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The keel for the Newport News, 17th cruiser to be constructed by the Newport News Shipbuild-
ing and Dry Dock Company of Newport News, Virginia, was laid on November 1, 1945. Five years
later, March 6, 1949, the heavy cruiser, named in honor of the shipbuilding city of Newport News,
was launched. She was commissioned on January 29, 1949.
After commissioning, the Newport News proceeded to the Norfolk Shipyard, Portsmouth, Vir-
ginia, for outfitting and preparation for her shakedown cruise.
The ship reported to Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic and U. S. Atlantic Fleet March 24, 1949,
and underwent a vigorous shakedown training period in the Caribbean Sea area from April 5 to
June 20, 1949, after completion of which she was assigned to Commander Cruisers Atlantic Fleet
for further service.
From June 20 to August 1, 1949, the ship remained in the Norfolk area, then departed August 11
on a two-week Reserve training cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia. During part of this cruise the New-
port News was flagship for Admiral W.H.P. Blandy, at that time, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlan-
After a successful Reserve training cruise the ship was assigned to the Norfolk area again under
Commander Operational Development Force, scheduled to make a northern cruise. The cruiser
flagship crossed the Arctic Circle withthe Second Task Fleet CTask Force 89y during November
1949. After this cruise, her first captain, Captain Roland Smoot, was, relieved by Captain James
Scott Laidlaw. -
The Newport News operated under the Atlantic Fleet Command until she joined the Medi-
terranean Fleet on January 6, 1950. Relieving the USS Des Moines, she became flagship for Vice
Admiral John Jennings Ballentine, Commander Sixth Fleet. W
The ship served as Fleet Flagship for Vice Admiral Ballentine for a period of five months,
during which she visited 15 ports in the Mediterranean. She was relieved by the USS Salem in
Gibraltar, British Colony, May 26, 1950.
During the three-months yard period that followed, Captain Edward Nelson Parker relieved
Captain Laidlaw as Commanding Officer.
The Newport News sailed from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to the Caribbean .Sea during
September 1950 and underwent a refresher training course for seven weeks, operating from Guan--
tanamo Bay, Cuba.
Returning to Norfolk again in November, she then departed for the Mediterranean area for
further service with the Sixth Fleet Command under VAD-M Ballentine , then back to Norfolk on
May 21, 1951, remaining there until June 10. The ship underwent another Reserve training cruise
until June 22, operating from the Norfolk area. '
On July 2, 1951, the Newport News participated in an operations demonstration exercise for
secretary of Defense George C. Marshall. A
The subsequent visit to New york for the 4th of July .marked the first U. S. port, other than
Norfolk, the ship had visited.
In change of command ceremonies July 28, 1951, Captain Parker was relieved of command by
Captain WVilliam Gnoodwin Cooper.
Boarding 400 midshipmen, the Newport News began her first midshipmen's cruise from Norfolk
on August 4, 1951. During this cruise the ship visited Halifax, Nova Scotia 5 Boston, Massachusetts,
and proceeded to the Caribbean area, operating from Guantanamo Bay. The, heavy cruiser returned
to Norfolk September 14, to disembark the midshipmen.
As flagship for Commander Second Fleet, Vice Admiral Felix B. Stump, the Newport News
became a participant in one of the largest fleet exercises since WWII, known ofhcially as Lantflex 52.
The ship returned again to the Norfolk Naval Base, then entered the Portsmouth Shipyard for
a restricted availability period from November 21, 1951 to January 9, 1952, in preparation for her