If you’ve ever wanted to own a severely tangental slice of Long Beach’s long gone Naval history, perhaps you should have been in Bremerton, Washington last month when the USS Long Beach was auctioned off for scrap metal as part of a U.S. Government zero-waste initiative.
Launched in 1961, the warship was the third Navy ship to be named after the city of Long Beach, California and it was not only the first entirely new guided-missile cruiser built after World War II, but also the country’s first all-nucelear powered surface warship (meaning the thing could circumnavigate the globe in five months without refueling).
In March of 1966, the USS Long Beach and the City of Long Beach were united for the first time, but that’s about as far as the real connection to its namesake goes. The warship spent most of its life either deployed in the West Pacific (during the Vietnam War) or at its home ports of Norfolk, Virginia and San Diego before being deactivated in 1994 and sent up to the Naval graveyard in Washington.
The historic Navy cruiser—all 7.35 million pounds of it—was finally put up on the Department of Defense’s auction block this summer, making all non-hazardous and demilitarized base materials available for purchase to the highest bidder.
Through the Government Liquidation website, all steel, aluminum and copper wiring along with galley equipment, fixtures and furnishings including tables, chairs, lockers and bunks were sold t the more than 34,000 professional scrap buyers from around the world who came forward for their share of the ship once known as “The Only Real Cruiser.”
Kind of a bummer that the last warship bearing the name of a city once home to a prominent Naval shipyard is now scattered around the world in a million pieces like some grand metaphor for Long Beach’s industrial past. But also kind of cool that the Department of Defense sends the old ships to auction instead of loading them into landfills. Here’s to hoping we come across an object that once graced the USS Long Beach one day because then we’ll finally have an excuse yell out the cruiser’s awesome slogan: “Strike Hard, Strike Home.”
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