PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- Friends, family members, plankowners and former crew members said farewell to USS Ticonderoga (CG 47), as she was decommissioned in a traditional Navy ceremony at her homeport, Naval Station Pascagoula, Sept. 30.
By Stacey Byington, Naval Station Pascagoula Public Affairs
With current crew members manning the rails just prior to the ship's demanning, Rear Adm. Charles Bush, program executive officer for Integrated Warfare Systems on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, told the crew and assembled guests, "We are not going to talk of sadness today. We are going to celebrate the storied accomplishments of the guided-missile cruiser Ticonderoga, the first AEGIS cruiser."
Bush was the seventh commanding officer of Ticonderoga from June 1995 to December 1996, and was the commanding officer when Ticonderoga changed homeports from Norfolk, Va., to Pascagoula, Miss., in June 1996. He is also a Ticonderoga plankowner, serving as the ship's first operations officer when it was commissioned in January 1983, and was responsible for the firing of almost 100 surface-to-air missiles, completing the most extensive live-fire test and evaluation program ever undertaken in the history of surface combatant ships.
"Ticonderoga has a proud record of service," he said. "Throughout her career Ticonderoga has served as an example of personal excellence, and excellence found in the hundreds of officers, chief petty officers and enlisted personnel who have served on her. Regardless of the missions or fleet assignment, the constants in Ticonderoga have been the pride and professionalism of the men and women who served her.
"The people have made the difference. It was the men and women who brought life to this ship, manned its revolutionary combat systems, tended her gas turbine propulsion system, painted her decks," he added. "They are the reason Ticonderoga is the grand lady she is today, the day of her retirement."
Ticonderoga was the first ship of the AEGIS guided-missile cruiser class, built locally at what is now Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Ingalls Shipbuilding. Many of the people who helped build the ship still live in the Jackson County area.
TiconderogaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s adventures took her to duty in the Gulf of Sidra, off the coast of Beirut, to the Arctic Circle, the Equator, and through the Suez and Panama Canals. She was one of the first Navy ships to report on station in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990. She has been deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea and the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
"You represent the finest this Navy has to offer," Cmdr. Glenn Zeiders III, Ticonderoga's 11th and final commanding officer, told his crew. "I am proud to have served with you." He then gave the order to deman the ship.
The crew walked off the ship to a standing ovation. The ship's commissioning pennant was lowered, and Lt. Perry Summers, the final officer of the deck, presented the ship's logbook and spy glass to Zeiders.
"This ship's done it all," said Summers after the ceremony. "It's sad to see her go, but I am proud to have served on her."
"We who served in Ticonderoga are the ship," concluded Bush. "We have taken in her lines, set sail for foreign shores, and returned home again, and again and again. For as long as we are around - those who served on her - there will always be a Ticonderoga."
Immediately following the decommissioning ceremony, tug boats tied towing lines to the ship and pulled Ticonderoga away from the pier. She is being towed to the Inactive Ships' Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia. No decision has been made on the final disposition of the ship.
The current Ticonderoga was the fifth U.S. Navy ship to bear the historic name. She was named in commemoration of the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in eastern New York in May, 1775, by Ethan Allen and his 'Green Mountain Boys.' One of the first military successes of the American Revolution, the seizure provided desperately needed cannons and supplies to George Washington's army.
History of the ship
USS Ticonderoga (CV-14, later CVA-14 & CVS-14), 1944-1974
USS Ticonderoga, lead ship of a class of modified 27,100-ton Essex class aircraft carriers, was built at Newport News, Virginia. She was commissioned in May 1944 and made a West Indies shakedown cruise prior to transiting the Panama Canal to the Pacific in early September. During the next few months, Ticonderoga transported aircraft to Hawaii, took part in underway ordnance replenishment experiments and trained her crew and air group for participation in the war against Japan. After steaming to the western Pacific in October, the carrier launched her first strikes on 5 November 1944, hitting targets ashore and afloat in the northern Philippines area. As part of Task Force 38, she continued her attacks in the vicinity for the next two months, riding out a major typhoon in mid-December.
In January 1945, Ticonderoga took part in raids against Japanese assets in Indochina, China, Luzon and Formosa. Hit by two "Kamikaze" suicide planes on 21 January, she lost over 140 crewmen and had to go to the U.S. for repairs. Ticonderoga returned to the combat area in late May. For the remaining two and a half months of the Pacific War, her planes made regular attacks on the Japanese home islands. From September 1945 into January 1946, she transported veterans home across the Pacific. Inactive after that, Ticonderoga was decommissioned at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in January 1947.
Five years later, Ticonderoga was temporarily reactivated and sent to the New York Naval Shipyard to receive an extensive SCB-27C modernization. Redesignated CVA-14, she recommissioned in September 1954 and served with the Atlantic Fleet for two years, making one Mediterranean deployment in 1955-56. More modifications followed in 1956-57, providing an angled flight deck and enclosed bow to fully suit her to operate high-performance jet aircraft. She then returned to the west coast, her home for the rest of her career.
Ticonderoga deployed ten times to the western Pacific in 1957-69. In August 1964, during her sixth WestPac cruise, her planes participated in air strikes against North Vietnamese targets during the "Tonkin Gulf Incident" that gradually led to massive U.S. involvement in Southeast Asian combat operations. Vietnam War missions dominated Ticonderoga's next four Seventh Fleet deployments. In October 1969, she was redesignated CVS-14 and converted to an antisubmarine warfare support carrier. The ship made two more cruises to Asian waters in that capacity. In 1972, she took part in space flight recovery efforts for the Apollo 16 and 17 Moon flights. Decommissioned in September 1973, USS Ticonderoga was sold for scrapping a year later.