Saturday, July 14, 2007

USS Long Beach (CGN-9)

The USS Long Beach was the Navy's first nuclear powered surface combatant. It was launched from the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy shipyard on July 14, 1959. Mrs. Craig Hosmer christened the ship as it's sponsor. USS Long Beach was actually commissioned in the Charlestown Navy Yard a few months after I was born (less than a half mile from where I lived). She served in the Mediterranean initially, but then off the coast of Vietnam during the 60's and 70's. Long Beach "struck hard" in battle, shooting down MIGs in Vietnam and sanitizing returning US air strikes. But she also received humanitarian service medals after saving Vietnamese boat people. The ship was decommissioned May 1, 1995.

With its deep and sheltered harbor, Quincy was an ideal site for shipbuilding. Men had been building and launching boats there since the English first settled in the area in 1640. But the industry really boomed in the late nineteenth century when inventor Thomas Watson started a company to make engines for boats. For the next 100 years, life in Quincy revolved around the shipyards, which reached their peak during World War II when employment topped 32,000, including 1,200 women. Although the yard closed in 1986, Quincy's shipbuilding heritage is kept alive by the U.S. Naval and Shipbuilding Museum on the Fore River Site.

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