USS Vella Gulf (CG-72)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Vella Gulf.
USS Vella Gulf
USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) underway in March 2002.
Career (U.S.)
Name: USS Vella Gulf
Namesake: Battle of Vella Gulf
Operator:  United States Navy
Ordered: 25 February 1988
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Laid down: 22 April 1991
Launched: 13 June 1992
Acquired: 12 July 1993
Commissioned: 18 September 1993
Homeport: Norfolk, Virginia
Motto: Move Swiftly, Strike Vigorously
Status: in active service, as of 2014
Badge: USS Vella Gulf CG-72 Crest.png
General characteristics
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)
Propulsion: 4 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbine engines, 80,000 shaft horsepower (60,000 kW)

2 × controllable-reversible pitch propellers

2 × rudders
Speed: 32.5 knots (60 km/h; 37.4 mph)
Complement: 33 officers, 27 Chief Petty Officers, and approx. 340 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
Armament: 2 × 61 cell Mk 41 vertical launch systems containing

8 × RGM-84 Harpoon missiles
2 × Mk 45 Mod 2 5-in/54-cal lightweight gun
2 × 25 mm Mk 38 gun
2–4 × .50 cal (12.7 mm) gun
2 × Phalanx CIWS Block 1B

2 × Mk 32 12.75-in (324 mm) triple torpedo tubes for lightweight torpedoes
Aircraft carried: 2 × Sikorsky SH-60B or MH-60R Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.

USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) is an American Ticonderoga-class Aegis guided missile cruiser. She is named for the Battle of Vella Gulf, a naval engagement in the Solomons campaign of World War II.

History[edit]

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.

View of the Vella Gulf from off the starboard bow, with "72" visible in large numbers on the bow.
USS Vella Gulf at anchor in December 2008.

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.

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, 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, 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, Vella Gulf continued to participate in support of combat operations, fired 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. Vella Gulf returned home on 22 September 1999 and went in November to Yorktown, VA for a complete weapons offload.

As part of the USS 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 USS 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.

In March 2003 she was assigned to Carrier Group Eight.[1]

Deployment 2007[edit]

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 [1], 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[edit]

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.[2]

Capture of alleged pirates in Gulf of Aden[edit]

Seven men in a small motor skiff with their hands raised.
Suspected pirates surrendering to Vella Gulf.

On 11 February 2009 Vella Gulf responded to a distress call from the tanker Polaris in the Gulf of Aden. Polaris reported that pirates in a single skiff were attempting to board the tanker with ladders, though Polaris '​s crew was able to thwart their efforts. Upon arriving in the area, Vella Gulf intercepted a skiff with 7 men aboard. The crew aboard Polaris confirmed their identity as the aforementioned attackers, and the 7 were taken aboard Vella Gulf before being transferred to USNS Lewis and Clark for processing before being sent to Kenya for trial.[3]

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. 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.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

This article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain.

External links[edit]