|January 1980 Edition of "All
"Six days shalt thou labor and do all thou art able... And on the seventh, holystone the decks and chip the cable," states an old seaman's catechism. The deck crew of USS Olkahoma City (CG-5) - decommissioned last month in San Diego was perhaps the last in the U.S. Navy to know the full force of those words.
The cruiser's main deck was planked almost entirely with teakwood. "Holystoning," the method of cleaning the decks with a long stick, a piece of "firebrick" (pumice used to insulate the ship's boilers), and plenty of scraping, is now only a memory to the some 550 officers and enlisted men who were with Oklahoma City during her final voyage home.
Leaving Yokosuka, Japan, where she participated in the Overseas Family Residence Program since 1968, Oklahoma City returned to the United States in November after conducting her last missile exercises with other Pacific Fleet units.
Oklahoma City was the last ship remaining of the big-gun, World War II type cruisers. She maintained a six-inch turret (the last in the Navy) and a five-inch mount forward. Her modern armament, a TALOS missile launcher aft, was the first such system ever installed and the last TALOS missile system used in the active fleet.
Originally commissioned a light cruiser in December 1944, OOklahoma City joined the 3rd Fleet off Kyushu in time to participate in the Okinawa Campaigh and the bombardment of Japan.
In 1947, the ship was decommissioned and spend over a decade "in mothballs."
With the introduction of guided missile cruisers, Oklahoma City underwent a massive reconstruction which changed her into guided missile light cruiser (then the CLG-5) in 1960.
A year later, she became the first combatant unit of the U.S. Pacific Fleet to successfully fire a TALOS guided missile.
During the Vietnam War, Oklahoma City provided naval gunfire support and served as a missile air defense ship in support of task force operations.
In the waning stages of that war, she participated in Operation Frequent Wind in April 1975. Twelve helicopters, landing on her flight dect alternately, landed 154 U.S. and Vietnamese refugees seeking safety. This action earned Oklahoma City the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Two months later, the proud ship was redesignated guided missile cruiser (CG-5), as part of a redesignation program for certain Navy ships.
As flagship of the 7th Fleet for the past 11 years, Oklahoma City has shown the American flag in countries throughout the Western Pacific. Her crew earned great respect with their voluntary Civic Action Projects. Painting orphanages, repairing homes of senior citizens and planting trees in Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Austrailia were just some of their goodwill projects.
Replacing Oklahoma City as flagship is USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19).