USS Bainbridge was unique in many aspects, though it could also be considered as a “simple Leahy class cruiser with nuclear equipment”. It was the basis for the US Navy’s Truxtun, California and Virginia class nuclear guided missile cruisers.
In May 1964, Bainbridge along with Long Beach nuclear cruiser and Enterprise nuclear carrier formed the all nuclear powered Task Force 1, which performed the Operation Sea Orbit, consisting of a 65 day cruise without the need to go to port for refuelling. On that cruise, they were 57 full days at sea covering 30,216 miles, or 55,899 km, without replenishment!!
Her original armament consisted of Terrier SAM missiles, four 76mm AA guns, an octuple ASROC launcher, and two triple 324mm Mk.32 torpedo launchers, but later was updated and greatly enhanced.
After modernizations, Terrier missiles were replaced by SM-2 Standard missiles, the 76mm guns were replaced by two quadruple Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers, which in turn were later replaced by two Tomahawk missile launchers. Finally two Phalanx CIWS were added.
USS Bainbridge‘s combat ability was greatly expanded during her career. In its final stage, it mounted Standard SM-2 ER surface to air missiles with which it could engage 16 different targets thanks to the AN/SPG-55B fire control radar.
Bainbridge nuclear cruiser adapted their missions towards the modern doctrine of versatility. At first she was an escort vessel with air defense and ASW capacities, but at the end of its career, it ended up being a vessel capable of attacking ground targets at great distances without losing its original capabilities.

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