U.S.S. California
DLGN-36 / CGN-36
The Golden Grizzly
In The Beginning, Memories of a Plank Owner

VIP Letters To The Commanding Officers

The following letters were received by the CO's of the USS CALIFORNIA (DLGN / CGN 36) on the occasions of her commissioning and of her deactivation.
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The following letters were received by Captain Floyd H. Miller, Jr. USN on the occasion of the commissioning of the USS CALIFORNIA (DLGN 36)

The Secretary of the Navy
John W. Warner
Chief of Naval Operation
E. R. Zumwalt, Jr.
Admiral, U. S. Navy
Commander In Chief
U. S. Atlantic Fleet

Ralph W. Cousins
Admiral, U. S. Navy
Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Force
U. S. Atlantic Fleet

R. S. Wentworth, Jr.
Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy

The following letters were received by Captain Steven K. Johnson USN on the occasion of the deactivation of the USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36)

Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet
Archie Clemins
Admiral, U. S. Navy
Commander Third Fleet
H. A. Browne
Vice Admiral, U. S. Navy
Commander, Naval Surface Force
U. S. Pacific Fleet

A .J. Krekich
Vice Admiral, U. S. Navy
Commander Carrier Group Three
A. G. Harms, Jr.
Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy
Governor of the
State of California

Governor Pete Wilson

24 December 1973
Captain Floyd H. Miller, Jr., USN
Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company
Newport News, Virginia 23607
Dear Captain Miller,
     Congratulations on your new command and best wishes to you and to your crew on the commissioning of California (DLGN-36).
     Your ship is the first of a new class of powerful guided missile frigates designed to enhance the capability of our modern fleet to meet any need and respond to future threats.
     Her nuclear propulsion plant will give her unexcelled endurance; her combination of guns, missiles, torpedoes, and modern electronics will make her a formidable arm of our nation's defenses. To you, as to your officers and petty officers, is entrusted the proud challenge of combining CALIFORNIA'S remarkable technical qualities with the spirit and competence which have ever been the destroyerman's pride.
     In designing new ships such as CALIFORNIA we have endeavored to continue to improve living conditions for the fine men who sail them. I know that you share this interest. Although improvements have been made over earlier designs, there is always a need for new ideas in this important area. I hope that you and your crew will continue to develop innovations in habitability improvements and forward your recommendations for consideration. I would like to receive an advance copy of any such submissions. Our men constitute our most vital asset. As we seek their finest performance, their individual and collective welfare deserves our most active interest.
     May every success and good fortune be yours in the voyage ahead.

15 February 1974
Dear Captain Miller:
     My best wishes go to you and your ship's company on the commissioning of CALIFORNIA (DLGN-36).
     It is fitting that your new ship honors the memory of five earlier CALIFORNIAs. Serving with the Navy since 1870, these ships ranged in size from a motor boat, used for local patrol during World War I, to a battleship. Steam sloop CALIFORNIA operated in the Pacific; her successor, Armored Cruiser No. 6, served there and in the Atlantic as well. After a year of World War I convoy work she was lost in the war's final months. Battleship CALIFORNIA (BB-44) rose from the flame of Pearl Harbor to take part in battles for the Marianas, the Philippines, and Okinawa. Differingwidely in type and in duties performed, these ships all shared those qualities of skill and devotion that the men who served in them brought to every task. I know that you who sail in CALIFORNIA will carry on in the same spirit.
     Your selection as Commanding Officer of CALIFORNIA is a tribute to your past performance and attests to your ability to meet the challenge of Command, the most cherished experience of a Naval Career. You know the truth of Admiral Arleigh Burke's remark that any ship is "good because of the people in her; without them, she is an inert mass of steel." Our need for highly motivated, experienced personnel has never been greater. I urg you to be keenly aware of the wlfare of your men. There is no substitute for a crew who is well informed and whose talents are recognized. I encourage you to delegate responsibility down to the lowest level and in so doing develop a real sense of part of, what I know will be, one of our Navy's finest fighting units.
     On behalf of the Navy, I welcome CALIFORNIA to the fleet.
Captain Floyd H. Miller, Jr., USN
Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company
Newport News, Virginia 23607

18 January 1974
Dear Captain Miller,
     On the occasion of the commissioning of the USS CALIFORNIA, I extend to you and to all hands my congratulations and and best wishes.
     As first in her class of nuclear-powered guided missile frigates, CALIFORNIA joins the Atlantic Fleet at a time when U. S. naval forces face a mounting challenge for mastery of the world's sea lanes. New construction ships like CALIFORNIA are designed to meet this challenge and will be key elements of the Navy in the 1970's.
     As her first commanding officer, your task is to ready this ship to confront, engage and overcome the challenges that lie ahead. The reputation she earns will reflect the dedication and professionalism of all hands. Your personal resourcefulness and individual leadership will set the course that determines CALIFORNIA"s reputation in the Fleet.
     I am confident CALIFORNIA will prove a valuable addition to the Cruiser-Destroyer Force. Welcome and good luck.
Captain Floyd H. Miller, Jr., U. S. Navy
Prospective Commanding Officer
Precommissioning Unit
c/o Supervisor of Shipbuilding
Newport News, VA 23607

15 February1974
Dear Captain Miller,
     As USS CALIFORNIA (DLGN 36) breaks her commissioning pennant and joins the active forces of the United States, it is a distinct honor to convey to you, your officiers and men a hearty "welcome" to the Cruiser-Destroyer Force.
     You join us at a time in history when the nation is becoming increasingly aware of its dependence upon our sea-going froces. The Soviet Navy continues to make impressive advances in size, versatility and quality, giving them a great capability for sea control in their own interest. The resulging challenge before every member of the Naval Service is to make maximum use of the resources available to maintain effective control of the seas to support the interest of the United States, our allies and other peaceful nations.
     USS CALIFORNIA has been designed and built to help meet the challenge. She carries the finest weaponry and detection devices in existence. These weapons coupled with the long "sea legs" provided by her nuclear power plant, make her a particularly valuable addition to the force.
     To you and your crew I extend my sincere best wishes for meeting the challenge in a professional and proud manner.
Captain Floyd Harry Miller
Commanding Officer
FPO New York 09501

Commander in Chief
United States Pacific Fleet
28 August 1998

To the Officers and crew of USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36).

On behalf of all of your shipmates in the Pacific Fleet, I extend my congratulations and best wishes to you and the crew of USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36) as you deactivate this magnificent ship after 24 years of service to our Navy and nation.

USS CALIFORNIA has sailed the seven seas protecting America's interests, completing around the world cruises and serving in the four number fleets of the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets. The last of only nine nuclear powered cruisers, CALIFORNIA has completed numerous major deployments to regions of crisis including Beruit and the Persian Gulf. Always a high profile contributor, she deployed to the Arabian Gulf in the summer of 1996. CALIFORNIA performed superbly during operations SOUTHERN WATCH and DESERT STRIKE and performed duties as Air Warfare Commander for two Battle Groups.

On her final deployment in 1998, CALIFORNIA ended her operational career on a high note when she acted as the Air Warfare Commander during a highly successful Counterdrug Operations deployment to the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. She twice transited the Panama Canal and diverted a suspected drug smuggler during a high speed pursuit while firing warning shots. Her diligent effort in stemming the flow of illicit narcotics into the United States is typical of CALIFORNIA's unswerving dedicated service.

Whether in a humanitarian crisis or a wartime action, USS CALIFORNIA and her crew have answered the call. Always ready and serving with distinction, she will leave the service of her country with an exceptional record of outstanding performance. I wish each of you who have served aboard this warship, "Fair Winds and Following Seas." Well Done!

Archie Clemins
Admiral, U.S. Navy

24 June 1998
Dear Captain Johnson,

On behalf of your shipmates in the THIRD Fleet, I extend my congratulations and best wishes to you and the crew of USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36) as you deactivate this magnificent ship after 24 years of service to you Navy and Nation.

Since commissioning in 1974, USS CALIFORNIA has made many important contributions to our Nation's security. From the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean, from Beruit to the Arabian Gulf, CALIFORNIA has time and again answered the call to go wherever needed to operate forward from the sea. From counter drug operations in the Pacific and Caribbean to support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and DESERT STRIKE in the Arabian Gulf, CALIFORNIA has made her mark in every numbered fleet. CALIFORNIA has performed each mission flawlessly and leaves the service of our Nation with a superb record of achievement.

Every current and past crewmember of CALIFORNIA should take great pride in their personal and professional achievement. Our Navy is stronger thanks to your impressive spirit and the tradition of excellence you leave in your wake. I wish each of you "Fair winds and Following Seas" as you move on to new assignments in the fleet. Well done CALIFORNIA!


H. A. Browne
Vice Admiral, U. S. Navy
Captain Steven F. Johnson, U. S. Navy
Commanding Officer
FPO AP 96662-1163

24 June 1998
Dear Captain Johnson,

USS CALIFORNIA had truly been a ship to have sailed the world's oceans and serve this nation in so many different ways. CALIFORNIA clearly epitomizes what our Navy is all about: defending political and economic opportunity for not only our country, but for nations around the globe.

Whether it be maintaining security and stability in regions important to the United States, conducting counterdrug operations to support the war on drug, or controlling aircraft to support Navy surface forces. As the ship's twenty-fourth year comes to a close and she leaves active service, we will remember her good and faithful works with the name of CALIFORNIA but in the name of America.

To the officers and crew, both past and present, I extend best wishes in our future endeavors as you have personally give of yourself to contribute to USS CALIFORNIA's proud history.

Dear Captain Johnson,

As the USS CALIFORNIA returns home from her final voyage and prepares for decommissioning, I want to personally congratulate and commend you and your magnificent crew for a job exceedingly well done. As has always been the case in her distinguished legacy as a frontline ship, USS CALIFORNIA once again met the challenge and succeeded with exceptional professionalism and class!

Since Her commissioning in February 1974 USS CALIFORNIA has served our great nation with notable pride and enthusiasm. The many accomplishments are too numerous to mention, but include the following notable distinctions. In 1981, USSS CALIFORNIA was the first nuclear powered ship to circumnavigate the globe since the ENTERPRISE Task Force COMPLETED Operation Sea Orbit in the mid-sixties; in 1986, the last warship to conduct OPERATION ERNEST WILL convoy escort missions through the Straits of Hornuz; in 1989, participated in PACEX 89, the largest combined sailing of U. S. and Allied naval units since World War II; and finally in 1995, USS CALIFORNIA proudly sailed in a parade of ships through Pearl Harbor as part of the ceremony commemorating the end of World war II. The "GOLDEN GRIZZLY" has also received numerous decorations, including four Meritorious Unit Commendations and six Battle Efficiency E's for consistently successful overseas deployments and participation in numerous training exercises. Your final voyage as a member of the Carl Vinson Battle Group in RIMPAC 98 was again highlighted by unmatched professionalism, precise seamanship, impressive combat readiness and a winning, "can-do" spirit.

USS CALIFORNIA's success over the years has been the result of extraordinary commitment and professionalism by thousands of dedicated Sailors. You, your terrific crew, and all of the "Golden Grizzly's" who have served previously are a proud and distinguished part of the world's greatest Navy, and have left a legacy of excellence seldom attained in the seafaring profession. Thank you for your unparalleled dedication and many contributions to our Nation and our Navy. Fair winds and following seas always!

A. G. HARMS, Jr.
Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy

August 28, 1998
Captain S. K. Johnson
Commanding Officer
FPO AP 96662-1163
Dear Captain Johnson:
I am delighted to extend my best regards and congratulations to you and your crew of the USS CALIFORNIA (CGN 36) as you decommission this magnificent ship after 24 years of distinguished service to the United States.

The USS CALIFORNIA holds an impressive record of conduct, performance and devotion to duty which reflects her allegiance to the highest standard of the military profession. In her many years of service, USS CALIFORNIA has brought enthusiasm and expertise to her challenging assignments. Those who have tended her weathered decks have taken part in an important legacy of Naval service that will not soon be forgotten.

On this special occasion, I am honored to join her captain, officers, crew and the civilian community in saluting the USS CALIFORNIA for her 24 years of remarkable service.


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