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USS Virginia
USS Virginia (CGN-38)
Class overview
Name: Virginia for Virginia
Builders: Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company
Operators: United States Navy
Preceded by: California-class cruiser
Succeeded by: Ticonderoga-class cruiser
Cost: $675 million (1990 dollars)
Built: 1972-1980
In commission: 1976-1998
Planned: 11
Completed: 4
Cancelled: 7
Retired: 4
General characteristics
Type: Guided missile cruiser
Displacement: Light Displacement: 10,663 tons
Full Displacement: 11,666 tons
Length: Overall Length: 586 ft (179 m)
Beam: Extreme Beam: 63 ft (19 m)
Draft: Maximum Navigational Draft: 32 ft (10 m)
Propulsion: 2 D2G General Electric nuclear reactors, two shafts, 60,000 shp
Speed: 30+ knots (55+ km/h)
Range: unlimited
Complement: 39 Officers, 540 Enlisted men
Sensors and
processing systems:
AN/SPS-48 3-D Air search radar
AN/SPS-49 2-D Air search radar
AN/SPS-55 surface search radar
AN/SPQ-9 gun fire control radar
AN/SPG-51 Missile fire control radar
AN/SQQ-26 Bow mounted sonar
Electronic warfare
and decoys:
AN/SLQ-32
Mark 36 SRBOC
AN/SLQ-25 Nixie
Armament: Standard Missiles (MR) / ASROC
8x Tomahawk missile (from 2 armored-box launchers after a refitting)
8x Harpoon missile (from two Mk-141 quad launchers)
4x Mk-46 torpedoes (from fixed single tubes)
2x Mk-45 5-inch/54 caliber rapid-fire gun
2x 20mm Phalanx CIWS (post-refit)
Aircraft carried: As built: below-deck hanger for LAMPs helicopters
Flight deck occupied by Tomahawk missile storage & launcher after refitting

The Virginia-class nuclear guided-missile cruisers (CGN-38 class) were a series of four double-ended (with armament carried both fore and aft) guided-missile cruisers commissioned in the late 1970s, which served in the US Navy until the mid- to late-1990s. With their nuclear power plants and the resulting capability of steaming at high speeds for long periods of time, these were excellent escorts for the fast nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, such as the Nimitz class. Their main mission was as air-defense ships, though they did have capabilities as anti-submarine (ASW) ships, surface-to-surface warfare (SSW) ships, and in gun and missile bombardment of shore targets.

Contents

Class description

The USS Mississippi (CGN-40) and USS Texas (CGN-39) (second and third from left) underway with the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the USS Biddle (CG-34) in the Mediterranean Sea, August 1981.

The ships were derived from the earlier California class nuclear cruiser (CGN-36 class). They were decommissioned as part of the early 1990s "peace dividend" after the Cold War ended. A fifth warship, the CGN-42, was canceled before being named or laid down. It was found that while it was possible to mass-produce nuclear-powered warships, the ships were less cost-efficient than conventionally-powered warships, and the new gas-turbine-powered ships then entering the fleet (the Spruance class destroyers) required much less manpower. Following the end of production of this class, the U.S. Navy continued conventional destroyer/cruiser production, and it redesignated the DDG-47 class of Aegis guided missile destroyers as the CG-47 Ticonderoga class cruisers. Three of the four Virginia-class ships were authorized as guided missile frigates (in the pre-1975 definition), and they were redesignated as cruisers either before commissioning or before their launching. The last warship, the USS Arkansas, was authorized, laid down, launched, and commissioned as a guided-missile cruiser.

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Early decommissioning

A shock trial of Arkansas.

The early retirement of the Virginia class (CGN 38-41) cruisers has been widely criticized. They were new, modern ships; given a New Threat Upgrade electronics overhaul they would have been well-suited to modern threats. They had rapid-fire Mk 26 launchers which could fire the powerful Standard SM-2MR medium-range surface-to-air missile. Earlier decommissioned cruisers used the slower-firing Mk-10 launchers which required manual fitting of the fins of the missiles prior to launch.

Nevertheless, the CGN-38-class cruisers, with their missile magazines and Mk-26 missile launchers, were incapable of carrying the SM-2ER long-range surface-to-air missile, being restricted to the SM-2MR medium-range surface-to-air missile. This was a significant limitation in their capabilities.

Another weakness was a lack of LAMPS helicopters, which had been replaced by the Tomahawk cruise missile. In the end, what really doomed the ships was economics. They were coming due for their first nuclear refuelings, mid-life overhauls, and NTU refittings, all expensive projects, together costing about half the price of a new ship. Further, they required relatively large crews, straining USN personnel resources. The 1996 Navy Visibility and Management of Operating and Support Costs (VAMOSC) study determined the annual operating cost of a Virginia class cruiser at $40 million, compared to $28 million for a Ticonderoga class cruiser, or $20 million for an Arleigh Burke class destroyer. [1] Given a lower requirement for cruisers, it was decided to retire these nuclear ships as a money-saving measure. The early non-VLS Ticonderoga class cruisers had equally short careers, serving between 18 and 21 years.[2]

Units

Ship Name Hull No. Commissioned Decommissioned Length of Service Disposition NVR link
Virginia CGN-38 11 September 1976 10 November 1994 18.2 years Disposed of by recycling, 25 September 2002 [1]
Texas CGN-39 10 September 1977 16 July 1993 15.3 years Disposed of by recycling, 30 October 2001 [2]
Mississippi CGN-40 5 August 1978 28 July 1997 19 years Stricken, to be disposed of by recycling, 28 July 1997 [3]
Arkansas CGN-41 18 October 1980 7 July 1998 17.7 years Disposed of by recycling, 1 November 1999 [4]

References

An example of an inconvenient helicopter operation on Mississippi after flight deck was occupied by Tomahawk ABL's (at left and right).
  1. ^ CG-47 Ticonderoga-class
  2. ^ CG-51 - 18 years. CG-47 - 21 years.

(This entry includes information from the sci.military.naval newsgroup FAQ)

See also

External links


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