fourth Arkansas (CGN-41) was laid down on 17 January 1977 at Newport News,
Virginia, by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co.; launched on 21
October 1978; sponsored by Mrs. Dale Bumpers, the wife of United States Senator
Dale Bumpers, of Arkansas; and commissioned on 18 October 1980, Capt. Dennis
S. Read in command.
The guided-missile cruiser spent the four months following her commissioning
in the vicinity of Hampton Roads, Va., clearing up details associated with
her acceptance by the Navy and preparing for her shakdown cruise. Late in
February 1981, she made a brief round-trip voyage to Puerto Rico and back and
then resumed preparations for shakedown training. In March, she completed
contract trials and conducted a public relations call at Port Everglades,
Fla. April brought a series of underway qualifications and certifications. On
28 April, Arkansas departed Norfolk to carry out shakedown training in the
West Indies. That cruise included more tests and trials, port visits to
several Caribbean Islands and a swing south to call at Rio de Janeiro and
Recife in Brazil. The warship returned to Norfolk on 25 June and began
post-shakdown availability at the Newport News Shipbuilding Co. six days
later. Arkansas completed repairs on 15 December and put to sea for three
days of trials before returning to port where holiday routine occupied what
little remained of 1981.
The warship did not get underway again until three weeks into 1982. She put
to sea on 22 January and shaped a course south to Key West, Fla., where she
underwent explosive shock tests. In the intervals between the several tests,
Arkansas visited Mayport and Port Everglades for work on some of her
equipment. Returning north at the beginning of March, she entered the yard at
the Newport News Shipbuilding Co. for two months of post-shakedown repairs.
The guided-missile cruiser conducted trials at sea on 3 and 4 May and then
returned to Newport News for another 11 days to correct minor deficiencies.
She arrived back in Norfolk on 20 May and, the next day, commenced local
operations out of her home port. Over the ensuing four months, Arkansas
carried out a schedule of training operations conducted mostly off the
Virginia capes. Two missions, however, took her south to the West Indies.
From 23 June to 16 July she voyaged to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for refresher
training. Between 24 September and 16 October, the warship served as escort
for Nimitz (CVN-68) during an operational readiness exercise executed in the
vicinity of Puerto Rico.
Upon her return to Norfolk in mid-October, Arkansas began preparations for
her first tour of duty with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. The
guided-missile cruiser embarked upon that assignment on 10 November 1982. She
completed the transatlantic voyage on 30 November, then set out across the
Mediterranean bound for the coast of troubled Lebanon. She arrived on station
near Beirut on 6 December. Though Arkansas spent most of her time supporting
the multinational force ashore in its efforts to keep peace in Lebanon, she
left the eastern Mediterranean occassionally for port calls and to
participate in some of the 6th Fleet's freedom-of-navigation maneuvers into
the Gulf of Sidra off the coast of Libya. The warship completed her final tour
on station near Lebanon on 4 May 1983 and laid in a course for Gibraltar.
After a two-day visit to the "Rock," Arkansas got underway for
Norfolk on 10 May.
The guided-missile cruiser stood into her home port again at the end of the
third week in May. Norfolk, however, remained her home port only for the
duration of her post-deployment standdown period. On 8 July, Arkansas began
the long voyage to her new base of operations at Alameda, Calif. Steaming by
way of Port Everglades in Florida and Charlotte Amalie in the Virgin Islands,
she arrived in the Canal Zone on 21 July and transited the Panama Canal on
the 22d. From there, the warship headed north to Alameda, reaching her
destination on 31 July. Arkansas spent the next five weeks at her new home
port clearing up incidentals attendant to the shift of bases and carried out
nuclear propulsion safety training.
Normal operations at sea began again during the second week in September and
occupied the guided-missile cruiser for the remainder of 1983 and the first
six weeks of 1984. Between 12 and 14 February 1984, Arkansas made the passage
from Alameda to Bremerton, Wash., where she entered the Puget Sound Naval
Shipyard for a three-month repair period. The warship returned to Alameda in
mid-May and readied herself for a deployment that became a circumnavigation
of the globe. On 1 June, Arkansas put to sea on the first leg of her long
voyage. En route to Hawaii, she participarted in the multinational exercise
Operation "RIMPAC 84." She spent the latter half of June conducting
exercises in the Hawaiian islands then resumed the voyage west on 2 July.
Arkansas arrived at Subic Bay on 20 July and remained in the Philippines
until the beginning of August. At that time, she set out for Hong Kong where
she visited during the period 6 to 10 August.
From there, Arkansas headed for the Indian Ocean. The guided-missile cruiser
served almost three months in the Indian Ocean, primarily in that portion
known as the Arabian Sea where the protracted war between Iraq and revolutionary
Iran threatened to engulf their neighbors and perhaps involve the superpowers
as well. On 1 November, Arkansas entered the Red Sea on her way to the Suez
Canal. She passed through the canal on the 3d and, after an expeditious
passage, stopped at Toulon,France, from the 7th to the 12th. Returning to sea
on the 12th, the warship shaped a course through the Strait of Gibraltar and
across the Atlantic. She rounded out her circumnavigation with calls at the
Azores, Barbados, and St. Thomas. Arkansas transited the Panama Canal on 9
December and reached Alameda on the 17th.
Post-deployment standdown kept her in port at Alameda through the end of 1984
and into February of 1985. Between 17 and 19 February, Arkansas sailed north
to Bremerton for a four-month restricted availability during which she was
armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and the Phalanx close-in air defense
system. Back at Alameda on 25 June, the guided-missile cruiser resumed
training operations out of her home port soon thereafter. The usual
exercises, inspections and examinations kept her busy through the summer and
fall of 1985. On 7 December, the warship began preparations for overseas
The usual year-end holiday leave and upkeep period interrupted her efforts to
get ready for the upcoming deployment, but the guided-missile cruiser put to
sea as scheduled on 15 January 1986. Again she participated in exercises
during the passage, stopped at Pearl Harbor, and spent only a brief period of
time in the western Pacific. By mid-March, after visits to Subic Bay and
Singapore, she made her way across the Indian Ocean to Karachi, Pakistan. The
guided-missile cruiser called at Karachi between 15 and 20 March then resumed
her voyage to the Arabian Sea. Once more, Arkansas patrolled the waters of
the troubled Middle East.
Her sojourn in the Arabian Sea, however, lasted only until late April. On the
29th and the 30th, she transited the Suez Canal and headed for another hot
spot. During the month of May and June, Arkansas served with Enterprise (CVN-65)
and Truxtun (CGN-35) off the coast of Libya in the wake of the air strikes
launched on that country by the United States in reprisal for terrorist
activity against Americans. Arkansas left the Mediterranean at the end of
June and shaped a course for Australia. She stopped at Fremantle between 18
and 22 July and then headed for Subic Bay where she laid over for two days at
the end of the month. From there, the warship headed for Pearl Harbor where
she paused overnight on 8 and 9 August. She arrived back in her home port on
13 August. Arkansas remained at Alameda until late September for the leave
and upkeep period that usually follows an extended tour of duty overseas.
Early in October the warship resumed local operations along the west coast.
She remained so occupied for the rest of 1986.
In May 1991, Arkansas
deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of the Abraham Lincoln carrier battle
In 1996 Arkansas part of the Carl Vinson carrier battle group off the coast of
Iraq and participated in the Rugged Nautilus exercise.
On 7 July 1998 Arkansas was decommissioned and entered the Navy’s
Nuclear-Powered Ships Recycling Program. She had once been considered to be
preserved as a museum ship in her namesake state, but as an ocean-going
vessel, would not have been able to navigate inland rivers, except during the
springtime flood of the Mississippi River.
Artifacts from Arkansas, including the ship’s bell and anchor, are on public
display at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock,