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Command Ships

Command ships provide command and control for fleet commanders. They provide facilities to direct and manage every phase of command and control operations.

Spurred by the success of the specialized Amphibious Force Flagships (AGC) of World War II and by a desire to remove major tactical force commanders and their staffs from excessively crowded combat ships, the post-war Navy converted the incomplete heavy cruiser Northampton (CA-125) to a tactical command ship. She was redesignated CLC-1 in 1947, completed in 1953 and again redesignated CC-1 in 1961, when the role of National Emergency Command Post Afloat was added to her mission.

Also, in 1952 the incomplete large cruiser Hawaii (CB-3) was reclassified as a Large Tactical Command Ship, with the new hull number CBC-1. However, the necessary work was not carried out and the ship was again redesignated CB-3 in 1954. The command ship designation (CC) became extinct in 1980, when USS Northampton and USS Wright were sold for scrapping.

In 1962-64 two former small aircraft carriers (CVL) were also converted for the National Emergency Command Post function and redesignated CC-2 and CC-3. Only the first was completed in that guise, with the other being further modified to serve as a communications relay ship (AGMR).

USS CORONADO was commissioned on May 23, 1970 as an Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD), a ship designed to land Marines and their equipment ashore during amphibious assaults. She was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company in Seattle , Washington. USS CORONADO was redesigned as a command ship (AGF) in 1980. Prior to assuming her role with THIRD Fleet, she served as Commander, U.S. Middle East Force and the Commander, SIXTH Fleet's command ship. USS CORONADO serves as the command ship for the Commander, United States THIRD Fleet; as his command ship, USS CORONADO's mission is to be ready to take the Fleet Commander and his staff to sea to provide onscene command of operational forces, as required, throughout the Pacific.

The Blue Ridge Class Amphibious Command Ships are very large command ships originally built as amphibious command ships but now employed as fleet/joint expeditionary force command ships. The Navy now refers to these ships as "LCC/JCC", indicating "Joint Command Ship". Mt. Whitney (LCC 20), homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, with an average crew size of 1,450. It is a Blue Ridge Class Amphibious Command Ship. As the most sophisticated Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence ship ever commissioned, Mount Whitney incorporates various elements of the most advanced equipment and gives the embarked Joint Task Force Commander the capability to effectively command all units under the command of the Commander, Joint Task Force. Commissioned in 1970, these are the only ships to be designed initially for an amphibious command ship role. Earlier amphibious command ships lacked sufficient speed to keep up with a 20-knot amphibious force. Subsequently, both ships became fleet flagships. USS Blue Ridge became the Seventh Fleet command ship in 1979, and USS Mount Whitney became the Second Fleet command ship in 1981.

USS Hawaii, the third 27,500-ton Alaska class large cruiser, was one of a group of big-gun combatants (including the five Montana-class battleships and three more Alaskas) whose construction was suspended in May 1942 before work began so that materials and facilities could be used to build more urgently needed ships such as ASW escorts. Hawaii was reinstated in the building program in June 1943 and her keel was laid the following December, almost two years after her sister Guam. She was launched in November 1945, after the end of the war, and little more work was done before construction was suspended in February 1947. In the later 1940s, Hawaii was considered for conversion to a guided-missile ship. She was later included in the 1952 budget for conversion to a Large Tactical Command Ship and was reclassified CBC-1 in February 1952. This project was subsequently dropped and her classification reverted to CB-3 in September 1954. Her partially-installed secondary armament was removed when she was prepared for mothballing in 1946, and her three 12" turrets were subsequently removed in preparation for conversion. The incomplete Hawaii was sold for scrapping in April 1959.

To assist the Navy in recapitalizing its fleet by leveraging our ship operations core competencies, higher operational tempo, and reduced manning, MSC has proffered proposals to the Chief of Naval Operations and the fleet to transfer ship operations of command ships, salvage ships, and submarine tenders to MSC. As a proof of concept for MSC ship operations of command ships, the CNO and Commander of Pacific Fleet agreed to transfer the Third Fleet command ship, USS Coronado, to MSC in Nov 2003.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:42:56 ZULU