USS Belknap (CG-26)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Belknap.
USS Belknap (official photo)
USS Belknap (CG-26)
Career (United States)
Name: Belknap
Namesake:
Ordered: 16 May 1961
Builder: Bath Iron Works
Laid down: 5 February 1962
Launched: 20 July 1963
Sponsored by: Mrs. Leonard B. Cresswell, the grand-daughter and daughter of the RADMs Belknap
Acquired: 4 November 1964
Commissioned: 7 November 1964
Decommissioned: 20 December 1975
Recommissioned: May 1980
Decommissioned: 15 February 1995
Reclassified: CG-26 on 30 June 1975
Struck: 15 December 1995
Fate:

Sunk as target on 24 SEP 1998 036° 31' 00.3" North 071° 58' 00.5" West

2050 fathoms
Badge: USS Belknap (CG-26) Badge.jpg
General characteristics
Class and type: Belknap-class cruiser
Displacement: 8957 tons
Length: 547 ft (167 m)
Beam: 55 ft (17 m)
Draft: 31 ft (9.4 m) (maximum navigational)
Propulsion: Two sets GE or De laval steam turbines. total 85,000 shp (63 MW)
Speed: maximum speed 34 knots (63 km/h)
Complement: 64 officers and 546 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
AN/SPS-48E air-search radar

AN/SPS-49(V)5 air-search radar
AN/SPG-55B fire-control radar
AN/SPG-53F gun fire-control radar

AN/SQS-26 sonar
Electronic warfare
and decoys:
AN/SLQ-32
Armament:

USS Belknap (DLG-26/CG-26), named for Rear Admirals George E. Belknap (1832–1903) and Reginald Rowan Belknap (1871–1959), was the lead ship of her class of guided missile cruisers in the United States Navy. She was launched as DLG-26, a guided missile frigate under the then-current designation system, and reclassified as CG-26 on 30 June 1975.

Construction[edit]

Belknap, the first of a new class of guided missile frigates, was laid down by the Bath Iron Works Corporation at Bath in Maine on 5 February 1962 She was christened by Mrs. Leonard B. Cresswell, the granddaughter and daughter of the RADMs Belknap and was launched by the Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine on 20 July 1963 and commissioned on 7 November 1964.

Collision, fire, and reconstruction[edit]

Belknap after her collision with the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy

Belknap was severely damaged in a collision with the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1975 off the coast of Sicily. A fire broke out on Belknap following the collision, and during the fire her aluminium superstructure was melted, burned, and gutted to the deck level. Seven sailors were killed on Belknap and one on John F. Kennedy.

Shortly after the fire began, boats from other vessels operating with John F. Kennedy and Belknap began to pull alongside the burning ship, often with complete disregard for their own safety. The guided missile destroyer Claude V. Ricketts and destroyer Bordelon moved in on both sides of Belknap, their men directing fire hoses into the amidships area that the stricken ship’s crew could not reach. Claude V. Ricketts moved in and secured alongside Belknap’s port side, and evacuated the injured while fragments from exploding ammunition showered down upon her weather decks. The frigate Pharris closed in the carrier’s starboard side to provide fire-fighting assistance.[1] Ammunition from Belknap’s three-inch ready storage locker, located amidships, cooked off, hurling fiery fragments into the air and splashing around the rescue boats. Undaunted, the rescuers pulled out the seriously wounded and delivered fire-fighting supplies to the sailors who refused to surrender their ship to the conflagration.

The ammunition ship Mount Baker was involved later in the rescue and salvage of Belknap, escorting her to an ammunition depot and then providing electric and water services as Mount Baker's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team retrieved all of the remaining ammunition from Belknap. Mount Baker also took aboard most of Belknap‍ '​s crew until they could be transferred to a way station for re-assignment.

The fire and the resultant damage and deaths, which would have been less had Belknap‍ '​s superstructure been made of steel, may have in part driven the US Navy's decision to pursue all-steel construction in future classes of surface combatants.[citation needed] However, in 1987 the New York Times cited cracking in aluminum hull ships such as what occurred in the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates rather than fire as the reason the Navy returned to steel on some ships.[2] The first USN combatant ships to revert to all steel superstructure were the Arleigh Burke class, which were commissioned beginning in the 1990s. Belknap was reconstructed by the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 30 January 1976 to 10 May 1980.

Later service and Malta[edit]

Belknap was converted to a flagship by Norfolk Naval Shipyard from May 1985 to February 1986. This conversion work entailed building out the superstructure forward to just aft of the missile launcher and three decks up to add flag spaces (accommodation and office), and additional communications gear. In addition, the helicopter hangar aft was turned into accommodation spaces for flag staff and a small detachment of Marines. After this conversion she sailed to Italy and became Sixth Fleet flagship, relieving Coronado.[citation needed] On 27 May 1989, she participated in a naval parade with ships from 10 countries at Barcelona.[3]

Belknap played a role in the Malta Summit between US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev on 2 December and 3 December 1989. The US President, along with his advisers, James Baker, John Sununu and Brent Scowcroft, had their sleeping quarters aboard Belknap, whereas the meetings took place (due to the stormy weather) on the Soviet cruise ship Maxsim Gorkiy. Engineers from the Navy Ship Systems Engineering Station devised a mooring arrangement for this event, and despite the worst-case 100-year storm event, the ship held its ground using emergency operating procedures as outlined by the engineers.

Decommissioning[edit]

Belknap was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 15 February 1995 and sunk as a target on 24 September 1998.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kennedy". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. 
  2. ^ "Navy Reverting to Steel in Shipbuilding after Cracks in Aluminum". The New York Times. Associated Press. 11 August 1987. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Don Juan Carlos, pasará revista a buques de diez naciones". ABC (in Spanish). 27 May 1989. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 

External links[edit]