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USS Long Beach (CGN-9)

USS Long Beach was the first "all-new" cruiser designed and constructed after World War II (all others were completions or conversions of cruiser begun or completed during the war). The ship was designed as an "all-missile" ship from the very beginning, but eventually was constructed with two 5"/38 gun mounts amidships. The space taken up by the 5"/38 mounts and the Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) system was, at different times, slated for the Regulus ship-to-shore missile or, later, the Polaris Missile.

The ship was propelled by two nuclear reactors, one for each propellor shaft, and was capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots. The high box-like superstructure contained the A/N SPS-32 and SPS-33 phased array radars, early versions of the phased array systems lately installed on Aegis Class Cruisers and Guided Missile Destroyers.

The final weapons suite consisted of:

  • Talos Long Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) with a range in excess of 80 nautical miles.

  • Terrier Medium Range SAMs with a range in excess of 30 miles.

  • Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) system capable of delivering a torpedo or depth charge (nuclear capable) at a range of 10,000 yards (5 nautical miles [nm]).

  • Twin triple torpedo launchers that could fire Mk 46 torpedos.

  • 5"/38 caliber single mounts (2), capable of surface and shore bombardment to a range of 18,000 yards.

Long Beach served in the Atlantic Fleet from commissioning in 1961 until completing first refueling in early 1966, when the ship transferred homeports from Norfolk, Virginia to Long Beach, California.

In October of 1966, Long Beach deployed for the first of a number of cruises to the Western Pacific (WestPac). During this initial cruise, the ship served primarily as the Positive Identification Radar Advisory Zone (PIRAZ) unit in the northern Tonkin Gulf. As such, the main responsibilities of the ship were to "sanitize" returning US air strikes to ensure that no enemy aircraft attempted to evade identification by sneaking out with "friendlies." Additionally, the ship provided support for an on-board Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter unit. During this tour, the ship was responsible for shooting down one soviet-made An-12 Colt aircraft that was attempting to engage South Vietnamese naval units. The shoot-down was actually accomplished by F-4 aircraft under the control of a Long Beach Air Intercept Controller (AIC). The ship returned to Long Beach, California in July of 1967.

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