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USS California (CGN 36)

- formerly DLGN 36 -
- decommissioned -

USS CALIFORNIA was the lead ship of the fourth class of nuclear powered guided missile cruisers in the Navy and the sixth ship in the Navy to bear the name.

General Characteristics:Awarded: June 13, 1968
Keel laid: January 23, 1970
Launched: September 22, 1971
Commissioned: February 16, 1974
Decommissioned: July 9, 1999
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News; Va.
Propulsion system: two D2G General Electric nuclear reactors
Propellers: two
Length: 597 feet (182 meters)
Beam: 61 feet (18.6 meters)
Draft: 31,5 feet (9.6 meters)
Displacement: approx. 10,500 tons
Speed: 30+ knots
Aircraft: none, but landing platform
Armament: two Mk 141 Harpoon missile launchers, two Mk 45 5-inch/54 caliber lightweight guns, two 20mm Phalanx CIWS, one ASROC missile launcher, two Mk 13 missile launchers for Standard missiles (MR), Mk 46 torpedoes
Crew: 40 officers and 544 enlisted

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS CALIFORNIA. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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Accidents aboard USS CALIFORNIA:

June 6, 1977Norfolk, Va.
USS CALIFORNIA parts its moorings and suffers minor damage during high winds in the Norfolk, Va., area.

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USS CALIFORNIA's Commanding Officers:

August 1971 - March 26, 1976Captain Floyd H. Miller, USN
March 26, 1976 - June 1979Captain William O. Rentz, USN
June 1979 - September 1982Captain Charles J. Smith, USN
September 1982 - November 1985Captain Gaylord O. Paulson, USN
November 1985 - August 1988Captain Richard D. Williams, III, USN
August 1988 - December 1991Captain Barry V. Burrow, USN
December 1991 - January 1995Captain Ray Wallace, USN
January 1995 - October 1997Captain Robert E. Perry, USN
October 1997 - July 9, 1999Captain Steven K. Johnson, USN

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The keel was laid for the"Golden Grizzly" on January 23, 1970 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, Va. She was launched on September 22, 1971 with a "near miss" of the champagne bottle by First Lady Mrs. Richard M. Nixon. The USS CALIFORNIA was commissioned on February 16, 1974 at Pier 12 of the Norfolk Naval Station, Norfolk, Va.

For ten years, USS CALIFORNIA, the sixth ship to bear the name, steamed the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea from this homeport, serving three times with the Sixth Fleet and twice with the Seventh Fleet. Her first Mediterranean Cruise was from July 1976 to February 1977.

In the summer of 1977, CALIFORNIA represented the United States Surface Fleet at the Silver Jubilee Review in Portsmouth, England. More than 150 warships from 18 nations participated in this commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.

Two years later, reactionary Moslems intensified their revolt against the Shah of Iran. Following seizure of the U. S. Embassy in Iran, CALIFORNIA, along with USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) and USS TEXAS (CGN 39), interrupted a routine Mediterranean cruise to steam from Livorno, Italy, to the southern coast of Iran in the North Arabian Sea. The all-nuclear task group completed the 12,000-mile transit in only eighteen days, remained on station in the Indian Ocean for the next five months, and eventually returned to Norfolk from the 80,000-mile, nine-month deployment in May of 1980.

The following year, CALIFORNIA completed its second Indian Ocean cruise. Upon returning to Norfolk via the Panama Canal, the cruiser became the first nuclear-powered surface ship to circumnavigate the globe since the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) task force completed Operation Sea Orbit in 1964.

In September 1983, the "Golden Grizzly" left Norfolk for the last time, steaming through the Panama Canal to its new homeport, Naval Air Station, Alameda, California. The ship embarked on its first Western Pacific and Indian Ocean cruise in February 1985 as a member of the USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64) battle group. During the spring of 1986, CALIFORNIA conducted several weeks of Bering Sea operations and became the first cruiser to visit Adak, Alaska, since World War II. She again deployed to the Western Pacific and completed a second "Around-the-World" cruise in 1987.

The year 1988 brought continued high-tempo operations as CALIFORNIA cruised the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans for a third time. The ship served as battle group Anti-Surface Warfare Commander during the RIMPAC 88 exercise as well as for Olympic Presence Operations off the Korean Peninsula. Subsequently, during her 1988-1989 deployment, CALIFORNIA assumed duties as Anti-Air Warfare Commander for operations in the North Arabian Sea and Arabian Gulf. While assigned patrol duties in the Strait of Hormuz in December 1988, CALIFORNIA conducted the last USN EARNEST WILL convoy mission through the strait.

The summer of 1989 saw CALIFORNIA tasked with Northern Pacific operations as part of a CNO project to study the effects of Near-Land Operating Areas on carrier battle group operations. In September and October of 1989, the "Golden Grizzly" participated as an anti-air-warfare picket ship in PACEX 89, the largest combined sailing of U. S. and allied naval units since World War II.

In April 1990, CALIFORNIA entered the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington for a three-year refueling complex overhaul, including two new D2G high endurance reactor cores in her engineering plant with adequate fuel capacity to power the ship for more than 20 years of normal operations, and the New Treat Upgrade Combat Systems Suite. Upon completion of the overhaul in January 1993, CALIFORNIA began a series of exercises and evaluations in preparation for deployment. These included independent training in all aspects of its mission as well as coordinated battle group exercises.

In June 1994, CALIFORNIA joined the USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) battle group in the Western Pacific for the ship's first deployment in five years. CALIFORNIA exchanged personnel with the Republic of Korea Navy for a combined exercise and with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force for ANNUALEX 06G and KEEN EDGE 95. The cruiser also took part in a LINKEX exercise with United States forces in and near Korea, establishing the most extensive tactical data link ever in this region. The deployment wrapped up with participation in TANDEM THRUST 95, a joint exercise with the armed forces of the United States, Australia, and several allied nations. CALIFORNIA then returned to her home at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard just before Christmas 1994.

In 1995, CALIFORNIA completed a four-month maintenance availability, improving the reliability of her propulsion plant and updating her combat systems. In September 1995, the "Golden Brizzly" sailed in a parade of ships through Pearl Harbor as part of the ceremony commemorating the end of World War II.

In May 1996, CALIFORNIA left for the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Arabian Gulf on a routine six-month deployment with the USS CARL VINSON Battle Group. CALIFORNIA received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations SOUTHERN WATCH and DESERT STRIKE for shared duties as Air Warfare Commander for the Carl Vinson Battle Group.

Having completed a short but intense maintenance period in the spring of 1997, CALIFORNIA conducted a series of training operations and evaluations including a live-fire missile exercise, and Operational Reactor Safeguards Examination, and a Final Evaluation Period. CALIFORNIA was awarded the Battle Efficiency Award for outstanding operational readiness throughout 1997.

In January 1998, CALIFORNIA deployed to the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Sea in support of Counterdrug Operations as the Air Warfare Commander for the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF) East. In July, she gave her last "GRIZZLY ROAR" by participating in RIMPAC 98 as a member of the Bilateral force.

The USS CALIFORNIA Deactivation Ceremony was held on 28 August 1998 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.

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