USS Long Beach CGN-9 was commissioned on September 09, 1961 and served her country for 33 years, 7 months and 22 days until her decommissioning on May 01, 1995. In her beginning Long Beach was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet homeporting in Norfolk, Virginia. After sea trials were concluded in August 1961, Long Beach patrolled the north Atlantic in 1962, then the Mediterranean in 1963 and then again in 1964.

After the ship's first Shellback initiation and in the conclusion of the 1964 MedPac deployment, Long Beach met up with USS Enterprise CVAN-65 and USS Bainbridge DLGN-25 to form Nuclear Task Force One and began Operation Sea Orbit, an unprecedented circumnavigation of the Earth by a naval task force without refueling.

In March of 1966 Long Beach passed through the Panama Canal on its voyage to her new homeport of her namesake, Long Beach, California arriving March 15, 1966. From here, Long Beach was deployed to the western Pacific Ocean six times. The first five of those WesPac deployments consisted of patrols off the coast of Vietnam where, in 1968, Long Beach became the first ship to shoot down an enemy jet fighter with SAM missiles. During the 1972 deployment Long Beach downed several enemy aircraft and rescued seventeen U.S. pilots. On her 2nd deployment from Long Beach California, USS Long Beach was deployed to the Gulf of Tonkin.

After the 1975 WesPac deployment in June, Long Beach's homeport was changed to San Diego, California from where she was deployed eight more times to patrol the Pacific and Indian Oceans and in 1987 also cruised the Persian Gulf. The 1989 WesPac also included a world tour.

On May 01, 1980 Long Beach rescued more than 100 Vietnamese "boat people". Refugees escaping communism exactly 5 years after the fall of Saigon. Marines boarded the boats to insure they were secure. Then refugees were given any needed medical care and "housed" on the fantail for the slow journey to Thailand where they debarked and were processed by the government for transfer to a new life in the U.S.

After 2 MedPacs, 1 Gulf of Tonkin patrol, 14 WesPacs and 2 Counter Narcotics Patrols (1993, Central America and Caribbean) Long Beach's homeport changed again to Norfolk, Virginia which is where, on July 02, 1994, deactivation ceremonies for the "Last True Cruiser" were held.