July 18th, 2006

Today I discovered The Dictionary Of American Fighting Ships. I expected to find a brief entry on my own ship, USS. Bainbridge, CGN-25. Instead I found this wonderfully detailed history that narrates my four years as a sea dog that included playing with both the Soviets in the Sea of Okhotsk and the revolutionary Iranians in the Gulf Oman. I joined the Bainbridge on 1 January 1976 and left her for the last time when I was heloed off for transit to discharge in December 1979.

The work included the replacement of her 3-inch guns with two 20 millimeter guns, and the installation of new radar and the Model IV Navy Tactical Data System (NTDS). Complications and delays delayed the overhaul. Bainbridge was reclassified a guided missile cruiser and redesignated CGN-25 on 30 June 1975.

Following her yard work, the ship carried out her post-overhaul certifications and evaluations in the Puget Sound area with intermittent participation in Operation Sea Crow—a long-range aircraft detection exercise carried out in cooperation with the Air Force. Bainbridge carried out a series of tactical exercises first with aircraft carrier Constellation (CV-64), then with a pair of submarines, and finally with the carrier again, in southern Californian waters in late November. She returned to Bremerton just before Christmas.

The cruiser opened 1977 with a voyage to Hawaii (4–30 January). Bainbridge concluded her post-overhaul repairs on 31 March and, following several final tests early in April, sailed for her new home port of Naval Station, San Diego, on 11 April. During the summer, she completed refresher training in southern Californian waters, and visited the Seattle Seafair in the first half of August.

Bainbridge deployed to the western Pacific on 10 January 1978. The ship trained in Hawaiian waters en route, and reached Yokosuka on 3 February. She participated in exercises off Okinawa in February, in the South China Sea in March, and off the Philippines in April and May. The cruiser also visited Pusan (Busan), South Korea (22–28 February); Singapore (28 March–2 April); Sattahip, Thailand (6–11 April); Hong Kong (22–24 April); and Pusan (late May); followed by repairs at Yokosuka (5–28 June). She stopped at Subic Bay briefly on 2 July, and set out on a circuitous voyage home, sailing by way of Darwin, Australia, the Tonga Islands, and Pearl Harbor. The guided missile cruiser reached San Diego on 9 August.

The ship accomplished an availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (6 October 1978–27 January 1979). The upgrades included the installation of the RGM-84 Harpoon surface-to-surface missile system. She returned to San Diego on 2 February.
U.S. Navy Photograph USN 1174727, Naval History & Heritage Command Bainbridge makes a high speed turn in the Pacific, March 1979. She mounts a quadruple Harpoon surface-to-surface missile launcher on the starboard side aft—the superstructure obscures a second quadruple launcher fitted to port. (U.S. Navy Photograph USN 1174727, Naval History & Heritage Command)

She deployed to the western Pacific on 8 August 1979. The guided missile cruiser visited Pearl Harbor (18–23 August), stopped briefly at Midway Island (27 August), and arrived at Yokosuka on 2 September. After escorting aircraft carrier Ranger (CV-61) to the vicinity of Midway (early September), she rendezvoused with TF 75 to carry out Operation Free Seas 79 in the Sea of Okhotsk (15–20 September). Bainbridge returned to Yokosuka (25 September), joined TG 70.1, built around aircraft carrier Midway (CV-41), and sailed by way of Subic Bay to visit Perth, Australia (20–25 October). From there, the task group moved into the Indian Ocean and made a “show the flag” port visit to Mombasa, Kenya (early November). Midway and Bainbridge moored outside Mombasa, while frigate Stein (FF-1065) and combat store ship San Jose (AFS-7), and Military Sealift Command replenishment oilers Mispillion (T-AO-105) and Navasota (T-AO-106) moored in the harbor.

Political unrest and violence mounted in Iran (20 November 1979), and Bainbridge and her task group moved northward to the Arabian Sea for contingency operations. Iranian Shah Mohammad R. Pahlav? fell in mid-January 1980.

5 Responses to “MY LIFE AS A SEA DOG…”

  1. […] have clearly studied at their feet when it comes to goading the United States Navy. I know. The U.S.S. Bainbridge played the deadly game with both. In the case of the latter, coming within 30 seconds of launching […]

  2. […] my Navy days what I remember about New Zealand was that it was wouldn’t let the USS Bainbridge make a port call because we were nuclear powered and might have had nuclear weapons on board. New […]

  3. […] in the late ’70s when I visited Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand during my service in the Navy, one of the cheapest souvenirs you could buy to send back to friends and family were made from […]

  4. […] not the ship I served on, but her successor and 5th to bear the name. I finished my naval career in these same waters waiting to take on a different kind of pirate hunkered down in Tehran. But […]

  5. […] I went to sea once myself and over the next 366 days, 2012 is a leap year, I will sit myself down after dinner each evening with a good mug of tea and digest both my meal and Melville’s words for a pleasant hour. […]

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