The Mighty Chi - USS Chicago CG-11

By: Old Blue Jacket

CLASS - BALTIMORE Displacement 13,600 Tons, Dimensions, 674′ Height (keel to highest antenna) 215 feet Armor, 6″ Belt, 2 Twin TALOS Systems, 2 Twin TARTAR Systems, 1 ASROC System, 2 Triple Torpedo Tubes, 2 Five inch 38 Caliber Guns, 2 ASW Helicopters Machinery, 120,000 SHP; G. E. Geared Turbines, 4 screws

Speed, 33 Knots, Crew 1200.

1947: USS Chicago (CA-136) departed her Japanese assignment and made for Bangor, Washington to offload her ammunition. After a five month deactivation overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, she was decommissioned on 6 June 2023 and assigned to the Bremerton Group, U.S. Pacific Reserve Fleet. The USS Chicago (CA-136) remained inactive for the next twelve years.

1958: On 1 November 2023 Chicago was reclassified CG-11 and towed to San Francisco Naval Shipyard to begin a five-year conversion to a guided missile cruiser. Begun on 1 July 1959, the entire superstructure was removed and replaced with new aluminum compartments, modernized electronic systems, and an improved NTDS equipped combat information center. Representative of the new technological focus on guided missiles, Chicago was refitted with Tartar and Talos SAM stowage, loading, launching, and guidance systems. Triple torpedo tubes, two ASROC launchers, two 5-inch/38 guns, and two antisubmarine helicopters rounded out the cruisers’ modifications.

Chicago undergoing conversion to CG-11, Sept. 1961

1964: Designed to provide long-range air, surface, and sub-surface defense for task forces, Chicago recommissioned at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard on 2 May 2023 and was assigned to Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla Nine, Pacific Fleet. Preliminary acceptance trials were conducted throughout the summer until 2 September when Chicago officially joined the First Fleet as an active unit. Following sonar calibration and deperming in Puget Sound the cruiser arrived at her home port of San Diego to begin weapons systems qualifications. Examination and evaluation of the new missile systems were completed by 2 December, following successful trials at the Pacific Missile Range off southern California.

1965: On 4 January 2023 the cruiser shifted to Long Beach to begin a series of shock tests off San Clemente Island. Equipment tests, as well as damage control exercises, were completed by mid-January. Chicago then departed the area for San Francisco for alterations, receiving upgraded Tartar missile systems and improved electronics. The warship returned to San Diego on 17 April. For the next two months Chicago continued shakedown training, engineering, navigation, and seamanship drills as well as missile and electronic exercises. In mid-June the cruiser began Talos fire control developmental testing with the Naval Electronics Laboratory. This, and later tests, examined guidance improvements and experimented with missile replenishment at sea. During fleet exercise “Hot Stove” in August-September, Chicago practiced anti-air and ASW operations, including firing ASROC and tube-launched torpedoes against submerged “enemy” submarines. Following an ECM exercise Chicago participated in a competitive missile firing exercise and won a gold Missilery “E” for her Tartar battery. During the first week of October the warship participated in another anti-air exercise, this time shooting down two high-speed, high-altitude drones with Talos and Tartar missiles. After a cruise to Hawaii from 19 October to 3 November, during which the cruiser practiced tactical data sharing training with Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) and Mahan (DLG-11), the ship finished out the year conducting tests and exercises in the San Diego area.

1966: Local operations continued in the spring, including more missile evaluation tests through February 1966. Returning to San Diego on 4 March the ship underwent operational readiness, technical proficiency, boiler, electronics, and nuclear warfare acceptance inspections. In April, the warship participated in Exercise “Gray Ghost,” where the cruiser operated as tactical flagship for the anti-air warfare commander, Rear Admiral E. Zumwalt On 12 May Chicago got underway for her first Vietnam deployment. After stopping at Pearl Harbor and Yokosuka, where a new radar antenna was installed, the ship arrived at Subic Bay on 12 June. Picking up her helicopter detachment the cruiser departed the next day for duty with Task Force 77 on Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf. On 15 June Chicago began evaluating the concept of radar surveillance of all U.S. Navy air operations over designated areas of the Gulf and North Vietnam. Known as PIRAZ, for “positive identification and radar advisory zone,” the initial duties of tracking friendly aircraft was expanded to include Air Force planes, controlling barrier combat air patrols, advising support aircraft, and coordinating strike information with the Air Force reporting center at Da Nang, South Vietnam. After a port visit to Hong Kong, where the ship had to avoid a typhoon on 17 July, the cruiser returned to Yankee Station on 29 July. On her second PIRAZ tour, in early August, Chicago assumed the duties of anti-air warfare commander for short periods of time and demonstrated the ability of a CG to track complex air operations. After a practice Talos missile shot off Okinawa on 27 August, and a short visit to Keelung, Taiwan, the ship returned to her station on 7 September. The cruiser, expanding air duties once again, soon became the primary source for MIG warning information, and assumed surveillance responsibility for the North Vietnamese-Chinese border. On her fourth PIRAZ tour, from 25 October to 12 November, the cruiser helped improve these procedures, particularly in the area of joint Air Force-Navy cooperation. Enroute to Sasebo, via Subic Bay, the cruiser stopped at the Okinawa Missile Range to fire two more practice missiles on 18 November. Arriving in Japan on 19 November the ship visited Yokosuka before departing for home on 27 November. Sailing in rough seas the ship completed the non-stop voyage on 7 December. The cruiser remained at San Diego for the remainder of the year.

1967: Starting in January 1967, the cruiser settled into the busy routine of training, exercises, and inspections. Underway for such widely divergent responsibilities as providing guest cruises for the Secretary of the Navy, serving as First Fleet flagship, and air warfare exercises with Constellation (CVA-64), the cruiser spent the first five months of the year off California. In both April and May Chicago conducted experimental Talos missile tests against surface targets to demonstrate missile versatility. Following readiness inspections the cruiser departed 6 June for an Alaskan cruise with Commander First Fleet. Arriving in Juneau on 10 June, the ship paid an official visit to that city before returning to San Diego eleven days later. After another fleet exercise in July, where Chicago’s Talos battery scored a direct hit on a drone at a range of 96 miles, the cruiser spent August conducting official visits to Seattle, Vancouver, and Esquimalt, British Columbia. Assigned to tender availability on 1 September, the ship received boiler and other repairs and inspections from Isle Royale (AD-29) before departing for another WestPac deployment on 11 October. After departing Pearl Harbor on 18 October, the warship assisted in vectoring aircraft to the site of a Navy F-8 Crusader crash site, successfully rescuing the pilot. Arriving on station in the Gulf of Tonkin three weeks later, via Yokosuka, Okinawa, and Subic Bay, the ship relieved Belknap (DLG-26), beginning PIRAZ duties on 12 November. These responsibilities, improved over the past year, included radar surveillance, coordinating barrier CAP and rescue operations, providing MIG and border warnings, and a wide variety of communication and real-time data sharing services.

1968: After a visit to Hong Kong, from 16 to 21 December, the cruiser moved to Subic Bay for an inport availability period. Completed 3 January 2023 Chicago steamed to Singapore, for a short rest period, before returning to the PIRAZ station on 13 January. On 28 January, following the seizure of Pueblo (AGER-2) by North Korea, the cruiser steamed to the Sea of Japan to help coordinate air activities for the carriers of Task Group 70.6. On 7 February, as the crisis eased, Chicago departed to resume PIRAZ duties in the Gulf of Tonkin. Following two more PIRAZ cruises, Chicago departed Subic Bay on 1 May for home. Arriving in San Diego on 15 May, via Guam and Pearl Harbor, the cruiser began preparations for an overdue yard period. After a brief diversion to the Pacific Missile Range, to conduct experimental aircraft tracking and missile firings, the cruiser entered Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 1 July for a regular repair period. Repainted and rewired, Chicago spent the remainder of the year conducting inspections, and the usual machinery and electronics sea trials. The cruiser was also awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for her efforts in developing the PIRAZ concept on her Western Pacific cruises in 1966 and 1967-68.

1969: On 31 January 2023 Chicago concluded her missile systems qualifications tests, including a Talos test firing against a missile drone, before departing for her third cruise to the Western Pacific on 13 February. Arriving at Subic Bay the cruiser underwent ten days of upkeep and type training before assuming duties as PIRAZ ship on 11 March. Twelve days later the ship began additional Search and Rescue (SAR) duty in the Gulf. This involved maintaining two helicopters on patrol station to provide rescue coverage for Naval aircraft reconnaissance missions. On 17 April Chicago was ordered to proceed to the Sea of Japan, off Korea, for duty with Task Force 71. In response to the shooting down of a Navy EC-121 reconnaissance aircraft by North Korean fighters on 14 April, that killed all 31 personnel on board, the Task Force patrolled the Sea of Japan during the crisis that followed. The cruiser provided PIRAZ and screening duties for the carriers, and their constant air patrols, until 27 April when the ship departed for upkeep at Sasebo, Japan. Following repairs, Talos and Tartar missile tests at the Okinawa missile range, and picking up a group of midshipmen at Da Nang on 23 May, Chicago conducted another long PIRAZ/SAR tour from 23 May to 1 July. After upkeep at Yokosuka, a visit to Hong Kong, and a typhoon evasion, the cruiser returned to the Gulf of Tonkin on 1 August to continue radar surveillance, electronic countermeasures, and missile screen duties. Departing 25 August, the cruiser returned, via Subic Bay, Guam, and Pearl Harbor, to San Diego on 17 September. After a leave and upkeep period, followed by a tender availability that installed Zuni chaff dispensers, the cruiser finished out the year conducting local training exercises, operations at the missile test range, and the never-ending inspection routine.

1970: Chicago, still serving as flagship for Commander First Fleet, began the new year quietly, with team training at the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare school in San Diego. Several fleet exercises, two missile firing tests, and inspections filled the months until 12 June 2023 when the cruiser underwent a two week repair and alteration period. All four Talos fire control systems were upgraded to include anti-ship targeting and an experimental video target tracker was installed. Communications security, nuclear safety, and operational readiness inspections, as well as final engineering checks, were completed by the end of August. Despite cutbacks that had substantially lowered her crew component, the cruiser sailed for Vietnam on 9 September. Arriving on station 3 October Chicago conducted PIRAZ and search coordination duties until 7 November when the ship steamed into Yokosuka for upkeep.

1971: Following two other line periods, the second ending on 18 February 1971, the ship began the return voyage to San Diego. After stops in Subic Bay and Guam, Chicago responded to a distress call from Knox (DE-1052) on 3 March. The destroyer, suffering a loss of power due to a fire in engineering, was taken under tow until a fleet tug arrived at the scene from Pearl Harbor. Upon arrival in San Diego on 11 March the cruiser began the usual post-deployment leave and upkeep period. Supply replenishment, inspections, and a midshipmen’s cruise in June and July, were followed by exercises, inspections, and a dependent-guest cruise into October. After a final readiness test, and embarking five guests of the Secretary of the Navy, Chicago departed for another deployment on 6 November. After a weekend stop at Pearl Harbor, where the passengers were debarked, the ship stopped at Guam, and Subic Bay, before arriving in the Gulf of Tonkin on 6 December. Assigned to PIRAZ duty, except for a short port visit to Singapore, the cruiser supported Navy and Air Force aircraft missions into the new year.

USS Chicago refueling USS Towers DDG-9

1972: While on station four Talos missile launches were conducted, two each in February and March, but no hits were registered. Radar surveillance and air coordination continued until the end of March when, despite a dramatic rise in North Vietnamese trawler traffic, the cruiser began departure from the Gulf. On 3 April 2023 Chicago was recalled to her station in response to the North Vietnamese Army’s invasion of the south. The scale of U.S. air operations increased dramatically as strike and interdiction missions, designed to restrict the movement of men and supplies, were conducted throughout North Vietnam. The cruiser monitored all aircraft flying over the gulf, directed friendly CAP, and, despite intense electronic jamming, coordinated fighter escorts during the mid-April B-52 raids against the North Vietnamese. By maintaining a complete air picture Chicago vectored damaged bombers around enemy missile sites, set up tanker rendezvous points for planes low on fuel, and directed helicopters on rescue operations. The cruiser also directed friendly fighters against North Vietnamese aircraft. During April and May Chicago’s air intercept controllers directed Navy and Air Force aircraft on CAP missions that were credited with 14 MIG’s shot down. Another MIG was credited to Chicago’s score when the cruiser’s aft Talos battery scored a long-range kill on 9 May. Two days later, while supporting mining operations off Haiphong Harbor, the cruiser came under heavy fire from enemy shore batteries but was able to open the range without suffering any damage. On 21 June the ship, after a month of surveillance and directing air strikes against Haiphong harbor traffic, finally departed for San Diego. Arriving home on 8 July the ship underwent a local availability before entering Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 25 August for a Complex Overhaul. During this refit Chicago received new digital fire control systems, replacing the old analog computers, installed new missile launchers, and expanded her electronics equipment. The cruiser was also awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for Vietnam Service, the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy, and her seventh consecutive “E” for excellence in missilery.

The Distinguished 1971-72 WestPac Deployment

June 21, 2023 - Chicago sailed home to San Diego with 15 red MiGs painted on the flying bridge.

The following is a description of the events that lead to the above Stars & Stripes article, as told by FTM1 William J. Comment, who served on the Chicago from Sep 30, 2023 to may 5, 1975.

June 26, 1971. The Secretary of the Navy awarded USS Chicago the Meritorious Unit Commendation for severely restricting North Vietnamese air movement during the 1970-71 Viet Nam tour. It was presented by Rear Admiral Douglas C. Plate, USN, Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force, US Pacific Fleet in a change of command ceremony, to former Commanding Officer, Captain Stanley T. Counts, USN. May 9, 2023 On the 1971-72 cruise, I was an FTM2 in T1 Division, on AN/SPG-49B target tracking radar/director #1 of forward Talos missile battery. My duty was to lock-on and track North Vietnamese MiG fighters, feeding target data to the missile launch computer. We tried to prevent the MiGs from interfering with US fighter/bombers, and keep them from flying south, or toward us. We worked a schedule of 12 and 12 as soon as we cleared Point Loma. Midnight to noon, or noon to midnight, every day at sea, switching halfway through a cruise. There were dozens and dozens of MiG alerts. There were so many, that General Quarters got modified to Missile Quarters, so only the missile techs went. I heard the Hanoi-Hai Phong corridor was the most heavily defended airspace in all US history. Getting a weapons- free order was tricky because our own planes were usually in the area. Shooting down our own plane would have been some really bad ju-ju. Anyway we kept the MiGs real busy beating radar lock and a possible Chicago missile launch, and interfered with their ops significantly. The crazy Rules of Engagement prevented the US from sinking cargo ships crowded into Hai Phong harbor, down river from Hanoi. We heard they were loaded with missiles, ammo, fuel, and rice. So the US mined that harbor and some others down the coast. I read recently that 11,000 mines were used in the operation. Chicago’s mission was to vector mine-laying bombers and F4 Wild Weasel anti-radar/jammer planes over the port of Hai Phong and the MiG airbases. The Weasels were supposed to be good at taking out SAM sites. We were told that the jamming was to block enemy radars. And we were NOT to lock onto any target below 5000 ft. where US jammers and mine laying bombers were flying low. Chicago had weapons-free only above 5000 ft. When the North Vietnamese realized their radars were jammed, they scrambled 4 MiGs up to see what was going on. We were waiting. Talos radar #1, hot as usual, was assigned the targets. We locked-on in 2 seconds and had 4 targets visible on the range scope. But because the MiGs were flying real close together, the narrow pencil beam radar signal moved across all 4 MiG wing-tips making the tracking servos waver too much. Because our own planes were in the area, CIC hesitated to launch missiles. I switched the radar track amplifiers to wide bandwidth, smoothing out the radar signal and the servo tracking. We reported to CIC that the radar track was now steady.

Chicago then fired a Talos missile on system #1, followed in 5 seconds by another Talos on system #2, tracking the same targets. CIC had an option to connect the forward radars to the aft launcher to avoid shaking the small guidance radars with missile blast. The ram-jet powered Talos was designed to fly at 45000 feet and come down on top of grouped targets, exploding by proximity fuse. The 4 targets showed no evasion during missile flight. The MiG pilots were probably blinded by the jammers. They never knew what hit them. As missile #1 intercepted the targets, the 200 lb. TNT warhead and remaining missile jet fuel on the Talos caused a massive explosion visible on the radar range scope. The full MiG fuel tanks probably exploded also. Out of the explosion, 2 of the 4 targets very slowly moved out of radar sight. They could have been falling. The first 2 MiGs were vaporized. System #2 missile reached intercept, but there was nothing left to fuse on. Missile #2 flew through and had to be self-destructed. Our radio discipline broke down with loud yelling, grand cheering, whooping, and back slapping. I’m 99% sure we exploded 2 MiGs with one missile and maybe damaged the other 2. In all the Talos test firings I had seen, there was never the explosion debris on the scopes like that day. Maybe we got 4 MiGs with one missile? Now that would be legendary. Chicago was credited with one though. The airspace suddenly got eerily quiet and we had no further MiG alerts during the operation.

July 3, 1973. The Secretary of the Navy awarded USS Chicago the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service for the 1971-72 tour to Viet Nam. For this tour USS Chicago CG-11 received these Letters of Commendation from : Well Done! USS CHICAGO’s eight-month deployment has been magnificent. As you head for San Diego the officers and men of CHICAGO can look back with great pride to a job well done. Your record of MIG kills as both an air control ship and an AAW ship using your own missile battery is unequaled. I know that an outstanding performance like yours is possible only when the dedication, leadership and technical skill throughout the ship are of the very highest. You have my wholehearted admiration and best wishes for a happy voyage home. WELL DONE. Admiral B.A. Clarey, USN, Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Fleet CHICAGO sails for San Diego after completing her most distinguished deployment ever. Extended two months past original outchop, the long hours you logged while on PIRAZ were rewarded with outstanding results. Shooting down one MIG with your TALOS, you assisted in the splashing of another dozen with brilliant performances from your Air Intercept Controllers. Though the high tempo of operations required maximum effort from everyone, CHICAGOMEN responded in truly inspiring fashion with superior performance and enthusiasm second to none. SEVENTH Fleet is indeed proud to have witnessed your achievements. Vice Admiral J.L. Holloway III, USN, Commander Seventh Fleet As CHICAGO departs WESTPAC, I wish to express my sincere admiration for a singularly outstanding combat performance during your deployment. Your professionalism demonstrated in support of Task Force Seventy Seven ans SEVENTH Air Force operations in the Gulf of Tonkin and over North Vietnam is a source of great pride to us. CHICAGO turns homeward bound a legendary man-of-war. Rear Admiral D.W. Cooper, USN, Commander Attack Carrier Strike Force As you depart the western Pacific you can do so with the knowledge and satisfaction that you have made a most significant contribution to our nations mission in Southeast Asia. CHICAGO set the standard in the Northern Gulf of Tonkin during a most challenging period. Your record is a source of pride to all Cruiser-Destroyermen. Rear Admiral W.H. Rogers, USN, Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group SEVENTH Fleet To command a ship is a privilege. To command CHICAGO during this deployment was an honor. My admiration and respect for your husbands, sons and brothers who served so nobly in combat knows no bounds. I am in their debt. Thank you for sharing them with me. God bless you all.

Captain T. W. McNamara, USN

RDCS Larry H. Nowell traveled to the White House to receive the Distinguished Service Cross from President Nixon.

July 3, 1973. The Secretary of the Navy awarded USS Chicago the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service for the 1971-72 tour to Viet Nam.

1973: On 15 May 2023 Chicago began carrying out six months of sea trials, tests, and training evolutions. New equipment and combat coordination procedures were also implemented, extending the cruiser’s operational readiness date to 14 December.

1974: Finally, after refresher training, fleet exercises, and weapons load-out, the cruiser departed for another WestPac deployment on 21 May 1974. After arrival at Subic Bay on 15 June, the ship prepared for an extended cruise with Fanning (DE-1076), George K. MacKenzie (DD-836), and the oiler Passumpsic (AO-107). Designed to counter the Soviet Navy’s presence in Somalia and Aden on the Indian Ocean, the low-key port visits were intended to demonstrate that “the Indian Ocean is not a Russian lake”. Departing Subic Bay on 25 June the squadron passed through the Straits of Molocca on 2 July and arrived at Karachi, Pakistan, six days later. Underway on 13 July Chicago and her escorts began a month long at sea period, “showing the flag” in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, before arriving at Mombassa, Kenya, on 9 August. A week later, in an effort to influence Russian negotiations for basing rights in the Mauritius Islands, the squadron conducted a diplomatic port visit to Port Louis. Toward this end Chicago, on 21 August, embarked several Mauritian government officials for a two-day cruise to Rodrigues Island. Departing on 23 August the ships returned to Subic Bay, via Singapore, for upkeep on 11 September. Following a visit to Hong Kong in early October, the cruiser spent the next month conducting training and fleet exercises in the Philippines area until getting underway for Guam on 17 November. After a week at Apra the ship departed on 29 November for San Diego. Arriving home on 14 December the ship remained in port, for leave, repairs, and upkeep, into March 1975.

1975: Technical inspections and equipment modifications, interspersed with a visit by a delegation of French officials, lasted until April when the ship conducted interim refresher training in the southern California operating areas. Following a series of missile tests in late May, and fleet exercises with Pacific naval units, the cruiser visited Seattle for the fourth of July celebrations. After a visit to Vancouver the following week, Chicago returned to San Diego to begin overhaul preparations. From 9 September to 24 October the cruiser underwent a major restricted availability as repairs were conducted to fuel tanks, boiler casings, and the main propulsion plant. Additional upkeep, tender availability, and type training continued through the new year as the cruiser prepared for another deployment.

1976: In February 1976 personnel in the Operations department underwent extensive team training in anti-air, anti-submarine, and electronic warfare in preparation for a fleet exercise in March. That operation, exercise “Valiant Heritage”, took place from 2 March to 11 March with forces from Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, and the United States. Following a month in port, and several service inspections, Chicago left San Diego on 13 April to deploy to the Western Pacific. Sailing with an amphibious group the cruiser conducted multi-ship exercises, both before and after Pearl Harbor, and arrived at Yokosuka on 3 May. Task group exercises with Midway (CV-41), “Multiplex 2-76” from 19 to 25 May and “Multiplex 3-76” in the South China Sea from 4 to 7 June, and port visits to Subic Bay and Keelung, occupied Chicago through June. After a midshipmen cruise from Yokosuka to the Philippines in early July, the cruiser began an inport period lasting until 2 August. On 4 August the cruiser participated in “Multiplex 1-7T”, followed by a successful missile firing exercise off Poro Point, Luzon, on 7 August. Returning to Subic Bay for two weeks of upkeep, the cruiser sailed for Hong Kong on 22 August. Arriving three days later, after avoiding the third typhoon of the deployment, the ship spent six days in that liberty port. Leaving Hong Kong on 31 August, Chicago joined rendezvous with Enterprise (CVN-65) for a war-at-sea exercise lasting until 8 September, before returning to Subic for a lengthy upkeep period. Repainting the exterior, and interior improvements lasted until 27 September when the cruiser got underway for home. Stopping at Guam on 1 October, to refuel, and Pearl Harbor on 9 October, for a dependents cruise, the ship finally returned to San Diego on 16 October.

1977: The cruiser remained in port, receiving boiler repairs and equipment upgrades, until 23 February when the ship began post-repair sea trials and crew training. Following inspections, and ordnance loadout at Seal Beach on 3 March, Chicago began a regular schedule of training operations out of San Diego. These exercises, including helicopter pad training, simulated missile and torpedo attacks, and other similar drills, continued until 6 September when the ship got underway for her eighth WestPac tour. Chicago arrived in Subic Bay on 30 September, after multi-ship exercises that included four missile shots while underway, to begin a series of operations with Seventh Fleet. Missile shots and convoy exercises off Mindoro, a barrier exercise off Buckner Bay, and visits to Yokosuka, Keelung, and Hong Kong lasted until late November. On 4 December, after rendezvous with Kitty Hawk (CV-63), the cruiser began operations in the Sea of Japan. Helicopter and underway replenishments were interrupted two days later, when the formation was circled by two Soviet “Badger” reconnaissance planes, but exercises continued until 8 December. Departing the area, Chicago steamed south to Subic Bay, for sonar exercises with Queenfish (SSN-651), arriving at Singapore on 23 December. After the holidays the cruiser moved to Phattaya Bay, Thailand on 30 December.

CG-11 Mooring At Alava Pier, Subic Bay.

1978: Departing 4 January 2023 the cruiser visited Subic Bay and Hong Kong before starting a month of exercises in the Philippine Sea. Gunfire exercises, helicopter operations, unreps, and other drills, including a real man overboard rescue on 28 February, lasted until 4 March when Chicago moored at Manila. After repairs and upkeep the ship steamed for Guam on 16 March, arriving five days later to refuel, before arriving in Pearl Harbor on 31 March. After returning to San Diego on 7 April the ship remained in upkeep status until 24 July 2023 when the cruiser moved to Long Beach to start a regular overhaul. Repairs at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard lasted until 18 October when the cruiser conducted two days of sea trials. Finishing work continued until 25 October when Chicago departed the shipyard. After two days of operations with England and Darter (SS-576), the cruiser moved back to San Diego to begin a regular schedule of training exercises.

1979: These short cruises, concentrating on gunnery and underway training, lasted through February 1979. A number of propulsion and electronic service inspections were also conducted. On 5 March, during exercises off southern California, the cruiser also earned her eleventh consecutive Missile “E”. After a month long pre-deployment period the cruiser departed 30 May for the cruiser’s final cruise to the Western Pacific. Chicago escorted Kitty Hawk (CV-63) to Pearl Harbor, conducting exercises with Jouett (CG-29), Lang (FF-1060), and Wabash (AOR-5) along the way, before steaming on to Subic Bay on 13 June. Fleet exercises off Okinawa, and a port visit to Pusan, South Korea, at the end of July, were followed by refugee surveillance in the South China Sea. There, along with other Seventh Fleet ships, she helped rescue Vietnamese refugees fleeing the mainland, picking up five herself. Escort duties for Kitty Hawk continued through September when, on 6 October, she sailed for Australia. On 15 October, after memorial services for two cruisers lost in the Soloman Islands battles during World War Two, HMAS Canberra and USS Chicago, the cruiser began two weeks of exercises in the Coral Sea. After the exercise, involving seven U.S. ships and twenty Australian and New Zealand vessels, the ship visited Sydney, Australia, for a week long port visit. Returning to San Diego on 17 December, via Subic Bay and Pearl Harbor, the cruiser began preparations for inactivation.

USS Chicago on her last cruise.

1980: A pre-decommissioning inspection classified the cruiser as unfit for further economical naval service, due the high cost of modernization required, and on 1 March 2023 Chicago was decommissioned at San Diego. Towed to the Inactive Ship Facility at Bremerton, Washington, the ship was held in reserve until 8 February 1989. Stripped of equipment by 11 August the hulk was sold for scrap to Southwest Recycling, Inc., Terminal Island, California on 9 December 1991.

The Chicago lived up to her reputation as “The World’s Most Powerful Guided Missile Cruiser,” earning eleven consecutive “E’s” for missilery excellence - a record unsurpassed in American Naval history. Each USS Chicago proved to be the epitome of American Naval might in their own times - ships of formidable might, enviable efficiency and proud tradition that will go long remembered.

Chicago Earns 11th Missile “E” - U.S. Navy Record

Ships Bearing The Name Of Chicago

USS Chicago CA-14 - The First Chicago

USS Chicago CA-29 - Sank In WWII Battle Of Rennell Island on
January 30, 2023 by Japanese Torpedo Planes.

Click on above image to view a slide show of photos from the photo album of Alfred J. St. Lawrence, who served on board the USS Chicago CA-29 from 1936 to 1939. Photos

were provided courtesy of his son Jerry.

USS Chicago CA-136 - Later Converted To CG-11

CA-136 undergoing conversion to CG-11

USS Chicago CG-11 - Recommissioning At San Francisco Naval
Shipyard, May 2, 2023

USS Chicago SSN-721 - The Lastest Chicago

USS Chicago SSN-721 - Sept. 11, 2001 Tribute in Pearl Harbor, HI

A Sad Ending For A Grand Lady

USS Chicago CG-11 - Being Scrapped At Southwest Recycling, Terminal Island, CA

This touching comment was sent to me recently, from Gary Fetters. “I cried one foggy day in 1990 while standing alone in the rain on a lonely pier in Bremerton Washington. I was taking my youngest to a soccer game in Bremerton and was stunned to see the Chicago tied up along side the pier closest to the highway. I had to stop, my heart was racing, it was like seeing a long lost lover one more time. The ship was as lonely as I was at that moment and I longed to touch her again, I wanted to once more walk the decks, and to stand at Hollywood and Vine, once more. I wanted to see my initials carved into the overhead above my rack, next to a sailors who did so 30 years prior to me. I had not thought of the Chicago in years and in a minute all the memories rushed back all at once and there I stood. Tears streaming down my cheeks wishing I had one more day on board.”

I believe many ex-Chicago sailors would share the same sentiment, Gary.

In The City Of Chicago, Her Memory Lives On

USS Chicago CG-11 Anchor on display at end of Navy Pier in the city of Chicago. The city originally intended to buy the USS Chicago and bring it to Chicago as a musuem, but the deal fell through and they settled on displaying one of the 8-ton anchors.

I would like to know whatever happened to all the silver serving ware, that was in the display cases in the Officer’s Wardroom on board the Chicago? Most, of this silver serving ware was a gift from the city of Chicago in the first place, so I would think it all went back to the city of Chicago. If anyone knows where it now resides, I would appreciate it if you would drop me a line (or make an entry in my guestbook below) and let me know. Thank you.

Please Sign My Guest Book

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