Awarded: May 18, 1961
Laid down: February 5, 1962 (as DLG 26)
Launched: July 20, 1963 (as DLG 26)
November 7, 1964 (as DLG 26)
CG 26: June 30, 1975
Decommissioned: February 15, 1995;
Fate: Sunk as target on September 24, 1998 off the east coast of the United States.
036° 31' 00.3" North, 071° 58' 00.5" West.
USS Belknap (DLG-26) was
named to honor two naval officers, Rear Admiral George E. Belknap, USN and
his son Rear Admiral Reginald R. Belknap, USN.
George Eugene Belknap was born on 22 January 1882 at Newport, New
Hampshire and was appointed Midshipman on 7 October 1847, at the age of 15.
During 1856-1857 he served with the East India Squadron, taking a prominent
part in engagements with the Barrier Forts at Canton, China in November 1856.
During the Civil War, he reported aboard the sloop St. Louis and commanded
the ship's boats which reinforced Fort Picken Florida, in April 1861.
Lieutenant Belknap was then assigned to the screw-steamer Huron and blockaded
the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia from February to June of 1862. He
participated in the intense bombardment of Charleston during April 1863. He
commanded the single turret Iron Clad Canonicus in attacks at Fort Fisher,
North Carolina on 24-25 December 1864 and 13-15 January 1865 which occasioned
its surrender. He then also joined in the final firing against the Charleston
defenses prior to their collapse. He cruised with the practice squadron of
the U.S. Naval Academy, before being assigned to the screw-sloop Shenandoah,
in the later part of 1865. He transited to the Far East, where in 1867, he
became the commanding officer of the screw-sloop Hartford, the flagship of
the Asiatic Squadron and led the expedition against Formosa. During 1873-1874
he performed internationally acclaimed coastal and deep ocean surveys work in
the Pacific. Promoted to Captain in January 1875, he assumed the role of
commanding officer of the receiving ship Ohio at Boston. He was promoted to
commodore in June 1885 and was later served as the Commander-in-Chief of the
Asiatic Station from 1889-1892. Before he accepted mandatory retirement on 22
January 1894, he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral and finished his
active duty as president, Board of Inspection and Survey. He had served 47
years of active service. He died at Key West Florida on 7 April 1903, at age
Reginald Rowan Belknap was born on 26 June 1871 at Malden,
Massachusetts, the son of Rear Admiral and Mrs. George Eugene Belknap. He
graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1891. From 1891 to 1907 he served on
the USS Chicago, USS Baltimore, USS Monocacy, USS Yorktown, USS Newport, USS
Indiana, USS Badger, USS Ranger, USS Maine and USS Kearsarge. From 1907 to
1910 he served simultaneously as Naval Attache to Germany, Austria-Hungary
and Italy. In 1909, after the destructive earthquake which destroyed much of
the Sicilian city of Messina, he planned and supervised the American relief
effort in that city. He was made an Honorary Citizen of Messina by its
grateful city government. In 1910 he reported aboard the USS North Dakota as
Executive Officer. On 12 December 1914, Captain Belknap assumed command of
the USS San Francisco. On 3 July 1915 he was designated Commander, Mining and
Mine Sweeping Division, Atlantic Fleet. During World War I , as a captain, he
was ordered to duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations to plan
and prepare for planting of an antisubmarine barrage of naval defense mines
across the North Sea from the Orkney Islands to the coast of Norway. Such an
antisubmarine barrage had been made possible by the development of a superior
naval mine, the Mark VI. All plans and preparatory work being completed in
the spring of 1918, Captain Belknap took command of Mine Squadron ONE,
Atlantic Fleet, now consisting of ten large ships with a total capacity of
six thousand Mark VI mines. In May 1918, the Squadron proceeded to its Scottish
bases at Inverness and Iver Gordon on the east coast of Scotland. On 2
June1918, Captain Belknap conducted the Squadron in its first mining
excursion into the North Sea. He commanded the Squadron on the nine other
excursions required to complete the antisubmarine barrage, the last excursion
being in late October 1918. The barrage was a success. Captain Belknap was
advanced to Rear Admiral by a special act of Congress and was awarded the
Distinguished Service Medal by the President. After serving on the Naval War
College staff from May to July of 1920, he assumed command of the USS
Delaware and in 1929 he took command of the Navy's newest battleship USS
Colorado, as her first commanding officer. Rear Admiral Belknap died on 30
March 1959, at age 87 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
USS Belknap (DLG-26/CG-26),
named for Rear Admiral George Eugene Belknap USN (1832-1903), was the lead
ship of her class of guided missile cruisers in the United States Navy. She
was launched as DLG-26, a Destroyer Leader, and reclassified to Guided
Missile Cruiser (CG) on 30 June 1975.
She was laid down by the Bath Iron Works Corporation at Bath in Maine on 5
February 1962, launched on 20 July 1963 and commissioned on 7 November 1964.
On November 22, 1975 USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) and USS Belknap collide in
rough seas at night during air exercises east of Sicily. The overhanging
flight deck of the carrier cuts into the superstructure of the cruiser.
A fire broke out on Belknap following the collision, and during the fire her
aluminum superstructure was melted, burned and gutted to the deck level. This
fire and the resultant damage and deaths, which would have been preventable
had Belknap's superstructure been made of steel, drove the US Navy's decision
to pursue all-steel construction in its next major class of surface
Because of the presence of nuclear weapons on board both ships the commander
of Carrier Striking Forces for the Sixth Fleet sent a secret nuclear weapons
accident message (a "Broken Arrow") to the Pentagon, warning of the
"high probability that nuclear weapons aboard the Belknap (W45 Terrier
missile warheads) were involved in fire and explosion but there were no
direct communications with the Belknap at that time and no positive
indications that explosions were directly related to nuclear weapons. An hour
after the Broken Arrow message was sent the USS Claude V. Ricketts (DDG 5),
alongside the Belknap fighting the fire, reported that Belknap personnel said
"no radiation hazard exists aboard".
Seven people aboard Belknap and one aboard the Kennedy are killed. The sailor
aboard the Kennedy died from smoke inhalation when he entered a smoke filled
compartment without an OBA. Both ships got assistance from other ships:
Belknap had three other ships helping her and the JFK had one.
Belknap was reconstructed by the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 30 January 1976
to 10 May 1980.
USS Belknap was converted to a flagship by the Norfolk Navy Yard from May
1985 to February 1986.
She played again a role in the Malta Summit between US President George H. W.
Bush and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev on 2 and 3 December 1989. The US
President had his sleeping quarters aboard the Belknap, whereas the meetings
took place (due to the stormy weather) on the soviet cruise ship Maxim Gorky.
Belknap was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 15
February 1995 and sunk as a target on 24 September 1998.
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