The third USS Northampton (CLC-1/CC-1) was a US Navy command light cruiser (command ship). She was laid down as an Oregon City class heavy cruiser (CA–125), on 31 August 1944 by the Fore River Yard, Bethlehem Steel Corp., Quincy, Mass. Work suspended between 11 August 1945 and 1 July 1948; she was launched as CLC–1, on 27 January 1951; sponsored by Mrs. Edmond J. Lampron; and commissioned as CLC–1, on 7 March 1953, Capt. William D. Irvin in command.
Following shakedown, Northampton reported for duty to Commander Operational Development Forces, Atlantic Fleet. For seven months she conducted extensive tests of her new equipment. Evaluation completed in September 1954 and she reverted to the operational control of Commander Battleship Cruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet. She next demonstrated her capabilities as a tactical Command Ship by serving as flagship, first for Commander Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet (October–November 1954) and then for Commander 6th Fleet (December 1954–March 1955). Between 1 September and 22 October she served as flagship for Commander Strike Force, Atlantic, a position she was to hold frequently over the next fifteen years.
On 24 February 1956, Northampton emerged from her first overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va., and, after refresher training off Cuba, participated as a unit of the Navy’s first guided missile division afloat, CruDiv 6, in the first public demonstration of the Terrier missile. In April, she steamed east for six months with the 6th Fleet, and, during the summer of 1957, resumed midshipmen training cruises. However, between that time and 1961, she infrequently returned to European waters. Deployed on occasion for NATO and Fleet exercises and People to People visits, the command ship was visited by high government officials of various European countries, including Kings Baudouin I of the Belgians and Olav V of Norway.