A city in Massachusetts; the first vessel of this name retained its former name.
(CLC–1: dp. 12,320 (It.); l 677’2”; b. 70’3”; dr. 19’2” (mean); s. 33 k.; cpl. 1675; cl. Northampton)
The third Northampton was laid down as CA–125, 31 August 1944 by the Fore River Yard, Bethlehem Steel Corp., Quincy, Mass. Work suspended between 11 August 1945 and 1 July 1948; she was launched as CLC–1, 27 January 1951; sponsored by Mrs. Edmond J. Lampron; and commissioned as CLC–1, 7 March 1953, Capt. William D. Irvin in command.
Following shakedown, Northampton reported for duty to Commander Operational Development Forces, Atlantic Fleet. For seven months she conducted extensive tests of her new equipment. Evaluation completed in September 1954, she reverted to the operational control of Commander BattleshipCruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet. She next demonstrated her capabilities as a tactical Command Ship by serving as flagship, first for Commander Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet (October–November 1954) and then for Commander 6th Fleet (December 1954–March 1955). Between 1 September and 22 October she served as flagship for Commander Strike Force, Atlantic, a position she was to hold frequently over the next fifteen years.
On 24 February 1956, Northampton emerged from her first overhaul, at the Portsmouth, Va., Naval Shipyard, and after refresher training off Cuba, participated, as a unit of the Navy’s first guided missile division afloat, CruDiv 6, in the first public demonstration of the Terrier missile. In April, she steamed east for 6 months with the 6th Fleet, and, during the summer of 1957, resumed midshipmen training cruises. But, between that time and 1961, she returned only infrequently to European waters. Deployed on those occasions for NATO and Fleet exercises and People to People visits, the command ship was visited by high government officials of various European countries, including King Baudouin of the Belgians and King Olav V of Norway.
Redesignated CC–1 on 15 April 1961, Northampton has remained in the western Atlantic until decommissioning in February 1970. Her cruises ranged from Canadian to Panamanian waters as she extensively tested and evaluated new communications equipment and played host to visiting national and international dignitaries, including Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.