Converted from Cleveland class light cruisers, these ships carried the Talos missile system in lieu of the Terrier system installed on the identical Providence class. All but Galveston had most of their forward weaponry removed with the aft deck rebuilt for the missiles. The Galveston retained her guns forward.
Galveston was commissioned in May 1958 as the Navy's first ship to carry the "Talos" guided missile, a long-range, and quite large, anti-aircraft weapon. The ship had been extensively modified, especially aft of amidships, to equip her with magazines, a launcher and the radars associated with this new weapons system, and her first three years of active service were largely spent testing the "Talos" at sea off the U.S. East Coast and in the Caribbean region. From mid-1961 to mid-1962 Galveston was back in shipyard hands, receiving new search radars among other modifications. She then transferred to the Pacific Fleet and in 1963-1964 made her first overseas deployment, a half-year tour with the Seventh Fleet in the Far East.
Like nearly all the Navy's ships, USS Galveston was the subject of a number of "inclining experiments" during her service. This work, frequently done in the course of major shipyard overhauls, involved shifting heavy weights on board the ship and carefully measuring the resulting changes in her trim, all to help determine her stability characteristics. The resulting information was vital to keeping the ship in safe condition, both during normal operation and during stressful occasions, such as when riding out major storms or after receiving significant damage. Photographs taken during inclining experiments are often very detailed, and provide an excellent record of a ship's equipment and general external arrangement.
The ship soon commenced inactivation preparations leading to her decommissioning in May 1970. USS Galveston's second stay in the Reserve Fleet lasted only a little more than three years. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in December 1973 and sold for scrapping in May 1975. Once a Navy ship has beens stricken from the Naval Vessel Register, it becomes "fair game" for a variety of equipment "recycling" activities. Some items are removed for installation on other units of the active fleet, others are taken to support former U.S. Navy ships transferred to foreign nations, and still others are taken for spare part stocks, installation at shore facilities and, in some cases, for retention as historical artifacts. Galveston was no exception to this practice.
The light cruiser USS Little Rock (CL-92), laid up in reserve since June 1949, was redesignated CLG-4 in May 1957, some months after beginning conversion to a guided missile light cruiser at the Camden, New Jersey, shipyard of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation. When recommissioned in June 1960, the ship had been significantly transformed. She now had huge superstructures forward and aft of her two smokestacks, the forward one housing command spaces that gave the cruiser a new mission as a fleet flagship. The after superstructure held magazines and handling rooms for long-range "Talos" guided missiles, whose twin-armed launcher dominated Little Rock's after deck. Only one triple six-inch gun turret and one twin five-inch gun mount remained of her original battery of four and six of each. Topsides, two tall lattice masts and the after superstructure were topped by an elaborate array of radars to detect and track enemy aircraft and guide "Talos" missiles to intercept them.
Little Rock was stricken from the Navy Register in 1976, and acquired by the City of Buffalo in 1977. The ship is now a museum vessel on display at the Naval & Military Park. The only World War II cruiser on display in the U.S., USS Little Rock is the sole survivor of the Cleveland class, the most numerous of U.S. wartime cruisers (29 vessels completed). Little Rock served with distinction as flagship for both the Second and Sixth fleets. On 7 March 1957, OKLAHOMA CITY arrived at the Bethlehem Steel Corp. Pacific Coast Yard, San Francisco, where conversion to a guided missile light cruiser commenced 21 May, her hull classification and number being changed two days later to CLG-5. Her conversion completed 31 August 1960, she was towed to Hunter's Point where she recommissioned 7 September 1960. During her shakedown training, OKLAHOMA CITY became the first combatant unit of the Pacific Fleet to fire a Talos guided missile successfully. On 30 June 1975, OKLAHOMA CITY was reclassified guided missile cruiser, CG-5.
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