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Operation Sea Orbit
Part of Cold War (1962–1979)
Route Operation Sea Orbit.jpg
Operation Sea Orbit route.
Type Naval surface warfare and naval air operations
Location World-wide
Planned by United States Navy
Objective First circumnavigation of the world by nuclear-powered surface warships
Date 31 July 1964 to 3 October 1964
Executed by Rear Admiral Bernard M. Strean, USN
Task Force One:
USS Enterprise (CVAN-65)
USS Long Beach (CGN-9)
USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25)
Carrier Air Wing Six (CVW-6)
Outcome Mission successfully accomplished.

Enterprise, Long Beach, and Bainbridge

Operation Sea Orbit was the 1964 around-the-world cruise of the United States Navy's Task Force One, consisting of USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), USS Long Beach (CGN-9), and USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25). This all-nuclear-powered unit steamed 30,565 miles unrefuelled around the world for sixty-five days.[1][2]

The cruise began on July 31 and ended on October 3.[1] The full itinerary comprised Rabat, Morocco; Dakar, Senegal; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Monrovia, Liberia; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Nairobi, Kenya; Karachi, West Pakistan; Fremantle, Melbourne, and Sydney in Australia; Wellington, New Zealand; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Santos, Rio De Janeiro and Recife in Brazil. Enterprise made only three port calls: Karachi, Sydney and Rio De Janeiro.

Operation Sea Orbit was the idea of Vice Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., who saw the exercise – which demonstrated how nuclear-powered ships could operate unfettered by shore logistical ties[2] – as a statement of American technical achievement similar to that of the coal-burning Great White Fleet in 1907-1909.[1] Enterprise was under the command of Captain Frederick H. Michaelis; the guided missile cruiser Long Beach under the command of Captain Frank H. Price, Jr.; and guided missile frigate Bainbridge under the command of Captain Hal C. Castle.[3][4][5]

The mission was commanded by Rear Admiral Bernard M. Strean.[1] The operation gained considerable attention overseas but less in the United States.[1]

Veterans of Operation Sea Orbit gathered on July 30, 2004, for a 40th anniversary reunion.[2] In 2011, Operation Sea Orbit was included in the Technology for the Nuclear Age: Nuclear Propulsion display for the Cold War exhibit at the U.S. Navy Museum in Washington, DC.[6]

See also



This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  • - 1994 paper hi-lighting limited, public-relations only value of all-nuclear task groups given continued dependence on conventionally fuelled escorts and continuous replenishment of supplies

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