The Ticonderoga class of guided-missile cruisers is a class of warships in the United States Navy, first ordered and authorized in the 1978 fiscal year. The class uses passive phased-array radar and was originally planned as a class of destroyers. However, the increased combat capability offered by the Aegis Combat System and the AN/SPY-1 radar system, together with the capability of operating as a flagship, were used to justify the change of the classification from DDG (guided missile destroyer) to CG (guided-missile cruiser) shortly before the keels were laid down for Ticonderoga and Yorktown.
Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers are multi-role warships. Their Mk 41 VLS can launch Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike strategic or tactical targets, or fire long-range antiaircraft Standard Missiles for defense against aircraft or anti-ship missiles. Their LAMPS III helicopters and sonar systems allow them to perform antisubmarine missions. Ticonderoga-class ships are designed to be elements of carrier battle groups or amphibious ready groups, as well as performing missions such as interdiction or escort. With upgrades to their AN/SPY-1 phased radar systems and their associated missile payloads as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, members of this class have, in successive tests, repeatedly demonstrated their proficiency as mobile anti-ballistic missile and anti-satellite weaponry platforms.
Of the 27 completed vessels, 19 were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding and eight by Bath Iron Works (BIW). All but one (Thomas S. Gates) of the ships in the class are named for noteworthy events in U.S. military history, and at least twelve share their names with World War II-era aircraft carriers. In 2016, 22 ships were still active and expected to serve for 35 years since commissioning.
Downing of Iran Air Flight 655
One ship of the class, Vincennes, became infamous in 1988 when, in the midst of a running gun battle with Iranian Revolutionary Guard gunboats, she shot down Iran Air Flight 655, resulting in 290 civilian deaths. The commanding officer of USS Vincennes, William C. Rogers III, believed the airliner to be an Iranian Air Force F-14 Tomcat fighter jet on an attack vector, based on mis-reported radar returns. The investigation report recommended that the AEGIS large screen display be changed to allow the display of altitude information on plots, and that stress factors on personnel using AEGIS be studied.
Interception of United States satellite USA-193
On 14 February 2008, the United States Department of Defense announced that Lake Erie would attempt to hit the dead satellite USA-193 over the North Pacific Ocean just before it would burn up on reentry. On 20 February 2008, at approximately 22:30 EST (21 February, 03:30 UTC), an SM-3 missile was fired from Lake Erie and struck the satellite. The military intended that the missile’s kinetic energy would rupture the hydrazine fuel tank allowing the toxic fuel to be consumed during re-entry. The Department of Defense confirmed that the fuel tank had been directly hit by the missile.
Possible early retirement
Due to Budget Control Act of 2011 requirements to cut the Defense Budget for FY2013 and subsequent years, plans were being considered to decommission some of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers. For the U.S. Defense 2013 Budget Proposal, the U.S. Navy was to decommission seven cruisers early in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
Because of these retirements, the U.S. Navy was expected to fall short of its requirement for 94 missile defense cruisers and destroyers beginning in FY 2025 and continuing past the end of the 30-year planning period. While this is a new requirement as of 2011, and the U.S. Navy has historically never had so many large missile-armed surface combatants, the relative success of the AEGIS ballistic missile defense system has shifted this national security requirement onto the U.S. Navy. Critics had charged that the early retirement of these cruisers would leave the Navy’s ship fleet too small for the nation’s defense tasks as the U.S. enacts a policy of “pivot” to the Western Pacific, a predominantly maritime theater. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget bill to require that these cruisers instead be refitted to handle the missile defense role.
By October 2012, the U.S. Navy had decided not to retire four of the cruisers early in order to maintain the size of the fleet. Four Ticonderoga-class cruisers, plus 21 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, are scheduled to be equipped for antiballistic missile and antisatellite operations.
In March 2019, the Navy proposed decommissioning the six oldest of the active ships; Bunker Hill, Mobile Bay, Antietam, Leyte Gulf, San Jacinto and Lake Champlain, in 2021 and 2022, instead of dry-docking them for life-extension maintenance updates, as a cost-saving measure. This wouldn’t technically be an “early retirement”, as the ships would be at their originally planned 35-year life dates, but they would be able to serve longer with the upgrades. The proposal still needs the approval of Congress, who are usually hesitant to approve any actions that would reduce the size of the active combat fleet.
The Ticonderoga-class cruiser’s design was based on that of the Spruance-class destroyer. The Ticonderoga class introduced a new generation of guided missile warships based on the Aegis phased array radar that is capable of simultaneously scanning for threats, tracking targets, and guiding missiles to interception. When they were designed, they had the most powerful electronic warfare equipment in the U.S. Navy, as well as the most advanced underwater surveillance system. These ships were one of the first classes of warships to be built in modules, rather than being assembled from the bottom up.
The greater size and equipment on the CG-47–class warships increased displacement from 6,900 tons of the DD-963–class destroyers to 9,600 tons of displacement for the heavier cruisers. Aegis cruisers can steam in any ocean and conduct multi-warfare operations anywhere. Some cruisers reported some structural problems in early service after extended periods in extremely heavy seas; they were generally corrected from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. Several ships had superstructure cracks, which were repaired.
These ships’ superstructures were a modification of that on the Spruance-class destroyers and were required to support two deck-houses (one forward for antennas forward and starboard), and the aft deck-house housed the aft and port antenna arrays. The later Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers are designed from the keel up to carry the SPY-1D radars and have them all clustered together on the forward deck-house, saving space and weight and simplifying cooling requirements. Radar support equipment is closer together, minimizing cable runs and concentrating support equipment.
Operations research was used to study manpower requirements on the Ticonderoga class. It was found that four officers and 44 enlisted sailors could be removed from the ship’s complement by removing traditional posts that had been made obsolete. However, manpower savings achieved by eliminating the very manpower-intensive Mk 26 GMLS and replacing it with the far more capable and versatile MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) were harder to emulate with the Mk 45 127 mm (5″) gun systems. The Aegis Cruisers are “double-enders”, and along with the Zumwalt-class, are the only surface combatants in the fleet that can employ two large caliber guns simultaneously.
Vertical Launching System
In addition to the added radar capability, the Ticonderoga-class ships built after USS Thomas S. Gates included two Mark 41 Vertical Launching Systems (VLS). The two VLS allow the ship to have 122 missile storage and launching tubes that can carry a wide variety of missiles, including the Tomahawk cruise missile, Standard surface-to-air missile, Evolved Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missile, and ASROC antisubmarine warfare (ASW) guided rockets. More importantly, the VLS enables all missiles to be on full standby at any given time, shortening the warship’s response time before firing. The original five ships (Ticonderoga, Yorktown, Vincennes, Valley Forge, and Thomas S. Gates) had Mark 26 twin-arm launchers that limited their missile capacity to a total of 88 missiles, and that could not fire the Tomahawk missile. After the end of the Cold War, the lower capabilities of the original five warships limited them to duties close to the home waters of the United States.
A standard missile loadout for a Ticonderoga cruiser is 80 SM-2 SAMs, 16 ASROC anti-submarine rockets, and 26 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Originally, the U.S. Navy had intended to replace its fleet of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers with cruisers produced as part of the CG(X)missile cruiser program; however, severe budget cuts from the 21st century surface combatant program coupled with the increasing cost of the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer program resulted in the CG(X) program being canceled. The Ticonderoga-class cruisers were instead to be replaced by Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers.
All five of the twin-arm (Mk-26) cruisers have been decommissioned. In 2003, the newer 22 of the 27 ships (CG-52 to CG-73) in the class were upgraded to keep them combat-relevant, giving the ships a service life of 35 years. In the years leading up to their decommissioning, the five twin-arm ships had been assigned primarily home-waters duties, acting as command ships for destroyer squadrons assigned to the eastern Pacific and western Atlantic areas.
As of July 2013 12 cruisers have completed hull, mechanical, and electrical (HM&E) upgrades and 8 cruisers have had combat systems upgrades. These include an upgrade of the AEGIS computational system with new computers and equipment cabinets, the SPQ-9B radar system upgrade introducing an increased capability over just gunfire control, some optical fiber data communications and software upgrades, and modifications to the vertical launch system allowing two 8 cell modules to fire the RIM-162 ESSM. The most recent upgrade packages will include SM-6 and Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFC-CA) capability. Another upgrade is improving the SQQ-89A(V)15 sonar with a multi-function towed array. Hull, sonar, radar, electrical, computer, and weapons systems upgrades can cost up to $250 million per ship.
In its 2015 budget request, the Navy outlined a plan to operate 11 cruisers, while the other 11 were upgraded to a new standard. The upgraded cruisers would then start replacing the older ships, which would be retired starting in 2019. This would retain one cruiser per CVN group to host the group’s air warfare commander, a role for which the DDGs do not have sufficient facilities. Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyers equipped with the Air Missile Defense Radar give enhanced coverage, but putting the radar on standard DDG hulls does not allow enough room for extra staff and command and control facilities for the air warfare commander; DDGs can be used tactically for air defense, but they augment CGs that provide command and control in a battle group and are more used for other missions such as defending other fleet units and keeping sea lanes open. Congress opposed the plan on the grounds that it makes it easier for Navy officials to completely retire the ships once out of service; the Navy would have to retire all cruisers from the fleet by 2028 if all are kept in service, while deactivating half and gradually returning them into service could make 11 cruisers last from 2035 to 2045. There is no current CG replacement program, as most funding is committed to the Columbia-class submarine, so work on a new cruiser is expected to begin in the mid-2020s, and begin fielding by the mid-2030s.
Ships in class
|Name||Hull no.||Builder||Laid down||Launched||Commissioned||Decommissioned||Status||Link|
|Mark-26 twin-arm missile launcher variant|
|Ticonderoga||CG-47||Ingalls Shipbuilding||21 January 1980||25 April 1981||22 January 1983||30 September 2004||Stricken, to be disposed of by scrapping|||
|Yorktown||CG-48||Ingalls Shipbuilding||19 October 1981||17 January 1983||4 July 1984||10 December 2004||Stricken, to be disposed of by scrapping|||
|Vincennes||CG-49||Ingalls Shipbuilding||19 October 1982||14 January 1984||6 July 1985||29 June 2005||Scrapped 2011|||
|Valley Forge||CG-50||Ingalls Shipbuilding||14 April 1983||23 June 1984||18 January 1986||30 August 2004||Sunk as target 2006|||
|Thomas S. Gates||CG-51||Bath Iron Works||31 August 1984||14 December 1985||22 August 1987||16 December 2005||Scrapped 2017|||
|Mark-41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) Variant|
|Bunker Hill||CG-52||Ingalls Shipbuilding||11 January 1984||11 March 1985||20 September 1986||San Diego, California||in active service|||
|Mobile Bay||CG-53||Ingalls Shipbuilding||6 June 1984||22 August 1985||21 February 1987||San Diego, California||in active service|||
|Antietam||CG-54||Ingalls Shipbuilding||15 November 1984||14 February 1986||6 June 1987||Yokosuka, Japan||in active service|||
|Leyte Gulf||CG-55||Ingalls Shipbuilding||18 March 1985||20 June 1986||26 September 1987||Norfolk, Virginia||in active service|||
|San Jacinto||CG-56||Ingalls Shipbuilding||24 July 1985||14 November 1986||23 January 1988||Norfolk, Virginia||in active service|||
|Lake Champlain||CG-57||Ingalls Shipbuilding||3 March 1986||3 April 1987||12 August 1988||San Diego, California||in active service|||
|Philippine Sea||CG-58||Bath Iron Works||8 April 1986||12 July 1987||18 March 1989||Mayport, Florida||in active service|||
|Princeton||CG-59||Ingalls Shipbuilding||15 October 1986||2 October 1987||11 February 1989||San Diego, California||in active service|||
|Normandy||CG-60||Bath Iron Works||7 April 1987||19 March 1988||9 December 1989||Norfolk, Virginia||in active service|||
|Monterey||CG-61||Bath Iron Works||19 August 1987||23 October 1988||16 June 1990||Norfolk, Virginia||in active service|||
|Chancellorsville||CG-62||Ingalls Shipbuilding||24 June 1987||15 July 1988||4 November 1989||Yokosuka, Japan||in active service|||
|Cowpens||CG-63||Bath Iron Works||23 December 1987||11 March 1989||9 March 1991||San Diego, California||in active service|||
|Gettysburg||CG-64||Bath Iron Works||August 17, 1988||22 July 1989||22 June 1991||Mayport, Florida||in active service|||
|Chosin||CG-65||Ingalls Shipbuilding||22 July 1988||1 September 1989||12 January 1991||San Diego, California||in active service|||
|Hué City||CG-66||Ingalls Shipbuilding||20 February 1989||1 June 1990||14 September 1991||Mayport, Florida||in active service|||
|Shiloh||CG-67||Bath Iron Works||1 August 1989||8 September 1990||18 July 1992||Yokosuka, Japan||in active service|||
|Anzio||CG-68||Ingalls Shipbuilding||21 August 1989||2 November 1990||2 May 1992||Norfolk, Virginia||in active service|||
|CG-69||Ingalls Shipbuilding||30 May 1990||2 August 1991||14 November 1992||Mayport, Florida||in active service|||
|Lake Erie||CG-70||Bath Iron Works||6 March 1990||13 July 1991||10 May 1993||San Diego, California||in active service|||
|Cape St. George||CG-71||Ingalls Shipbuilding||19 November 1990||10 January 1992||12 June 1993||San Diego, California||in active service|||
|Vella Gulf||CG-72||Ingalls Shipbuilding||22 April 1991||13 June 1992||18 September 1993||Norfolk, Virginia||in active service|||
|Port Royal||CG-73||Ingalls Shipbuilding||18 October 1991||20 November 1992||4 July 1994||Pearl Harbor, Hawaii||in active service|||
|Name||Hull no.||Builder||Laid down||Launched||Commissioned||Decommissioned||Status||Link|
|Operators:||United States Navy|
|Preceded by:||Virginia class|
|Retired:||5 (CG-47 to 51)|
|Type:||Guided missile cruiser|
|Displacement:||Approx. 9,600 long tons (9,800 t) full load|
|Length:||567 feet (173 m)|
|Beam:||55 feet (16.8 meters)|
|Draft:||34 feet (10.2 meters)|
|Speed:||32.5 knots (60 km/h; 37.4 mph)|
|Range:||6,000 nmi (11,000 km) at 20 kn (37 km/h); 3,300 nmi (6,100 km) at 30 kn (56 km/h).|
|Complement:||30 officers and 300 enlisted|
|Sensors and |
|Electronic warfare |
|Armor:||Limited Kevlar splinter protection in critical areas|
|Aircraft carried:||2 × Sikorsky SH-60B or MH-60R Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.|
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