Long Beach – Program". Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "The Ship". USS Long Beach CGN-9 Wesetpac/Indian Ocean Cruise July 25th, 1987 to January 19th, 1988. 1988. (subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ "Ships Participating in Desert Shield / Storm as of 24 April 1991". 24 April 1991.  (Long Beach is not in the list and did not deploy during Desert Shield / Storm)
  16. ^ a b Censer, Marjorie (18 September 2012). "Historic nuclear cruiser headed to scrap heap". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "USS Long Beach". Retrieved 20 June 2015. 

External links

  • "USS Long Beach Reunion Web Page". 
  • "USS Long Beach". 
  • "USS Long Beach". 

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