“Navy’s First Surface A-Ship Launched: 10,000 at Quincy Watch Long Beach Christening,” by Nat Kline. Boston Globe, July 15, 1959.
The U.S.S. Long Beach, first nuclear-powered naval surface ship, slid down the ways at 4:10 p.m. at Bethlehem Steel’s Quincy Shipyard yesterday to usher in a new era in control of the seas.
It is highly significant that the Long Beach’s first commanding officer will be Capt. Eugene P. Wilkinson, U.S.N., who guided the Nautilus, the nation’s first atomic submarine.
Harold S. Vance of the Atomic Energy Commission, principal speaker at the christening exercise, preceding the actual launching, pointed out that this cruiser is the forerunner of an entirely new group of Navy craft.
The Long Beach, Vance declared, “will pave the way for the nuclear-powered air-craft carrier, the Enterprise, being built at Newport News and the nuclear-powered guided missile destroyer leader, he Bainbridge, whose keel was laid recently at this Bethlehem yard.
“These ships are the forerunners of our nuclear-powered surface Navy, just as the Nautilus provided the technological basis for our nuclear-powered submarine fleet,” Vance asserted.
The fast moving chain of events in less than five years since the Nautilus amazed military leaders was stressed by the AEC representative, who spoke before 10,000 persons:
“In that brief period the Atomic Energy Commission, in cooperation with the Navy, has developed or has under development eight different types of nuclear propulsion plants designed to power many types of submarines and surface vessels.
“They range from a plant to drive the small hunter-killer submarine, the tullibeee, up to the Enterprise, powered by eight reactors.
“I doubt that many scientific fields have seen as intense a development effort over so short a period of time.”
. . .
The Long Beach, 14,000 tons and 721 feet long, will be armed with both Talos and Terrier guided missiles, the first Navy ship so armed; will cost an estimated $250 million and is scheduled to be completed late next year.
Following the Quincy Yard christening ceremonies, the notables adjourned to the Neighborhood Club, on Glendale rd. where luncheon was followed by afternoon speaking, with Samuel Wakeman, general manager of the Boston district, Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding division, as toastmaster. . . .