- USS Vella Gulf (CG-72)
otherships|USS Vella Gulf
USS "Vella Gulf" (CG-72) is a "Ticonderoga" class Aegis guided
missile cruiser. She is named for the Battle of Vella Gulf, a naval engagement in the Solomonscampaign of World War II. This engagement was historically significant because it was the first time that destroyers were allowed to operate independent of the cruiser force during the Pacific campaign. The battle was fought between the islands of Vella Lavella and Kolombangara on the night of August 6 1943. In the battle of Vella Gulf, six American destroyers – "Dunlap", "Craven", "Maury", "Lang", "Sterrett", and "Stack" – engaged a group of four enemy destroyers attempting to reinforce Japanese troops on Kolombangara. The American warships closed the enemy undetected with the aid of radar and fired torpedoes which sank "Hagikaze", "Arashi", and "Kawkaze" with no damage to American ships.
This ship is the second named for the battle. The first "Vella Gulf" was an
escort carriercommissioned on April 9 1945with Captain Robert W. Morse in command. A "Commencement Bay" class carrier, she displaced 11,373 tons, 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 August 9 1946.
The ship is sponsored by Mrs. Mary Ann McCauley and was commissioned into the Naval Service on
September 18 1993in ceremonies at Norfolk, VA. 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 Weapon System, a fully integrated electronic detection, engagement, and fire controlsystem. 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 BALTOPSCruise, taking part in the 26th annual maritime exercise U.S. Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) '98 in the Western Baltic Seafrom June 8–June 19, 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
March 26 1999. After a six-day transit, the Vella Gulf took her position in the Adriatic Seaand 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
September 22 1999and went in November to Yorktown, VAfor a complete weapons offload.
As part of the "George Washington" Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), and in response to the
terrorist attacksof September 11, 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 October 13and arrived in the Arabian Sea on October 15, before returning home in April 2002.
On January 5, 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 Seawith French Aircraft Carrier"Charles de Gaulle" (in support of Operation Enduring Freedom), Gulf of Omanand Gulf of Aden. She participated in multi-national exercises, including AMAN '07 [http://www.cusnc.navy.mil/articles/2007/055.html] , hosted by Pakistan. "Vella Gulf" visited Agadir, Moroccoand Gaeta, Italyas liberty ports and twice pulled into Manama, Bahrain. She returned to home portin Norfolk, VAon July 3 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 it was seized by pirates off Somalia on September 25, 2008. Several photographs used by news services were sourced as having been taken from the cruiser. [See, for example, "Three shot dead in row between Somali pirates, monitors say, "The Guardian", (September 30, 2008), available online at "http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/30/somalia.ukraine]
* [http://www.vella-gulf.navy.mil/ Official web site]
* [http://www.navysite.de/cg/cg72.html "USS Vella Gulf" webpage]
* [http://www.hullnumber.com/CG-72 CG-72 Personnel Roster at HullNumber.com]
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