In 1978, the Carter administration authorized a new class of revolutionary new AEGIS warships. Originally funded as destroyers, their large size (as large as a WWI-battleship), cost (nearly a billion dollars each in 1982 dollars) and mission required their resignation as cruisers. The first of these ships was the USS Ticonderoga (CG-47).
The USS Ticonderoga (nicknamed “TICO” by her crew) was 9,750-tons in displacement with a 567-foot long hull. Powered by four gas turbines she could make 32.5-knots of speed officially, however many military journals believe that the ships could make a much faster classified top speed. She carried a pair of 5-inch naval rifles, two Mk-26 missile launchers as well as CIWS close defense systems, harpoon anti-ship missiles and torpedo tubes. Two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters deployed with the ship were seamlessly integrated into her combat suite.
Service History of the Tico
The ship was built and commissioned January 22, 1983 at the historic Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula Mississippi (with the author, aged 10, in attendance). First Lady, Mrs. Nancy Reagan, had christened her. She had an active career during the Cold War, providing naval gunfire support to UN troops in Lebanon in 1984, holding the “Line of Death” with Libya in the Gulf of Sydria, and was a frequent visitor to the Persian Gulf in Operation Earnest Will against Iran, and Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and Southern Watch against Iraq. In 1993, she took part in Operation Deny Flight over the Adriatic closing off the skies over Bosnia.
She was reassigned from Norfolk to Pascagoula Naval Station in 1996 and spent eight years on cooperation cruises with Latin American navies with the US Southern Command as well as counterdrug-operations with embarked US Coast Guard law enforcement detachments. On her last deployment in 2004, she captured more than 7-tons of cocaine at sea. USS Ticonderoga was decommissioned at Pascagoula, her place of birth and home on September 30, 2004 at age 21 and was towed away to the Inactive Ships’ Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia.
Legacy AEGIS Ships worldwide
While the Tico was the first ship in the world to carry the revolutionary AEGIS system of phased array radars and integrated weapons suite with central computerized fire control, she would not be the last. The Ticonderoga class (also known as the ‘Battle’ class as all of the ships were named after famous US-battles) ran to 27-ships by 1994. Subsequent improvements to AEGIS were incorporated in the very successful 70+ vessel USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyers as well as ships for Japanese and Spanish allies.
While the Tico was decommissioned in 2004 shortly followed by four of her sister ships, 22 of her class are still on active duty with the US Navy. With the last, Burke, slated to come off the builders ways sometime in the 2030 period it is anticipated that the father of the sailor has yet to be born that will serve on the last AEGIS warship
Museum in Pascagoula
A Group known as the Mississippi Maritime and Warship Museum is trying to save the Tico and bring her back to Pascagoula. Plans are to acquire the vessel and construct a three-story museum building and learning center alongside the proposed berth on Lowery Island (where the old F/V Scranton had been docked). The total cost of the project is expected to be some $17-million.
Until then the Tico is still in mothballs in Philadelphia where she is maintained as a source of spare parts for her sisterships still on active duty. For more information about the project, call The Ticonderoga Team (228) 769-1940 or (228) 235-9236. You can visit their website at bringtheticohome.org. Hopefully she will be saved from being melted down for scrap like such other famous warships as the HMS Intrepid and USS Olympia.
Byington, Stacey USS Tideroga Decommissioned, Story Number: NNS041001-08 Release Date: 10/1/2004, Naval Station Pascagoula Public Affairs
Clark Patrice Pascaga’s Save USS Ticonderoga project moves forward Posted: Jul 09, 2009 WLOX-TV 13
Clark Patrice Pascaga Leaders Work to Bring USS Ticonderoga Back Home Posted: May 31, 2008 WLOX TV-13
Cushman, John Navy P Its ‘Spotter’ Near the Gulf, New York Times December 18, 1987
Haze G and Underway
Sharpe, Richard Jane&ro;s Fighting Ships, Various editions.
Sowter, Julie USS Tideroga to become floating museum, Ships Monthly, April 13, 2010
USS Tideroga Returns to Pascagoula for Decommissioning Story Number: NNS040802-04 Release Date: 8/2/2004, USS Ticonderoga Public Affairs
Rating: 3 out of 5