sci.military.naval FAQ, Part F
Surface Combatants

Revised 30 March 2000
Version 1.54
Compiled and Maintained by: Andrew Toppan
SMN FAQ Main Page:

Contents of this section:
Section F.1: Status of the Iowa class battleships
Section F.2: Grounding of USS Missouri in 1950
Section F.3: Decommissioning/disposal of US cruisers (CG/CGN) during the 1990's.
Section F.4: Meaning of warship types, i.e. "frigate","cruiser" and "destroyer"
Section F.5: The wrecks of Scapa Flow
Section F.6: Royal Navy losses during the Falkands War
Section F.7: Aluminum in warship construction
Section F.8 The 1975 reclassification of US cruisers, frigates and ocean escorts
Section F.9: The destroyer disaster at Honda Point, CA in 1923
Section F.10: The "stealth ship", Sea Shadow
Section F.11: Alaska class: large cruisers or battlecruisers?
Section F.12: Long Beach's Guns, and guns on "all missile" ships
Section F.13: Ships damaged in the Persian Gulf
Section F.14: Gun Calibers

Section F.1: Status of the Iowa class battleships

Following the demise of the "600 ship fleet" and the Cold War the Iowa class battleships were decommissioned. The major reason for their decommissioning was economics. They required a crew of almost 1600 men; their missile payload was about 78% of Spruance class destroyer's, but the destroyer has 22% of an Iowa's crew. Their unique gunfire support capability was judged not to be worth the cost (in $$$ and manpower) of maintaining them in service. They were decommissioned on the following dates:

	Iowa (BB 61)            26 Oct 1990
	New Jersey (BB 62)      9 Sept 1991
	Missouri (BB 63)        31 March 1992
	Wisconsin (BB 64)       30 Sept 1991
All four were laid up in reserve ("mothballs") for potential reactivation in the future. They were stricken from the Naval Vessels Register 12 Jan 1995. The stated reason was that they were too expensive to maintain ($100,000 per ship per year). All 4 were made available for donation to museums as of 1 May 1995, but no donations were immediately made. In 1996 Congress ordered the Navy to reinstate two battleships on the Naval Vessels Register, but prohibited the expenditure of any funds for this purpose. However, on 12 February 1998, Wisconsin and New Jersey were reinstated on the Naval Vessels Register in Category B reserve.

Later, on 4 January 1999, New Jersey was once again stricken, and Iowa was reinstated on the Naval Vessels Register, in Category B reserve. This switch was accomplished to allow donation of New Jersey to her home state.

In 1996 it was announced that Missouri would become a museum at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Ownership of the vessel was transferred to a private preservation group in May, 1998, and she arrived at Pearl Harbor in June, 1998. She is now open as a museum, berthed at Ford Island.

New Jersey was towed to New Jersey late in 1999, and will become a museum at Camden, NJ.

Wisconsin is berthed at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She is scheduled to become a pseudo-museum at Nauticus, in Norfolk. She will be open for weather-decks-only touring, but will remain US Navy property and will be maintained in reserve.

Iowa is at NETC Newport, Rhode Island, having been relocated from Philadelphia. There are efforts underway to have her towed to San Francisco, in anticipation of her eventual donation as a museum there. She might become a pseudo-museum, much like Wisconsin, prior to final donation.

Section F.2: Grounding of USS Missouri in 1950

On 17 Jan 1950 Missouri ran aground on Thimble Shoals while departing Norfolk. Captain William Brown had recently taken command of the ship. Her was instructed to make a calibration run on the acoustic range as the ship left port. The CO failed to consult the charts before heading out, and he mistook a line of spar bouys along the shoals for the range markers along the acoustic range. The XO and navigator attempted to warn him that he was headed into shoal water, but he refused to listen. Missouri went into the mud at 12.5 knots; she coasted half a mile across the mudflats after the chief engineer shut down the engines to prevent their destruction.

Salvage efforts began immediately. Tugs, salvage ships and barges were sent out from Norfolk, an Army dredge was hurriedly summoned from the upper reaches of the Chesapeake, civilan dredges were contracted, and the pontoons built to salvage the submarine Squalus in the 1930's were towed down from Boston. All ammunuition, fuels, stores and other removable weights were lightered off, a channel was dredged around and behind the ship, and extensive networks of kedge anchors and beach gear were set up. The incomplete battleship Kentucky was floated out of her building dock on 20 January to clear that facility for Missouri's repairs.

Missouri was pulled off on 1 Feb 1950 by a force of 23 vessels. There were 14 fleet and salvage tugs: 5 pulling alongside, 6 pulling directly astern and 3 swinging the bow to break her loose from the muck. 2 salvage ships were moored astern, each connected to the ship by two sets of beach gear and moored to five anchors; they pulled up on their anchor lines and hauled in on the beach gear in addition to pulling like tugs. There were 7 yard tugs assigned to keep the larger vessels in position. In addition there were 9 kedge anchors set out around the battleship, being hauled on by the battleship's winches.

Damage was relatively light, consisting mainly of some dented and torn plates; there was no permanent damage. Repairs were completed in a 5 day drydocking at Norfolk. It is often stated that Missouri's "keel was bent" and that this damage was an impairment later in the ship's career; this is not correct. Although the ship's keel was somewhat bent and distorted in places, all significant damage was repaired during the drydocking. Any remaining distortion is of a cosmetic nature only.

Other reports often say Missouri's #2 barbette was permanently "cracked"; this is also untrue. In reality a crack was found in the ship's #3 barbette at second deck level; it is not clear if this damage was even a result of the grounding, but it was discovered during post-grounding inspections. The crack was welded closed during post-grounding repairs and has not been a problem since then.

Missouri was not limited to 15 knots as has been stated in the past; she made 30+ knots during her final reactivation.

Section F.3: Decommissioning/disposal of US cruisers (CG/CGN) during the 1990's

Many questions are asked regarding the reasons certain seemlingly "young" cruisers were decommissioned during the early 1990's fleet drawdown.

The Leahy class (CG 16-24) and Belknap class (CG 26-34) ships were decommissioned as part of post-Cold War cutbacks. Although they has just been through the New Threat Upgrade (NTU), giving them a new AAW combat system, they were considered to be excess to requirements. They had manning- and maintainance-intensive high-pressure steam power plants, the last such systems in US warships (other than carriers); they were approaching the end of their 30-year service lives. Also, their AAW systems were adapted to counter threats at high altitude and long range, such as the threat presented by hordes of Soviet bombers. With the demise of the Soviet Union, this threat was greatly reduced. Current threats are seen as saturation attacks by pop-up cruise missiles, requiring rapid fire missile launchers. The old CGs' Mk 10 launchers are slow firing, requiring manual finning of the missiles prior to launch. Thus, they were expensive ships, poorly adapted to current threats, so they were eliminated. Belknap was replaced as 6th Fleet flagship by La Salle (AGF 3).

Long Beach (CGN 9), the oldest nuclear cruiser, was decommissioned in 1994, primarily due to age. She was 33 years old (3 years beyond her planned life span), and was completely worn out.

Bainbridge (CGN 25) and Truxtun (CGN 35) were similar to the Leahy and Belknap classes, so remarks for those vessels apply here. Also, both of these ships would have required expensive nuclear refuellings, so they were discarded.

The elimination of the Virginia class (CGN 38-41) cruisers is not as easy to understand. They were new, modern ships; given a NTU overhaul they would have been well suited to modern threats (they had rapid-fire Mk 26 launchers). Their major weakness was a lack of helicopters. In this case economics doomed the ships. They were coming due for nuclear refuellings, mid-life overhauls and NTUs, all expensive projects. Further, they had relatively large crews, straining USN personnel resources. Given less need for cruisers, it was decided to eliminate these ships as a money saving measure.

The California class CGNs, despite having gone through the NTU overhaul, suffered from high operating costs and large personnel requirements, so they were decommissioned 1 October 1998.

None of the ships were laid up in reserve because of the cost of mothballing and maintainance, the very small probability that the ships would ever be reactivated, and the even smaller possibilty that they could be reactivated quickly enough if they were ever needed.

The USN force requirement for cruisers seems to be 22 ships (2 for each of 11 carrier groups); there are 22 VLS Ticonderogas and 5 non-VLS Ticonderogas in service. The 5 early Ticonderogas have been mainly relegated to secondary duties, leaving the 22 VLS Ticonderogas as the only cruisers assigned to carrier groups. The first 5 Ticonderogas may be upgraded with VLS during the late 1990's, bringing the cruiser force up to 27 modern ships.

Disposal for the nuclear cruisers is similar to that of the nuclear submarines. The official start of disposal is the date the ship is deactivated and placed In Commission, In Reserve (ICIR); deactivation work sometimes begins before this date. The ship is then completely stripped; all weapons, electronics, nuclear materials, hazardous waste, reusable equipment and the entire superstructure is removed. This reduces the ship to a bare hulk with nothing projecting above the main deck. The hulk is then formally decommissioned and stricken from the NVR. Eventually it is towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNSY), where the hulks are stored until there is space for them in the scrapping program.

#       Name            ICIR date       Strike date     Strip location
CGN 9   Long Beach      7 July 1994     1 May 1995      Newport News
CGN 25  Bainbridge      1 Aug 1995      6 Oct 1995      Norfolk Navy
CGN 35  Truxtun         10 Oct 1994     11 Sept 1995    Puget Sound Navy
CGN 36  California      1 Oct 1998	9 July 1999	Puget Sound Navy
CGN 37  South Carolina  1 Oct 1998	30 July 1999	Norfolk Navy
CGN 38  Virginia        26 Feb 1994     29 Nov 1994     Norfolk Navy
CGN 39  Texas           31 May 1993     16 July 1993    Puget Sound Navy
CGN 40  Mississippi     31 Aug 1995     28 July 1997    Norfolk Navy
CGN 41  Arkansas        18 October 1997 7 July 1998     Puget Sound Navy 

Section F.4: Meaning of warship types, i.e."frigate", "cruiser" and "destroyer"

The way warships are classified tends to be controversial, and there is no set definition for the meaning of the terms. There are, however, some nearly "standard" classifications that can be applied to most major warships. The designations listed here attempt to be "universal" to the greatest degree possible. Keep in mind that many nations chose to "do things their own way" at one time or another. An excellent example is the US Navy's use of the term "frigate" from the 1950s to 1975 (see below).

Also remember that the definitions of terms tend to change over time, and several classifications may be applicable to a single warship as the ship and the classifications evolve. For example, a typical destroyer built during WWII and still in service in 1996 would still be classified as a destroyer, but it would be more similar to a modern frigate, corvette or offshore patrol vessel depending on its level of modernization.

Some of these designations are applied retrospectively, that is, a modern designation is applied to older ships. For example, the "light carrier" classification was not used prior to WWII, but, looking back, it is obvious that some ships in service prior to WWII were certainly "light" when compared to the majority of ships in service.

These terms are defined as they apply to "modern" (post-US Civil War) steel, non-sail-powered warships.

Section F.5: The wrecks of Scapa Flow

Which sunken German ships remain at Scapa Flow?

Of the numerous German ships scuttled at Scapa Flow in 1919, only seven major ships remain; all the rest have been salvaged over the years. The remaining ships are the battleships Konig, Kronprinz Wilhelm, and Markgraf; light cruisers Brummer, Dresden, Coln, Karlsruhe. There are also a number of smaller German vessels left on the bottom at Scapa Flow, along with several British blockships, and many pieces cut off other German ships during salvage operations.

Photos of some of the remaining ships can be found at

Section F.6: Royal Navy losses during the Falkands War

The following Royal Navy ships were lost or damaged during the 1982 Falkands War. Data provided by Michael P. Reed, from Air War: South Atlantic (Jeffery Ethell & Alfred Price).

Section F.7: Aluminum in warship construction

There are many misconceptions and incorrect stories regarding the use of aluminum in warship construction.

One common story is that HMS Sheffield, a destroyer sunk during the 1982 Falkland War, was lost because her alleged aluminum superstructure made her more vulnerable to damage. This story is completely untrue, because Sheffield's superstructure was not aluminum. Like all ships of her class, her hull and superstructure were entirely steel. Aluminum played no role in her loss.

Two Royal Navy warships lost during the Falklands War did have aluminum superstructures, and their loss is incorrectly attributed to this feature. Ardent was hit by seven 500- and 1000-pound bombs, plus at least two more bombs which failed to detonate, and sank some six hours after the attack. Any warship of her size, regardless of aluminum or steel construction, would likely be sunk by this many bombs, so aluminum cannot be blamed here. Antelope, another aluminum-superstructure ship, was struck by two bombs, which lodged in the ship but failed to explode. Later, while one of the bombs was being defused, it exploded, blowing a major hole in the hull and starting a large fire. The fire eventually reached the magazines, causing these to explode. Again, an aluminum superstructure appears to have little connection to the ship's loss, which was caused by the explosion of the bomb and the magazines.

A related story claims the US Navy and Royal Navy abanonded aluminum superstructures, in favor of steel, as a result of the Falklands war. Since aluminum superstructures played little or no role in the Falkands losses, this story is obviously untrue. The Royal Navy's switch to steel appears to be a result of a 1977 fire in the frigate Amazon. In the US Navy, the switch from aluminum to steel superstructures was a result of the 1975 collision between the carrier John F. Kennedy and the cruiser Belknap. The collision caused major fires aboard the cruiser, and her aluminum superstructure essentially melted; she was reduced to a badly burnt hulk. This incident lead to a decision to adopt steel superstructures in the next new warship class, the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class destroyers. This decision had been made prior to the Falkands War.

Section F.8: The 1975 reclassification of US cruisers, frigates and ocean escorts

From the 1950's to 1975, the US Navy had three types of fast task force escorts, plus one type of convoy escort. The task force escorts were Cruisers (CLG/CG), Frigates (DL/DLG), and Destroyers (DD/DDG); the convoy escorts were Ocean Escorts (DE/DEG), often known as destroyer escorts. In addtion, in the early 1970's there was a new group of ocean escort-type vessels being built with Patrol Frigate (PF) classifications. In 1975 these classifications were simplified to Cruiser (CG), Destroyer (DD/DDG) and Frigate (FF/FFG).

Under the pre-1975 classification, cruisers were large vessels, the size of WWII gun cruisers, intended as the primary surface combatants. They were to carry the long-range Talos missile, and, in many cases, strategic weapons such as Regulus or Polaris (but these were not fitted). One cruiser was to be assigned to each carrier group. There were relatively few of these ships, due to their cost and because the Frigates could carry almost as many weapons as a Cruiser.

From 1950 to 1975, Frigates were a new type, midway between Cruiser and Destroyer sizes, intended as major task force escorts. The first ship of the type was a redesignated ASW cruiser; the next 4 were very large AAW (gun) destroyers, and the remainder were essentially oversize guided missile destroyers. They carried the mid-range Terrier missile, but no offensive (strategic) weapons.

Destroyers were developed from the WWII designs as the smallest fast task force escorts. DDs were fast ASW ships; DDGs were AAW ships carrying the short-range Tartar missile.

Ocean Escorts were an evolution of the WWII destroyer escort types. They were intended as convoy escorts and were designed for mobilization production in wartime or low-cost mass production in peacetime. DEs were ASW vessels; DEGs were AAW vessels with the short-range Tarter missile.

The US Frigate classification was not used by any other navy; similar vessels were either cruisers or destroyers in foreign service. The Ocean Escort type corresponded to foreign frigates (convoy escorts).

The Soviets defined "cruiser" differently, considering ships equivalent to US Frigates to be "cruisers". By 1974 there were only 6 ships in US service classified as Cruisers, but the Soviets had 19 ships classified as Cruisers in service with 7 more building. (All totals exclude gun-only cruisers.) All but two of the Soviet ships were relatively small vessels, roughly equivalent to US Frigates and far smaller than US Cruisers. The differing US and Soviet definitions of "cruiser" caused problems when comparisions were made between US and Soviet naval forces. A table comparing US and Soviet cruiser forces showed 6 US ships vs. 19 Soviet ships, despite the fact that there were 21 US "frigates" equal or superior to the Soviet "cruisers". This lead to the perception of a "cruiser gap", when in fact there was no gap.

To cure the "cruiser gap", the US Frigate (DL/DLG) classification was eliminated on 30 June 1975. All the gun Frigates (DL) had been stricken prior to 1975. Most of the DLGs became Cruisers (CG) on 30 June 1975, but one class (Farragut) became Destroyers (DDG), due to their smaller size. The change from DLG to CG redefined the Cruiser type; cruisers were now smaller, more like large destroyers. Cruiser classifications were also simplified, with the Guided Missile Light Cruisers (CLG) simply becoming CGs.

At the same time the Ocean Escorts (DE/DEG) and Patrol Frigates (PF) became Frigates (FF/FFG).

Finally, the Attack Carriers (CVA/CVAN) became Multimission Carriers (CV/CVN). These changes brought US Navy classifications into line with foreign classifications, and eliminated the perceived "cruiser gap".

Pre-30 June 1975                Post-30 June 1975
----------------                -----------------
Attack Carrier (CVA/CVAN)       Multimission Carrier (CV/CVN)
Cruiser (CG/CLG)                Cruiser (CG)
Frigate (DL/DLG)                --
Destroyer (DD/DDG)              Destroyer (DD/DDG)
Ocean Escort (DE/DEG)           Frigate (FF/FFG)
Patrol Frigate (PF)             --
A final change came on 1 Jan 1980, when the Ticonderoga class Destroyers (DDG) became Cruisers (CG).

Section F.9: The destroyer disaster at Honda Point, CA in 1923

On 8 September 1923, the US Navy lost one and a half destroyer divisions in a mass grounding at Honda Point, California. On that night the ships of Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 11 were on a 24 hour run from San Francisco to San Diego, cruising at 20 knots. The flagship, USS Delphy (DD 261) was in the lead, followed by Destroyer Divisions 33, 31 and 32; ships as follows:

The ships turned east, supposedly into the Santa Barbara Channel, at 2100 hours. In reality the ships had were headed for the rocky shore, due to navigational errors, and unusual currents caused by the Tokyo earthquake of the previous week. The ships soon entered a thick fogbank, each vessel following the wake of the ship ahead. 5 minutes after the turn, Delphy ran ashore at 20 knots, quickly followed by other members of the squadron. S. P. Lee went ashore broadside to the cliffs to the north of Delphy. Young came ashore aft of Delphy, and was quickly rolled onto her side by the flagship's propeller wash. Woodbury wrecked on a group of rocks offshore. Nicholas stuck on a reef to seaward of S. P. Lee. Fuller was wrecked on the rocks just beyond Woodbury. Lastly, Chauncey grounded inshore of the capsized Young.

Somers and Farragut were warned by Delphy's siren and they slowed considerably before coming ashore; both were able to back off without major damage. The other ships of the squadron avoided grounding completely. The ships came to rest in two groups: a main group with Fuller, Woodbury, Young, Chauncey and Delphy roughly in a line, and S. P. Lee & Nicholas together to the north of the other ships. In the aftermath of the grounding Delpy capsized and Nicholas' bow broke off.

Rescue efforts began immediately. The survivors from Young escaped to Chauncey via a lifeline. Fishing boats summoned by the surviving ships worked among the rocks, plucking the crews off Fuller and Woodbury. Local ranchers, awakened by Delpy's siren, hastened to set up breeches buoys from the top of the cliffs down to the wrecked ships. Other survivors waded ashore through the rocks. 23 men were lost, mostly from the capsized Young. The survivors were taken to San Diego by special train shortly after being rescued.

The ships were total losses. They were stricken from the Register, stripped of useable equipment and sold to a scrapper for $1,035. No salvage work was done, and the ships remain where they were wrecked. Chauncey's remains are still visible. The area is now part of Vandenburg AFB.

See Flush Decks & Four Pipes by John D. Alden for more information.

Section F.10: The "stealth ship", Sea Shadow

In 1993 it was revealed that the US Navy had been testing a "stealth ship" since 1985. The vessel is named Sea Shadow. It uses first-generation stealth technology, making it the seaborne equivalent of the F-117 "stealth fighter". It is pure testbed, having no military capabilities. It was built to test seaborne stealth (radar, infrared and acoustic), SWATH hull design, ship control and automation technology and systems, structural and seakeeping technologies and hydrodynamic effects (wake and pressure). The vessel was developed by Lockheed and built inside the famous Hughes Mining Barge (HMB-1), originally built for Project Jennifer. HMB-1 was reacquired from the EPA in 1982, converted to a covered floating drydock at Todd Shipyards, and moored at Redwood City, CA. Construction of Sea Shadow began in 1983 and was completed in 1985.

Sea Shadow's configuration has been described as "a 1990's Merrimac", referring to the Civil War-era ironclad ram. It is a SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) vessel with all above-water surface sloped radically inward. She is 160 feet long, 70 feet in beam, 14 feet in draft, displaces 560 tons and her diesel-electric propulsion gives her a top speed of 13 knots. She has no combat systems or even a navigation radar. The diesel engines are mounted above water in the main hull, with electric motors in each of the submerged pontoons. She has a crew of 4, but additional personnel can be accomodated for tests.

Sea Shadow was tested at night in 1985-1986 and stored in HMB-1 at Redwood City until 11 April 1993, when it existence was announced so it could conduct three weeks of offshore daylight tests. Tests have included operations on radar and acoustic ranges, "can you see it" radar tests, seakeeping, hydrodynamic and structural tests, and automation/ship control tests. The vessel is reported to be essentially invisible to shipboard radar, even at close range. After the vessel was revealed it (in HMB-1) was moved to NAS Alameda. In 1995 HMB-1 and Sea Shadow were towed away for storage, the test program having been completed. In 1999 Sea Shadow was reactivated for testing of new technologies in support of the DD-21 program.

Stealth concepts tested in Sea Shadow have found their way into many USN ships, including DDG 51, AGOS 19, and LPD 17 classes.

Although it was reported that Sea Shadow took part in operations in Somalia, this has been proven to be untrue. Supposedly, video from the widely-televised first landing of SEALs and Marines in Somalia shows a Sea Shadow-like vessel offshore. It is known that HMB-1 did not leave the US during that period; Sea Shadow does not have the speed or range to transit the Pacific on its own. It would have been impossible to get HMB-1 and/or Sea Shadow across the Pacific undetected. Also, there was not enough advance notice to get Sea Shadow into position for those first landings. Whatever was seen offshore that night, it wasn't Sea Shadow.

Section F.11: Alaska class: large cruisers or battlecruisers?

There is great controversy over whether the Alaska class ships (CB 1-6) should be considered "battlecruisers" or "large cruisers". These ships, and some Russian, Dutch, and Japanese designs of the late 1930's and early 1940's were larger than the 8-inch-gunned heavy cruisers of the era and smaller than contemporary battleships, which carried 14" to 16" guns. The disputed ships were all of roughly the same size and all carried 9 11" or 12" guns as the main armament.

One side of the issue says they were exactly what the USN classification says: large cruisers. They are claimed to be simply the next step in heavy cruiser design, free of treaties which had limited the main armament to 8". This side points to the cruiser-like design features and missions of the ships. By this argument, they were "big cruisers", not "little battleships".

The other side of the issue says they were the WWII incarnation of the WWI battlecruisers. Their missions are claimed to be similar to the missions envisioned for the original battlecruisers. This side says their armament shows the same relationship to WWII battleships as battlecruiser armament showed to WWI battleships. By this argument they were "little battleships", not "big cruisers".

There has never been a general agreement on which answer is "right", and there probably never will be. The issues does, however, provide a source of interesting and generally civil discussion from time to time.

Section F.12: Long Beach's Guns, and guns on "all missile" ships

Why did USS Long Beach have those ancient 5 inch guns?

In the early 1960's the Navy was building a series of all-missile cruisers, which would not carry any guns. Among the ships were Long Beach (CGN 9) and the Albany class (CG 10-12). The missiles were supposed to be highly effective, shooting down enemy aircraft at long range, thus rendering guns excess and useless.

Sometime during 1961-1962 President Kennedy was aboard frigate Dewey (DLG 14), a missile- and gun-armed ship, observing a target exercise. A target drone was to approach the ship, and it would be shot down by the Navy's much-touted Terrier missiles. The drone appeared, a missile was fired, and the missile missed. Another missile was fired and missed. And another, and another....the total number of missiles fired is unknown, but it was at least several. By the time the target was finally destroyed, it had come so close that the ship surely would have been hit if the drone had been an enemy aircraft. The President was not impressed. He ordered that the all-missile ships be equipped with guns so they would have a means of engaging a target if the missiles failed to function properly.

Therefore Long Beach was given two single 5/38 mounts in the space that had been reserved for her never-installed Regulus missile system. The guns were drawn from stockpiles; they had been manufactured in 1944. They were installed during her post-shakedown overhaul. Remarkably, the guns were not removed or replaced during Long Beach's 1980-1983 reconstruction, although they were totally useless by this date. They remained operational through the end of Long Beach's career. The Albany class ships, converted from old heavy cruisers, were fitted with two open (unshielded) 5/38 mounts. Albany completed her conversion without the guns but was soon fitted with them. Her sisters received guns while still undergoing conversion.

Section F.13: Ships damaged in the Persian Gulf

Four US warships have suffered major damage in the Persian Gulf during 1980's/1990's conflicts. They are:

Guided Missile Frigate USS Stark (FFG 31): Struck by two Exocet missiles 17 May 1987. An Iraqi Marage F1 aircraft supposedly mistook Stark for an Iranian ship. Stark's SLQ-32 EW system detected the aircraft's radar; the only action the ship took was to attempt to communicate with the aircraft. The ship's Phalanx CIWS was not operating at the time. The CIWS and 76 mm gun were masked by her masts; no attempt was made to turn and un-mask those weapons. The missiles penetrated the hull, below the main deck level, under the port forward corner of the main superstructure. One missile detonated and the fuel from both missiles burned. 37 crewmen died; the ship was heavily damaged and was nearly lost due to the weight of firefighting water. She was saved by excellent damage control efforts. Temporary repairs were carried out by the destroyer tender Acadia (AD 42) at Bahrain. She then returned to the US under her own power. Repairs at Litton/Ingalls took 15 months and cost $90 million.

Guided Missile Frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58): Struck an Iranian mine 14 April 1988. She suffered a 22 foot hole in her side, a 9 foot tear in her bottom and a cracked superstructure; her gas turbine engines were knocked out of position. There were no fatalities. The incident did not attact as much attention as the Stark incident because there were no fatalities and no fire. Damage was actually more severe and the ship came closer to being lost because the structure of her hull was severely weakened and she was severely flooded. (Stark's hull structure was mostly unaffected, and she was not flooding.) After emergency repairs, Robertys departed the Gulf on 1 July 1988, aboard the deckship Mighty Servant 2. She was repaired at Bath Iron Works (Portland Ship Repair Facility) at a cost of $37.5 million. Repairs took 18 months.

Amphibious Assualt Ship USS Tripoli (LPH 10): Mined 18 Feb 1991 at 0430. While operating minesweeping helicopters, she struck a moored contact mine. The mine blew a 20 x 30 foot hole in the starboard side of the hull, below the waterline, forward. There were no fatalities. Repairs in Bahrain required one month.

Guided Missile Cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59): Mined 18 Feb 1991 at 0716. After Tripoli was mined, Princeton moved between her and a shore battery, unknowingly moving into a minefield. The cruiser detonated an Iraqi bottom-laid influence mine, and the detonation of that mine set off another. The second mine did no damage. The first mine exploded just forward of the aft 5 inch mount, flexing the ship's stern upwards and sending severe "whipping" vibrations throughout the ship. The entire fantail was left tilted upwards and twisted sideways. The main strength girder of the hull was broken; hull strength in the stern was 80% destroyed. There was extensive shock damage to the propellers, shafts, aft weapons systems, fuel tanks, the double bottom, and the superstructure. Despite the damage, her forward weapons systems and the Aegis system were back online within two hours.

Princeton was towed out of the minefield by the tug Beaufort (ATS 2), escorted by a minesweeper. The crippled cruiser arrived at Bahrain the next day. Temporary repairs were made by crews from the repair ship Jason (AR 8). More permanent repairs were made at Dubai, in order to get the ship back to the US under her own power. Ingalls Shipbuilding diverted a large amount of material intended for cruisers still under construction and sent it to the Persian Gulf to speed repairs to Princeton. The repairs in Dubai took 5 weeks. Following Princeton's return to Long Beach Naval Shipyard, additional repair work was carried out to complete the job started in Dubai.

Destroyer Paul F. Foster (DD 964): Struck, but did not detonate, a moored contact mine a few days after Princeton was mined. Her propellers cut a gash through the mine within inches of the detonator horns.

Section F.14: Gun Calibers

What does a "5 inch 38 caliber gun" (5"/38cal) mean?

For guns larger than .5 inch diameter, caliber is defined as the ratio of the gun barrel length to its diameter. Thus the caliber times the diameter gives the length of the gun barrel. For example, a 16 inch 50 caliber gun (written 16/50) is 16 x 50 = 800 inches long. Because caliber is a ratio, the barrel length will always have in the same units (inches or mm) as the diameter.

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