USS Belknap (DLG-26/CG-26), named for Rear Admiral Reginald Rowan Belknap USN (1832–1903), was the lead ship of her class of guided missile cruisers in the United States Navy. She was launched as DLG-26, a guided missile frigate under the then-current designation system, and reclassified as CG-26 on 30 June 1975. She was laid down by the Bath Iron Works Co. at Bath in Main on 5 February 1962, launched on 20 July 1963 and commissioned on 7 November 1964.Belknap was severely damaged in a collision with John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1975 in heavy weather off the coast of Sicily. A fire broke out on Belknap following the collision, and during the fire her aluminum superstructure was melted, burned and gutted to the deck level. Seven personnel were killed on Belknap and one on Kennedy. The ammunition ship USS Mount Baker (AE-34) was involved in the rescue of the Belknap, escorting her to an ammunition depot and then providing electric and water services as the Mount Baker's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team retrieved all of the remaining ammunition from the Belknap. Mount Baker also assimilated most of the Belknap crew until they could be transferred to a way station for re-assignment. This fire and the resultant damage and deaths, which would have been less, had Belknap's superstructure been made of steel. This drove the US Navy's decision to pursue all-steel construction in its next major classes of surface combatants, though the first USN combatant ships to revert to all steel superstructure were the Arleigh Burke Class (DDG-51) which did not commission until the 1990s.She was converted to a flagship by the Norfolk Navy Yard from May 1985 to February 1986. Belknap was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 15 February 1995 and sunk as a target on 24 September 1998.
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