USS Vella Gulf (CG-72)
The USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) underway in March 2002.
|Name:||USS Vella Gulf|
|Namesake:||Battle of Vella Gulf|
|Operator:||United States Navy|
|Ordered:||25 February 1988|
|Laid down:||22 April 1991|
|Launched:||13 June 1992|
|Acquired:||12 July 1993|
|Commissioned:||18 September 1993|
|Motto:||Move Swiftly, Strike Vigorously|
|Status:||in active service, as of 2014[update]|
|Class & type:||Ticonderoga-class cruiser|
|Displacement:||11,373 long tons (11,556 t)|
|Length:||567 feet (173 m)|
|Beam:||55 feet (16.8 meters)|
|Draft:||34 feet (10.2 meters)|
4 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbine engines, 80,000 shaft horsepower (60,000 kW)
|Speed:||32.5 knots (60 km/h)|
|Complement:||33 officers, 27 Chief Petty Officers, and approx. 340 enlisted|
2 × 61 cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems containing
|Aircraft carried:||2 × Sikorsky SH-60B or MH-60R Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.|
This ship is the second named for the Battle of Vella Gulf. The first Vella Gulf was an escort carrier commissioned on 9 April 1945 with Captain Robert W. Morse in command. A Commencement Bay class carrier, she displaced 11,373 long tons (11,556 t), carried 34 aircraft, and held a complement of 1,066 men. Vella Gulf won a battle star for air strikes against Rots and the Pagan Islands in the Marianas in July 1945 and then participated with occupying forces after the surrender of Japan. CVE-111 was deactivated and decommissioned on 9 August 1946.
The second USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) was sponsored by Mrs. Mary Ann McCauley and was commissioned on 18 September 1993 in ceremonies at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. A multi-mission ship, Vella Gulf is designed to be capable of sustained combat operations in Anti-Air, Anti-Submarine, Anti-Surface, and Strike warfare environments. Vella Gulf is employed in support of carrier battle groups, amphibious assault groups, as well as in interdiction and escort missions. Vella Gulf's diverse combat capability is orchestrated by the Aegis Combat System, a fully integrated electronic detection, engagement, and fire control system. Aegis enables Vella Gulf to detect, evaluate, and engage an enemy with great firepower and accuracy.
The Vella Gulf successfully completed sea trials during the month of February 1998. In the months of May and June, the Vella Gulf completed a two month BALTOPS Cruise, taking part in the 26th annual maritime exercise U.S. Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) '98 in the Western Baltic Sea from 8 – 19 June 1998. During the exercise, the commander, Carrier Group Eight, commanded the exercise from the ship. Also, the ship completed an AMMO onload, LAMPS moved aboard, completed a successful C2X, and had made a port call at St.John, U.S. Virgin Island. Upon the completion of C2X, the Vella Gulf continued pre-deployment work-ups.
In January 1999, after winning her fifth consecutive "Battle "E"," the ship commenced training operations while hosting the week-long course Force Air Defense Commander training.
Vella Gulf's successful completion, in February 1999, of JTFEX '99 marked the end of a ten-month work-up. The vessel headed out for deployment to the Adriatic Sea on 26 March 1999. After a six-day transit, the Vella Gulf took her position in the Adriatic Sea and participated in everything from Tomahawk Strike Ops to Fast-track Logistics Ops as part of Operation Noble Anvil. In May and June, the Vella Gulf continued to participate in support of combat operations, shot Tomahawks, assumed warfare commander duties (ADC, ASUWC, ASWC and Launch Area Coordinator), and conducted numerous at-sea refueling and stores replenishment events until the relaxation of weapons posture and cessation of hostilities.
Vella Gulf began the month of August engaged in multi-ship exercises. She participated in DIVTACS, LeapFrogs, Tomahawk exercises, submarine exercises, Flight Ops, and Gunnery exercises. The Vella Gulf returned home on 22 September 1999 and went in November to Yorktown, VA for a complete weapons offload.
As part of the George Washington Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), and in response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the ship set sail in support of defense and humanitarian efforts off the coast of New York. Only a week later, she deployed as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Battle Group, to the Mediterranean, and South-Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Roosevelt Carrier Battle Group transited the Suez Canal on 13 October and arrived in the Arabian Sea on 15 October, before returning home in April 2002.
On 5 January 2007, Vella Gulf departed on a six month cruise as part of the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group (BATESG). She conducted operations in the Persian Gulf, Northern Arabian Sea with French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (in support of Operation Enduring Freedom), Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden. She participated in multi-national exercises, including AMAN '07 , hosted by Pakistan. Vella Gulf visited Agadir, Morocco and Gaeta, Italy as liberty ports and twice pulled into Manama, Bahrain. She returned to home port in Norfolk, VA on 3 July 2007.
MV Faina incident off Somalia, 2008
The Vella Gulf was identified as one of the U.S. Navy ships surrounding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian-owned, Belizian-registered ship carrying 33 T-72 tanks, RPGs and other munitions, after she was seized by pirates off Somalia on 25 September 2008. Several photographs used by news services were sourced as having been taken from the cruiser.
Capture of alleged pirates in Gulf of Aden
On 11 February 2009 the Vella Gulf responded to a distress call from the tanker Polaris in the Gulf of Aden. The Polaris reported that pirates in a single skiff were attempting to board the tanker with ladders, though the Polaris crew was able to thwart their efforts. Upon arriving in the area, the Vella Gulf intercepted a skiff with 7 men aboard. The crew aboard the Polaris confirmed their identity as the aforementioned attackers, and the 7 were taken aboard the Vella Gulf before being transferred to the USNS Lewis and Clark for processing before being sent to Kenya for trial.
Vella Gulf was involved in another action against pirates the next day on 12 February when she responded to a distress call from a merchant vessel. The Indian freighter Premdivya reported that she had been pursued by pirates and taken fire from them. The American cruiser responded by dispatching a helicopter to the scene which fired warning shots and chased the pirate skiff down. The Vella Gulf then launched a boarding party in two RHIB's and captured nine pirates, who were then sent to the Lewis and Clark as the previous batch of pirates captured by the cruiser had been.
- http://www.hazegray.org/worldnav/usa/surface.htm, Retrieved May 2012
- "Three shot dead in row between Somali pirates, monitors say", The Guardian, (30 September 2008)
- "U.S. Navy arrests pirate suspects in Gulf of Aden", CNN.com, (12 February 2009)
- "US Navy Captures More Pirates, May Take Them to Kenya", VOANews.com, (12 February 2009)
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