Built in Virginia by Virginians, USS VIRGINIA was constructed at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. Her sponsor was Virginia Stuart Warner, daughter of then Secretary of the Navy and now senior US Senator from Virginia. The ship was commissioned on 11 September 1976 in a ceremony at Norfolk Naval Base. After the extensive trials and shakedown associated with the first ship of a new class, she entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for Post shakedown availability. This was the start of a lifetime association between ship and yard for depot level repairs and modifications. After normal workups, including a trip to Northern Europe as a part a major NATO exercise, she made the first of nine deployments. As part of an Indian Ocean deployment in 1980, she crossed the Indian Ocean to visit the Republic of the Philippines. During her third Mediterranean deployment in 1983, she fired nearly 300 five inch rounds into Beirut and assisted when the Marine barracks were bombed. She was honored as Sixth Fleet Top Hand for that deployment. In 1984, she entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for her single major overhaul and was converted to the Navy's first strike cruiser with the addition of the Tomahawk weapons system and the SM-2 extension of her surface to air capability.
|From Deactivation Ceremony booklet.|
|Captain George W. Davis, Jr*||Sept 1976 to Aug 1978|
|Captain Robert H. Ailes*||Aug 1978 to Oct 1981|
|Captain Joseph H. King||Oct 1981 to Dec 1984|
|Captain Thomas R. Sheridan||Dec 1984 to Jan 1988|
|Captain Gary M. Voorheis||Jan 1988 to May 1991|
|Captain Ralph H. Lipfert||May 1991 to Nov 1994|