USS South Carolina (CGN-37)

USS South Carolina (CGN-37)

USS "South Carolina" (CGN-37) was the second ship of the "California"-class of nuclear powered guided missile cruisers in the United States Navy.

The USS "South Carolina" and her sister ship the USS|California|CGN-36|6 were equipped with two Mk-13 launchers, fore and aft, for the "Standard" surface-to-air missiles, ASROC missiles, and Harpoon missiles. They were equipped with two 5" rapid-fire cannons, fore and aft. Unlike the later "Virginia" class which had a unique arrangement aft of the superstructure, with a flight deck and a below-decks hangar for two LAMPS helicopters, these two cruisers had only a landing pad aft and basic refuelling equipment. There was also a full suite of anti-submarine warfare equipment. Thus, these ships were designed to face all threats, in the air, on the surface, and underwater.


"South Carolina" was launched in July 1 1972 and commissioned as DLGN-37 in January 25 1975. She was redesignated CGN-37 six months later in the Navy's major type realignment of June 30 1975. "South Carolina" was built at Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Virginia.

The cruiser's first North Atlantic deployment was to the USS|Nimitz|CVN-68|6 Battle Group. After "South Carolina" participated in Exercise Solid Shield in the Caribbean and completed her first Mediterranean deployment in February 1977. The "South Carolina" in company with her sister ship, USS|California|CGN-36|2, and "Nimitz" commenced a second Mediterranean deployment in November 1977 and returned to Norfolk, Virginia in July 1978.

"South Carolina" deployed again to the Mediterranean in January 1979 with the USS|Dwight D. Eisenhower|CVN-69|2 Battle Group.


In 1980, "South Carolina" deployed as part of the first Atlantic battle group to spend an entire deployment in the Indian Ocean. After a cruise to the Virgin Islands in November 1981, she was deployed in January 1982 for a six month deployment with "Eisenhower".

In 1985, "South Carolina" began a new year by conducting preparatory exercises in the Caribbean. It was deployed to the Mediterranean in March and completed the deployment seven months and 46,500 miles later. "South Carolina" spent the majority of the deployment on station off Lebanon, in the wake of the hijacking of TWA Flight 847. The cruiser underwent her second extended maintenance period from October 1985 to June 1986. She departed in July 1986 for a North Atlantic cruise, and made port visits to Wilhelmshaven, Germany and Oslo, Norway. Upon her return to Norfolk, she commenced preparations for overseas deployment and got underway on December 30 1986 with the "Nimitz" Battle Group. During this deployment, "South Carolina" returned to her station off Lebanon when British peace emissary Terry Waite was kidnapped in Beirut. In June 1987, just months after the USS Stark (FFG-31) was struck by Iraqi missiles, "South Carolina" was involved in a tense standoff with Libyan jets in the Gulf of Sidra. A major incident was averted by the use of high powered electronic warfare equipment to jam the jet's radars and Libya fired back only with diplomatic protest.

She conducted joint exercises, entered the Arctic Circle where crew members became a member of the "Order of the Blue Nose", and had a port visit to Wilhelmshaven, Germany. She returned home in October, 1988 to make final preparations for deployment.

"South Carolina" deployed to the Mediterranean in December 1988 with the USS|Theodore Roosevelt|CVN-71|2 Battle Group. During this deployment, helicopters from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron NINE (HS-9) teamed up to rescue the fifteen British crew members from four yachts disabled by heavy weather. [ CVN-71 Ship History 1989] The crew members' rescue was broadcast on television in France, Italy and the United Kingdom, and reported worldwide in newspapers. It returned to Norfolk on June 30 1989, and began a four month availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard following a one month Caribbean visit in support of operations with USS|Forrestal|CV-59|2.


"South Carolina" departed January 5 1990 for Limited Team Training in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The cruiser again set sail for the Caribbean on March 12 1990 for law enforcement operations returning on April 13 1990 having acted as Coast Guard, COMCARIBRON flagship and making two drug interdictions. "South Carolina" returned to the Caribbean in July for counter narcotics operations, where she served as flagship for Commander, Joint Task Group 4 and COMCARIBRON.

"South Carolina" departed October 1 1990 for operations with the USS|Saratoga|CV-60|2 Battle Group. Following a solo trans-Atlantic crossing, she transited the Suez Canal for the first time in her history. During Operation Desert Shield, she served as flagship for COMDESRON 24, the Maritime Interdiction Force Commander in the northern Red Sea. "South Carolina" conducted twenty-seven boardings during Maritime Interdiction Force operations. Admiral Frank Kelso, Chief of Naval Operations, visited the "South Carolina" on station November 7 1990.

Upon completion of Maritime Interdiction Force operations, "South Carolina" was selected as the first nuclear powered warship to visit the Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In January 1991 the "South Carolina" participated in operations in the Central Mediterranean with the "Theodore Roosevelt" and USS|America|CV-66|2 Battle Groups.

It sortied early from Taranto, in Italy January 17 1991 at the start of Operation Desert Storm. "South Carolina" acted as an Anti-Air Warfare Commander for the Mediterranean, protecting operation Silver Cloud air corridors and the approaches to the Suez Canal. "South Carolina" acted as on-scene commander and supervised the recovery of four survivors and 29 bodies from the sinking merchant ship "Continental Lotus". "South Carolina" returned to homeport on March 28 1991. "South Carolina" entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a Combat System New Threat Upgrade and refueling of both reactors and left the shipyard March 30 1994 with a new lease on life.

Following nuclear refueling, she participated in "Operation Able Vigil Forces" to assist in the rescue and transport of thousands of Cuban migrants; its crew members were awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal.

"South Carolina"'s first post-refueling deployment was to the Straits of Florida during October and November 1994 to rescue Cuban refugees who were fleeing their homeland in hopes of reaching the United States. "South Carolina" commenced workups in the spring in preparations for her next major deployment.

In the fall of 1995, she started her eleventh deployment. This cruise saw service off the coast of the former republics of Yugoslavia in support of Operations Deny Flight, Sharp Guard, and Decisive Endeavor, which was part of the overall NATO Operation Joint Endeavor. "South Carolina" acted as "Red Crown" and Air Warfare Commander in the Adriatic Sea, earning the NATO Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and Armed Forces Service Medals. "South Carolina" returned to homeport in the spring of 1996. "South Carolina" completed all unit work-up phases and began fleet operations with the USS|George Washington|CVN-73|2 Battle Group in the spring of 1997. From April to June 1997 "South Carolina" conducted a COMPTUEX with the "George Washington" Battle Group coordinating and acting as Air Warfare Commander for the largest and most successful surface-to-air missile exercise in the Atlantic fleet. In August 1997, "South Carolina" participated in Fleetex and completed all preparations for deployment.

In October 1997, the cruiser began its final Mediterranean cruise visiting thirteen ports of call from Haifa, Israel to Naples, Italy and Rota, Spain. She served as the Sixth Fleet Air Warfare Commander and participated in three major NATO exercises. The ship returned to homeport Norfolk in April 1998. Just weeks after returning from the Mediterranean, "South Carolina" returned to sea for six weeks of Counter Narcotics operations in the South Western Caribbean.

The ship conducted its final port visit in Charleston, South Carolina between 10 August and 14 August 1998. "South Carolina" was deactivated on 4 September 1998 The last of the crew left in July 1999, with the exception of a small contingent to escort her through the Panama Canal and to Bremerton, WA where she entered the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on 1 October 1999. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 July 1999, and on 28 March 2000 ceased to exist.

Presently she is drydocked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard going through the process of being cut up. Her keel landed on the resting blocks in Drydock #3 in October 2007 to complete the process.

Unit awards

The USS "South Carolina" (CGN-37) and its crew members have received the following awards for the specified dates of services (listed in order of precedence of the award): [ CAROLINA CGN 37&Return=javascript:window.close() Awards.Navy.Mil : Unit Query]

;Joint Meritorious Unit Award
* 15 August 199012 October 1990;Navy Unit Commendation
* 17 January 199128 February 1991;Coast Guard Unit Commendation
* 19 August 199423 September 1994 (participating personnel in OPERATION ABLE VIGIL FORCES);Meritorious Unit Commendation (2 service stars)
* 29 April 1980 - 10 December 1980
* 25 August 1995 - 24 February 1996 (part of America Battle Group);Battle Efficiency Award (2 service stars)
* 1 January 199331 December 1993
* 1 January 199631 December 1996;Navy Expeditionary Medal
* 29 April 19808 December 1980;Armed Forces Service Medal
* 9 September 1995* – 24 September 1995 (*one award multiple dates)
* 1 October 1995* – 17 October 1995
* 26 October 1995* – 12 November 1995
* 24 November 1995* – 30 November 1995
* 14 January 19965 February 1996;Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
* 11 deployments;Southwest Asia Service Medal (1 campaign star)
* 23 October 199011 December 1990;Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon (2 service stars)
* 21 February 199025 March 1990
* 10 May 199018 June 1990


External links

* [ "South Carolina"]
* [ "South Carolina"]
* [ "South Carolina"]
* [ USS "South Carolina"]

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