NEWPORT NEWS' final full year of service began with the ship moored in its homeport, Norfolk VA. Commanding Officer was Captain R.T. Kelly; Executive Officer Commander R.R. Briner.
Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force (Atlantic), General Robert S. Nixon, USAF visited the ship 7 January to confer with Commander SECOND FLEET Vice Admiral John G. Finneran. On 15JAN Ship's Chaplain Lieutenant Commander James D. Pfannenstiel conducted a brief memorial service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Also on the 15th, 3"/50 caliber mounts 33 and 34 were removed from their gun-tubs. Thus the last of the original 12 3"/50 caliber mounts were permanently removed from the ship. Three-inch directors 39 and 310 were also removed the same day. NEWPORT NEWS got underway for Newport, RI, on the 18th. After a brief delay due to low water in a boiler, the ship exited Hampton Roads and proceeded to Newport. General Quarters for training was held in the late afternoon. NEWPORT NEWS arrived in Newport, mooring at Pier 2, Berth BBB at 1330 on the 19th. During the week-long stay at the Naval Station members of the SECOND FLEET staff and ship's company participated in the ESTABLISH CONTACT 5 war games at the Naval War College, and attended special classes of instruction. The ship got underway for Norfolk on the 26th, arriving at Pier 7 on the 27th. Beginning the 28th, NEWPORT NEWS conducted a "fast cruise," COMBATSYSTRAEX 1-74. The next four and a half days were spent on specialized training and General Quarters drills; a necessary task in the face of reduced steaming time. Twenty-nine January marked the ship's 25th commissioning anniversary.
NEWPORT NEWS' 25th commissioning anniversary was recognized 1 February in a fantail ceremony featuring guests Vadm Finneran and Commander Cruiser Destroyer Force Atlantic Radm Ralph S. Wentworth. Included in the morning festivities were the citing of NEWPORT NEWS' Sailor of the Year Hospital Corpsman Second Class Gregory A. McCaulley, and a cake-cutting by the youngest, oldest, and longest continuous service crewmembers of the ship. Fifteen February NEWPORT NEWS was underway for the ammunition anchorage in Hampton Roads, onloading ammunition in the afternoon and returning to Pier 7 the same day. The activity was repeated the 19th, and the ship returned to pierside at 1454 the same day. February 20th NEWPORT NEWS got underway for Port Everglades, Florida. General Quarters was held during the afternoon; NEWPORT NEWS arrived at Pier 20 Port Everglades on the morning of the 22nd. During the evening of that day a "Fos'cle Frolic" was held by embarked Commander SECOND FLEET for area Navy League members and other special guests. NEWPORT NEWS' stay at the Fort Lauderdale port was marked by general visiting from 1300-1600 the 23rd and 24th. Shortly after 0900 the 25th NEWPORT NEWS was underway for Vieques Island. General Quarters drills were held the 26th and 27th to prepare the crew for the upcoming gunfire support qualification off the Puerto Rican island. February 28th NEWPORT NEWS commenced a daylong General Quarters for the qualifying shoot at 0837. Eight-inch and 5-inch gunfire continued throughout the day, securing at 2308.
Gunfire qualification was finished the morning of the 1st, from 0531 to 0922. Once General Quarters secured the ship was underway for Roosevelt Road; arriving and mooring at Pier 3 at 1037. USS COONTZ (DLG 9) and USS BIDDLE (DLG 34) moored outboard alongside NEWPORT NEWS later in the day. During the three day inport period the superstructure and much of the hull were painted out. The ship was again underway at 1318 the 14th, for Operation SAFE PASS. SAFE PASS was a combined NATO forces exercise involving sea transit and control activities along the East Coast; it covered the period 4-13MAR. On the 6th NEWPORT NEWS refueled from USS CALOOSAHATCHEE (AO 98) from 0416-0700, and highlined personnel from 0700-0720. The ship also stood by that morning to participate in a SINKEX of the ex-USS WILLET (DE 354), but the escort was sent to the bottom by the first column of ships. On the tenth a fantail cookout was held from 1500-1730; on the morning of the 14th the ship pulled into Pier 7, Norfolk. NEWPORT NEWS was designated host ship for the British helicopter cruiser HMS BLAKE (C 99) from the 14th through the 18th. Sports and entertainment activities were undertaken jointly by crewmembers of the ships, and command visited exchanged. NEWPORT NEWS attempted to get underway for ISE/VACATES on the 25th, but a freak snowstorm so reduced visibility that the ship did not get underway. On the morning of the 26th the ship successfully steamed out, beginning three days of General Quarters drills and firing exercises. Unique of this period at sea was that the ship was underway without Commander SECOND FLEET embarked. Upon completion of the training cruise, NEWPORT NEWS returned to Pier 7 at 1010 the 29th.
NEWPORT NEWS NEWPORT NEWS was at the Hampton Roads ammunition anchorage from the 2nd through 3rd to offload the remaining 3" rounds, and onload 5-inch and 8-inch ammunition. The ship returned pierside at 1730 the 3rd, where it remained until the 29th. On 10 April Seaman Larry Smith, 3RD Division, captured the All-Navy 132-pound lightweight boxing title. He went on to box at the Interservice competition at Fort Bragg, North Carolina the latter part of the month. From 15-18 April officers from USS PUGET SOUND (AD 38) conducted a Military Readiness Inspection. The MRI critique was held the 18th, followed by a personnel inspection the 19th by Captain Kelly and Cdr Briner. On the 28th the 21st Azalea Queen, Francesca Tonarelli of Italy, visited NEWPORT NEWS with COMSECONDFLT escorts. NEWPORT NEWS was underway 29APR for LANTREDEX 3-74. On the following day the ship practiced vertical replenishment and ammunition highlining with USS SEATTLE (AOE 3) from 0800-0930.
NEWPORT NEWS NEWPORT NEWS refueled from the USS SEATTLE on the morning of the 2nd, also highlining an ET aboard the oiler. General Quarters was held the 4th during the early evening. Six May the ship took part in a SINKEX of the ex-USS MACKENZIE (DD 614). NEWPORT NEWS' 5-inchbattery scored three direct hits on the tin can, and had many near misses. Engineering casualty control drills were held the 7th, NEWPORT NEWS returned to Pier 7 Norfolk on the 8th at 0821. On 14MAY the ship was underway for Exercise ALOUD UNIFORM, a communications exercise and preparatory operation for SOLID SHIELD 74. On the 15th the ship anchored in Onslow Bay, NC, and General Quarters was held during the afternoon. On the 16th NEWPORT NEWS weighed anchor and was underway for Norfolk, arriving the 17th at 0856 at Pier 7. On the 27th the ship was again underway for Onslow Bay, holding a General Quarters drill from 1530-1612. NEWPORT NEWS anchored in the bay from 0709 to 1855 the 18th for "D" Day rehearsal; spending the remainder of the day cruising the coastline. On 30MAY the ship returned to Onslow Bay, anchoring at 2117. "H" Day, 31MAY, saw a visit by Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Admiral Ralph W. Cousins from 1101-1300. Also visiting the Joint Task Force 122 flagship was Jack L. Bowers, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Logistics and Installations.
Three June NEWPORT NEWS got underway for Norfolk at 1459. The ship arrived at Pier 7 and moored at 0922 the 4th. From 10-14June another fast cruise was conducted. COMBATSYSTRAEX 3-74 began with General Quarters drills on the 10th and 13th, and included a nuclear drill on the latter day. On 20JUN NEWPORT NEWS departed Norfolk for its last portcall in New York City, arriving there at 0840 the 21st. NEWPORT NEWS moored at Pier 94, Cunard Lines Terminal. COMSECONDFLT held another Fos'cle Frolic that evening, with various military and civilian dignitaries and embarked midshipmen as guests. General visiting was held from 1300-1600 the 22nd and 23rd; and some 15,000 visitors came aboard the flagship. Monday morning, the 24th, NEWPORT NEWS departed New York City for Norfolk, arriving the 25th at 0909.
NEWPORT NEWS NEWPORT NEWS remained inport at Pier 7 the entire month of July. The most significant event during the month was the Turret II memorial dedication at the Mariners Museum in NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia. On the morning of the 12th, crewmembers from the ship's last Viet Nam Deployment and guests, including families of the deceased, Commanding Officer and Ship;s Chaplain during the deployment, Captain Walter F. Zartman and Chaplain (Commander) John McElroy, and VADM Finneran and NEWPORT NEWS Mayor Harry Atkinson, assembled for the ceremony. Following remarks by Capt. Kelly and VADM Finneran, Capt. Zartman and Master Chief Personnelman William M. Keough (Master Chief Petty Officer of the Command) unveiled the bronze plaque commemorating the sacrifice of 20 NEWPORT NEWSmen killed in the Turret II explosion 1October 1972. The monument to the service of the crewmen is now a permanent part of the Mariners Museum.
On the 8th of August NEWPORT NEWS' final dependents' cruise was held. The ship spent about half a day steaming along the Virginia coastline with 750 dependents and friends of the crew. On the 12th NEWPORT NEWS shifted berths to Pier 12, and Berth 122, to prepare for the COMSECONDFLT Change of Command on the 14th. On that day, Vice Admiral Stansfield Turner relieved VADM Finneran onboard the carrier USS AMERICA (CVA 66) at Pier 12. At 1635 on the 15th the ship returned to its regular berth at Pier 7. During the month NEWPORT NEWS received notification of its winning Efficiency "E's" in the following categories: Combat Information Center/Operations, Gunnery Systems, Engineering, Damage Control and Communications. It marked the second consecutive year the ship received a Communications E.
NEWPORT NEWS NEWPORT NEWS departed Norfolk on its last NATO cruise the 6th, participating during the period 6-16SEP in a Sea Control Transit. General Quarters was conducted the 7th for firing the secondary battery, and a towing exercise was conducted with USS MCCLOY (DE1038). NEWPORT NEWS' first refueling with USS SAVANNAH on the 11th was done concurrently with USS AMERICA. NEWPORT NEWS pulled alongside the oiler, already refueling the carrier, and refueled and highlined personnel during the morning. On the 12th, General Quarters was called away for firing the main and secondary batteries. The ship began its participation in Exercise NORTHERN MERGER from 16-26SEP. A combined NATO forces exercise, NORTHER MERGER was staged in the North Atlantic and coastal waters of Denmark. The ship refueled again on the morning of the 16th. Stiff winds and heavy seas forced NEWPORT NEWS and the SAVANNAH to discontinue efforts to refuel up wind. After changing to a down wind course refueling was again commenced in the afternoon. The forward fueling station experienced an oil spill during the afternoon refueling; a coupling parted, pouring oil over the Mount 51 platform and main deck. The spill was quickly washed down and decks cleaned by members of the Deck Force with hardly a trace remaining by the end of the day. Two more refuelings were conducted with the SAVANNAH, on the 22nd and 25th. General Quarters was called away the 23rd for a demonstration of Turret I for the carrier AMERICA. On 26SEP NEWPORT NEWS detached from NORTHERN MERGER and proceeded to Oslo, Norway, arriving at Akershus South Pier the morning of the 27th. After a three day portcall, the ship departed Oslo at 1406 the 30th for Copenhagen, Denmark.
NEWPORT NEWS NEWPORT NEWS moored at Pier Kovenhavn in Copenhagen 1OCT at 0947. Shortly after the ship's arrival, USS DEWEY (DLG 14) tied up alongside. NEWPORT NEWS' portcall included a critique of Exercise NORTHERN MERGER, and marked the largest naval gathering in the city since the visit of the British Fleet in 1807. On 5 October the ship was underway for Amsterdam, Netherlands. At 0541 the 7th, NEWPORT NEWS entered North Lock, and was again underway at 0627. At 0857 she moored starboard side to Oosteliske Pier. General visiting was conducted the 8th and 9th, from 1300-1600. NEWPORT NEWS departed Amsterdam for Portsmouth, England on the 10th. On the 11th at 0840 the ship commenced a 21-gun salute, which was answered by the British at HMS DOLPHIN, and followed by another 17-gun salute from NEWPORT NEWS. At 0913 the ship moored at South Railway Jetty, HMS VICTORY. On the 11th the ship celebrated Navy Birthday with special guests VADM TURNER and Miss Southsea, Ms. Gaye Hopkins. Commendations were read to four NEWPORT NEWSmen, and cake cutting conducted. NEWPORT NEWS was again underway the 14th, proceeding to Lisbon, Portugal. General Quarters was held enroute the 16th, and the ship arrived at Cais da Rochas at 0822 the 17th. On the 18th NEWPORT NEWS shifted to anchorage in the harbor, where it remained until the 20th. The transit back commenced on the 20th, dominated by General Quarters drills for firing and other at-sea activities. General Quarters drills were held the 21st through 26th, and 28th. The final GQ also marked the last firing of NEWPORT NEWS' main and secondary armaments. The ship also highlined personnel to USS SARSFIELD (DD 837) and refueled from USS SAVANNAH on the 24th, and staged a full power trial at 30.9 knots the 25th. Leapfrog drills were conducted the 23rd, 25th, 26th and 29th with various ships and a final fantail cookout was held the 27th. NEWPORT NEWS' return to Norfolk was marked by the embarkation (via helo) of NEWPORT NEWS Mayor Harry Atkinson and members of the press and television corps of Tidewater. Arriving onboard at 0706 the 30th, the mayor and media rode the ship to Pier 7, where it moored at 0948.
NEWPORT NEWS NEWPORT NEWS remained inport Norfolk the entire months of November and December. On the 6th of December Admiral Samejima (CNO equivalent of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force) visited the ship, touring with Capt. Kelly and other officers. On 13DEC, Capt. Kelly was relieved of command by his Executive Officer Captain R.R. Briner. Capt. Briner was frocked for his new billet. VADM Turner was guest speaker at the ceremony which saw NEWPORT NEWS receive its 24th and last Captain. Capt. Kelly departed afterwards for duty with the staff of CINCLANTFLT.