CG-10 Albany Class
Guided missile conversions of Baltimore and Oregon City class heavy cruisers entering service in 1962-64. All original superstructure and weapons removed and replaced. This work involved removing all her guns and original upper decks structure, plus much of the interior.
The air threat to a task force was a dominant element in US strategic thinking, while the long term need for gunfire support had yet to register before Vietnam. Also, actual missile combat experience was lacking, so that decision makers tended to believe the claims of a high kill ratio made by SAM proponents. Accordingly, in 1962, the US commissioned its first "double-ended and double-sided" missile conversion of a heavy cruiser. This Albany class of 3 ships (two additional sisters were cancelled) had no guns at all as designed. Two of these were Oregon City class ships, (CA-123 and CA-136), and one was Baltimore class (CA 74), all commissioned 1945-6 and identical after conversion. The final two conversions; Rochester (CA-124) and Bremerton (CA-130) were cancelled.
With a futuristic superstructure of enormous height to carry an extensive array of radar antennas and other electronics. The conversion integrated the funnels and masts into "macks", the main armament was long-range Talos with launchers fore and aft, and Tartar, a new smaller missile, mounted in smaller wing launchers port and starboard of the fore superstructure. A launcher for ASROC anti-submarine rockets was located amidships. The Tartar supersonic surface-to-air missile was developed in the 1950's primarily for destroyers, and was designed to attack low altitude, high-speed threats. Later improvements in the Tartar missile extended the range from 7.5 to 18 miles. Tartar was later superseded by the Standard 1 (MR) missile.
The ship's appearance, and capabilities, were thus completely altered. Converted as all-missile warships, the 5-inch/38s (open mounts) were added after completion. These ships were intended to mount the Regulus surface to surface missile, but ASROC was substituted during construction in the space between the fore and aft superstructures; after completion, two 5-inch 38's were added amidships. These ships were successful; Chicago was credited with shooting down a MiG fighter at a range of 48 miles, off Vietnam in 1972. Albany was modernized in 1973-74, and became flagship of the Second Fleet afterwards.
Albany and Chicago were scheduled for refit to extend her service through 1985 but this was cancelled due to the age of the Talos system and both were decommissioned in 1980. Columbus was decommissioned in 1975.
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