The world's first surface combatant to be powered by nuclear means was USS long Beach (CGN-9). This ship of the United States Navy (USN) was a one-off entry of the Long Beach-class which, on paper, was used to succeed the Providence-class cruisers and was, itself, eventually succeeded by the Albany-class cruiser group. Ordered on October 15th, 1956, Long Beach was laid down on December 2nd, 1957 and launched on July 14th, 1959. The USN took ownership on September 1st, 1961 and fully-commissioned the warship into service on September 9th of that year - by which time she was the largest non-aircraft carrier surface combatant anywhere in the world.
For her time at sea, USS Long Beach sailed under the motto of "Strike Hard, Strike Home". While being the first USN nuclear-powered surface ship, she also marked the last USN ship built to cruiser design standards as the service moved to abandon cruisers in general - this also made her the only cruiser design adopted by the USN in the post-World War 2 world.
USS Long Beach revved up her nuclear units to conduct her first sail on July 6th, 1961 and her first refit/refueling was handled as soon as 1965-1966 after which point the warship had already covered some 167,000 miles of at-seat traveling. During 1967, 1968, she was stationed in Southeast Asia during the American commitment to the Vietnam War (1955-1975) where her advanced technology could be put to great use. With her missiles, she claimed at least two enemy MiG fighter aircraft kills during 1968 while, on the whole, she and her crews responded to no fewer than seven engagements while also directing "friendlies" in attacks of their own. Of particular note was the warship could claim aerial targets flying over enemy-held territory with her missiles as far as 75 miles away.
By 1979, USS Long Beach was beginning to show its age and its weapon suite was upgraded to better contend with emerging threats of the Cold War period (1947-1991). Several of her notable radar fixtures were either stripped altogether or replaced with more advanced forms and sonar was improved as was ranged and close-in defense with work had into 1981. From 1984 until 1985, she experienced her next major overhaul which, among other issues, addressed armor protection. In 1985, the aforementioned Tomahawk cruise missile support was added to give the USN vessel a considerable ranged land-attack capability and, the following year, she sailed with a USN battlegroup across the Western Pacific that included the famous battleship USS New Jersey. In 1991, she operated alongside New Jersey's sister, the battleship USS Missouri, during the American commitment to the Persian Gulf War. Her final task was in support of U.S. personnel evacuating the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.
Due to the cost of operating a nuclear-powered warship, and the extensive military draw-down that followed the end of the Cold War (1991), any further plans to modernize USS Long Beach were delayed until cancelled in full. She was deactivated on July 2nd, 1994 (at Norfolk) and formally decommissioned on May 1st, 1995. Stripped of her nuclear equipment and all other military-grade usefulness, the stripped hulk of this once-proud ship was finally sold off in 2012.
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
721.2 ft (219.82 m)
71.5 ft (21.79 m)
30.6 ft (9.33 m)
30 kts (35 mph)
2 x 5" turreted deck guns.
2 x "Terrier" guided-missile launchers (twin launchers).
1 x "Talos" missile launcher (twin launcher (later deleted)).
1 x 8-cell Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC) launcher.
2 x 12.75" triple torpedo tubes (Mk 46 torpedo family).
2 x Standard ER missile launchers (replacing Terrier missile launchers).
2 x 4-cell "Harpoon" anti-ship missile launchers.
2 x 4-cell "Tomahawk" cruise missile launchers (replacing rear Talos missile launcher).
2 x 20mm Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs).
1 x Navy helicopter on stern helipad.