The US Navy's "cruiser Gap"
Prior to the introduction of the Ticonderogas, the US Navy used odd naming conventions that left its fleet seemingly without many cruisers, although a number of their ships were cruisers in all but name. From the 1950s to the 1970s, US Navy "cruisers" were large vessels equipped with heavy offensive missiles (including the Regulus nuclear cruise missile) for wide-ranging combat against land-based and sea-based targets. All save one—USS Long Beach (CGN-9)—were converted from World War II Oregon City, Baltimore- and Cleveland-class cruisers.
"Frigates" under this scheme were almost as large as the cruisers and optimized for anti-aircraft warfare, although they were capable anti-surface warfare combatants as well. In the late 1960s, the US government perceived a "cruiser gap"—at the time, the US Navy possessed six ships designated as "cruisers", compared to 19 for the Soviet Union, even though the USN possessed at the time 21 "frigates" with equal or superior capabilities to the Soviet cruisers—because of this, in 1975 the Navy performed a massive redesignation of its forces:
- CVA/CVAN were redesignated CV/CVN (although USS Midway (CV-41) and USS Coral Sea (CV-43) never embarked anti-submarine squadrons).
- DLG/DLGN (Frigate/Nuclear-powered Frigate) were redesignated CG/CGN (Guided Missile Cruiser/Nuclear-powered Guided Missile Cruiser).
- Farragut-class guided missile frigates (DLG), being smaller and less capable than the others, were redesignated to DDGs (USS Coontz was the first ship of this class to be re-numbered; because of this the class is sometimes called the Coontz-class);
- DE/DEG (Ocean Escort/Guided Missile Ocean Escort) were redesignated to FF/FFG (Guided Missile Frigates), bringing the US "Frigate" designation into line with the rest of the world.
Also, a series of Patrol Frigates of the Oliver Hazard Perry-class, originally designated PFG, were redesignated into the FFG line. The cruiser-destroyer-frigate realignment and the deletion of the Ocean Escort type brought the US Navy's ship designations into line with the rest of the world's, eliminating confusion with foreign navies. In 1980, the Navy's then-building DDG-47 class destroyers were redesignated as cruisers (CG-47 Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) to emphasize the additional capability provided by the ships' Aegis combat systems.
Read more about this topic: Cruiser
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