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Little Rock I (CL-92)


The capital city of Arkansas.

(CL-92: displacement 10,000; length 610'1"; beam 66'4"; draft 20'; speed 33 knots; complement 992; armament 12 6-inch, 12 5-inch, 28 40 millimeter, 10 20 millimeter; class Cleveland)

The first Little Rock (CL-92) was laid down on 6 March 1943 at Philadelphia, Pa., by William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company; launched on 27 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Ruth May Wassell, the wife of Little Rock alderman Sam M. Wassell; and commissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, on 17 June 1945, Capt. William E. Miller in command.

Little Rock off the Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1945, with her crew at quarters and two Curtiss SC-1 Seahawks on her catapults aft. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph 19-N-92423, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Divisio...
Caption: Little Rock off the Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1945, with her crew at quarters and two Curtiss SC-1 Seahawks on her catapults aft. (U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships Photograph 19-N-92423, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Little Rock departed Philadelphia on 13 July 1945, and sailed via Naval Operating Base Norfolk, Portsmouth, Va., for her shakedown training cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She returned to Philadelphia, on 30 August for post-shakedown repairs until 26 September, when she commenced local operations out of Newport, R.I., for the training of the prospective crew of the aircraft carrier Princeton (CV-37). On 21 October 1945, Little Rock departed Newport, for a cruise to South America, steaming via San Juan, P.R., to arrive at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 10 November 1945. Among other Brazilian ports visited were Recife, Santos, Porto del Rio Grande, and Bahia. She then called at the ports of Chile, including Concepcion Bay; Valparaiso; Antofagasta; and Iquique, thence to Callao, Peru; and Santa Elena, Ecuador. She completed the transit of the Panama Canal (11-15 March) and after a visit to Cartagena, Colombia (16-18 March), returned to Norfolk on 23 March 1946.

Little Rock sailed on 19 April 1946 for maneuvers with units of the Eighth Fleet in the Caribbean and returned to Philadelphia, on 12 May for repairs. Little Rock then departed on 4 June 1946, for an extended cruise in European waters. On 11 June, she arrived at Plymouth, England. After a voyage to Gibraltar, she visited ports in Scotland; Göteborg and Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark; Antwerp, Belgium; and Amsterdam, Netherlands. She returned to Plymouth on 31 July, and then visited Lisbon, Portugal, before arrival at the British Crown Colony of Gibraltar, on 22 August, to commence a tour of the Mediterranean. She called at Naples, Italy (27 August-3 September); Piraeus, Greece (5-9 September); Valletta, Malta (10-12 September); and Bone, Algeria (14-16 September). She departed Valletta, on 17 September, and returned to Norfolk, on 27 September 1946.

Little Rock lies at the Piraeus, the seaport for Athens, 6 September 1946, Mediterranean-moored (i.e., stern to shore) along with New (DD-818), Cone (DD-866), and Corry (DD-817). Note differing paint schemes on the two destroyers moored in the fo...
Caption: Little Rock lies at the Piraeus, the seaport for Athens, 6 September 1946, Mediterranean-moored (i.e., stern to shore) along with New (DD-818), Cone (DD-866), and Corry (DD-817). Note differing paint schemes on the two destroyers moored in the foreground, reflecting the transition from wartime to peacetime colors. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-703058, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Little Rock conducted local operations at Norfolk until 21 November 1946, and after operations with Missouri (BB-63) to Argentia, Newfoundland, returned to New York on 13 December 1946. She commenced local operations at Newport, on 9 January 1947, then steamed to Charleston, S.C., arriving on 8 February. She embarked Naval Reservists here for a training cruise, departing 10 February for San Juan. She debarked her reservists at Charleston, on 22 February, and sailed that same day for New York, arriving on 25 February 1947.

Little Rock underwent overhaul in the New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, N.Y., until 3 July 1947. After local training operations at Newport, she departed Boston on 22 July for a training cruise to Guantanamo Bay, returning to Newport for further local operations on 30 August 1947. She sailed for the Mediterranean on 10 November, and arrived at Gibraltar to commence operations with the Sixth Fleet on 20 November 1947. During this tour, she visited such ports as Augusta Bay, Naples, Taranto, Venice, Genoa, and Trieste, Italy; Piraeus, Greece; Bone; Bizerte, Tunisia; and Tangiers, Morocco. She departed Gibraltar, on 2 March and returned to Newport on 11 March 1948.

Little Rock conducted operations while based at Newport until 13 September 1948. During this time she made four training cruises to the respective ports of Port-au-Prince, Haiti (12-23 April); San Juan (10-21 May); Quebec, Canada (5-16 July); and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (30 July-15 August). On 13 September 1948, she departed Newport for another tour in the Mediterranean, arriving at Gibraltar on 23 September. During this tour, she again visited the principal ports of the Mediterranean and took part in maneuvers with units of the Sixth Fleet in the operating areas off Malta and Crete. She departed Gibraltar on 14 January 1949, and arrived at Newport on 23 January 1949. She arrived at the Naval Ammunition Depot, Earle, N.J., on 4 February, and after unloading ammunition, entered the New York Naval Shipyard for pre-inactivation overhaul on 8 February 1949. She was placed out of commission on 24 June 1949 and joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at New York.

Little Rock arrived at the yard of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, N.J., on 13 January 1957, which began conversion of the ship to a guided missile light cruiser on 30 January 1957. Change in classification and hull number from CL-92 to CLG-4 became effective on 23 May 1957. As converted, Little Rock had a full-load displacement of 15,142 tons, and was configured as a fleet flagship. Her guns were still controlled by her original director systems, but an array of new weapon control devices and radars directed her missile battery.

Little Rock was delivered to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 6 May 1960, where she was commissioned on 3 June 1960, Capt. Jewett O Phillips, Jr. in command. Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark) delivered the principal address at the commissioning ceremony, attended by more than 2,000 people, including Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Material Cecil P. Milne. Little Rock was placed in commission by Rear Adm. Charles H. Lyman, Commandant of the Fourth Naval District. 

Rear Adm. Charles H. Lyman speaking during the ship's commissioning ceremonies, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, 3 June 1960. Note Talos guided missiles behind the speaker's platform. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 98963)
Caption: Rear Adm. Charles H. Lyman speaking during the ship's commissioning ceremonies, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, 3 June 1960. Note Talos guided missiles behind the speaker's platform. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 98963)

Insignia of Little Rock as (CLG-4) printed on a matchbook cover, probably of early 1960s vintage. Courtesy of Capt. G.F. Swainson, USN, 1969. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 88341-KN)
Caption: Insignia of Little Rock as (CLG-4) printed on a matchbook cover, probably of early 1960s vintage. Courtesy of Capt. G.F. Swainson, USN, 1969. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 88341-KN)

Little Rock remained in Philadelphia, undergoing post-commissioning fitting out until 25 July 1960, when she departed for ship's qualification and ready for sea trials off the coast of Virginia.  During these tests, which lasted a month, six missiles were fired to test the ability of the ship to withstand blast damage from the firing of a Talos, the newly-developed long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM). Her tests completed, Little Rock sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arriving there on 5 September to begin shakedown training. Little Rock also visited Port-au-Prince (17-19 September). She left Guantanamo Bay on 15 October, to proceed to the missile firing range off the coast of Puerto Rico; where she fired eight missiles during a two week period. At this time, firing the Talos, Little Rock became the first missile ship to score a direct hit on a drone. For this shot, the ship received a 100% on her Missile Operational Readiness Inspection. Little Rock visited St. Thomas (21-23 October), and San Juan, intermittently during her missile shakedown. She departed San Juan, on 5 November, to return to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and spent approximately two months at Philadelphia undergoing post-shakedown outfitting, followed by a holiday leave period.

Little Rock got underway for Norfolk, on 4 January 1961, where Rear Adm. James W. Davis, Commander, Cruiser Division Four, was embarked upon her arrival. As flagship of Cruiser Division Four (CruDiv4), Little Rock departed Norfolk, on 9 January 1961, to participate in Atlantic Fleet Exercise l-61, which lasted until 20 January. On that date, Little Rock was detached to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, where she prepared for an extended cruise with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. The cruiser performed shakedown training in the Caribbean, test-firing her Talos missiles to prepare to join the Sixth Fleet on another deployment.

Departing Philadelphia, on 9 February 1961, Little Rock sailed for her first European cruise in her new role. Upon her arrival in the Mediterranean, she was designated flagship for Commander, Cruiser Division Four (ComCruDiv4). During this deployment she received the Battle Efficiency “E” from Commander, Cruiser Forces, Atlantic Fleet, as well as other “E”s for gunnery, missile system, communications, and operations. 

Little Rock firing a Talos guided missile during exercises in the Mediterranean, 4 May 1961. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph (PM3 D.R. Botts) NH 98953)
Caption: Little Rock firing a Talos guided missile during exercises in the Mediterranean, 4 May 1961. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph (PM3 D.R. Botts) NH 98953)

She was relieved by Newport News (CA-148) as flagship in August 1961, and returned to the U.S., at Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Va. in September. A month later, she was designated the flagship for Second Fleet.

Little Rock departed for Bayonne, N.J., on 12 February 1962, and then to Nassau, Bahamas. This was her last at-sea period before entering the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., on 15 March. With nearly a year in the shipyard, she received a new bow-mounted sonar installation and electronic detection equipment was added to the cruiser. After which, she cleared the yard and underwent tests and training operations in the Caribbean, with subsequent minor repairs at Norfolk.

The cruiser steamed for the Mediterranean on 1 May 1963, for another deployment with the Sixth Fleet. She relieved Springfield (CLG-7) as fleet flagship and Vice Adm. William E. Gentner Jr., broke his flag on board her on 11 May. During her eight-month deployment, she visited seventeen ports in eight different countries. She was relieved by Springfield on 15 December, at Rota, Spain and returned to her homeport at Norfolk, on 24 December, in time for the crew to celebrate Christmas. Leave and maintenance occupied the next two months.

On 3 March 1964, Little Rock got underway for warm-weather operations in the Caribbean, returning at the end of that month. During April and into early May, the cruiser operated off the Virginia capes. The cruiser steamed up the Chesapeake Bay from Norfolk, on 2 June 1963, to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. After embarking midshipmen for their summer cruise, she steamed into the North Atlantic on 4 June, and returned to Norfolk on 24 July. Through the fall, she carried out local operations and on 28 November, she departed Norfolk, bound for missile trials in the Caribbean. She rejoined the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, on 14 December, where she relieved Boston (CAG-1). During this 1965 deployment, she visited 13 ports in six countries. During the latter part of this assignment, she participated in Operation Fairgame, cooperating with ships of the French Navy and other Sixth Fleet units. Little Rock was relieved by Albany (CG-10) on 2 June, and began her return to Norfolk, arriving on 10 June. Ten days later, on 20 June, Vice Adm. Kleber S. Masterson broke his flag on board Little Rock as Commander, Second Fleet and NATO Striking Force, Atlantic. She departed on 24 August, for a six-week training exercise in the North Atlantic, during which she visited ports in England, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Back at Norfolk on 7 October, Little Rock spent the remainder of 1965, in local operations and maintenance. While operating in the Caribbean, on 18 November 1965, Little Rock was ordered to the waters off Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to provide an element of stability during the uncertainty and unrest which plagued that country as rival factions vied to fill the political vacuum created by the assassination of the Dominican president, Rafael Leónidas Trujillo.

Little Rock entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 18 January 1966 for an extensive overhaul and repair period. Upon completion of her yard work in late September, Little Rock returned to the Norfolk Naval Base. During the months of October and November 1966, the ship conducted post overhaul refresher training and guided missile trials in the waters off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and afterward, she returned to Norfolk. Departing on 16 January, she steamed for Rota, Spain, and there she relieved Springfield as Sixth Fleet flagship on 25 January. Vice Adm. Frederick L. Ashworth, Commander, Sixth Fleet, (ComSixthFlt) broke his flag in the cruiser.

Leaving Rota, the ship steamed to Casablanca, Morocco, arriving on 30 January, and departing again on 3 February. Little Rock entered Gaeta, Italy, her new home port, not only for Little Rock, but also for ComSixthFlt, who had previously been homeported at Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. From 4 February until 14 July, Little Rock spent all of her in-port time in Gaeta, with the exception of a three-day visit to Rota, Spain, in April. These periods covered 4-16 February, 21-28 February, 6-13 March, 21-31 March, 6-13 April, 29 April-1 May, 12-25 May, and 19 June-12 July. Between these periods the ship was engaged in operational exercises and contingency operations, including those in distant readiness related to the coup in Greece, and the June Arab-Israeli war. From 31 March to 4 April, Little Rock participated in Operation Dawn Clear, a NATO exercise in anti-air (AAW), anti-submarine (ASW), and anti-surface warfare. Both British and Italian forces exercised with the Sixth Fleet in the Adriatic Sea.  The operation culminated with the landing of amphibious troops. The flagship participated as a unit of Task Force (TF) 502. A month later, from 2 May-11 May, the cruiser took part in Fairgame VI, providing AAW, ASW, and anti-surface protection to units of TF 502 and TF 503. This time the ship operated with the French cruiser Colbert (C-611), flagship of the French Mediterranean fleet.

During the late spring and early summer, Little Rock was involved in three contingency operations arising out of international events in the Mediterranean. The first occurred in April during the Greek coup. The flagship was just leaving Rota, Spain, at the time and raced to join

TF 60. The mission of the task force was to remain clear of Greek territory, but be ready to evacuate U.S. nationals, if necessary. The second and most volatile situation was the June war between the Arab nations and Israel. The ship had been scheduled to get underway on 25 May, for Missilex 14-68, to return on the 27th. On 23 May 1967, the Sixth Fleet received orders to move into the eastern Mediterranean, four days after the United Arab Republic (UAR) [Egypt] had ordered the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula. On 26 May 1967, the UAR remilitarized the Sinai and declared a blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba off the Israeli port of Eilat. An increased Soviet naval presence appeared soon thereafter, as the first Soviet warships transited the Dardanelles from the Black Sea and began more aggressive shadowing of U.S. naval movements. On the night of 24 May, she received news of impending hostilities. Little Rock left Gaeta, on schedule, at 1100, 25 May, but not for the exercise. The ship joined TF 60 and exercised in the central Mediterranean as a part of the task force until 3 June. The war broke out ashore on 5 June 1967, and TF 60 maintained a readiness and Vice Adm. Martin was instructed to keep ships and aircraft “at least 100 [nautical miles] away from the coasts of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, and the United Arab Republic [Egypt], and at least 25 nautical miles away from Cyprus”. On 8 June Liberty (AGTR-5) was in international waters off the northern coast of the Sinai Peninsula in the afternoon on 8 June 1967, when she was attacked by the Israeli Defense Forces. Thirty-four crewmen were killed and 174 wounded and though she was severely damaged with a 39-by-24-foot hole amidships and a twisted keel, Liberty's crew kept her afloat. At 1719 that same day, Davis (DD-937) and Massey (DD-778) received verbal orders to proceed at once to assist Liberty. Davis conducted a brief helo transfer of two people and equipment from America (CV-66) between 1806 and 1808 and increased speed.

While Liberty steamed slowly away from the coastline, her bloodied captain remaining on the bridge to inspire his crew, and his men toiling to minimize her damage and keep her afloat, her “black gang” getting and keeping her underway and her small but providentially spared medical department succoring the wounded, Davis (Capt. Harold G. Leahy, Commander Destroyer Squadron 12, embarked) and Massey raced to her aid. Davis worked up to 30 knots during the first watch on 8 June, and maintained that speed during the mid watch on 9 June 1967.

The two destroyers reached the limping Liberty during the morning watch on 9 June 1967, finding her listing to starboard, while the plethora of shell and fragment holes topside, the burned and scarred paintwork, and the gaping torpedo hole in her hull bore mute testimony to the unbridled ferocity of the attack of the previous afternoon.

Davis rang down "all stop" at 0632 on 9 June 1967 and lay-to, launching her motor whaleboat. The boat then made runs between Davis and Liberty, transferring medical and damage control parties, the former including Lt. Comdr. Peter A. Flynn (MC), from America, and Lt. John P. Utz, Jr. (MC), DesRon 12's medical officer, from Davis. Massey contributed a corpsman to help treat the wounded. Davis moored alongside Liberty between 0725 and 0942 to continue the process, transferred men (including in their number "leading petty officers from the damage control, electrician, interior communication, and boilerman groups...") then cleared the side while helicopters evacuated the seriously wounded, and the bodies of the slain, to America, which, along with Little Rock, arrived shortly thereafter.

Liberty, her appearance reflecting the ferocity of the attack by Israeli planes and motor torpedo boats the previous afternoon, lists to starboard while Little Rock passes in the background and a helicopter lifts off to transfer wounded to Americ...
Caption: Liberty, her appearance reflecting the ferocity of the attack by Israeli planes and motor torpedo boats the previous afternoon, lists to starboard while Little Rock passes in the background and a helicopter lifts off to transfer wounded to America (from which the photograph was taken), 9 June 1967. (U.S. Navy Photograph K-38435 (PH1 J. J. Kelly), National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

At 1030, two helicopters from America rendezvoused with Liberty and began transferring the more seriously wounded to the carrier. An hour later, about 350 miles east of Souda Bay, Crete, America rendezvoused with Liberty. The carrier's crew, as well as Little Rock's, lined every topside vantage point, silent, watching the helicopters bring 50 wounded and nine dead from Liberty to America. As Liberty drew alongside, listing, her sides pocked and perforated with shell, nearly 2,000 of the carrier's crew were on the flight deck and, spontaneously moved by the sight, gave the battered Liberty and her brave crew a tremendous cheer.

America's medical team worked around the clock removing shell fragments, and treating various wounds and burns. Doctors Gordon, Flynn and Lt. Donald P. Griffith, MC, worked for more than 12 hours in the operating room, while other doctors, Lt. George A. Lucier and Lt. Frank N. Federico made continuous rounds in the wards to aid and comfort the wounded.

Once on the scene Little Rock transferred Lt. John C. Cockram, her damage control assistant, in addition to two corpsmen, to Liberty, and took on board some of the less seriously wounded men. Later, after Davis had transferred two photographers to the ship by helicopter at 1402, Ens. David P. Breuer, Davis's main propulsion assistant, was transferred to the battered ship by helo at 1606. As the destroyer's ship's historian later noted proudly, "Davis...established vital ship functions, assisted in cleaning up the ship and provided hot food for the Liberty's crew..." and handled all communications. Lt. Cmdr. William R. Pettyjohn, chief staff officer, ComDesRon 12, assumed the duties as Liberty's executive officer (9-14 June) replacing Lt. Cmdr. Armstrong, who had died of his grievous wounds suffered in the attack. Vice Adm. Martin visited Liberty (1434-1500) on 9 June, arriving and departing by helicopter to see the damage for himself.

Little Rock’s sick bay also aided the stricken ship. Most of the seriously wounded men were taken to America, where two Little Rock corpsmen were dispatched to help in the operating room. Eight of the less seriously wounded, however, were cared for in Little Rock’s sick bay. The cruiser returned to Gaeta on 19 June, many days after her scheduled return.

After the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, Little Rock increased the pace of visits to friendly ports of call. Whereas in the first half of the year the ship's visits were limited to Casablanca and Rota, Little Rock called at La Spezia, Italy (14-17 July), Naples (twice), Malta (4-8 August), Monaco (24-28 August), Istanbul (7-12 October), Athens (13-18 October), and Barcelona (9-14 November). Following the Malta visit, the flagship was engaged in Amphibious Exercise (PHIBLEX) 2-68, 13 August. A major amphibious landing conducted on the coast of Sardinia culminated the exercise. Little Rock participated as a unit of TF 60 and protected the amphibious ships from air and submarine attack and surface raiders during the transit to the beachhead. While at Monaco, the ship was visited by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.

Little Rock spent the next three weeks in Gaeta. These were followed by more than two weeks of operations Deep Furrow, Eager Beaver, and Dense Crop (22 September-6 October). These were NATO exercises conducted by ComStrikForSouth and held in the Ionian and Aegean seas. The exercise units included British, Greek, Italian, and Turkish ships participating in major war games between U.S. and Turkish land forces. Little Rock, as a member of TF 502, assisted in supporting the amphibious task force against attack in transit to and landing on Turkish soil. This exercise was followed by a five-day visit to Istanbul (7-12 October). Upon anchoring in the Bosporus, Little Rock was met with hostile demonstrations. The government would not guarantee the safety of U.S. sailors ashore. After 15 days at sea, liberty was cancelled on the first night in Istanbul for all except a small number. The liberty party was forced to take a long boat trip to the Golden Horn to a temporary landing. The normal fleet landing was in the hands of Communist-led demonstrators. The cruiser visited Athens (13-18 October). While there, the ship hosted a luncheon for His Majesty, King Constantine of the Hellenes. The ship next visited Barcelona, Spain, (9-14 November). Little Rock entered a tender availability period in Naples from 15-27 November. Many repair jobs were accomplished with the aid of Tidewater (AD-31). In December, the cruiser spent most of her time in Gaeta with the single exception of Exercise Lafayette 1-68 (13-14 December). A bilateral French and U.S. exercise conducted in the western Mediterranean, Lafayette was designed to exercise the forces in AAW and ASW and to give the French Air Force some tactical practice. Hampered by bad weather, Lafayette provided only one day of good operations. Little Rock returned to Gaeta to spend the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in port.

Little Rock was still at her homeport on 1 January 1969.  Departing Gaeta on 4 January, she supported the amphibious assault and live firing exercises as a part of PHIBLEX l0-68 at Porto Scudo and Capo Teulada, Sardinia. The amphibious assault was preceded by an opposed transit to the objective area from 5-7 January, in the Tyrrhenian Sea. As a unit of Task Group (TG) 61.5 Little Rock operated in direct support of TF 61 and under operational control of CTF 61. She provided AAW and ASW, as well as playing the part of a surface raider Komar (Fast Patrol Boat of Soviet design)--for protection of the amphibious task force landing during the opposed transit and naval gunfire support upon arrival in the amphibious objective area.

On 9-10 January 1969, Little Rock was en route to Toulon, France, for an in port period from 11-13 January. The cruiser departed on 14 January, for her homeport of Gaeta, arriving there during the evening of the next day. From 29 January-1 February, she conducted type training exercises, refueling, and replenishment operations en route to Lisbon. On 30 January, she conducted AAW and surface gunnery exercises and the next day; she conducted basic damage control and general quarters exercises. Little Rock arrived in Lisbon on 2 February, and hosted vistors (3-4 February) before getting underway again on 7 February and shifting to Rota. She departed Rota on 11 February, and arrived at Tangier (12-16 February), then moved on to Gibraltar (16-19 February). Departing the British possession, the cruiser conducted type training while underway and arrived at Gaeta for an inport period (23-28 February). Getting underway on the 29th, she conducted missile firing exercises en route to Operation Fairgame VI, the extreme range missile-firing exercise to test the Talos system. The ship destroyed the drone and was credited with an outstanding performance on the exercise. On 1 March, Little Rock began Fairgame VI, a bilateral exercise with the French military, conducted in the western Mediterranean. She joined U.S. and French ships at Lovo Santo, Corsica, France, and observers were exchanged. At 1600 on 2 March, Little Rock sortied as part of TF 502, while the French Hunter-Killer (HUK) Group (TG 514.1) proceeded independently under French command. TF 502, supported by the HUK group, conducted simulated conventional attacks and photo reconnaissance against targets in France, while operating in a hostile submarine area. The French Southern Region Air Defense Forces opposed U.S. Air Opposition and French tactical air force and naval aircraft conducted reconnaissance and attacks against 502 and TG 514.1. Phase Bravo (AAW/ASW) was conducted (3-6 March). Phase Charlie, the opposed transit and combined amphibious landing phase, lasted from 7-10 March. As part of TF 502, Little Rock supported Amphibious Task Force 503 in an opposed transit through the Straits of Bonificio to the Amphibious Objective Area. During the transit, TF 502 and TG 514.1.1 provided AAW and ASW protection against attacks opposing aircraft, submarines, and simulated missile patrol boats. On 10 March, endex was called and all attacks and all units entered the anchorage at Lovo Santo. The exercise resolved coordination issues between Sixth Fleet and French forces.

Little Rock arrived back in her homeport on 11 March 1969, and then departed again on l8 March, bound for Villefranche, arriving on the 20th. Departing again on 24 March, she returned to Gaeta (24-25 March), then steamed to Trieste, Italy. Little Rock conducted training enroute and arrived on 1 April. Departing on 5 April, she was initially bound for Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia [Croatia], but she diverted to a return to Gaeta due to student demonstrations. The ship arrived at her homeport on 8 April. Remaining in port until 25 April, she got underway again and steamed to Taranto, Italy, arriving the next day. She departed on 28 April to participate in Operation Dawn Patrol 68 (29 April-10 May). Little Rock’s primary role was AAW and ASW support for two amphibious squadrons, TG 503.1 and TG 503.2. Shangri-La (CVA-38) provided aircraft for both Strike and Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and Italian and British forces also participated. At the completion of the exercise, the cruiser steamed to Athens (11-14 May), then to Naples (15-17 May), before returning to Gaeta. While in port, she underwent an operational readiness inspection. The ship departed Gaeta on 17 June, conducting type training in the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas until 22 June. She participated in the Sixth Fleet’s 20th anniversary commemoration of the fleet’s founding on 25 June, and then spent a time at Gaeta (26 June-9 July). Departing her homeport, she participated in a submarine opposed transit exercise on 10 July, and was visited by Secretary of the Navy Paul R. Ignatius on 10-11 July. After being back at Gaeta (13-22 July), Little Rock got underway on 23 July, and visited Valencia, Spain (25-29 July) and Palma, Mallorca, Spain (30 July-3 August), before returning to Gaeta, on 5 August.  The ship participated in the Sixth Fleet change of command at Naples, on 14 August, and after a return to Gaeta (15-18 August), she got underway to participate in Exercise Deep Furrow 68 as part of TG 502.1 (17-23 August). After at time in port at Gaeta, she got underway to visit Izmir, Turkey (5-9 September), Athens (10-13 September), and Tunis (16-19 September). After time in port at Gaeta, she moved to the Fleet Commander’s Conference at Argostoli Bay, Greece (1-2 October). Then, from the conference, she moved to Naples. Arriving on 4 October, the ship underwent a tender availability until 15 October. She went to sea again on 16 September, conducting type training en route to Rota, Spain. Little Rock spent October 19-23 in Rota, getting underway on October 24, en route to PHIBLEX 5-69 (26-30 October). Afterward, she returned to Gaeta (31 October-14 November), before steaming to Valletta (15-19 November). The ship left on 19 November, for Gaeta, arriving there the next day and remaining into December. Departing on 2 December, for Toulon (3-6 December), the flagship got underway for Gaeta, conducting type training en route. Little Rock was at her homeport of Gaeta from 9 December 9 through 31 December for the Christmas holidays.

Departing Gaeta on 4 January 1969, Little Rock participated in PHIBLEX 8-69, an exercise for the Amphibious Task Force to conduct an opposed transit and assault landing at Capo Teulada, Sardinia. Little Rock operated as a surface raider, simulating a Soviet Sverdlov-class cruiser conducting simulated surface attacks on the Amphibious Task Force until 8 January. Later, she became a part of the friendly forces, entered the Amphibious Objective Area and conducted Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS), in support of the Amphibious Assault. Little Rock was detached late on 8 January, for transit to Taranto, for a port visit, (10-13 January). Underway again, she shifted to Villefranche (15-18 January), and then back to Gaeta on 19 January. The flagship again got underway on 27 January, for her annual "western swing," conducting type training while en route. She arrived in Casablanca (30 January-3 February) for a visit and then departed for a missile shoot. With the subsequent cancellation of that exercise, she proceeded to visit Lisbon (4-7 February). Briefly touching at Rota to refuel 9 February), she then moved to Barcelona (11-15 February). Departing the Catalan city, she returned for a period in port at Gaeta (17-28 February). The flagship again took leave of Gaeta on 2 March, to join TF 60 in the Ionian Sea, for participation in Exercise National Week II. Affecting her rendezvous on 3 March, the flagship defended the task force from air and surface attacks, “while maintaining a sustained anti-submarine posture. She detached late on 5 March, to proceed to Souda Bay, in order that ComSixthFlt could visit the naval base there. Departing Souda Bay, the following day, the flagship steamed for Gaeta, conducting Engineering Casualty Control Exercises en route, arriving on 8 March. Underway again on 12 March, for training exercises, she conducted her ORI on 18-19 March, and returned to Gaeta, where she remained until the 27th. Her next destination was La Spezia, where she arrived on 28 March, and remained until 1 April. Returning to Gaeta, she conducted her annual supply inspection (2-4 April). 

Little Rock remained in port until 15 April 1969, when she got underway bound for Palma, conducting type training while en route. She conducted a port visit (17-21 April) and upon her departure, sped to join TG 60.2 in the Ionian Sea for the NATO Exercise Dawn Patrol 69. The flagship joined TG 60.2 and transferred to NATO control, becoming part of TG 502.2 and provided support for the amphibious task force. She operated with the carrier unit, providing air defense to the task group and in-depth ASW surface support. On 30 April, Little Rock detached from the supporting group (TG 502.2) and joined the Amphibious Task Force (TF 503) in the objective area, providing simulated naval gunfire support for the assault forces. During the exercise, the flagship was visited by Adm.Thomas H. Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations. Little Rock detached and transferred to national control on 30 April, for transit to Gaeta, arriving on May 1. She departed Gaeta, on 12 May, for a transit to Naples, arriving that afternoon for an overnight stop. The next day, she was underway again for a major replenishment prior to going to Venice (15-20 May). Underway on the 21st, she proceeded to join TF 60 in the Ionian Sea, for Exercise National Week III, joining the task force on 22 May, upon the commencement of the exercise. She operated as an AAW picket station, providing air, surface, and sub-surface defense. Detaching on 25 May, Little Rock returned to Gaeta, the next afternoon. The flagship was again underway on 3 June conducting various exercises en route to join TG 502.2 in the Ionian Sea for Exercise Olympic Express, one of a series of major exercises in the southern European region, involving NATO land, sea, and air forces employed in the defense of a NATO country from aggression. The basic concept involved a NATO Amphibious Task Force (TF 503) forming at Souda Bay, and conducting an opposed transit into the .Aegean Sea for an amphibious assault at Kavalla, Greece. The flagship reverted to NA'IO control on 4 June, joining TG 502.2. Task Unit (TU) 502.2.4 (Defense Unit Bravo) was formed, in which Little Rock operated, remaining in the vicinity of the carrier to provide AAW, missile, ASW, and surface defense to the carrier group. The next day she was detached to proceed to the amphibious objective area to provide simulated NGFS for the assault forces at Kavalla. She was detached again later that afternoon and proceeded, under national control, to her next port visit at Rhodes, Greece (6-12 June), where she refueled. Departing after her visit, she returned to Gaeta on the 14th. She remained in port into July, with the exception of conducting a dependents’ cruise on 23 June.

Little Rock steamed out of Gaeta on 7 July 1969, bound for the Malta Missilex Area in the Ionian Sea, to fire two Talos missiles and conduct exercises on 8 July. Afterward, she steamed to Monaco, and conducted a port visit (11-15 July), where she was again visited by the Prince and Princess of Monaco. At the conclusion of the port call, she returned to Gaeta on the 17th, refueling en route. The next day she got underway for a day of surface gunnery exercises, then returned that afternoon, for a ten-day stay in port. Getting underway on 28 July, and conducting training en route, she arrived at Rota, on 1 August. Little Rock departed on 5 August, en route to Exercise PHIBLEX 2-70, which began on 6 August.  During the exercise, the flagship simulated

a Soviet Kresta-class guided-missile cruiser with surface-to-surface cruise missiles. From 6-9 August, she carried out her role, conducting surface-to-surface missile attacks against the Amphibious Task Force and its supporting forces. On 10 August, she switched roles and became a part of the “Blue” forces entering the Amphibious Objective Area to observe the assault landing to conduct live naval gunfire support for the landing. Detaching on 10 August, she proceeded to Gaeta, arriving there on 11 August. Little Rock received a grade of outstanding on her Annual Nuclear Weapons Proficiency Inspection on 19 August. The cruiser was again underway on 25 August, to join TF 60 in the Ionian Sea for Exercise National Week IV. She joined the task force in the Ionian Sea on 26 August, to operate as an AAW picket, controlling interceptor aircraft and defending TF 60 from air, surface, and sub-surface missile attacks. She detached and refueled on 28 August 28, returning to Gaeta, the following day.

On 30 August 1969, the emergency recall bill was affected in response to the Palestinian hijacking of an American jetliner. Little Rock proceeded to sea on 4 September, for special contingency operations with TF 60. The operation was highlighted by the sighting of the Soviet helicopter carrier Moskva. These special operations were terminated for the flagship on 10 September, at which time she proceeded to Taranto, for a ComSixthFlt briefing. She arrived the morning of 11 September, and departed the same day, arriving in Gaeta, on the 13th. Underway again on 23 September, she was bound for a visit to Dubrovnik. She departed on 29 September, en route to Athens (1-6 October). Afterward, she steamed back to Gaeta (8-15 October). Underway again, she joined TG 60.1 in the Ionian Sea on 16 October for Deep Furrow 69. The major concept of the exercise was for an Amphibious Task Force to form at Souda Bay, and conduct an opposed transit through the Aegean Sea, and conduct an assault landing at Saros Bay, Turkey. Little Rock operated under NATO control from 17-25 October, as part of the supporting group (TG 502.1) providing air, ASW, and surface defense for the Amphibious Task Force and its supporting elements. Little Rock was assigned many duties, including air intercept control, Grumman F-14 Tomcat control, plane guard duties, ASW screening duties and NGFS of the assault landing. Deep Furrow 69 completed for U.S. forces on 25 October, and immediately a special contingency operation was placed in effect in the Ionian Sea and was carried out until 4 November 4, at which time TG 60.1, including Little Rock, entered Athens for rest and relaxation. The flagship remained in Athens until 8 November, when she got underway en route to Naples for a scheduled tender availability with Grand Canyon (AD-28). The flagship arrived in Naples on 10 November 10. She completed the tender availability and got underway for Gaeta on 22 November, arriving the same day. On 2 December, she got underway for Valletta, arriving the next day. Getting underway again on 6 December, Little Rock steamed for a missile exercise with TG 60.2. Due to adverse weather, however, the exercise was cancelled and the cruiser proceeded to Toulon, arriving on the 9th. En route the flagship rendezvoused with Neosho (AO-143) and units of Task Force 60 for refueling. After only a one-day operational visit, the flagship got underway on 10 December, to participate in Exercise Mediterranean, a U.S.-French bilateral exercise. The exercise was a combined operation which involved land, sea and air forces. Little Rock operated with the “Blue” forces as an AAW picket ship, providing air, missile, and anti-submarine protection. During the course of the exercise, she assumed tactical command of the Blue supporting forces for the opposed transit of the Strait of Bonificio. On completion of the transit, the cruiser returned to the assigned AAW picket station. She detached on 13 December and proceeded to Lovo Santo, to join the Amphibious Task Force and provided pre-H-hour simulated NGFS. On completion of the scheduled firing, the flagship detached and proceeded to Gaeta. Arriving on 13 December, the flagship began a holiday leave period which lasted into January 1970.

Little Rock was underway again on 7 January 1970, bound for Villefranche. En route, she conducted a successful gunfire exercise with Hoist (AFS-40) and rearmed from Suribachi (AE-21). John Warner, Under Secretary of the Navy, was embarked in the ship from Villefranche to Genoa, Italy. After visiting Genoa (13-15 January), Little Rock proceeded to Gaeta, arriving 16 January. En route, an underway replenishment (UNREP) was conducted from Sylvania (AFS-2) and Concord (AFS-5). She refueled at the Nata fuel pier on 26 January, and the ship got underway for the first exercise of the year, National Week V, on 30 January. This exercise required a great deal of coordination among units of the Sixth Fleet. On 2 February, Little Rock joined TG 60.l in the Ionian Sea. She conducted an UNREP from Neosho, and once again rearmed from Suribachi. En route to the rendezvous, the flagship conducted an anti-air gunfire exercise utilizing a sleeve towed by an aircraft. At 0800 on 3 February, National Week V commenced and shortly thereafter, Little Rock gained a sonar contact. Robert H. McCard (DD-822), which was in company with the cruiser, was vectored over the contact for a simulated attack. During subsequent events, the contact was classified as a submarine by the sighting of a periscope. On completion of the exercise, she returned to Gaeta, arriving on 6 February. She cleared Gaeta on 20 February, for her annual western swing of the Mediterranean, and en route to Tangier, she successfully completed another anti-air gunfire exercise. After a four day visit in Tangier (23-26 February), she shifted to Gibraltar (27-28 February), before moving on to Lisbon (3-6 March), Rota (8 March), and Barcelona (10-13 March) Little Rock departed on 14 March for Gaeta, refueling from Neosho en route. The cruiser was once again underway on 3 April, to participate in National Week VI. She participated in this exercise (4-5 April) in the Ionian Sea. On commencement of the exercise, Little Rock operated as a unit of Task Group 60.1, but she shifted to Task Group 60.2 on 5 April, for refueling from Waccamaw (AO-109). She rejoined TG 60.1, the next day and on the 7th, Adm. Bernard A. Clarey, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, arrived by helicopter to confer with ComSixthFlt. At the conclusion of the conference, Adm. Clarey departed by highline to King (DDG-3). During the time Admiral Clarey was on board, Little Rock participated in a surface multiple ship tracking exercise and an air-intercept control exercise. Because of the ship’s primary mission as a flagship, independent operations, there were few opportunities for conducting competitive exercises. On completion of all exercises on 7 April, the ship proceeded to Valletta, refueling again from Waccamaw en route. After a short one day visit to Valletta, she got underway on 9 April, en route to Tunis, arriving the next day.  On 13 April, she departed for Gaeta, and raising her homeport the next day.  She was joined in Gaeta by Albany (CG-10) on 20 April, with ComCruDesFlot 6/Commander, TG 60.2 embarked. Albany was to administer an Administrative and Material Inspection (ADMAT). The flagship was graded “excellent” and on 25 April, Albany departed Gaeta. Three days later, on 28 April, Little Rock also steamed from Gaeta, en route to Rapallo, Italy, for a five day visit. On 4 May, she cleared Rapallo for a return home. En route, she briefly participated in Operation Transitex, a U.S.-French Navy bilateral exercise. She arrived in Gaeta, on 7 May, where she remained for over two weeks.

Little Rock got underway for Palma on 23 May 1970. The ship spent five days in Palma, departing on 30 May. That same day, Little Rock arrived at Ciudadella, Minorca, Spain, to participate in ceremonies honoring Adm. David G. Farragut. She set a course for Athens, and departed on 31 May, briefly participating in NATO Exercise Dawn Patrol 70, which consisted of providing anti-air and surface warfare support for a U.S. Amphibious Task Group transiting from Naples, to Porto Scudo, Sardinia. The ship provided simulated shore bombardment support to the amphibious assault force, which was simulating the evacuation of U.S. nationals from Porta Scudo. She, on 5 June, proceeded to Athens, and arrived on the 8th. She refueled from Mississinewa (AO-144) en route and on 1 June, while transiting Kitharan Passage, she was taken under simulated attack by four Greek fast patrol boats operating as enemy units in Dawn Patrol. The flagship remained in Athens four days, getting underway on 12 June, to resume participation in the NATO exercise. The ship’s assignment was to provide simulated shore bombardment for the amphibious assault group at Pythron, Greece. At 0446, on 13 June, a collision occurred with an errant Greek destroyer, Longhi (DD.656), which was also participating in the exercise. After an assessment of damage, considered minor, both ships continued with their assigned missions. The cruiser departed the amphibious assault area on 13 June, and proceeded to Gaeta, for an overnight stop. On 16 June, the ship was underway for Civitavecchia, Italy, in company with units of TG 60.2. On 17 June, she anchored in Civitavecchia to await the arrival of Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense. The ship returned to Gaeta an on 17 June, for another overnight stay, proceeding to Valletta, on 18 June for repairs to the bow sustained in the collision on 26

June. With the bow repaired, the ship steamed out of Valletta enroute Gaeta. Little Rock proceeded to a rendezvous with units of TG 60.2 to participate in a missile-firing. Scheduled for 9 July, she was unable to fire due to the extreme range of her missiles and the presence of merchant ships down range. The ship proceeded to Monaco on 9 July, arriving 10 July, for

a five day visit. Departing on 15 July, she proceeded to Gaeta, arriving the next day.

Little Rock departed for Valencia on 29 July 1970, for a five day port visit. On 4 August, the flagship departed Valencia for Capo Teulada, where she participated in a live shore bombardment on 5 August. The cruiser proceeded for Gaeta, that same day, for the last time as Sixth Fleet flagship. On 20 August, Little Rock was joined in Gaeta by Springfield and at 1000, on 22 August, Commander, Sixth Fleet shifted his flag from Little Rock to Springfield. The former departed Gaeta for the last time, en route to the ship's new homeport at Newport. She embarked 36 dependents for transport to Newport, a trip authorized by the Chief of Naval Operations as a pilot program for possible future endeavors. She arrived at Rota on 27 August, at which time she transferred from U.S. Naval Forces, Europe (USNAVEUR) to Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) after 44 months of duty as flagship for Commander, Sixth Fleet. After refueling at Rota, the cruiser proceeded on a course of eight days of steady steaming and arrived in Newport on 8 September. She remained in port, until 5 October, during which time, she was given a Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) (14-18 September) and numerous other inspections in preparation for a shipyard overhaul. On 5 October, Little Rock proceeded to Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown (Va.), where she off-loaded all ammunition from 6-8 October. Upon completion, the ship proceeded to Norfolk for a short visit. Afterward, on 10 October, Little Rock steamed for Boston, where she arrived on 12 October to commence a much-needed overhaul. She shifted, on 13 November, to Drydock No. 3, South Annex, Boston Naval Shipyard, where she remained through the remainder of the year.

During the major shipyard overhaul, which concluded in April 1971, most of the electronic and operational equipment aboard Little Rock was reworked or replaced and the primary new installation was the Anti-Ship Missile Defense (ASMD) System. At the completion of her yard work, Little Rock undocked and cleared the Boston Navy Yard, on 19 April and returned to Newport the next day. She remained in port until the 28th, when she got underway for at-sea operations in the operating area off Newport. Returning on the 29th, she remained in port until 3 May. During this time, on 1 May, Little Rock was assigned to Commander, Flotilla 10, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Squadron, Atlantic Fleet (ComCruDesLant). Underway on 4 May, she conducted training on the operation of the ASMD system in the Newport area until the 6th, then steamed south to Yorktown, for ammunition load-out, continuing AASMD training en route. After taking on her ammunition on 10-11 May, she shifted to Norfolk (12-16 May) to conduct NGFS, mine warfare, and ASW training at the Fleet Training Center facilities. She got underway on 17 May and conducted additional training in the Virginia Capes Operating Area on AAW, seamanship and ASMD. With her training completed on 20 May, she steamed north to Newport. Arriving on 21 May, she remained in port until June.

Little Rock steamed out of Newport on 11 June, for a ten-week refresher-training period in the Caribbean. During that time, her administrative organization was changed on 1 July 1971, to the Cruiser Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet. During her Caribbean deployment she made port visits and conducted training at Guantanamo Bay, Roosevelt Roads, P.R., Culebra, P.R., and St. Thomas, having fired her NGFS qualification at Culebra, on 16 August, the cruiser steamed back to Newport, arriving on 20 August. While in port, extensive habitability improvements were made to the ship. Departing on 22 September, en route to Yorktown, she loaded ammunition at Yorktown (23-25 September), before setting her course for the Caribbean and four weeks of operations and weapons training off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. With her training completed, she returned to Yorktown on 22 October, to conduct missile transfer and departed that same day, for a return to Newport. Arriving on 23 October, she remained in port through November. She sortied on 1 December, bound for another Sixth Fleet deployment. Crossing the Atlantic with the carrier John F. Kennedy (CVA-67), the fast replenishment ship Seattle (AOE-3), and the ships of DesRon2, the ships conducted extensive seamanship and tactical drills during the crossing and after touching at Rota on 9 December, she was transferred to the operational control of the Sixth Fleet and returned to the Mediterranean. During ASW exercises while en route to Naples, on 12 December, Little Rock received congratulations from ComSixthFlt for her sonar proficiency. Arriving at Naples, on 16 December, she was assigned to TG 60.2. She spent the Christmas holiday in port at Naples, then got underway on the 26th, bound for a port visit to Malaga (29 December) and then to at-sea special operations to year’s end.

At the start of 1972, Little Rock was underway conducting special operations in the western Mediterranean until 11 January. 

Little Rock underway in the Mediterranean, 5 January 1972. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph (PM1 Class Robert D. Fennell) NH 98961)
Caption: Little Rock underway in the Mediterranean, 5 January 1972. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph (PM1 Class Robert D. Fennell) NH 98961)

Afterward, she visited Livorno, Italy (12-17 January), then steamed to conduct operations with TG 60.2 in the Ionian Sea (18-26 January). She then anchored at Phaleron Bay, Athens (27 January-3 February) before getting underway on 4 February to participate in National Week XII through the 8th. Anchoring in Augusta Bay, Sicily, Italy, on 9 February, she steamed to Trieste for a port visit (12-16 February). Getting underway again on 17 February, she steamed to the Ionian Sea and conducted operations with TG 60.2 to 23 February, and then anchored at Phaleron Bay (24 February-8 March). Returning to sea, she conducted operations in the Aegean Sea (11-13 March), before making a port visit to Thessaloniki, Greece (14-17 March). Weighing anchor and getting underway on 18 March, she steamed independently in the eastern Mediterranean until the 23rd, and then returned to Phaleron Bay, where she anchored until 3 April. Departing on the 4th, Little Rock operated in the Tyrrhenian Sea until 9 April. Involved in the Operation Rivets training exercise on 10 April, she received orders cutting short her Mediterranean deployment. She was being recalled to the U.S. to relieve Newport News (CA-148), which had been ordered to Vietnam. Steaming independently for a return home, she refueled at Rota, on 15 April, then continued across the Atlantic. Little Rock moored at Norfolk on 23 April, and on the same day Vice Adm. Vincent P. de Poix, Commander, Second Fleet, embarked and broke his flag on board. The cruiser departed the next day and steamed to Newport (25 April-1 May), before returning to Norfolk on 4 May. The flagship resumed operations on 15 May to participate in Operation Exotic Dancer V. Upon the exercise’s completion on 22 May, she steamed to Yorktown, to conduct her ammunition load-out (23 May) and shifted to Norfolk. She was soon underway again on 25 May, steaming north for a return to Newport. Arriving on 26 May, she conducted a post-deployment stand-down and remained in port until 20 June.

Little Rock resumed operations underway on 21 June 1972, when she set a course for New York for a port visit (23-25 June), en route to an ammunition load-out at Yorktown (27 June), and an in port period at Norfolk into July. Vice Adm. Douglas C. Plate relieved Vice Adm. de Poix, as ComSecondFlt on 19 July, and the next day, the cruiser was underway en route to Newport, where she stood in port from 21 July-9 August. Clearing Newport on 1 August, she steamed south to Norfolk, where she arrived on the 10th, and remained in port until 16 August. After independent steaming exercises on 17-18 August, she returned to Norfolk, and prepared for a deployment to European waters. Departing on 24 August, she crossed the Atlantic and raised Liverpool, England, on 1 September. She remained there until 3 September, when she departed for port visits to Cherbourg, France (5-7 September) and Rotterdam, Netherlands (9-11 September), prior to participating in Exercise Strong Express (14-28 September). With the completion of the exercise, she entered the harbor at Rosyth, Scotland, on 30 September, and conducted a port visit to 4 October. She then continued her itinerary of calls at European ports with visits to Bergen, Norway (5-8 October), Hamburg, West Germany [Germany] (10-13 October), and Lisbon (15-19 October). Clearing the Portuguese capital, Little Rock steamed back across the Atlantic and arrived at Norfolk on 25 October, where she remained in port until the 31st. En route to Newport, she arrived the next day and remained in port until 13 November. She then got underway bound for Yorktown and an ammunition load out (15 November), before she steamed back northward. Arriving at Melville, R.I., on 16 November, she shifted to Newport, the next day and remained there until 6 December. Getting underway, she steamed to the Boston Navy Yard, and docked for a restricted availability through the end of the year.

Little Rock began 1973 at the Boston Naval Shipyard for conversion to the Navy Distillate Fuel System and installation of satellite communication equipment, as well as other yard work. She completed her maintenance period and undocked on 13 May. Departing the next day, she shifted to Newport, where she underwent preparation for overseas deployment to 10 August. She steamed to Yorktown, on 11 August, and conducted her ammunition on-load (13-14 August). Having shifted to Norfolk, she steamed through the Virginia capes during the afternoon on 15 August, bound for a return to the Sixth Fleet. Touching at Rota, on 26 August, she arrived at Gaeta, on the 29th, and relieved Springfield as flagship two days later. The ship’s initial visit as flagship was to Athens (13-18 September) before shifting to Antalya, Turkey, for an Operation Deep Furrow 73 pre-exercise brief. Departing on the 19th, she participated in Deep Furrow 73 (20-29 September) before arriving at Istanbul, for a port visit (30 September-5 October). Having passed through the Dardanelles en route to Gaeta, she received orders on 6 October, directing her to join TF 60 for special operations stemming from the Arab countries’ attack on Israel (Yom Kippur/Ramadan War). With the unexpected outbreak of the war, Little Rock answered the call for an accelerated condition of combat readiness. She sailed in eastern Mediterranean waters

throughout the Arab-Israeli conflict as a deterrent against possible outside intervention, as well as to provide evacuation assistance to U.S. citizens in the endangered area. She continued in this capacity until 4 November, when she detached from TF 60 and steamed to Gaeta, arriving on the 6th. Departing two days later, she rejoined TF 60 (9-17 November) before returning to Gaeta, on 17 November. She steamed to Tunis on 5 December, and arriving the next day she became the first American ship to visit an Arab port since the outbreak of the war. She departed on the 10th, and arrived back at Gaeta, where she remained through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Little Rock was in port on 1 January 1974, and remained there through 5 January. Getting underway on the 6th, she made her annual western Mediterranean swing and conducted port visits to Gibraltar (17-20 January); Lisbon (20-24 January); Rota (25-27 January); and Malaga (1-5 February), returning to Gaeta on 8 February. Departing on the 12th, the flagship participated with units of TF 60, TF 63, TF 69, and TF 67 in National Week XVI (15-20 February), a Sixth Fleet exercise which evaluated the fleet’s capability to locate and track units of potentially hostile forces in the Mediterranean. After returning to Gaeta (22-26 February), she called at Palma (28 February-3 March), before participating in PHIBLEX 9-74 (5-7 March) at Porto Scudo. The exercise involved an opposed amphibious transit supported by carrier striking forces, surface and submarine photo reconnaissance of the amphibious objective area, mine sweeping, and underwater demolition team (UDT) operations. The landing assault phase included naval gunfire support and close air support followed by troop maneuvers ashore. Afterward, she returned to Gaeta (8 March-19 April) before getting underway to conduct a Missilex (21-23 April) at Namfi, Greece, before moving on to Mykonos, Greece (28 April-1 May). The cruiser then got underway to participate in Dawn Patrol (3-8 May), the major NATO exercise which included AAW, ASW, and anti-surface raider training, with an opposed transit that culminated in an amphibious assault. After returning to Gaeta (9-20 May), Little Rock visited Split, Yugoslavia [Croatia] (23-26 May) and Corfu, Greece (28-31 May), then conducted training at Souda Bay (2-3 June) before participating in International Week II (4-9 June) with allied forces for combined training. The cruiser had time in port at Gaeta (11-24 June), then moved to Villefranche (27-30 June) and Toulon (1-4 July) for port visits, before returning to her homeport on 6 July. With the outbreak of the Cyprus Crisis between Greece and Turkey, the flagship conducted special operations in the eastern Mediterranean (15-22 July). En route to a return home, she visited Alexandria, Egypt (29 July-1 August), and raised Gaeta, on 4 August. She got underway and conducted additional operations in response to the Cyprus Crisis (15-22 August), before returning to Gaeta and remaining in port (23 August-17 September). Resuming operations underway, she visited Palma, (2-24 September); Barcelona (25-30 September); Cannes, France (1-3 October); and Monaco (4-6 October), before returning to Gaeta on 8 October. In port until 4 November, Little Rock was underway again bound for Tangier (8-11 November) and Toulon (15-18 November). She would spend the remainder of the year in port at Gaeta, with the exception of 13-16 December, when she got underway with units from TF 60, TF 63, and TF 69 for National Week XVII.

Little Rock in the Mediterranean Sea, circa 1974. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 83498-KN)
Caption: Little Rock in the Mediterranean Sea, circa 1974. Official U.S. Navy Photograph. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 83498-KN)

Little Rock was still in port on New Year’s Day 1975, and remained there until 15 January, when she shifted to Palermo, Italy (16-19 January) before beginning her annual western Mediterranean cruise. She visited Tunis (20-23 January) and Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy, before conducting a Missilex at Salto DiGuirra, Sardinia (28-29 January). She then proceeded to Livorno (1-3 February) before returning to Gaeta, on 5 February. She remained in port until getting underway on 17 March, for a visit to Marseilles, France (19-24 March) and returning on the 26th. She got underway only once before June, to conduct a second Missilex at Salto DiGuirra (22-23 April).

Little Rock firing her 6-inch/47 caliber guns during exercises on the Salto DiGuirra missile range off Sardinia, 23 April 1975. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph K-108728)
Caption: Little Rock firing her 6-inch/47 caliber guns during exercises on the Salto DiGuirra missile range off Sardinia, 23 April 1975. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph K-108728)

Little Rock’s designation was changed to CG-4 on 1 July, in accordance with a navy-wide re-classification of all naval vessels. Departing on 4 July, the cruiser was at Port Said, Egypt the next day, and was the only U.S. vessel present at the re-opening of the Suez Canal, after Sixth Fleet ships had cleared the canal of mines and debris from the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars. She transited through the canal and arrived at Ismailia, Egypt, the next day. From the canal she visited Alexandria (7-9 July), then proceeded to Dubrovnik (12-14 July), before participating in  

Dawn Patrol with TG 60.2 and TF 61. From 17-19 June, she was in training at the anchorage at Taranto, then on 23 June, she was at the training anchorage at Porto Scudo. At the conclusion of the exercise, she returned to Gaeta, where she remained until 7 August, getting underway for National Week XVIII to train with units of TG 60.1 and TG 60.2 (10-14 August). Little Rock returned to Gaeta, on 16 August, where she remained in port into September, but for a visit to Rota (28-31 August). She underwent a tender availability at Naples, from 10 September through 18 October, then steamed to Rota (22-25 October), before returning to her homeport on 28 October. While at Gaeta, she underwent INSURV and then got underway for a third Missilex, this time at Namfi (13-14 November). She made her return to Gaeta, via Izmir (17-20 November), arriving on 22 November. The cruiser spent most of December in port, with the exception of her participation in PHIBLEX 6-76, with units from TG 60.1 and TF 61 (17-22 December).

Little Rock resumed operations underway on 16 January 1976, when she cleared Gaeta, bound for Casablanca (20-23 January) and Villefranche (27-30 January). Returning to Gaeta (31 January-2 February), she shifted to Naples on 2 February and underwent a tender availability until the 21st. After a time at her home port (21 February-1 March), the cruiser made the first port visit to Athens (3-6 March) since the 1973 Cyprus Crisis. Upon leaving Athens, she participated in National Week XX (10-15 March), which saw Little Rock at the center of the tight circular formation maneuvering with the other ships of the Sixth Fleet. The ships then proceeded into port at Gaeta, and dropped anchor, then engaged in commemorative events for the U.S. Bicentennial. 

Little Rock steaming with Saratoga (CV-60) and other Sixth Fleet units en route Gaeta, 16 March 1976. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 98962)
Caption: Little Rock steaming with Saratoga (CV-60) and other Sixth Fleet units en route Gaeta, 16 March 1976. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 98962)

She remained in port into April and then got underway on 3 April 1976, to visit Toulon (5-9 April), conducting training en route. She returned to Gaeta (10-25 April), and then participated in Exercise Dixie Jargon (25-27 April), in the western Mediterranean. After time in port at Gaeta (27-30 April), she was underway en route to the eastern Mediterranean to participate in Dawn Patrol 1976, when she experienced an engineering casualty, causing her spend time at Naples (2-7 May) undergoing repairs. At the completion of that work, she was underway, returning to the eastern Mediterranean for Dawn Patrol (7-13 May), before returning to Gaeta, on the 13th. Departing on 5 June, she steamed to Dubrovnik, and conducted a port visit (8-13 June) and then she conducted a dependents’ cruise to Bari, Italy (13-16 June). Afterward, she was involved in extended operations off the coast of Lebanon, Operation Fluid Drive (17-25 June), directing the evacuation of U.S. civilians and foreign nationals from Beirut, during the Lebanese Civil War. Touching at Catania, Italy (25-26 June), she returned to Gaeta, on the 27th. Little Rock was relieved by Albany as Sixth Fleet flagship effective 1 July 1976, and departing three days later, she steamed to sea for training and a visit to Cannes (6-7 July), returning to Gaeta, later on the 7th. Getting underway on 13 July, she conducted on last Missilex in the eastern Mediterranean (15-16 July). Returning to her homeport (19-21 July), she returned to the eastern Mediterranean for additional operations as part of Fluid Drive (22-29 July). She returned to Gaeta, and remained there until 19 August. During this time in port, on 1 August, she received orders changing her homeport to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. After a visit to Augusta Bay (21-22 August), she conducted operations as part of National Week XXI (23-27 August), then returned to Gaeta, for the final time. While in port, ComSixthFlt shifted his flag to Albany on 7 September.

Departing Gaeta on 9 September, Little Rock steamed out of the Mediterranean past Gibraltar and into the Atlantic. Arriving at Lisbon (13-16 September), she conducted one last port visit. Clearing the Portuguese capital on 16 September, she steamed westward for her return to the United States. Arriving at Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, on 25 September, she berthed and off-loaded her ordnance. She returned to the Philadelphia Navy Yard, on 1 October, and began preparations for decommissioning.

Decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 22 November 1976, Little Rock was donated to the Buffalo Naval and Servicemen's Park, later re-named the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, in Buffalo, N.Y., to serve as a museum ship. She was towed from Philadelphia, via the St. Lawrence Seaway, to Buffalo, and arrived in July 1977.

Little Rock (CLG-4) was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for her service during the period 20-26 January 1962, and the Navy “E” for the period 1 July 1974 – 30 June 1975.

Commanding Officers Dates of Command
Capt. William E. Miller 14 June 1945 – 7 July 1946
Capt. Henri H. Smith-Hutton 7 July 1946 – 10 March 1947
Capt. Francis J. Mee 10 March 1947 – 4 January 1948
Capt. William D. Wright 4 January 1948 – 24 May 1948
Capt. Henry G. Moran 24 May 1948 – 1 July 1948
Capt. Richard S. Craighill 1 July 1948 – 24 June 1949
Capt. Jewett O. Phillips, Jr. 3 June 1960 – 25 January 1961
Capt. Frederick A. Chenault 25 January 1961 – 7 February 1962
Capt. James R. Payne 7 February 1962 – 26 August 1963
Capt. C. Edwin Bell, Jr. 26 August 1963 – 26 September 1964
Capt. Roderick O. Middleton 26 September 1964 – 27 September 1965
Capt. Oscar F. Dreyer 27 September 1965 – 11 April 1967
Capt. John J. Mitchell 11 April 1967 – 24 April 1968
Capt. W. F.V. Bennet 24 April 1968 – 15 November 1969
Capt. Charles E. Little 15 November 1969 – 11 June 1971
Capt. Gordon P. Nagler 11 June 1971 – 27 July 1972
Capt. Robert E. Morris 27 July 1972 – 24 July 1973
Capt. Peter K. Cullins 24 July 1973 – 17 May 1975
Capt. William R. Martin 17 May 1975 – 20 October 1976
Cdr. Kent R. Siegel 20 October 1976 – 22 November 1976


Christopher B. Havern Sr., John C. Reilly Jr., and Robert J. Cressman
29 November 2017

Published: Tue Dec 05 12:21:47 EST 2017