Left: California, South Carolina and Virginia. Right: Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas.
The nuclear guided missile frigates after redesignation as cruisers. Below left: Bainbridge and Truxtun. Right: California, South Carolina, Virginia and Texas. Click on any image to view it in more detail.
USS Bainbridge (CGN 25) USS California (CGN 36) USS Bainbridge (CGN 25) USS South Carolina (CGN 37) USS Bainbridge (CGN 25) USS Virginia (CGN 38) USS Truxtun (CGN 35) USS Texas (CGN 39)
In the 1950s, the US Navy perceived value in applying nuclear power to surface ships—giving them independence from a need to refuel and making them capable of maintaining high speed over long distances.

In addition to carrier Enterprise (CVAN 65), the Navy began the program with cruiser Long Beach (CLGN 160) and frigate Bainbridge, a modified Leahy. Truxtun, which followed, was a modified Belknap.


Length: 565' overall.

Beam: 58' 9".

Draft: 25.5' 10".

Displacement: 5,409 long tons light; 7,890 long tons full load.

Propulsion machinery: 2 General Electric D2G reactors; geared steam turbines, 65,000 shp; 2 shafts.

Design speed: 30+ knots.

Initial armament: 2 x twin Terrier missile launchers, 1 x ASROC, 2 x dual 3-inch/50-caliber dual purpose guns, 6 x 15.5 inch torpedo tubes.

Design complement: 459.

The series continued with two California-class frigates, California and South Carolina, and the first two of four ships of the Virginia class, Virginia and Texas. (The last two Virginias, Mississippi and Arkansas, laid down after the first two ships were redesignated as guided missile crusers, were never designated DLGN.)

Bethlehem Quincy, laid the keel for Bainbridge on 5 May 1959; she was launched 15 April 1961 and commissioned 6 October 1962. Truxtun followed four years later; the ships named for states arrived in the 1970s.

Modernized throughout their careers with upgraded radar, missile systems (and, except for Bainbridge, LAMPS helicopters), one or more of these frigates/cruisers were prominent in most major US Navy operations until they were decommissioned in the 1990s and scrapped, with their nuclear plants recycled. Bainbridge had remained in commission for 34 years.