Table of Contents


Operational History









Modern Warfare History

Ship's History

This history has been compiled over time from many sources and edited to present a comprehensive narrative.  The basis of this history, its original structure and format were found on Wikipedia when this website was undergoing it's first construction.  The material on Wikipedia was posted in July/August 2006 and was attributed by Wikipedia to an unregistered IP address.  We have recently been advised that the content was apparently written by shipmate JOSN Tony Bussard (85-87).  There are information bits that would only be known by a shipmate onboard REEVES (e.g. breakaway music) in the mid-80s.

   Many additions and expansions from the original narrative as seen on this website have not been duplicated on Wikipedia.  And, there are many contributors to the Wikipedia version.  Both versions should be read.


The second USS Reeves, named for Admiral Joseph Mason "Bull" Reeves, was a Leahy-class cruiser built by the the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA.

Admiral Reeves was well-known as the "father of carrier aviation."  Starting his career as an engineer in the USS San Francisco (Cruiser No. 5) and the USS Oregon (BB-3) in the Spanish-American War, Admiral Reeves' career evolved through the early day of Naval Aviation and culiminated as Commander In Chief, U.S. Fleet in 1936.  He was recalled to active duty in 1940 for the Department of the Navy, War Board, and served until final retirement in 1946.  Admiral Reeves died in 1948.

Reeves began her history as a Leahy-class
destroyer leader (DLG-24) when her keel was laid down on 1 July 1960. She was launched on 12 May 1962 and commissioned on 15 May 1964. Mrs. Joseph M. Reeves, Jr., daughter-in-law of Admiral Reeves, was the ship's sponsor.

Reeves was later reclassified as a guided missile cruiser (CG-24) on
30 June 1975. On 12 November 1993, Reeves was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy Register at Pearl Harbor Naval Base. Reeves remained in mothballs until she was sunk as a target ship on 31 May 2001.

Reeves Operational History

The 1960s

Following an extended trial and shakedown period, Reeves was homeported at Long Beach where she underwent availability and further training. On 10 April 1965, she departed for her first tour with the 7th Fleet in the western Pacific (WESTPAC). Deployed for just over six months, she operated primarily in support of Allied operations off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam, serving as an anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) picket, first with TG 77.3 built around aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34), then with TG 77.6 centered on aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVA-41). Returning to Long Beach on 3 November 1965, she conducted local operations for the remainder of the year and into 1966. On 26 May 1966, she got underway for Japan and a two-year nonrotated tour with the 7th Fleet. Arriving at her new homeport of Yokosuka on 16 June, she departed shortly thereafter and anchored at Da Nang on 7 July , R.V.N. to begin another tour off the embattled coast. For the next two years, she regularly sailed south from Japan for combat air-sea rescue (CSAR) tours off Vietnam, compiling a total of 493 days underway, 312 of which were spent in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Reeves rotated back to the
United States in August 1968 and operated out of Long Beach for the remainder of the year, participating in local operations, as well as testing and evaluating radar systems. In early 1969, Reeves was ordered to Maine for overhaul and modernization at Bath Iron Works. Arriving on 31 March, she was placed out of commission (special) on 10 April and the extensive modification work began.

The 1970s

Reeves was recommissioned 29 August 1970 at Bath. She spent the period from 10 September - 19 November making the passage from Bath to her new home port at Pearl Harbor. The uncommonly long duration of the passage was due to frequent stops along the way at various ports for additional work to be done and by a three-week refresher training (REFTRA) period in the vicinity of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After arriving at Pearl Harbor, Reeves engaged in numerous exercises and operations in the waters around Hawaii.

June 1971 found Reeves steaming westward for another deployment in the Gulf of Tonkin. Reeves returned to Pearl Harbor on
20 December 1971 and remained in the Hawaii and west coast areas until September 1972 where she participated in various operations and exercises, notably a Midshipman cruise in July. She departed Hawaii on 18 September, headed for her second WESTPAC deployment since recommissioning, arriving at Subic Bay Naval Base, Philippine Islands 14 days later. After six months in the western Pacific, stationed off the coast of Vietnam, Reeves sailed into port at Pearl Harbor on 17 March 1973. She remained in the Hawaiian Islands throughout the 1970's, deploying often to WESTPAC. At the time of cessation of hostilies in Vietnam in 1973, Reeves was assigned to North SAR station, the Naval combatant furtherest north in the Gulf of Tonkin and closest to the North Vietnam coast.  As Task Force 77 withdrew from the Tonkin Gulf over a period of several days, Reeves remained the northern-most ship and became the last combatant to leave the Tonkin Gulf.  Reeves earned three battle stars for Vietnam service.

An extensive overhaul in 1973-1974 at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard (PHNSY) upgraded Reeves' weapon and sensor systems, and restored the engineering plant to newly developed Propulsion Examing Board (PEB) standards.  After extensive work-ups, Reeves passed her first Operational Propulsion Plant Examination (OPPE) in late 1974.  During early 1975, Reeves participated in several fleet exercises and deployment work-ups.  She deployed to WESTPAC in June 1975, where she was reclassified a guided missile cruiser (CG-24), on
30 June 1975 in Subic Bay, RP.

In 1977-1978, Reeves returned to PHNSY for a Harpoon Missile System upgrade and other required maintenance.  In 1979, Reeves set a fleet record during missile firing exercises and made Terrier Missile history by recording 10 hits in 11 attempts.

The 1980s

During most of the 1980s, Reeves was forward deployed permanently to the WESTPAC.  She changed homeport toYokosuka in August 1980. Throughout that period, she served as the AAW picket for Battle Group Alpha centered around Midway (CV-41).  Thoughout the forward deployement, Reeves was underway 70% of the time.  The 30% inport time did not necessarily include her homeport of Yokosuka.

Reeves deployed to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf in December 1980.  After departing the Indian Ocean, Reeves made a port call at Perth, Australia.  She participated in joint exercises (BEACON COMPASS 81-2 and BEACON SOUTH 81) with the Australian and New Zealand Navies, returning to Yokosuka in June 1981.

In September 1981, while deployed to the Philippine Sea, South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand,  Reeves conducted a rescue operation of 79 Vietnamese fleeing Vietnam.  The refugees were transferred to camp in Thailand for further transfer to Singapore and world-wide destinations include the United States.  The Reeves was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for this action.

In October 1982, Reeves underwent a Baseline Overhaul at the Ship Repair Facility in Yokosuka, where she remained for nearly 12 months.  During this overhaul, the latest weapons systems upgrades included the Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) and improvement to surface missile systems.  Following a training and testing period of several months, including a brief return to Hawaiian waters, Reeves rejoined the MIDWAY BATTLE GROUP in June 1984.

In March 1986, she participated in a Team Spirit exercise off the coast of the Republic of Korea. Later that year, Reeves conducted REFTRA in the Philippines which was quickly followed by her involvement in special operations (SPECOPS). SPECOPS consisted of conducting surveillance operations on the Soviet aircraft carrier Minsk off the coast of Vladivostok, which was home to the Soviet Pacific Fleet. During this operation, Reeves blasted either the Bruce Springsteen song "Born in the U.S.A." or Jefferson Starship's "Layin' It On The Line" over the ship's 1MC when in the proximity of Soviet naval vessels.

5 November 1986, Reeves led the USS Rentz (FFG-46) and USS Oldendorf (DD-972) into the harbor of Qingdao (Tsing Tao), the People's Republic of China (PRC) for a historic six-day port visit. This would be the first time that U.S. Navy vessels had moored in China since the repair ship USS Dixie (AD-14) departed in 1949 in the face of the communist advance which forced the evacuation of Americans from China. The visit was hosted by soldiers and sailors of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

During the port call hundreds of Navy men took advantage of several tours, arranged by their Chinese hosts, that included stops at Qingdao's carpet, embroidery, jade and shell factories. Others made it a point to sample the beer at the city's world-renowned Tsingtao brewery. A fortunate few were able to leave the port city on tours to Qufu, birthplace of Confucius, the capital city of Beijing, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall of China.

The port visit was important because it provided visible evidence of growing Sino-American cooperation. Adm. James Lyons, commander of the
United States Pacific Fleet, was embarked in Reeves during the visit. Shortly after arriving in Qingdao, he said there are "three pillars" in the US.-China military relationship-high level visits, military exchanges and a limited amount of military technology cooperation. "I see this port visit as strengthening all three pillars," he said.

Throughout their stay, the crews of the visiting ships held lectures and discussion sessions on Navy shipboard organization, management, training, propulsion, logistics and weapons systems for their Chinese hosts. At the time such navy-to-navy orientations were conducted with many countries. However, this was the Navy's first opportunity for such an exchange with China.

During May 1987, Reeves found herself involved with yet another Team Spirit exercise. Reeves was deployed to the
Persian Gulf from July to December 1987 where she participated in the first of nine Operation Earnest Will tanker reflagging operations beginning on 23 July. Her primary duty was to escort commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz. In March 1988 she was involved again with the Team Spirit exercises.

26 June 1989, Reeves and USS Fife (DD-991) rescued 92 Vietmanese refugees in the South China Sea, about 320 miles southwest of the Philippines. The refugees were pulled from their sinking vessel and provided with medical assistance and other care before being delivered to a United Nations refugee organization in Thailand a week later.

30 October 1989 an F/A-18 Hornet aircraft from Midway mistakenly dropped a 500 pound general-purpose bomb on the deck of Reeves during training exercises in the Indian Ocean, creating a five-foot hole in the bow, sparking small fires, and injuring five sailors. Reeves was 32 miles south of Diego Garcia at the time of the incident.

The 1990s

Reeves returned to Pearl Harbor as her last homeport.  She was involved in several fleet exercises and local operations through Fall 1992.  She made her final voyage to Bremerton, Washington, stopping for the Portland Rose Festival, and then heading back to Hawaiian waters.  In her last year, Reeves was prepared for decommissioning.   

Reeves was decommissioned on 12 November 1993, stricken from the Naval Register and moved to the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility (NISMF), in East Loch (west of Ford Island), Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  She remained moored with a raft of ships where she was stripped of her weapon systems, sensors and furnishings that were still utilized in the active fleet.  Reeves propulsion systems and controls remained miraculously intact as the US Navy had moved away from 1200 psi steam systems to gas turbines 20 years earlier.  During this time, Reeves remained in the inactive fleet.  She was redesignated as a hulk for use in a future Naval exercise.

Fate of Reeves

She was ultimately used as a target ship on 31 May 2001 during a sink exercise (SINKEX) off the coast of Queensland, Australia during a joint U.S and Australian naval exercise. Her final resting place is where she lies at a depth of 2,541 fathoms. Following are two press releases issued in conjunction with the sinking of Reeves.

PACC 162/01 Tuesday,
22 May 2001

"HULKEX" Element of Exercise Rescheduled

ROCKHAMPTON. The HULKEX element of Tandem Thrust 2001 exercise originally scheduled to take place
May 21 has been rescheduled for May 31. HULKEX is the sinking of a decommissioned U.S. Navy cruiser (the Former USS Reeves) as part of combined aerial and surface bombardment training.

Bad weather and high seas delayed the safe and timely delivery of the vessel to its pre-established and environmentally approved target location 175 miles off the coast of Australia.

"Since the safety of our personnel is our number one priority we decided not to rush through this valuable training," said Vice Admiral James Metzger, USN, Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet and Commander, Combined Task Force for Tandem Thrust 2001. "However, to ensure our training objectives can be met, we have rescheduled the event."

31/05/2001 Departmental 176/01

A de-commissioned US Navy war ship was sent to its final resting place today off the coast of Queensland through the precise strike capability of the Royal Australian Air Force's F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft.

The ex-USS Reeves was sent to its watery grave approximately 170 nautical miles east of Fraser Island in 12,000 ft of water. The sinking of the Leahy Class guided missile cruiser was the final military activity in the month-long, combined Australian and United States Exercise Tandem Thrust.

The Hulk Exercise (HULKEX) involved Australian and US air and naval units, though the sinking was credited largely to the four RAAF jets.

"We achieved two direct hits with Mk-82 500lbs bombs, leaving a six foot gaping hole in the starboard side of the hulk," said RAAF Flight Lieutenant Jason Gamlin, who was the lead pilot on the mission.

Just 30 minutes later the 6000-tonne hulk sank below the surface at approximately 12:30pm AEST. The HULKEX was a fitting finale to Exercise Tandem Thrust 2001, providing significant military training value to Australian and US naval and air forces.

The exercise involved aircraft from both the US and Australian Air Forces and ships from the US Navy, firing a variety of guns, bombs and missiles at the hulk in order to test their performance in a simulated battle environment.

The sinking was the culmination of months of planning, including careful environmental analysis through Australian and US environmental certification procedures. The hulk spent several months berthed in Newcastle, New South Wales, where it was stripped of all weapons and cleaned of hazardous substances, then assessed by Environment Australia to confirm suitability for disposal at sea.

The sunken hulk will become a new home for a variety of aquatic life.

Reclassification of Reeves from DLG to CG

In 1975, the "double-end" Leahy-class guided missile destroyer leaders (DLG), populary called Frigates, were reclassified as guide missile cruisers (CG), as were other similar ships. The class was given an AAW upgrade during the late-1960's and early 1970's, with Terrier launchers modified to fire Terrier or Standard SM-1ER missiles. The 3"/50 guns were replaced by Harpoon missile launcher, the Terrier launchers were upgraded to fire the Standard SM-2ER missile, and 2 Phalanx CIWS were added. All were upgraded under the late-1980's New Threat Upgrade (NTU) program, which included combat system capability improvements to the ship's Air Search Radars (SPS-48E and SPS-49), Fire Control Radars (SPG-55B), and Combat Direction System (CDS). These improvements provided an accurate means of coordinating the engagement of multiple air targets with SM-2 Extended Range missiles. During the NTU overhaul, all spaces were renovated, berthing and food service areas were refurbished, and the engineering plant was fully overhauled.

Overhaul History

Reeves underwent four major overhauls over her thirty year history.  Each overhaul added weapons and sensor systems to her arsenal.

In her first overhaul in 1969/1970 at Bath, Maine, Reeves weapons capability was upgraded to handle longer ranged and more recent missiles, and the ability to control four missiles in-flight simulaneously.  The sensor and data handling upgrades matched the improvements in weapons delivery.  She still retained the original two 3"/50 gun emplacements adjacent to the aft missile fire control radars.  This was a significant vulnerability as the guns were basic anti-air warfare weapon relics from World War II.  They could not depress the angle of fire to provide defense for any surface action.  When the guns were fired, the sharp lateral motion of the ship and superstructure inevitably disabled the missile fire control radars.  Thus, Reeves could only engage in surface warfare by incurring a severely degraded air warfare capability.  This defect was quickly recognized by Fleet Commanders who assigned "shotgun" frigates (FF/FFG) to provide surface defense whenever Reeves was stationed on picket duty and susceptible to surface attack.

The second overhaul at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in 1973/1974 was another upgrade to incorporate the latest changes to existing sensors and weapons delivery systems.  The gun systems remained part of the Reeves arsenal.

The third overhaul at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in 1977/1978 partially resolved the gun system problem.  The 3"/50 guns were replaced by Harpoon missile pods.  This finally gave Reeves a true multi-mission capability wherein she could simultaneously fight surface and air engagements, albiet an offensive capacity against larger surface combatants or other large tactical surface targets.  Without any guns (except 50mm machine guns), Reeves was still vulnerable to attacking small craft.

For the Reeves' fourth overhaul at the Ship Repair Facility, Yokuska, Japan, in 1982/1983, the surface warfare roll was finally made adequate.  In this Baseline Overhaul, CIWS was added to her arsenal of weapons.  This provided defense for both small craft attacks and surface-skimming missiles.

In 1993, Reeves underwent her fifth and final overhaul at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard as part of preparation for decommissioning on 12 November 1993.

Role of Reeves

Modern guided missile cruisers, such as Reeves, performed primarily in a Battle Force role. These ships were multi-mission (AAW - anti-air warfare, ASW - anti-submarine warfare, ASUW - anti-surface warfare, CCC - Command, Control & Coordination) surface combatants capable of supporting carrier or battleship battle groups, amphibious forces, or of operating independently and as flagships of surface action groups. Due to their extensive combat capability, these ships were designated as Battle Force Capable (BFC) units.

The Leahy-class frigates were the product of late-1950s ship design.  As such, they were limited by the sensor developments at that point.  Search and fire control radars were state-of-the-art when the first Leahy hull was laid down in 1959.  The technology was founded on World War II combat systems principles:  scan, detect, point, acquire, shoot.  That limited the ability of ships to respond completely to one warfare threat without pulling resources from one mission area to address threats in another mission area.

Advances in Warfare Technology

The advent of phased array radar (AN/SPY-1), as installed on the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), commissioned in 1961, spelled the end of ship classes that relied on the point & shoot technology, however sophisticated and extended that dated technology may have became.  Even with superior detection, tracking and acquistion capabilities, the only way to share information among ships was by voice radio, limited generally to about 20 nautical miles.  That began to change in the early 1960s.

Simultaneously, the first Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS) configured ships, USS King (DLG-10), USS Oriskany (CV-34) and USS Mahan (DLG-11) became operation in 1961 and changed the ability of ships to maintain a comprehensive picture of the entire warfare environment. Grease-boards, vertical plots and other tools were slowly being replaced by multi-capacity consoles, computer symbology and nearly instantaneous update from sensors, analysts and evaluators.  It became possible for ships in a task force to share and coordinate information between Combat Information Centers (CIC).  Ships were linked by UHF or HF radio which passed tactical data between AN/UYK-7 and, later, AN/UYK-20 computers.  Starwars had not yet arrived, but the concept made it to the movies in 1977.

In the 1970s, a great deal of time and resources were spent to broaden accessibility to the tactical picture.  During the early 1970s and the Vietnam War, the first advances were achieved in linking beyond to task force to other military entities, such as Monkey Mountain in Da Nang, NVG, with the USAF.  Occasionally, the Pentagon could tune in for the tactical picture in the Gulf of Tonkin provided the HF atmosphere would permit really, really long range signal interception.

With the advant of communications satellites, it was only natural that someone would attempt to tie every military unit into an overall command and control system.  Enter the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) in 1981.  No change was needed for all of the computer-based warfare systems in so many different platforms. As long as they could be tied to a radio transciever and spoke a common language, even the White House could listen in on a conversation or watch a tactical picture unfold.  And, they did.

Of course, the war-fighting capabilities of ships were expanded and upgraded along the way.  But, it probably takes ten to fifteen years for the Navy to fully develop a new ship design, go through the bidding process and finally award a construction contract.  BUSHIPS and, later, NAVSEA aren't exactly expedient.  There are many, many rice bowls to keep full.

Starting in 1958, the Charles F. Adams class of DDGs was already on the ways.  This was a major change from the vision of a Navy with gunships.  Those ships fell as victims to the times after the build of the Forrest P. Sherman class of DDs as the first warships built after World War II.  It is interesting to note that the US Navy used ships from the Sherman class to experiment with larger gun systems (USS Hull DD-945, 8in/55 mk 71) and missile systems (four of the destroyers—John Paul Jones (DD-932), Parsons (DD-949), Decatur (DD-936), and Somers (DD-947)—were converted to guided missile destroyers using the SM-1MR system).

With the introduction of missiles as non-experimental shipboard armament, the design of ships changed radically.  As stated above, the gunship was quickly replaced by the missile ship.  It only took five years.

Quickly following the design of the Adams-class guided missile destroyers came the guided missile frigates.  While these ships were much larger than destroyers, they were actually cruisers masquerading as destroyers.  It was an international arms limitation thing.  The first of these was the Farragut/Coontz class of frigates.  Armed with Terrier missiles, these ships had extended capabilities and were really big ships.

The Leahy-class frigate, first constructed in 1959, was an update to the capabilities of the Coontz-class frigate.  REEVES was the last ship of this class to be constructed.  Yes, the USS Bainbridge (DLG-25) looked the same, except for one thing...she was nuclear powered.  On the surface she looked like a Leahy, but she wasn't of the same class - even if she was double-ended - no guns worth a damn and more than one missile lauchers.  Besides, look at her stacks!  Where are they, as every 1200 pounder would ask.

The Leahy-class had an excellent detection/communications suite, especially Naval Tactical Data Systems (NTDS).  They were still point & shoot.  And, they relied upon 1200 psi steam for propulsion.  These were two deadly issues.

NTDS became the standard command and control system between large Naval vessels from this point forward.  Anything bigger than an FF would be considered larger.

Developed at the same time as the Leahy-class were the two nuclear powered guided missile frigate, USS Bainbridge n(DLG/CG-25) and USS Truxton (DLG/CG 35).  Subsequently, two California-class and four Virginia-class nuclear powered cruisers were built in the 1970s.  Slightly larger than a Leavy-class ship, they still depended on some form of steam for propulsion.

The USS Spruance (DD 975), commissioned in 1975, introduced a completely different method of propulsion for warships.  Gone were the high-pressure steam days.  In fact, gone were any kind of steam propulsion.  The modern age replaced steam propulsion with with the modern age - gas turbines (re-engineered commercial jet place engines), variable pitch props and other real changes to ship design.  The Spruance-class destroyers provided a newly proven hull for large warships that could carry larger warfighting payloads without depending upon nuclear power. 

Built on the same hull as the Spruance-class, the Ticonderoga-class cruisers evolved to replace the costlier steam powered Leahy-class ships.  One of the major innovations for the Ticonderoga-class was the replacement of rotating air search radars (AN/SPS-48 and AN/SPS-49) with the AN/SPY-1 phased array radar.

The success of the Spruance-class hull, it's propulsion, maneuverability and endurance, became a proven design for future Naval vessels.

For Reeves, a clear view of the future presented itself when the USS OLDENDORF (DD-972) was moored outboard of REEVES during the famous port visit to Qingdao, China in 1985.  Here was the venerable 1960's warship, bristling with masts, antennae, sensors, weapons systems alongside a modern, sleek, streamlined greyhound. 


The REEVES looked every inch the formidable mid-century battle platform vs. the platform of the future in the ARLEIGH BURKE class yet to come.


2015 USS Reeves Association. All rights reserved. Last update: 11/9/2015