DLGN-11 Bainbridge Class
USNC-bainbridgesmall.jpg
(Note: drawing contains some parts and lower hull details taken from Shipbucket.com)

Ship Characteristics

Dimensions Length 564 ft
Beam 56 ft
Draft 26 ft
Displacement (Standard) 7,600 tons
Displacement (Full Load) 8,430 tons
Performance Speed (max) 33 knots
Armament Guns 4 3 inch L50
Medium-range SAM 40 Terrier
ASW 40 ASROC

Background

The Bainbridge class were the U.S. Navy's first effort at designing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier escort. Although their prominent missile launchers fore and aft plus the extensive guidance radars for those missiles suggested they were AAW ships, in fact the Bainbridges were primarily ASW vessels with the ASROC missiles fired from their missile launchers being their primary armament. The envisioned tactical role for the DLGNs was to destroy hostile submarines by bombarding them with nuclear depth charges. This proved to be something of an illusory difference since the submarine threat to the carrier task forces never really became prominent and air/missile defense took center stage. The lack of provisions for operating a helicopter or rotodyne also severely limited the ASW capabilities of the Bainbridge class. However, the Bainbridge class remained extremely useful, not least due to the effectiveness of their ASROC missiles against surface targets.

With the design of the DLGNs, classification of U.S. Navy missile ships gained a level of rationality. Cruisers (CG/CGN) carried the long-range Talos missile, frigates (DLG/DLGN) carried medium-range Terrier missiles while destroyers (DDG/DDGN) carried the short-range Tartar missile. This distinction gradually lbecame blurred as technical development saw missile ranges increasing so that late-generation Tartar-type missiles were approaching early-generation Talos missiles in range. The Bainbridges were particularly affected by this since their horizontal loading arrangements meant they could handle the very long range Standard-ER missiles, technically giving them cruiser performance. Their ability to handle the anti-missile capable Standard-ER also gave these ships an unusually long service life.

In 1963, the Bainbridge, Truxton, Porter and Dewey joined the cruisers Long Beach and Hartford and the aircraft carrier Enterprise to form the U.S. Navy's first all-nuclear task group, Task Force One. TF-1 deployed to the Pacific where the seven ships started to develop the tactical doctrine for formations of nuclear-powered ships. In 1964, the Winslow, Howard, Cowles and Winterhalter joined the cruisers Cheyenne and Richmond and the carrier Shiloh to form Task Force Two. TF-2 was deployed to the Mediterranean where they was joined by TF-1 and the two nuclear-powered groups took part in the complex maze of events that eventually led to the destruction of Jaffo. Subsequently, TF-1 returned to the Pacific while TF-2 continued to servce in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The task forces remained together until the Enterprise and Shiloh were withdrawn from front-line service and converted to training carriers. After that point, the Bainbridges were used on independent deployments until they were finally decommissioned.

Class Members

Number Name Ordered Laid Down Launched Commissioned Fate
DLGN-11 Bainbridge 1956 1956 1959 1960 Decommissioned and scrapped 2000
DLGN-12 Truxton 1958 1958 1960 1962 Decommissioned and scrapped 2002
DLGN-13 Porter 1958 1958 1960 1962 Decommissioned and scrapped 2002
DLGN-14 Dewey 1958 1958 1960 1962 Decommissioned and scrapped 2003
DLGN-15 Winslow 1959 1959 1961 1963 Decommissioned and scrapped 2004
DLGN-16 Howard 1959 1959 1961 1963 Decommissioned and scrapped 2004
DLGN-17 Cowles 1959 1959 1961 1963 Decommissioned and scrapped 2005
DLGN-18 Winterhalter 1959 1959 1961 1963 Decommissioned and scrapped 2005
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