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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
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Bainbridge

IV

(DLGN-25: displacement 8,590; length 565'; beam 58'; draft 25'5"; speed 29 knots; complement 500; armament four Terrier missile launchers, ASROC, four 3-inch, six 12.75-inch torpedo tubes; class Bainbridge)

U.S. Navy Photograph NH 67153-KN, Naval History & Heritage Command A jacket patch of the Bainbridge (DLGN-25) insignia, as adopted in 1961–1962.  Chief Electrician’s Mate Douglas A. Hale primarily designed the emblem,  combining the symbolism of Bainbridge's nuclear propulsion with the figure of a frigate at sea from Commodore William Bainbridge’s time. (Courtesy of Capt. Gustav F. Swainson, Jr., 1969, U.S. Navy Photograph NH 67153-KN, Naval History & Heritage Command)
U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98110, Naval History & Heritage Command Bainbridge enters the water for the first time, 15 April 1961. (U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98110, Naval History & Heritage Command)

The fourth Bainbridge (DLGN-25) was laid down on 15 May 1959 at Quincy, Mass., by the Bethlehem Steel Co.; launched on 15 April 1961; sponsored by Mrs. Robert L. Goodale; and commissioned on 6 October 1962, Capt. Raymond E. Peet in command.

U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98103, Naval History & Heritage Command Bainbridge completes her sea trials, 2–3 September 1962. (Photographed by Areostatico. U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98103, Naval History & Heritage Command)

Bainbridge commemorated the second ship to bear the name, Bainbridge (Torpedo Boat Destroyer No. 1). The guided missile frigate sailed on her first voyage on 8 October 1962, and stopped for two days at Newport, R.I., where Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. George W. Anderson visited her. She then continued southward and reached her initial home port of Naval Station (NS), Charleston, S.C., on 13 October. The Cuban Missile Crisis lent an air of urgency to Bainbridge’s training, and she carried out antisubmarine warfare and gunnery training off the waters stretching from Charleston northward to the Virginia capes. The ship then completed missile qualification firings on the Atlantic missile range from out of San Juan, Puerto Rico (28 November–1 December), and additional training out of Norfolk, Va., into early 1963. The frigate became the flagship of Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 18 on 3 February 1963.

U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98114, Naval History & Heritage Command The ship fires a Terrier surface-to-air missile from her forward launcher, probably circa November 1962. (U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98114, Naval History & Heritage Command)

Bainbridge stood out of Charleston on her first overseas deployment on 5 February 1963. On 7 February, she rendezvoused with attack aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVAN-65) and 20 other ships of Task Force (TF) 25 steaming toward the Mediterranean. Commander, Carrier Division (ComCarDiv) 2 Rear Adm. John T. Hayward broke his flag in command of the task force in Enterprise. The ships trained in the tactics of formation steaming and inter-ship communications as they crossed the Atlantic. Their transit also demonstrated the advantages of nuclear-propulsion when the formation slowed or reversed course more than once to enable conventionally-powered ships to refuel while encountering what Enterprise called “the rough and unruly Atlantic,” but the carrier and Bainbridge steamed unimpeded.

A flight of Soviet Tupolev Tu-95 (Tu-20) Bear-B turboprop-powered bombers over flew the ships as they neared the west coast of Africa south of the Azores. Bainbridge detected the intrusion and warned the flagship but a Bear continued over the carrier. The frigate passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 16 February, and visited Pollensa Bay, Majorca, Spain. She began a series of training exercises with the Sixth Fleet, and demonstrated her mobility by a high-speed dash to the southern coast of Crete to provide antisubmarine and antiair support for NATO amphibious landings. Following a visit to Taranto, Italy, Bainbridge joined British, French, Greek, Italian, and Turkish forces in a large NATO exercise. Bainbridge made simulated attacks to pin down “enemy” submarines, which permitted ships to sail from Naples, Italy.

While Bainbridge had been Mediterranean-bound, a cabal of Iraqi Ba’th officers led by ’Abd as-Salem Arif had grown frustrated with Gen. ’Abd al-Karim Qasim’s slow progress fighting Kurdish separatists. The plotters overthrew Qasim on 8 February 1963. The following month five Syrian Ba’thists seized power in Dimashq (Damascus), and within weeks the Egyptians, Iraqis, and Syrians agreed to form a new United Arab Republic. Pro-Egyptians rioted in Jordan and on 21 April, the cabinet in ́Ammān fell, and King ibn Talal Husayn appointed a caretaker cabinet to restore stability.

The Sixth Fleet sortied ships and subs, and on the morning of 28 April 1963, and Enterprise cut short a visit to Cannes, France. The carrier and Bainbridge pushed ahead of the main force toward the eastern Mediterranean to be within striking distance in 24 hours. Enterprise was to serve as a staging and refueling station for aircraft flying from Enterprise and from attack aircraft carrier Saratoga (CVA-60). Their aircraft were to fly combat air patrol (CAP) over aerial transports and ships during the evacuations of Americans trapped in the Middle East, and to cover marines that landed to protect the evacuees. Following two nerve-racking days, negotiators diffused the crisis.

Bainbridge then took part in Fair Game with the French, followed by Chick’s Charge, an exercise that demonstrated the potential of a small nuclear-powered task force to cope with limited war in widely separated locations. Bainbridge defended Enterprise against air and submarine attack while the carrier moved between targets, launching simulated air strikes around the clock. The frigate operated as a search and rescue (SAR) station in the Atlantic to protect President John F. Kennedy during the chief executive’s trip to Europe. She visited Rota, Spain (26–29 June), crossed the Atlantic, disembarked the DesRon 18 staff at Norfolk on 7 July, and returned to NS Charleston on 8 July.

The ship made for Newport, R.I., to participate in a Naval War College demonstration cruise (late August 1963). From there, she sailed south to Puerto Rican waters for gunnery and missile firing exercises. Returning north early in September, the warship entered Bethlehem Steel’s Quincy, Mass., yard for a post-shakedown availability (9 September–23 November). Bainbridge sailed from Charleston for extensive standardization and performance trials out of San Juan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (27 January–15 February 1964). She sailed on 9 March to participate in Second Fleet exercises in the West Indies.

Bainbridge deployed to the Mediterranean on 28 April 1964. She crossed the Atlantic in company with attack aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) and guided missile cruiser Long Beach (CGN-9).  The ships trained to counter electronic transmissions while en route to the Sixth Fleet. The frigate entered the Mediterranean on 10 May, and two days later reached Pollensa Bay. The world’s first nuclear-powered task group, consisting of Enterprise, Long Beach, and Bainbridge, sailed from Pollensa Bay on 13 May 1964. The ships conducted antiair and antisubmarine exercises with the French, and in early June steamed rapidly to the eastern Mediterranean to demonstrate their ability to respond to a crisis. In the ensuing weeks, Bainbridge and attack submarine Seawolf (SSN-575) collaborated in working out new antisubmarine tactics.

U.S. Navy Photograph KN-9027, Naval History & Heritage Command (Left–right) Aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVAN-65), guided-missile cruiser Long Beach (CGN-9), and Bainbridge steam in formation as the world’s first task group composed entirely of nuclear-powered ships, in the Mediterranean, 18 June 1964. Enterprise crewmen spell out Dr. Albert Einstein’s famous equation, defining his special theory of relativity, on the flight deck. (U.S. Navy Photograph KN-9027, Naval History & Heritage Command)

Guided missile frigate Leahy (DLG-15) relieved Bainbridge at Pollensa Bay on 29 July 1964. Bainbridge replenished at sea on 30 July, and loaded maximum stores and provisions in preparation for Operation Sea Orbit, the first circumnavigation of the world by a task group composed solely of nuclear-propelled warships—and without additional provisions during the voyage. Enterprise, Long Beach, and Bainbridge sailed from the Mediterranean as the all nuclear-powered TF 1 on 31 July. They crossed the Equator (6 August 1964) and trained with South African destroyer Simon van der Stel (D.237) and frigate President Steyn (F.147) on 10 August. The task group rounded the Cape of Good Hope during heavy seas (17 August), traversed the Indian Ocean, and made a two-day call at Karachi, Pakistan. The three ships then proceeded down the west coast of India and across the eastern Indian Ocean toward Indonesian waters. They conducted air defense exercises with British aircraft carrier Victorious (R.38) and destroyers Caesar (D.07) and Cavendish (D.15) on 28 August. Jets from Enterprise intercepted an Indonesian Tupolev Tu-16 Badger-B that investigated the ships, but the twin turbojet bomber came about.

Bainbridge reached Fremantle, Australia for a two-day visit on 31 August 1964, and then steamed south of Australia for a brief call at Wellington, New Zealand (8 September). From there, the task force crossed the South Pacific, fought heavy seas while rounding Cape Horn (17 September), and then steamed by northerly courses along the eastern coast of South America. Bainbridge visited Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (23–25 September). Detached on 30 September, Bainbridge proceeded independently, returning to Charleston on 3 October. The vessels sailed 30,216 nautical miles without taking on fuel or provisions.

During the following months, Bainbridge tested the effectiveness of surface-to-air missiles as a defense against strategic missiles on the missile range off Cape Kennedy, Fla. In early 1965, the warship took part in maneuvers in the West Indies with task groups formed around Franklin D. Roosevelt and antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier Essex (CVS-9). Bainbridge also escorted attack aircraft carrier Independence (CVA-62) to Puerto Rico on the first leg of the carrier’s passage to the western Pacific. Bainbridge returned to Charleston on 21 May, but soon moved farther north to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., where she embarked midshipmen for training at sea on 8 June. That mission took her to ports in Florida and Puerto Rico. She then carried out Second Fleet maneuvers.

Bainbridge sailed from Charleston for missile firing exercises on the Atlantic missile range on 25 October 1965. She then rendezvoused with Enterprise, rounded the Cape of Good Hope (14 October), and arrived at Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippines (27 November). Three days later, Bainbridge returned to sea with Enterprise and the ships of DesRon 24 toward Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Americans created Yankee Station as a primarily carrier operating area from which to prosecute the war. Bainbridge helped screen Enterprise when the carrier launched aircraft that bombed Viet-Nam Cong San (People’s Liberation Armed Forces—PLAF) positions near Bien Hoa, South Vietnam, on 2 December. On 16 December, the task group steamed north and began attacks on North Vietnam. Naval aircraft struck supply depots, and the roads and bridges heading south from them, in an effort to interdict the flow of military supplies to communist forces in South Vietnam. Carrier air strikes damaged the Uong Bi power plant, which provided most of the electricity for Hanoi and Haiphong (22 December).

The carriers launched strikes against targets in all four corps areas in South Vietnam (8 January 1966), including repeated attacks against suspected troop concentrations and storage areas. Bainbridge retired to Subic Bay (15 January), but was back on station on 3 February. The frigate began a stretch of independent duty on ‘Tom Cat’ picket station to the north in the Gulf of Tonkin (13 February). The ship helped to verify the friendly identity of all returning aircraft. Guided missile frigate Worden (DLG-18) relieved Bainbridge, and she took up SAR missions with a Kaman UH-2A Seasprite of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 1 embarked. She returned to Subic Bay (25 February–13 March 1966).

The ship took part in Operation Blue Sky—a joint air defense exercise with the Chinese Nationalists in Taiwanese waters. At 0530 on 14 March, Bainbridge sounded her collision alarm when Japanese tanker Tamba Maru headed for the formation. The frigate’s deft maneuvering averted a tragedy and the Japanese continued without yielding the right of way. The Americans carried out an air and surface demonstration for Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. Following the demonstration, an earthquake disrupted the formation at 1723. Bainbridge hauled out to starboard and the ships emerged unscathed.

Bainbridge patrolled in the Gulf of Tonkin (20 March–1 April 1966), and then joined the screen of attack aircraft carrier Hancock (CVA-19) as she launched air strikes against inland and coastal targets. The frigate patrolled for smuggling trawlers with destroyer Wedderburn (DD-684), and on 16 May returned to Subic Bay. Bainbridge then participated in Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) exercise Sea Imp, and on 26 May resumed patrols in the Gulf of Tonkin. Destroyer Dyess (DD-880) relieved Bainbridge on 6 June, and the frigate made for Subic Bay. She started across the Pacific in company with Enterprise (10 June), parted company with the carrier (20 June), and entered her new home port of Naval Station, Long Beach, Calif. (21 June). She completed a restricted availability at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard (September–October). In October, the ship conducted missile-firing drills on the Pacific missile range, before joining in fleet exercises that simulated combat conditions off Vietnam.

She set a course for the western Pacific in company with Enterprise, guided missile frigate Gridley (DLG-21), and destroyers McKean (DD-784) and Turner Joy (DD-951), on 18 November 1966. The task group visited Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (23–28 November), and reached Subic Bay on 8 December. A week later, Bainbridge sailed from Subic Bay and reached Yankee Station on 18 December. Bainbridge provided plane-guard services and defense against air and submarine attack to Enterprise as the first jets roared off her flight deck to bomb bridges and supply dumps near Ha Tinh, Thon Hon, and Vinh, North Vietnam. Bainbridge and Enterprise sailed from the Gulf of Tonkin (2 March 1967) and visited Subic Bay (4–6 March).

Bainbridge visited Fremantle (13–18 March 1967), and returned to Yankee Station (23 March). The ship completed repairs at Subic Bay (15–27 April) and then returned to the waters off the Vietnamese coast. The warship spent the next month supporting the carriers on Yankee Station, returned to Subic Bay (29 May–3 June), and made one final, brief line period on Yankee Station that ended on 12 June. She visited Singapore (15–20 June), called briefly at Subic Bay, and sailed from the Philippines on 26 June in company with Enterprise. Bainbridge returned to Long Beach on 7 July.

The ship accomplished her nuclear reactor refueling at San Francisco Bay Area Naval Shipyard, Calif. (31 August 1967–December 1968. Bainbridge deployed to the western Pacific on 6 January 1969. She spent 10 days training in Hawaiian waters, and searched the water for survivors when Enterprise suffered a serious flight deck fire that killed 28 sailors and wounded 371 more, and destroyed 15 aircraft and damaged another 17, on 14 January 1969.

Resuming her westward voyage, Bainbridge replenished at Subic Bay on 3 February 1969, and reached Tokin Gulf on 7 February. The warship came about on 22 February, and on 1 March reached Fremantle. She shifted to Bunbury, Australia (6–10 March). The frigate stopped at Subic Bay (16–18 March), and returned to North Vietnamese waters (20 March–29 April). Bainbridge underwent maintenance at Subic Bay (1–13 May). On 4 June, the warship shaped a course for Taiwanese waters, and visited Kaohsiung (7–12 June). She then stopped briefly at Manila, Philippines, before mooring at Subic Bay (17–20 June). Bainbridge completed a nonstop voyage to Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, Calif., on 2 July. She returned to Long Beach on 29 August.

Bainbridge deployed to the western Pacific on 8 April 1970. She visited Pearl Harbor (13–18 April), where orders directed her to participate in the recovery of Apollo 13. Command and Service Module 109 Odyssey splashed down in the mid-Pacific about four miles from the primary recovery vessel, amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima (LPH-2), on 17 April. A Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 4 designated Aircraft No. 407, recovered and transported astronauts Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr., USAF, and Fred W. Haise, Jr., USMCR, to Iwo Jima. Bainbridge thus resumed her voyage the following day, and visited Sydney, Australia (28 April–2 May) for the celebration of the bicentennial of Capt. James Cook’s initial exploration of Australia in 1770. She then participated in ceremonies commemorating the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 at Melbourne (4–8 May).

The frigate put into Subic Bay (18–22 May 1970), and on 25 May stood into Tonkin Gulf. She conducted plane guard station for the carriers and served on the SAR station; a routine broken only by a brief call at Subic Bay to embark a helicopter detachment (10–11 June). Late in July, Bainbridge sailed from the Tonkin Gulf and, after visits to Subic Bay and Singapore, entered the Indian Ocean for 10 days of operations in August. She returned to Subic Bay in mid-August, and then resumed patrols in the Tonkin Gulf, alternating between operating as a plane guard and on the northern SAR station. The ship came about in mid-September, visited Hong Kong (19–25 September), stopped at Subic Bay (27 September), and returned to Long Beach on 11 October.

Bainbridge carried out training (December 1970–January 1971), and shifted from Naval Station Long Beach to Long Beach Naval Shipyard for repairs (1 February–26 March). The ship deployed to the western Pacific on 26 May 1971. She stopped at NS Pearl Harbor (31 May–6 June), and on 12 June reached Yokosuka, Japan. Bainbridge operated in the Sea of Japan from Yokosuka during the following six weeks. On 23 July, she sailed from Yokosuka, visited Subic Bay (29 July), and arrived on Yankee Station (30 July). The ship fought on the line, broken by visits to Hong Kong (9–14 August) and Subic Bay (6–15 September).

The warship sailed from Subic Bay and operated in the Indian Ocean until she put into Singapore (25–29 September 1971). She reentered Subic Bay and conducted operations in the South China Sea from that station (2–9 October), followed by an additional line period in the Gulf of Tonkin. Bainbridge came about from Yankee Station on 2 November, stopped at Subic Bay (4–8 November), called at Pearl Harbor for 3 ½ hours on 18 November, and returned to Long Beach on 23 November.

Bainbridge trained intermittently (January–March 1972), and completed an availability at Long Beach Naval Shipyard (10 April–3 May). The ship then sailed on two occasions to Hawaiian waters for maneuvers. Bainbridge deployed to the western Pacific on 12 September 1972. She put into Subic Bay (24–28 September), and then accomplished three combat tours in the Tonkin Gulf, primarily screening carriers or serving on one of the SAR stations. The ship punctuated these four to six-week cruises by six to ten day stand down periods in Subic Bay.

The U.S. announced a ceasefire following the ship’s third return visit to Subic Bay in late January 1973. On 27 January, TF 78 stood up to conduct Operation End­sweep—mine­sweeping operations in North Vietnamese waters stipulated by the Paris Peace Accords. When Bainbridge returned to Tonkin Gulf at the beginning of February, therefore, her mission changed from supporting carrier air strikes to supporting Endsweep and enforcing the terms of the ceasefire. Bainbridge reentered Subic Bay (23–29 February). After spending the first week of March in Hong Kong, she supported Endsweep for nine days in early March before sailing to Subic Bay.

The warship made an overnight call at Subic Bay (20–21 March) and then set out on a circuitous voyage by way of Yokosuka to Long Beach, returning home on 4 April. In May, Bainbridge resumed normal training duty along the west coast. In late June and early July, she expanded her range of operations with a midshipman training cruise to Hawaii. Returning to the west coast in mid-July, she trained until mid-August, and accomplished a restricted availability at Long Beach Naval Shipyard, followed by additional training (September–November).

Bainbridge deployed to the western Pacific on 23 November 1973. She paused at Pearl Harbor (29 November–1 December) and reached Subic Bay on 14 December. Given the American withdrawal from the Vietnam War, Bainbridge focused her activities on displaying U.S. forward presence in the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, which included a visit to Singapore over Christmas.

American support of the Israelis during the Yom Kippur War deteriorated relations between the United States and Arab nations, necessitating the U.S. deployment of reinforcements to the Middle East. Bainbridge and guided missile escort ship Schofield (DEG-3) steamed as an element of Commander Task Unit (CTU) 75.5.4, and rendezvoused with attack aircraft carrier Oriskany (CVA-34) in the Arabian Sea on 3 January 1974. Oriskany assumed the operational command of Bainbridge and Schofield.

Bainbridge crossed the equator at 56°00'E on 18 January, and visited Bandar Abbas, Iran (5–9 February). Logistics problems plagued the ships because of the extended distances, and Bainbridge towed Schofield when the latter suffered a damaged main journal bearing on 15 February. Bainbridge again crossed the equator at 56°00'E on 23 February. On 27 February, she evacuated an injured man from oiler Mispillion (AO-105) near the breakwater at Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory. On 3 March, the ship came about. She passed through the Strait of Malacca on 4 March, and after completing repairs alongside destroyer tender Samuel Gompers (AD-37) at Subic Bay (8–18 March), the warship returned to Long Beach on 31 March 1974.

Bainbridge sailed on 11 June, and accomplished repairs, modifications, and refueling at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. (14 June 1974–10 September 1976). 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. Pahlavī fell in mid-January 1980. On 21 January, aircraft carrier Nimitz (CVN-68) and guided missile cruisers California (CGN-36) and Texas (CGN-39) rendezvoused with Midway and her consorts in the Arabian Sea. Their arrival enabled Midway, guided missile destroyer Parsons (DDG-33) and frigates Fanning (FF-1076) and Knox (FF-1052) of TG 70.1 to come about on 2 February. The task group transited the Strait of Malacca (9–10 February) and reached Subic Bay on 13 February. Four days later, Bainbridge started her voyage home and, traveling via Pearl Harbor, the warship reached San Diego on 7 March. She then trained along the west coast.

Bainbridge deployed to the western Pacific on 27 February 1981. She sailed in company with guided missile destroyers Berkeley (DDG-15) and Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7), destroyer Hull (DD-945), frigate Hepburn (FF-1055), Canadian destroyers Gatineau (DDE.236) and Kootenay (DDE.258), and Canadian replenishment oiler Provider (AOR.508). The task group put in at Pearl Harbor (6–9 March), changed operational control to Commander, Seventh Fleet (15 March), and visited Subic Bay (20–24 March).

The cruiser passed through the Strait of Malacca (27 March 1981), and rendezvoused with Midway in the Arabian Sea (2 April). Bainbridge assumed duties as the task group antiair warfare commander (3–13 April). Guided missile cruiser Reeves (CG-24) relieved Bainbridge and she came about on 13 April. During the passage back to Subic Bay, Bainbridge made three separate rescues at sea. She retrieved three Malaysian fishermen, who had been adrift on a box for more than 36 hours, in the Strait of Malacca (20 April). The ship delivered the fishermen to Port Klang Harbor Master, Malaysia. She resumed her journey, but the following day picked up 17 Vietnamese refugees, about 300 miles southwest of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The warship embarked these people and visited Sattahip, Thailand (22–27 April). While there, the cruiser transferred the émigrés to destroyer John Young (DD-973), to await transportation to a refugee camp. Bainbridge then set out for Subic Bay but rescued another 48 Vietnamese refugees, about 90 miles south of Hon Khoui Island (28 April). She carried these people to Subic Bay, disembarking them when she arrived there on 30 April.

Following two weeks of upkeep, the guided-missile cruiser set off for the Sea of Japan (14 May). She participated in antisubmarine exercise ASWEX 81-2S, and made a port call at Pusan (26 May-2 June), before returning south to the Philippines early in June. Later that month, she took part in antisurface exercise ASUWEX 81-2 in nearby waters. In July, Bainbridge joined several other warships in multi threat scenario MULTIPLEX 81-4 in Okinawan waters (7–15 July), and made a liberty call at Hong Kong (17-23 July). Returning to Luzon on 25 July, the warship spent the month of August engaged in local operations out of Subic Bay, broken by a visit to the capital of Manila (7-10 August). Bainbridge sailed from Subic Bay on 29 August, passed through San Bernardino Strait the following day, visited Pearl Harbor (12-15 September), and concluded her deployment at San Diego on 21 September.

The cruiser completed a restricted availability at NS San Diego (4 January-23 April 1982). A tragedy marred the maintenance when Engineman 1st Class Joseph A. Durr and Engineman Fireman Stuart L. Fields of the ships company, and Machinist’s Mate 1st Class John V. Sullivan of Public Works Center San Diego, died from Freon asphyxiation in Bainbridge’s No. 1 Air Conditioning Room on 25 January 1982. Seven other men sustained injuries, and Seaman Edward Starr of the ships company subsequently received the Navy-Marine Corps Medal for his lifesaving attempts during the accident. Early in June 1982, the warship again took up training operations out of her home port, and she remained so occupied through the end of August.

Bainbridge deployed with Enterprise and TG 30.6 to the western Pacific on 1 September 1982. The cruiser operated as the antiair warfare commander for the battle group; Battle Group Foxtrot. She visited NS Pearl Harbor (13-15 September), took part in an exercise with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One, and resumed her westward voyage on 18 September. On 23 September, Grumman F-14A Tomcats flying from Enterprise intercepted the first pair of many Soviet Bear-Ds that conducted surveillance of the ships.

The guided missile cruiser operated in the Sea of Japan (2–8 October 1982). She then sailed for the Philippines, and visited Subic Bay (14–18 October). The ship set out for Singapore, and rescued 51 Vietnamese refugees from a dilapidated 32-foot boat, 240 miles northwest of Singapore Strait, on 24 October. Bainbridge then sank their craft because it posed a hazard to navigation. She disembarked the refugees when she reached Singapore (26–30 October).

Bainbridge passed through the Strait of Malacca on Halloween, and detached from TG 70.6 for a SAR on 8 November 1982. Twenty-foot seas and 50 knot winds pummeled Oil Derrick Barge DB-17 off the coast of India. The barge lost control in the stormy weather, imperiling the 318 people on board. Bainbridge sailed 600 miles at 27 knots and reached the area the following day, but an Indian ocean-going tug dispatched from Bombay [Mumbai], India, completed the mission of mercy by restarting the barge’s tugboat engines. Bainbridge crossed the equator at 44°48'E on 20 November. After a port call at Mombasa (22–26 November), the cruiser sailed northward for operations with Enterprise off the Omani coast. She then carried out ‘Tattletale Operations’ by shadowing Soviet intelligence-gathering trawler Ilmen in the Indian Ocean (24–26 December). The ship returned to NS San Diego on 29 April 1983.

She spent the next five months conducting local operations and port visits along the California coast. In October 1983, the warship unloaded her ordnance at Naval Weapons Station, Seal Beach, Calif., and completed what proved to be her final modernization overhaul, at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. She was refloated in June 1984. On 1 June 1985, the cruiser changed her home port from San Diego to Naval Station, Norfolk, Va. Bainbridge concluded her overhaul later that month, and carried out refresher training in early July. The ship sailed for her new home port on 22 July, passed through the Panama Canal, visited Maracaibo, Venezuela, and moored at Norfolk in early August. The warship spent the remainder of the year familiarizing herself with Atlantic Fleet procedures and conducting local operations from Norfolk.

Bainbridge embarked a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and sailed for her first drug interdiction patrol to the West Indies, on 6 January 1986. Two days later, she rescued two Haitians adrift in a small boat, took the castaways in tow, and dropped them off at Guantánamo Bay. She came about on 10 January, and on 13 January moored at Norfolk.

Bainbridge received orders tasking her to deploy with America to Libyan waters in response to ongoing crises with that country’s dictator Col. Muammar al-Qadhafi. Bainbridge did not sail, however, when America deployed on 10 March 1986. Instead, the cruiser resumed her West Indies patrol by sailing southward from Norfolk on 11 March. She spent nine days at sea and then put into Port Everglades, Fla., before returning to Norfolk on 26 March.

Following a series of fleet exercises off the Virginia capes in April 1986, Bainbridge sailed to the West Indies on 9 June for a series of weapons exercises in Puerto Rican waters. On 11 and 13 June, the guided-missile cruiser fired two Standard SM-2 surface-to-air missiles and five antisubmarine torpedoes off Vieques Island, after which she set course for Norfolk.

Bainbridge deployed on 18 August 1986. The warship worked her way around a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic, enduring 45° rolls in the process, reported to the Sixth Fleet on 28 August. She passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 1 September, proceeded east and three days later anchored at La Spezia, Italy. The ship steamed from Italian waters on 12 September, visited Monaco for a week, and put back to sea on 19 September. Bainbridge participated in the month-long NATO exercise Display Determination, from the western Mediterranean to the coast of Turkey. The ship provided medical assistance to Turkish destroyer Yücetepe (D.345). Bainbridge then spent four days at Haifa, Israel, before sailing west to Toulon, France. While en route, she searched for a downed Grumman A-6 Intruder, recovering the bodies of the aircrewmen and some debris before putting in to port on 27 September.

On 10 November 1986, the guided missile cruiser returned to sea and provided antiair support to destroyer Moosbrugger (DD-980) and frigate McCandless (FF-1084) as those warships tracked a Soviet submarine. Bainbridge detached on 19 November, proceeded west, and on 24 November anchored at Palma de Majorca, Spain. In December, the warship sailed to Naples, where she joined John F. Kennedy (CV-67) while the aircraft carrier accomplished flight operations (5–9 December). The cruiser then visited Haifa (23 December 1986–2 January 1987).

Bainbridge operated near Augusta Bay, Sicily, for most of January 1987. The ship’s original orders scheduled her to stop at Tangiers, Morocco, on 29 January, and then sail for home. The Iranians and Iraqis continued to attack neutral tankers in the Persian Gulf, however, and the worsening situation compelled the Sixth Fleet to deploy the warship for three weeks of contingency operations in the eastern Mediterranean. Bainbridge came about on 21 February, and returned to Norfolk on 3 March.

The ship embarked 33 midshipmen for a short training cruise to northern Europe on 1 June 1987. She visited Zeebrugge, Belgium; Rotterdam and Den Helder, Netherlands; and Wilhelmshaven, West Germany. Her crewmen conducted ship visits with British guided missile destroyer Nottingham (D.91) and West German destroyer Hessen (D.184) and frigate Augsburg (F.213). Bainbridge returned to NS Norfolk in July.

The warship ended the month of August 1987 with a missile exercise off Puerto Rico, and returned to Norfolk on 8 September. She completed a restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va. (1 October–22 December). Bainbridge accomplished refresher training at Guantánamo Bay, and returned to Norfolk on 5 February. Beginning with a combat readiness exercise on 8 February, Bainbridge spent the next six months undergoing inspections and conducting local operations. She provided antiair protection for John F. Kennedy during a fleet exercise off Puerto Rico in June.

In company with John F. Kennedy and a marine amphibious readiness group, Bainbridge deployed to the Mediterranean on 2 August 1988. They transited the Strait of Gibraltar on 14 August, and two days later John F. Kennedy relieved aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). Bainbridge took part in Seawind, a complex series of operations conducted with the Egyptians in the Levantine basin (7–10 September). In late September and early October, she participated in Display Determination 88, an exercise with the Italians and Turks that demonstrated NATO’s resolve to defend the Mediterranean sealanes. The cruiser escorted John F. Kennedy during African Eagle, an amphibious landing evolution with the Moroccans off Al Hoceima, Morocco (29 November–3 December). In between these exercises, the warship visited Leghorn, Naples, and La Spezia, Italy; Alexandria, Egypt; and Antalya, Turkey. She ended the year at Toulon, France.

On New Year’s Day of 1989, Bainbridge put to sea and steamed south and east, en route to Haifa. John F. Kennedy sailed in routine training exercises off the northeastern tip of the Libyan coast when the two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers launched from a field at Al Bumbah and approached the carrier, on 4 January 1989. Following repeated attempts to intercept the aggressive Libyans peacefully, two F‑14A Tomcats of Fighter Squadron (VF) 32 flying from John F. Kennedy, crewed by pilot Comdr. Joseph B. Connelly and Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) Comdr. Leo F. Enwright, Jr., and pilot Lt. Herman C. Cook, III, and RIO Lt. Comdr. Steven P. Collins, respectively, fired AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and shot down the MiGs over international waters north of Tobruk, Libya.

Tensions remained high following the battle, but John F. Kennedy and some of the other ships of her battle group, including Bainbridge, visited Haifa without further incident on 6 January 1989. Aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) relieved John F. Kennedy on 15 January. Bainbridge sailed westbound through the Strait of Gibraltar on 22 January, and moored at Norfolk on 1 February.

Bainbridge sailed for a short cruise to northern Europe on 6 June 1989. She visited Oslo, Norway (18–22 June) and Den Helder (23–27 June). Shortly after setting out for Wilhelmshaven, West Germany, on 27 June, Bainbridge slightly damaged her aft sonar dome, which compelled her return to the Dutch anchorage. Diving teams completed hull repairs, and the guided-missile cruiser came about for home, arriving at Norfolk on 25 July.

The warship completed additional repairs alongside destroyer tender Puget Sound (AD-38) at Norfolk through the summer of 1989. Hurricane Hugo devastated a wide swath across the Caribbean and on 27 September, Bainbridge sailed for the Virgin Islands. After arriving there on 1 October, she provided disaster relief assistance until turning for home on 8 October. Once again in Norfolk on 13 October, the warship completed an availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (2 November 1989-2 April 1990). Bainbridge moved out of drydock and tied up to Berth 38 on 13 February 1990, and finished the balance of the work pierside.

Bainbridge steamed to Guantánamo Bay for two weeks of limited team training (17 May–8 June 1990). Following the ship’s return to Norfolk, she embarked a platoon from Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Team 8 and three Zodiac rubber boats for a special operations exercise off the Virginia capes. The cruiser dropped the SEALs off near Little Creek Amphibious Base, Va., and made for northern waters to visit Newport (25–28 June) and Halifax, Nova Scotia (2–5 July).

The cruiser deployed to northern Europe on 5 September. After a short stop at Portsmouth, United Kingdom, she steamed to Wilhelmshaven on 18 September for Operation Steel Box. Bainbridge detached to escort Military Sealift Command-manned auxiliary crane ships Flickertail State (T-ACS-5) and Gopher State (T-ACS-4), while they transported nerve gas canisters to be destroyed at an incinerator in the Pacific, beginning on 22 September. The ships steered by southerly and westerly courses, crossed the equator on 2 October, continued along the coast of South America, and rounded Cape Horn on 13 October. They rendezvoused with guided missile cruiser Truxtun (CGN-35) on 22 October, and Bainbridge turned over her charges and steamed northeast to Panama. The ship passed through the Panama Canal on 26 October, traversed the Caribbean, and returned to Norfolk on 31 October.

Bainbridge deployed for counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean on 10 January 1991. She steamed to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and during two weeks of patrols received credit with the detection and subsequent seizure of two drug cartel aircraft flying from Colombia. Bainbridge returned to Norfolk on 14 February. She made another counter-narcotics cruise to the Caribbean (6 April–30 May), and trained with Dwight D. Eisenhower in Puerto Rican waters (23 July–9 August).

The ship deployed in company with Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf on 26 September 1991. Bainbridge passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 7 October and the Suez Canal on 13 October. She then commenced operations in the Red Sea in support of UN sanctions against the Iraqis. While in the Red Sea, aircraft flying from Dwight D. Eisenhower patrolled the Iraqi ‘No Fly Zones,’ and the ships monitor merchant shipping to prevent smugglers from helping the Iraqis reconstitute their conventional and special weapons programs. The battle group moved southeast ten days later, shifted around the Arabian Peninsula and entered the Arabian Gulf on 30 October. Bainbridge primarily provided antiair warfare coverage.

In mid-December 1991, Bainbridge participated in Gulf Exercise Seven, a tactical operation with frigate Robert E. Peary (FF-1073) and one British and one French warship. The guided-missile cruiser visited Dubai for the holidays, and sailed on 2 January 1992 to join Red Reef III, a large open ocean and amphibious exercise held with four Saudi warships. During almost two weeks of live surface-to-surface and air-to-surface missile firings, Bainbridge fired two Standards, one of which scored a direct hit on a target barge on 10 January. Following repairs alongside destroyer tender Yosemite (AD-19), the warship passed eastbound through the Strait of Hormuz on 4 February. Bainbridge visited Mombasa (12–15), where she hosted the President of Kenya, Daniel Toritorich Arap Moi, for a visit on 15 February. Bainbridge steamed north to the Red Sea and rejoined Dwight D. Eisenhower on 21 February.

U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98107-KN, Naval History & Heritage Command The ship transits the Suez Canal, en route to the Mediterranean with aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), 27 February 1992. (Photographed by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Anthony A. Alleyne, U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98107-KN, Naval History & Heritage Command)

The battle group transited the Suez Canal northbound on 27 February 1992, then stopped at Toulon, France (1–5 March). Bainbridge passed through the Strait of Gibraltar on 7 March, and turned northward to take part in NATO exercise Team Work 92 in the Norwegian Sea (10–21 March). The evolution took Bainbridge across the Arctic Circle and into “the realm of the blue nose.” The cruiser came about on 21 March and, moored at NS Norfolk on 2 April.

She carried out an availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (14 July–14 December). By January 1993, economic disruption and civil unrest in Haiti produced a growing exodus of refugees, who put to sea in rafts and small boats in desperate attempts to reach Florida. In early February, Bainbridge received orders to support the Coast Guard’s efforts to interdict these people near the Haitian coast. She sailed on 8 February, embarked a Coast Guard LEDET at Guantánamo Bay, and joined Operation Sea Signal on 22 February. The warship came about on 10 March, and moored at Norfolk two days later.

Bainbridge participated in a counter-narcotics patrol in the Caribbean in May, and again in June, when she visited Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. In late August, the guided-missile cruiser put to sea for NATO exercise Solid Stance 93 in the North Atlantic. During these evolutions the warship visited Oslo, Norway; Wilhelmshaven; and Portsmouth and Plymouth, England. She returned to Norfolk on 15 October.

The cruiser participated in COMPTUEX 2-94 off Puerto Rico (19 January–17 February 1994). She deployed to reinforce NATO Standing Naval Forces, Atlantic (StaNavForLant) on 1 April. Bainbridge relieved guided missile cruiser Dale (CG-19) as StaNavForLant flagship at Palma de Mallorca. Bainbridge sailed from Spanish waters on 16 April, and steamed to the Adriatic Sea for Operation Sharp Guard—to enforce UN sanctions against the warring factions in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. For the next five months, Bainbridge conducted patrols and served as the antiair warfare coordinator in the Adriatic Sea. The warship also visited Corfu, Greece; Naples and Livorno, Italy; and Soudha Bay, Crete. She turned over her duties as StaNavForLant flagship at Toulon, France (14–17 September), and returned to NS Norfolk on 30 September.

Bainbridge sailed for her final deployment on 9 February 1995. She carried out extensive shiphandling and flight operations training during NATO exercise Strong Resolve 95 in the rough waters off Norway. When the exercise ended on 11 March, the ship visited Bremerhaven, Germany, and Den Helder. The guided-missile cruiser turned for home for the last time on 19 March, and moored at NS Norfolk on 30 March.

Bainbridge was inactivated at Norfolk on 6 October 1995. Decommissioned at Norfolk on 13 September 1996, Bainbridge was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register the same day. The ship was later taken under tow to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for scrapping.

Bainbridge (DLGN-25) earned eight battle stars for her Vietnam service.


Rewritten and expanded by Alastair G. Clegg and Mark L. Evans