Long Beach History 2

USS Long Beach CGN9

History Of USS Long Beach CGN-9

Converting Long Beach was estimated to cost nearly $800 million, more than the estimated price of a new conventionally-powered Aegis ship. But the Authoriazaton Committees were dominated by advocates of nuclear power, so the pressure to convert Long Beach was strong.

In 1977 the Congressional debate over whether to fund Long Beach's conversion was greatly influenced by a dispute over whether to authorize a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, but Congressional critics, such as Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, favored construction of several smaller and cheaper "sea control ships" in its place. The authorization committees promoted a nuclear-powered version. Regardless, the Navy received almost $940 million for the construction of the first Aegis gas turbine ship in FY 78, and some money was even appropriated for further study of the nuclear-powered Aegis "strike cruiser."

In 1977 Long Beach underwent a major overhaul during which her armament was changed to include the ability to land, but not stow a helicopter. A conversion to the AEGIS system was contemplated, but not done due to the fact that her missile armament was obsolete and funds would have to be diverted from new construction ships such as the Ticonderoga Class (CG47) and the Perry Class frigates. Talos was removed in 1979 along with the Mk 77 guided missile fire-control system and replaced with Harpoon canister launchers and Tomahawk armored box launchers.

From January to October 1985, the TOMAHAWK cruise missile system was installed onboard at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, replacing the previously removed TALOS system. The addition of Tomahawk ASM/LAM in the CGN-9 vastly complicated unit target planning for any potential enemy and returned an offensive strike role to the surface forces that seemed to have been lost to air power at Pearl Harbor. In July 1986 USS LONG BEACH was part of the first battleship battle group to deploy to the Western Pacific since the Korean War. The ships included replenishment oiler USS WABASH (AOR-5), destroyer USS MERRILL (DD-976), frigate USS GRAY (FF-1054), guided missile frigate USS THACH (FFG-43), nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser and the battleship USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62).

USS Long Beach CGN9USS Long Beach was deactivated 02 July 1994 in ceremonies at Norfolk Naval Station. Prior to arrival in Norfolk, USS Longbeach was homeported in San Diego. A "plank owner" is an individual who was a member of the crew of a ship when that ship was placed in commission. As part of the vessel decommissioning and disposal process, the Navy formerly removed a small portion of the deck as a traditional reminder of the time when "wooden walls and iron men" were a key part of the Navy. The last major vessel known to have been fitted with a wooden deck was USS Long Beach (CGN-9), commissioned in 1961.

Since 1986, the US Navy has disposed of reactor compartments from deactivated nuclear-powered submarines at the Hanford Site in Washington state. Beginning in 1999, the Navy also began the disposal at Hanford of reactor compartments from nuclear-powered cruisers. These reductions in the nuclear fleet are the result of the retirement of aging weapon systems and cutbacks in the number of U.S. Navy ships in the post-Cold War era. The reactor compartments are prepared for disposal at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.

The Navy's nine nuclear-powered cruisers had two reactor compartments each. Deactivation was similar to the submarines -- spent fuel is removed, fluids are drained and pipes are sealed. The compartments are then cut from the ship and sealed. Reactor compartments from U.S.S Long Beach are larger and heavier than those from the other eight cruisers. The Long Beach compartments are rectangular -- about 37 by 38 feet on the sides and 42 feet high.  They weigh about 2,250 tons. The other cruiser compartments are cylindrical, 37 feet high and 31 feet in diameter. They are similar in size to submarine reactor compartments. They weigh about 1,400 tons each.

Long Beach was the first nuclear-powered surface combatant and she was a technical success. But, she was too big, too slow, and too expensive. The nuclear frigates (later re-designated as cruisers) that would follow her were somewhat more affordable and better suited to task force defense. In 1957, the shipbuilding budget of the U.S. Navy was under severe assault with missile programs proving far more expensive than had been anticipated. Therefore, a repeat of the Long Beach, costing $187 million, was cancelled.
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