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This list of cruisers of the United States Navy includes all ships that were ever called "cruiser", either publicly or in internal documentation.
The Navy has 17 Ticonderoga-class cruisers in active service, as of 29 September 2022, with the last tentatively scheduled for decommissioning in 2027. With the cancellation of the CG(X) program in 2010, the Navy currently has no cruiser replacement program planned. The Navy is looking to the AEGIS-equipped Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to increasingly fill the role of the cruiser in the protection of the carrier strike group, as it could be well into the 2030s before any possible cruiser replacement program is up and running.
Ship status is indicated as either currently active [A] (including ready reserve), inactive [I], or precommissioning [P]. Ships in the inactive category include only ships in the inactive reserve, ships which have been disposed from US service have no listed status. Ships in the precommissioning category would include ships under construction or on order; as described above there currently are no such cruisers.
Comprehension of the history of cruisers as shown in these lists requires some understanding of the unique role (sharing both independent and combined fleet operations) that cruisers were expected to support in the US fleet, and of the consequent influence this role had on design. In one example, the Navy's Bureau of Ships issued a memorandum in 1947 listing the ways in which cruiser hulls differed from destroyer hulls, including details such as double hull construction, electrical generation and distribution, water mains for firefighting, fuel lines and tankage, and fresh water distillation.
CGN-9 Long Beach, commissioned in 1961, was the last US cruiser built on a true cruiser hull. All subsequent cruisers, including nuclear powered cruisers, were based on the less expensive and less capable destroyer hulls - the one attempt since Long Beach to revert to the advantages of a "cruiser hull" design was the canceled CSGN nuclear strike cruiser (the CSGN proposal mentioned the greater powerplant survivability from the separation of the two nuclear reactors in a cruiser hull over the adjacent reactors in a destroyer hull).
The sole example of a destroyer built on a cruiser hull was the experimental DL-1 Norfolk, which was originally classed as a hunter-killer cruiser (CLK-1).
Main article: Hull classification symbol
Since the cruiser nomenclature predates the hull numbering system, and there were several confusing renumberings and renamings, there are multiple entries on these lists referring to the same physical ship. Combat history summaries (wars and battle stars) are listed only for the specific hull classification and number; for example, the World War II battle stars for a heavy cruiser (CA) and the Vietnam War battle stars for the same ship after its conversion to a guided missile cruiser (CG) are listed separately in each ship type list.
CA-1, CA-6 and CA-10 were never used, as ACR-1 Maine, ACR-6 California/San Diego and ACR-10 Tennessee/Memphis were lost prior to the 1920 redesignation, and their sisters' original hull numbers were carried over. CA-20 through CA-23 were skipped with the merger of the CA and CL sequences, which allowed the reclassification of the Washington Treaty CLs as CAs without re-numbering.
Heavy cruisers CA-149 and CA-151 to CA-153, light cruisers CL-154 to CL-159, hunter-killer cruiser CLK-2, and nuclear guided missile cruiser CGN-42 were canceled before being named.
Guided missile cruisers CG-1 through 8 and CG-10 through 12 were converted from World War II cruisers. CAG-1 USS Boston and CAG-2 USS Canberra retained most of their original gun armament and were later returned to their gun cruiser designations CA-69 and CA-70. CGN-9, Long Beach, originally held the last designation in the heavy-light cruiser sequence, CLGN-160.
CG-15 was skipped so the Leahy-class guided missile frigates (CG-16 class) could be redesignated without renumbering. The other missing numbers in the guided-missile cruiser series, 43–46, were not used so that DDG-47 Ticonderoga and DDG-48 Yorktown could be similarly redesignated. (It has been argued in some sources[who?] that the DDG-993 Kidd-class guided missile destroyers, which were essentially identically armed to the Virginia-class cruisers, should have been redesignated CG-43 through −46.)
Before 30 June 1975, CG-16 USS Leahy through CGN-38 USS Virginia were designated DLG or DLGN (Destroyer Leader, Guided Missile (Nuclear powered)). They were redesignated cruisers in the 1975 ship reclassification. CGN-39 USS Texas and CGN-40 USS Mississippi were laid down as DLGNs but redesignated CGN before commissioning. CG-47 Ticonderoga and CG-48 Yorktown were ordered as guided missile destroyers (DDG) but were redesignated to guided missile cruisers (CG) before any ship was laid down. CGN-41 Arkansas and CG-49 through 73 were ordered, laid down and delivered as guided missile cruisers, although as Virginia or Ticonderoga-class ships they had not been designed as cruisers.
The first three modern cruisers in the Navy, the Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago, were most successful as technology demonstrators that stimulated the US industrial base, with features such as steel hulls and electricity generation. The last two protected cruisers which initially served without hull classification numbers, the New Orleans and Albany, were purchased from a British builder during mobilization for the 1898 Spanish–American War.
Further information: Armed merchantman § Armed merchant cruisers
Beginning in 1891 Congress subsidized a number of fast ocean liners with plans to requisition them in wartime. St. Louis, St. Paul, Harvard, and Yale were the largest and were chartered by the Navy for the Spanish–American War, and seven others were purchased in 1898.
Further information: Armored cruiser
Officially these ships were e.g., "Armored Cruiser No. 1". Unofficially, top naval officers initially referred to these ships as battleships because they cost almost as much, shared many features with them, and were intended to accompany them in fleet actions; they took care to ensure that Congress never heard their opinion. The 1905 Russo-Japanese War showed armored cruisers did not perform as well as either battleships or as other cruiser types. As battleship technology advanced they were judged obsolete for their original role about the time the last U.S. armored cruiser was commissioned (this advance in part led to the development of battlecruisers as a replacement), and so they were retained for other cruiser roles despite their deficiencies. During 1912–1920 the U.S. armored cruisers had their names changed from states to cities within those states to free up the names for battleships.
Further information: Protected cruiser and Unprotected cruiser
In the pre-1920 period abbreviations were informal and not standardized; officially these ships were, e.g., "Cruiser No. 1". Only the Montgomery class were unprotected cruisers, all the rest were protected cruisers. The Navy often referred to unprotected cruisers and obsolete protected cruisers (and some large gunboats without cruiser features) as peace cruisers due to their use in major policing and diplomatic roles.
St. Louis class
While classified as patrol gunboats by the Navy and as sloops by the London Naval Treaty, the 2,000 ton displacement Erie-class gunboats were designed to fulfill the role of peace cruisers in Asia and the Caribbean as detailed in internal Navy documents.
Main article: List of mine warfare vessels of the United States Navy § Minelayers (CM)
In 1919 two cruisers were reclassified as Cruiser Minelayers (CM); they had laid mines in the North Sea during WW1. Other large minelayers with no cruiser features or history were later given this hull symbol, and the 'cruiser' nomenclature was dropped.
Further information: Scout cruiser
The use of fast armed merchant cruisers in the Spanish–American War and the fleet exercises of 1902-03 convinced the Navy that it needed fast scout cruisers. The Chester class was built in part to test high speed propulsion plants. The Omaha class would become the oldest U.S. cruisers to serve in World War II. Officially these ships were, e.g., "Scout Cruiser No. 1", and sometimes abbreviated SC or SCR; on 8 August 1921 all would be reclassed as light cruisers.
Main article: List of battlecruisers of the United States
Further information: Battlecruiser
The United States laid down its only six battlecruisers as part of the 1917 construction program; in accordance with the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty four were scrapped incomplete and two converted during construction into the Lexington-class aircraft carriers.
Further information: Heavy cruiser and Light cruiser
On 17 July 1920, all First and Second Class Cruisers (armored and protected cruisers) still in service were reclassified as Armored Cruisers (CA).
St. Louis-class (1905)
In the 1920 hull designation system, of the Third Class Cruisers the fast Scout Cruisers became Light Cruisers (CL), and the slower New Orleans and Denver-class "peace cruisers" were reclassified as Patrol Gunboats (PG).
On 8 August 1921 the system was revised; the surviving protected cruisers (except for the "semi-armored" St Louis class) and the peace cruiser/patrol gunboats were all grouped with the scout cruisers as Light Cruisers (CL).
New Orleans-class (1896)
The CA/CL overlap of hull numbers would persist until the last armored cruiser of the original CA series, Seattle, was reclassed as IX-39.
The first cruisers of the Pensacola, Northampton, New Orleans, and Portland classes – which were designed after the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, so quickly that the last design was complete before sea trial of the first were finished – were originally designated Light Cruisers (CL) due to their light protection. Later, in accordance with the 1930 London Naval Treaty, they were reclassified as "Heavy Cruisers" (CA) in 1931 due to their 8-inch (203 mm) guns. Thenceforward new heavy and light cruisers were numbered in a single sequence. These four classes were known as "Treaty cruisers" and "Tinclads" and were seen even before World War II as deficient by the Navy due to the treaty limitations, but despite their high losses in the early days of the war they performed well.
New Orleans class
New Orleans class
New Orleans class
The terms of the 1930 London Naval Treaty motivated the signatories to de-emphasize heavy cruiser construction in favor of light cruisers. The resultant nine ship Brooklyn-class of light cruisers had a strong influence on US cruiser design. Nearly all subsequent US cruisers, heavy and light, were directly or indirectly based on them, including the unique heavy cruiser Wichita.
New Orleans class
Brooklyn class (St. Louis subclass)
The 1936 Second London Naval Treaty would also influence the Navy's light cruiser program. It imposed limits that resulted in the smaller displacement Atlanta class with a 5-inch (127 mm) dual purpose rapid fire main gun battery, the first such ship in the Navy. Parallel to the Atlanta design was an abortive attempt to design a super-Atlanta known as the Cruiser-Destroyer, or CLD.
When the United States entered World War II it had three major classes of cruisers under construction: the Atlanta and Cleveland light cruiser classes (with 5-inch and 6-inch main batteries, respectively), and the Baltimore-class of heavy cruisers. The Cleveland-class was an improvement of the Brooklyn design, while the Baltimore-class was an improved Wichita. These ships would form the bulk of the cruiser war construction effort, with eight Atlanta-class, twenty-seven Cleveland-class, and fourteen Baltimore-class cruisers ultimately completed. Early in the war nine Cleveland hulls would be diverted for conversion into Independence class light aircraft carriers (CVLs). By the end of the war three Cleveland hulls would be canceled, and one incomplete hull would later be converted to a guided missile cruiser.
Atlanta class (Oakland subclass)
As the Navy gained experience with World War II combat conditions, it was decided that the Atlanta, Cleveland, and Baltimore classes needed improvement. However, major improvements would cause unacceptable delays in the construction programs. A new generation of cruisers with minor improvements would consist of the Juneau and Fargo classes of light cruisers (respectively 5-inch and 6-inch main batteries), and the Oregon City-class of heavy cruisers. Due to the near-total destruction of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the number of the ships of this generation to be completed as gun cruisers would be small: three Juneau-class, two Fargo-class, and three Oregon City-class cruisers. A fourth Oregon City-class cruiser would be completed postwar as a command cruiser. Seventeen hulls from among the three classes were canceled.
Oregon City class
The Navy agreed in the waning days of World War II to construct a small number of cruisers for the purpose of operationally testing new gun designs and other major improvements incorporating the lessons learned of World War II combat: the 'CL-154' and Worcester classes of light cruisers (respectively 5-inch and 6-inch main batteries), and the Des Moines-class of heavy cruisers. Initially the Navy wanted at least one squadron of six ships of each class, but in the end only two Worcester-class and three Des Moines-class cruisers would be completed, and the CL-154 class would be cancelled in its entirety. A total of seventeen hulls from among the three planned classes would be canceled.
Des Moines class
Oregon City class
Des Moines class
Des Moines class
The last ship to be assigned a hull number in the Heavy and Light Cruiser sequence would be the 1950's era nuclear powered Long Beach, though this ship would be assigned another number and designation before launch.
Long Beach class
The motivation for the large cruiser concept came from the deployment of Germany's so-called pocket battleships in the early 1930s, and from concerns that Japan would follow with similar ships. These large cruisers had design features intermediate between heavy cruisers and battleships (such as the unique and highly effective 12-inch/50-caliber Mark 8 guns); this was unlike the designs of the earlier battlecruisers, the last design of which had the same guns as battleships but less armor and more speed. Despite these differences large cruisers and battlecruisers were intended to serve much the same role.
Admiral Hipper class
CLK-1 was authorized in 1947 as an anti-submarine hunter killer. She was designed on a light cruiser hull so she could carry a greater variety of detection gear than a destroyer.
On 18 March 1949, the surviving light cruisers of the Atlanta and Juneau classes were redesignated as antiaircraft cruisers (CLAA) without changing their hull numbers; San Diego, San Juan, and Flint were redesignated even though they had been decommissioned and were in reserve. The CL-154 class would also have received this designation had they not been canceled.
Atlanta class (Oakland subclass)
By the end of World War II the Navy had gained favorable experience with dedicated amphibious command ships, and desired similar but faster ships to accompany aircraft carriers for fleet command, which would also relieve overcrowded fleet command facilities on other ships. Both completed conversions, Northampton and Wright, were indirectly based on the Baltimore class heavy cruiser design (the first via the Oregon City class, the second via the Saipan class). The result would be the highly capable but expensive command cruisers. These ships would be absorbed into the National Emergency Command Post Afloat mission, and then retired when that role was cancelled.
With the exception of the purpose-built nuclear powered guided missile cruiser Long Beach, all of the early guided missile cruisers were converted heavy or light cruisers from the World War II era. The early conversions (CAG and CLG) were 'single-enders' which placed the missile facilities aft and conservatively retained their forward main gun batteries; the later conversions (CG) were 'double-enders' which eliminated the main guns. In 1975 the surviving 'single enders' would be reclassified as CG even though they retained their guns.
Long Beach class
Following the conversion of the Albany class, all guided missile cruisers would be built on 'destroyer hulls'; the pre-1975 ships were originally classified as destroyers (DDG) or as destroyer leaders (DLG) and termed 'frigates' before reclassification as cruisers.
The CSGN class, a proposed nuclear-powered Aegis strike cruiser, canceled unnamed and unnumbered; this was the sole proposal since 1961 to use 'cruiser hull' standards in a ship designated 'cruiser'.
The Ticonderoga class ships were originally planned as Aegis guided missile destroyers - they were built on Spruance class destroyer hulls - but were then reclassed as cruisers.
Ticonderoga class with the Mark 26 missile launch system
Ticonderoga class with the Vertical Launch System (VLS)
The CG(X) class was intended to apply the same technology used in the Zumwalt-class destroyers within a larger hull, nuclear power was a consideration, but was canceled unbuilt and unnamed.
Further information: Nuclear-powered cruisers of the United States Navy
To date all nuclear cruisers have been guided missile cruisers.
Long Beach class
Names without links were not completed, or completed as aircraft carriers.