:: VIRGINIA CLASS (1974-1978) ::

Virginia class missile cruiser (1974-1978) High resolution picture

The American missile cruisers of the Virginia class, launched between 1974 and 1978, and those of the previous California class, of similar characteristics, shaped the new generation of missile cruisers appeared after the USS Long Beach and her contemporary equivalents. The ships of the Virginia class were the last nuclear-powered cruisers built for the United States Navy and their career was relatively short, for they were victims of the high costs related to the maintenance of nuclear-powered warships. The last ship of the class was decommissioned in July 1998.

Being of a relatively large size, these ships carried however much more effective weapons than the USS Long Beach in a smaller hull. The ships of both classes - California and Virginia - could launch Standard surface-to-surface missiles, ASROC antisubmarine missiles and Mk 32 antisubmarine torpedoes, and were provided with two 127-millimeter cannons in single mountings. Besides, the ships of the Virginia class were the first American missile cruisers built with facilities to shelter and maintain their helicopters.

The ships of the Virginia class were capable as well of firing the surface-to-surface missile Harpoon and they were the first American missile cruisers capable of a proper response against aerial, surface and submarine attacks. But even so, they were still considered insufficiently prepared to withstand adequately the new generation of Soviet surface ships, led by the impressive Kirov class battlecruisers.

Virginia class: 4 units - Arkansas (CGN-41), Mississippi (CGN-40), Texas (CGN-39), Virginia (CGN-38)

Type: Missile cruiser

Length: 178.4 meters

Beam: 19.2 meters

Draught: 9 meters

Displacement (light): 8523 tonnes

Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 2 x steam turbine, 2 x nuclear reactor General Electric D2G, 100000 horsepower

Speed: Over 30 knots (55.5 kilometers/hour)

Range: Nuclear, not estimated

Complement: 473

Armament: 2 x Harpoon SSM quadruple launcher, 2 x Mk 26 Standard SM-1 SAM/ASROC ASW twin launcher, 2 x Mk 45 127-millimeter 54-caliber dual-purpose cannon, 2 x Mk 15 Vulcan Phalanx CIWS 20-millimeter cannon, 2 x Mk 32 triple 324-millimeter ASW torpedo launcher, 1 x Kaman SH-2F LAMPS II ASW helicopter

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