Replica of Nuclear Cruiser Unveiled at Museum

Special ceremonies were held Tuesday to unveil a 30-foot-long replica of the USS Long Beach at its new home in a military museum.

As the model ship’s missiles hissed and its tiny gun turrets turned in the background, Mayor Beverly O’Neill and other speakers paid tribute to the real USS Long Beach, the world’s first nuclear-powered cruiser.

The replica was recently moved from the naval shipyard to the Darkhorse Military Aviation Museum next to the Long Beach Airport.

“Since we lost the Navy shipyard, the naval station and the naval hospital, it’s the only thing we have left of the Navy,” Councilman Jerry Shultz said. “And the fact that it has our name on it makes it doubly special.”


Built in the early 1970s, the wood and brass model matches the ship sent to protect U.S. aircraft in the Gulf of Tonkin--right down to the fire hoses and teak flooring of the captain’s deck.

The real USS Long Beach--24 times the length of its replica--was launched in 1959 and saw service during the Iraqi war. It is now being scrapped at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington, Shultz said.