The year began with USS NEWPORT NEWS (CA-148) in its homeport Norfolk, in standdown period following return on 24DEC72 from its third Viet Nam deployment. Commanding Officer was Captain Walter F. Zartman and Executive Officer Commander Robert M. Leverone.
CDR Leverone was relieved as Executive Officer by Commander Robert R. Briner on 4JAN. The ship returned to flagship status on 18JAN when the admiral's flag was broken and Commander SECOND FLEET Vice Admiral John G. Finneran embarked.
Twenty-six January at 1000 a special ceremony was conducted to recognize the events significant to NEWPORT NEWS. Thirty-two award recipients from the damage control efforts following the 1OCT72 Turret II explosion were cited for their actions. Additionally, NEWPORT NEWS received the Battle Efficiency "E" for CIC/Operations for Fiscal Year 1972. And the occasion marked the 24th commissioning anniversary of NEWPORT NEWS. COMSECONDFLT VADM Finneran was guest speaker at the ceremony.
(Twenty-nine January is the official anniversary of NEWPORT NEWS.)
NEWPORT NEWS sailed for Charleston, South Carolina on 5FEB after rearming at anchor in Norfolk. General Quarters and engineering drills for training and on-station qualification were held enroute. The ship arrived in Charleston on 7FEB to allow COMSECONDFLT to attend a NATO conference with British representatives and spent five days in port.
On 12FEB NEWPORT NEWS steamed south for training and several days of drills off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. The ship returned to Pier 7, Norfolk on 16FEB, where it remained for the rest of the month.
March saw the beginning of special tours and guests visiting the ship. Senator Walter F. Mondale (Minnesota) visited the ship for orientation on 3March.
An Operational Readiness Inspection, conducted by Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla EIGHT, was combined with the command control and communications exercise ALOUD PAPA from 19-23March. NEWPORT NEWS sailed to Onslow Bay, NC conducting drills enroute. COMCRUDESFLOT EIGHT inspected the ship two days during the underway period, presenting their critique on 23March.
After a four day turn-around in Norfolk, NEWPORT NEWS again went south for Operation EXOTIC DANCER VI, also held in Onslow Bay. With NEWPORT NEWS as his flagship, COMSECONDFLT VADM Finneran assumed command of Joint Task Force 122 for initial invasion operations by airborne and amphibious assault units. NEWPORT NEWS was underway from 27MAR-5APR.
Special guests during the operation included Dr. Eberhardt Rechtin (assistant Secretary of Defense for Telecommunications) and Tobert D. Nesen (Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management). Senior officers of the combined services and 20 members of the press were flown onboard for conferences and tours of the ship.
From 9-13APR an Administrative Inspection was conducted. At 1400 on 12 April a personnel inspection was conducted by Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla EIGHT Rear Admiral Denis J.J. Downey, and the next day he presided over the Administrative Inspection Critique.
Additional recipients of awards, medals and commendations from the 1972 Viet Nam Deployment were recognized on 27APR in a morning ceremony during which 124 NEWPORT NEWSmen were cited. VADM Finneran was the principal speaker.
The Board of Inspection and Survey commenced its inspection of NEWPORT NEWS on 30APR. The INSURV continued through the first four days of May and a critique was held on 4May. Capt Zartman presented Commanding Officer Letters of Commendation for Viet Nam 1972 performance to various departments of the ship on 8 and 11 May. Captain R.T. Kelly reported onboard as Prospective Commanding Officer on 13May.
On 17MAY NEWPORT NEWS shifted from Pier 7 to Pier 12, joining USS INDEPENDENCE (CVA 62) and USS GUAM (LPH 9) for President Richard M. Nixon's Armed Forces Day speech. Also on the 17th, eight NEWPORT NEWS petty officers were frocked as chief petty officers.
On Armed Forces Day (19MAY) all hands fell in at quarters at 1300 and President Nixon spoke to a crowd of 20,000 at 1400. General visiting commenced at 1515 until 1700.
On 21MAY Capt Kelly relieved Capt Zartman as Commanding Officer. VADM Finneran was principal speaker at the ceremony.
NEWPORT NEWS hosted the FNS COLBERT (C 611) during the weekend of the 26-27th. COMSECONDFLT and staff exchanged calls with French Atlantic Fleet Vice Admiral Jean R. Cuillot (AESCLANT) and his staff. Capt Kelly and the Commanding Officer of the cruiser also exchanged calls on the 25th, and general visiting was extended to the crewmen of both ships.
First and Third Class Midshipmen embarked NEWPORT NEWS (along with two First Class Iranian Midshipmen) on 27MAY for underway training during LANTREDEX 3-73. They debarked the ship upon arrival in Norfolk on 22June.
On 29MAY NEWPORT NEWS steamed south for LANTREDEX 3-73 and port visits in Roosevelt Roads and San Juan, Puerto Rico and New York City. Damage control drills and General Quarters were held during the transit and NEWPORT NEWS refueled from USS NEOSHO (AO 143) on the 31st.
On 3 June NEWPORT NEWS joined the task force for SINKEX, firing upon the ex-USS GHERARDI (DD 637). The ship arrived in Roosevelt Roads for a two day port call on the 6th. On the 8th NEWPORT NEWS sailed for San Juan, to stay through the 11th. During general visiting on the 10th, more that 4,100 visitors toured the ship in little more than 3 hours. On 11JUN NEWPORT NEWS transitted to New York City, arriving on the 15th. General Quarters, firing and engineering drills were held enroute.
On 15JUN NEWPORT NEWS berthed at Pier 94, Cunard Lines, and received Miss Summer Festival New York, Sheila King. Miss King toured the ship in company with 10 ship's representatives, and was presented several mementos by Capt Kelly. At 2000 the COMSECONDFLT Fos'cle Frolic commenced, providing an evening of entertainment for Navy League members and other distinguished civilian guests as well as NEWPORT NEWS accompanying Midshipmen. COMSECONDFLT staff and NEWPORT NEWS officers hosted the festivities.
During the 16th and 17th general visiting and special tours were conducted daily. NEWPORT NEWS departed New York on 18June and anchored for ammunition offloading in Norfolk on the 19th in preparation for Restricted Availability (RAV). Offloading was completed on the 22nd and the ship returned to Pier 7 for the remainder of the month.
On 30JUN a group of Black media members toured the ship. Coming primarily to cover commissioning of USS MILLER (DE 1091), several of the members of the group were quartered aboard NEWPORT NEWS during their stay in Norfolk.
Thirteen July NEWPORT NEWS was awarded its second Navy Unit Commendation, presented to Capt Kelly by VADM Finneran on behalf of Secretary of the Navy John W. Warner at a ceremony which was also attended by Capt Zartman, who had been Commanding Officer for the 1972 Viet Nam deployment, during which the award was earned. Also on the 13th, Jens-Bilgrad Neilson, member Danish Parliament and Defense Committee, toured the ship.
Bethlehem Steel (Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Division) in Baltimore, MD was chosen as site of NEWPORT NEWS drydocking during RAV (17July through 17August) for maintenance of boilers, propellers, shafts and hull. NEWPORT NEWS sailed to Baltimore on the 17th, berthing in the Bethlehem yards at 1912.
From 23JUL to 7AUG the ship was in drydock. The hull was sandblasted and painted from waterline to keel and extensive work was done on the sea valves.
NEWPORT NEWS completed its Baltimore yard period and transitted to Norfolk on the 9th of August, rearming at Pier 7 until the 27th, when it shifted to the ammunition anchorage in the harbor. Ammunition onloading took place form the 27th through the 29th, with the ship returning to Pier 7 on the 29th at 1828.
NEWPORT NEWS sailed on a predeployment trial, steaming to the VACATES operational area for two days of drills and firing, covering 4-7SEP. After onloading ammunition at anchor 7 September, NEWPORT NEWS returned to Pier 7 until the 18th, departure date for the NATO cruise.
Prior to departing on the 18th, Dave Rosenberg (NAVPERS) staged two presentations for NEWPORT NEWSmen at the Naval Station theater, on the 12th and 13th. This was an effective three hour orientation for the crew on some of the things they could expect during liberty by way of food, customs, sights and conduct.
On 18September NEWPORT NEWS sailed for Portsmouth, England, first of five ports visited on the NATO cruise. RADM Bernard BV. Forbes, prospective Commander Carrier Group SIX embarked with VADM Finneran and his staff. During the transit General Quarters was held for gunnery firing and damage control drills on the 20th and a personnel inspection was conducted on the 24th.
NEWPORT NEWS arrived in Portsmouth on the 26th to stay through the 29th. At 1435 on the 29th NEWPORT NEWS sailed through the English Channel into the North Sea for the NATO exercise SWIFT MOVE.
SWIFT MOVE was headed by VADM Finneran embarked on NEWPORT NEWS as Commander Striking Fleet Atlantic. SWIFT MOVE comprised more than 31 ships, 19,000 men and 250 aircraft from NATO member nations.
On 1OCT a brief memorial service was conducted over the 1MC by Chaplain (Lieutenant Commander) James D. Pfannenstiel for the 20 killed in the Turret II explosion one year earlier. A rifle salute was fired by the Marine Detachment and taps was sounded from the bridge.
NEWPORT NEWS refueled from USS CALOOSAHATCHEE (AO 98) on the 3rd and 7th, and the ship crossed the Arctic Circle (for the second time in three years) on the 4th.
During the exercise a Soviet Kanin class guided missile destroyer (BOIKII) experienced a fire onboard and jettisoned a torpedo to prevent further explosions and damage. NEWPORT NEWS closed at 25 knots and signaled its availability for assistance and manpower, but the Soviet ship declined.
NEWPORT NEWS chopped from SWIFT MOVE 8OCT and proceeded to Oslo, Norway for arrival 10 October. During entry into Oslo Harbor, while firing salutes, an explosion was experienced in the starboard salute battery. Injured in the blast at 0846 were: Lieutenant Commander F. Paul Brouwer (WEPS Officer), CWO3 Ronald "S" Plourde (Chief Ordnance Control Technician), CWO2 Sam A. Cosenza (Chief Surface Ordnance Technician), Gunner's Mate Second Class Thomas J. Lawrence (5th Division) and Seaman Freddy M. Jones (5th Division). The injured were initially treated onboard, and later removed to a local Oslo hospital for observation ad further treatment.
On 12 October King Olav V of Norway visited the ship. The Marine Detachment drill team performed for the King, and the crew and officers manned the rail in honor of the visiting head-of-state. General visiting commenced about 1400 until 1600.
Navy Day was celebrated on the 13th with a special morning ceremony on the forecastle. VADM and Mrs. Finneran, RADM Forbes and RADM R.D. Lygo, RN, Flag Officer Carriers and Amphibious Ships (United Kingdom) and Eine Valle, Miss Norway, were among the special guests. VADM Finneran and Capt. Kelly spoke at the ceremony and one officer and six chiefs were frocked. Highlighting the observance was a cake cutting by Miss Norway and the youngest (Fireman Apprentice James Parker) and oldest (Senior Chief signalman Lester Garringer) crewmen onboard NEWPORT NEWS. General visiting, which commenced at 1300-1600, saw several thousand interested visitors come aboard.
General visiting was also conducted on the 14th, and at 0900 15OCT Ensign William J. Saller painted the traditional Blue Nose on NEWPORT NEWS' bullnoses, signifying the ship had crossed the Arctic Circle. At 1600 NEWPORT NEWS departed Oslo for Copenhagen, Denmark. NEWPORT NEWS arrived at Langelinie Pier on the 16th for a four day port call in the Danish capital. General visiting and special tours were conducted daily. RADM Forbes departed the ship in Copenhagen.
NEWPORT NEWS departed Copenhagen for Rotterdam, Netherlands on 20 October, arriving in Rotterdam on 22OCT at 0900. During the port call the Marine Detachment drill team performed on the pier daily, and general visiting and special tours were conducted daily. Prior to commencement of general visiting on the 25th, the crew and officers manned the rail at 1545 in honor of the Netherland's Queen Juliana and President Leone of Italy as they passed by in one of the Rotterdam "Spido" boats. Upon completion of honors general visiting commenced. NEWPORT NEWS departed Rotterdam for its last port, Lisbon, Portugal, at 0700 the next day.
During the transit the first fantail cookout for 1973 was conducted on Sunday 28OCT. NEWPORT NEWS combos provided a lighter side to the afternoon.
The ship arrived in Lisbon and moored at 0802 on the 29th. To allow a passenger liner to offload passengers NEWPORT NEWS shifted to anchorage in the harbor on the 30th, returning pierside on the 31st.
NEWPORT NEWS's last day in Lisbon was also All Saints Day, a Portuguese National Holiday. On 2 November the ship departed Lisbon for Norfolk at 0700.
The trans-Atlantic crossing was made under generally difficult conditions with seas at 15 feet and winds from 25-35 knots. On 8 November NEWPORT NEWS moored at Pier 7 at 1100 in Norfolk.
Upkeep and maintenance followed the arrival, continuing through the 26th, when the ship departed Norfolk for LANTREDEX 2-74. During the underway period (26NOV-5DEC) General Quarters drills and gunnery firing and engineering exercises were conducted.
NEWPORT NEWS refueled USS GREEN BAY (PG 101) on 3DEC, and was refueled by USS CANISTEO (AO 99) on the 4th and 5th (from 2325-0130). Prior to refueling from CANISTEO, NEWPORT NEWS participated in SINKEX from 0542-0736. The ex-USS FRANKFORT (DD497) was the target ship. The 5-inch battery performed exceptionally well, particularly the starboard mounts, which had many direct hits and near misses.
NEWPORT NEWS arrived in Roosevelt Roads, PR at 0900 on the 5th. Mayor Charles Stenvig and wife, of Minneapolis, Minnesota came aboard to visit Capt Kelly and their future son-in-law, Seaman Apprentice Michael Taylor (EX Division). The ship remained in port through the 8th, departing for Norfolk that day.
During the Norfolk transit another fantail cookout with ship's musical groups was held, with a talent contest added to the entertainment portion of the 9DEC afternoon.
On 10DEC General Quarters was conducted for nuclear drill and BECCE drills were held. General Quarters was also conducted on the 11th.
Upon arrival in Norfolk on the 12th, holiday leave commenced, allowing up to 50% of the crew to take leave through the Christmas and New Year's period from 12DEC to 10JAN74.
On 15DEC a Christmas party was held at 1300-1430 and 1500-1630 for dependents of NEWPORT NEWS. Quartermaster Seaman Apprentice Philip Buie (NAN Division) was Santa Claus. On the 16th another party was held for dependents of USS COLUMBUS (CG 12), deployed with the SIXTH FLEET, to reciprocate for a similar favor done while NEWPORT NEWS was deployed to Southeast Asia. The remainder of the year was spent in port Norfolk.