The USS Long Beach was originally designed as a 7,800-ton displacement missile frigate armed with a single Terrier surface-to-air missile launcher, but as its design progressed, weapons and equipment were added that ended up multiplying by two the ship’s displacement. It should be noted that it is the last ship designed in the shape of the cruiser-type hull, since the later ones have followed a hull design similar to that of the destroyers but larger.
During the development it was urged that the ship should carry Regulus II type surface-to-surface cruise missiles, but in the end these missiles were only installed on submarines. After this, it was decided that it would carry 8 launch tubes for the new Polaris ballistic missiles installed in the center of the ship, but like the Regulus II, these missiles were only installed in submarines, so the Long Beach entered service without any surface to surface weapons. Finally, an ASROC antisubmarine missile launcher was installed in the central area of the ship.
The ship ended up being very expensive due to the nuclear powerplant and the large number of weapons installed, finally reaching 333 million dollars. Finally, it carried two twin Terrier mid-range SAM missile launchers forward with 120 missiles (40 + 80), a twin Talos long-range SAM missile launcher aft with 46 missiles, an octuple ASROC ASW missile launcher, two 324mm triple torpedo tube mounts and a landing pad for one helicopter. In addition, during 1962-63, two 127mm surface guns were installed for defense against light ships. The USS Long Beach was conceived as an escort for nuclear aircraft carriers, hence its powerful anti-aircraft and anti-submarine weapons, leaving the defense against enemy ships in charge of the aircraft carriers it escorted.
The powerplant consisted of two Westinghouse C1W pressurized water nuclear reactors geared to two groups of turbines coupled to two shafts with which she reached 30 knots. This ship participated together with the USS Enterprise nuclear aircraft carrier and the USS Bainbridge nuclear cruiser in Operation Sea Orbit during which they circled the world in 65 days propelled only by nuclear energy without refueling at an average speed of 25 knots. However, like any nuclear ship, it is necessary to change its fuel and the first time she made her first ROH was in August 1965 after having sailed 167,000 miles (308,950 km), most at high speed.
In 1978 the twin Talos missile launcher was replaced by two quadruple anti-ship Harpoon missile launchers. But it was in 1980 that this cruiser received a major modernization program. In these works, the SPS-32 and SPS-33 radars were replaced by new 3D SPS-48C and SPS-49 radars that together with an SPS-65 radar, four SPG-55A fire control radars and a SQS-23 sonar completed the electronic equipment. The two twin Terrier missile launchers were replaced by two twin Mk.10 missile launchers for Standard SM-1ER missiles and two Phalanx CIWS systems were added. The two Harpoon quadruple missile launchers were placed in a new location, one on each side of the aft superstructure. Finally, in early 1985, two quadruple Tomahawk cruise missile launchers were installed at the stern, just ahead of the helicopter deck.
The USS Long Beach entered service in September 1961 and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. Her first deployment took place in August 1963, when she was sent to the Mediterranean to participate in peacekeeping operations within the Sixth Fleet. In March 1966, the ship was transferred to the Pacific Fleet and after a few months of training it was prepared to deploy in the Gulf of Tonkin. There, her first mission was to monitor with her radar the safe return of the American attack aircraft when they returned from their missions over Vietnam and that no enemy aircraft took advantage of these occasions to camouflage itself among them and be able to carry out attacks.
Her first successful combat mission was to direct an American fighter from her Air Intercept Controller (AIC) to shoot down a North Vietnamese Antonov An-2 aircraft that was attacking South Vietnamese naval units. Her first succesful direct combat occurred in late May 1968 when she shot down a MiG fighter with a Talos missile from 105 km away. A month later she scored another victory by shooting down another MiG aircraft with another Talos missile, this time from 98 km away. In addition to these direct actions, the USS Long Beach conducted several American fighter missions with her long-range radar against North Vietnamese aviation.
After Vietnam War, the ship carried out numerous naval exercises and escorts to the USS Enterprise nuclear aircraft carrier. In 1977, she almost become the test platform for the advanced AEGIS combat system but was ultimately not carried out. After a long period without operational deployments, in October 1987 she participated in Operation Nimble Archer, which consisted of the attack on two Iranian oil platforms in Rashadat oil field. The American attack came in retaliation for the Iranian attack on a Kuwaiti oil tanker. Her last combat mission consisted of escorting the Task Force led by the battleship USS Missouri during Operation Provide Comfort in May 1991, after the Operation Desert Storm.
In 1990 the US Navy made the decision to withdraw all nuclear cruisers (CGN) when the time came for the next Refueling and Overhaul (ROH). In addition, the budget cuts after the 1991 Gulf War and the next (and expensive) modernization to install the AEGIS combat system led to the final decommissioning of the USS Long Beach for the summer of 1994. Finally on July 2, 1994 the ship was deactivated and after disassemble the superstructure and empty the nuclear reactors the ship was stricken on 1 May 1995.

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