USS Little Rock - CG-4
The light cruiser USS Little Rock (CL-92), laid up in reserve since June 1949, was redesignated CLG-4 in May 1957, some months after beginning conversion to a guided missile light cruiser at the Camden, New Jersey, shipyard of the New York Shipbuilding Corporation. When recommissioned in June 1960, the ship had been significantly transformed. She now had huge superstructures forward and aft of her two smokestacks, the forward one housing command spaces that gave the cruiser a new mission as a fleet flagship. The after superstructure held magazines and handling rooms for long-range "Talos" guided missiles, whose twin-armed launcher dominated Little Rock's after deck. Only one triple six-inch gun turret and one twin five-inch gun mount remained of her original battery of four and six of each. Topsides, two tall lattice masts and the after superstructure were topped by an elaborate array of radars to detect and track enemy aircraft and guide "Talos" missiles to intercept them.
The much-modified Little Rock spent the rest of 1960 shaking down, testing her new systems and training her crew in their operation. After a brief shipyard overhaul and more training, she deployed to the Mediterranean in February 1961 to serve as flagship of the Sixth Fleet. Returning to the U.S. in September 1961, Little Rock operated off the politically unstable Dominican Republic later in the year. She regularly cruised in the Mediterranean into the mid-1960s, as well as taking part in exercises off the U.S. East Coast, in northern European waters and in the Caribbean. The ship also received updated radars and other electronic equipment during this time, as well as in later overhauls.
In January 1967 Little Rock returned to the Mediterranean for a long deployment as Sixth Fleet flagship. Homeported at Gaeta, Italy, she remained in the region until August 1970, a time notable for the brief, intense June 1967 war between Israel and several Arab Nations, and for increasing Soviet naval activity in the area. The ship made another Mediterranean cruise from December 1971 to April 1972, then served as Second Fleet flagship in the Atlantic for much of 1972-1973. Little Rock arrived back in the "Med" in mid-1973, becoming flagship of the Sixth Fleet in time for another Arab-Israeli war that October. She retained the command ship role for four years before steaming home in September 1976. USS Little Rock was decommissioned in November of that year and promptly stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. In June 1977 she was donated to the city of Buffalo, New York, where she is still serving as a memorial and museum.