USS LEYTE GULF is one of the 27 TICONDEROGA class cruisers and got its name from that place in the Pacific where two battles between the American fleet and Japanese fleet were fought.
|General Characteristics:||Awarded: June 20, 1983|
|Keel laid: March 18, 1985|
|Launched: June 20, 1986|
|Commissioned: September 26, 1987|
|Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, West Bank, Pascagoula, Miss.|
|Propulsion system: four General Electric LM 2500 gas turbine engines|
|Blades on each Propeller: five|
|Length: 567 feet (173 meters)|
|Beam: 55 feet (16.8 meters)|
|Draft: 34 feet (10.2 meters)|
|Displacement: approx. 9,600 tons full load|
|Speed: 30+ knots|
|Cost: about $1 billion|
|Aircraft: two SH-60 Sea Hawk (LAMPS 3)|
|Armament: Mk 41 VLS for Standard missiles, Tomahawk, ASROC; Mk 46 torpedoes, Harpoon missile launchers, two Mk 45 5-inch/54 caliber lightweight guns, two Phalanx CIWS, two Mk 38 Mod 2 25mm machine gun systems|
|Homeport: Norfolk, Va.|
|Crew: 33 Officers, 27 Chief Petty Officers and approx. 324 Enlisted|
This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS LEYTE GULF. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.
About the Ship's Coat of Arms:
The diving wings with trailing flames represent the Kamikazes, which first appeared in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and which were the forerunners of the anti-ship missiles against which the AEGIS system was designed. The Crossed "Big Guns" represent the battleships, which at the Battle of Leyte Gulf culminated centuries of naval tradition in the last battle at sea of great ships of the line.
The red and white rays allude to the WWII Japanese Naval Ensign descending into the wavy blue bar of the sea as the Battle of Leyte Gulf destroyed the Japanese Navy as a coherent fighting force. The tropical location of the battle is symbolized by the palm wreath, which is also symbolic of victory. The blue, white and gold colors on the shield are traditionally associated with the Navy and are symbolic of the sea and excellence.
The anchors combined with the sword represent naval sea power, plus the sword crossing the taut anchor line alludes to the classic naval battle maneuver called "crossing the 'T' " last used in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The upright position of the sword also refers to the vertical launching missile system in CG 55. The red wavy bar is in memory of the gallant men who went down in a blood red sea at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The three stars represent the three component Battles of Leyte Gulf: Surigao Straits, Samar, and Cape Engano.
USS LEYTE GULF History:
LEYTE GULF was commissioned in 1987 as the ninth TICONDEROGA Class AEGIS cruiser. LEYTE GULF served in the Arabian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, where she launched Tomahawk cruise missiles against Iraq, and served as local Anti-Air Warfare Commander for a four Aircraft Carrier Battle Force. In October 1992, LEYTE GULF provided support for Operation PROVIDE COMFORT in the Adriatic Sea, joining other multi-national forces in response to the conflict and suffering within the former Yugoslavia.
As part of New York City's "Fleet Week'93", a celebration honoring the U.S. sea services, USS LEYTE GULF and the Russian guided missile destroyer BEZUDERZHNY conducted maneuvering and communication drills 80 miles southeast of New York for a three-hour exercise on June 1. The two ships communicated using radio, signal flags and flashing light while maneuvering in formation. The ships also practiced rescue at sea operations. The exercise was part of an ongoing professional exchange between the two navies.
In July 1993, LEYTE GULF proceeded to the Caribbean Sea to provide support for the war on drugs. Dealing a severe blow to traffickers, LEYTE GULF coordinated several efforts that prevented over 100 million tons of cocaine from reaching the United States.
Following a Selected Restricted Availability, which was completed early and under budget, LEYTE GULF conducted a successful launch of the new BLOCK III Tomahawk missile in the Gulf of Mexico. The missiles traveled over 600 miles downrange, meeting 27 action points, arriving "on target" and "on time."
In July 1994, LEYTE GULF deployed to the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and VIGILANT WARRIOR. During this critical time, she served as the principle "Ready Strike" platform for United States Naval Forces Central Command, and was seamlessly integrated into operations with two different Carrier Battle Groups.
In October 1994, LEYTE GULF made a high-speed, 3,600-mile transit to the Arabian Gulf (in just five days) as 80,000 Iraqi troops moved towards the Kuwaiti border in an act of aggression.
As the first principle warship on the scene, stationed 15 miles off the Iraqi coast, LEYTE GULF provided a significant, visible deterrent to any planned invasion. The ship was praised by the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Naval Operations for her critical role in deterring another war in the region. In her role as Maritime Interception Operations Coordinator in the Northern Arabian Gulf, LEYTE GULF conducted over fifty boardings, resulting in the capture and diversion of five vessels, accounting for 90 percent of the diversions since the inception of operations in 1990. These efforts resulted in the capture of over 25,000 tons of contraband Iraqi oil.
USS LEYTE GULF changed homeport on July 30, 1997, from Mayport, FL, to Naval Station Norfolk, VA. The guided-missile cruiser came to Norfolk under a realignment plan that allowed Carrier Group Eight's two cruisers to be collocated, to improve maintenance and training efficiencies. The move took place after LEYTE GULF's recently-completed deployment and just prior to a maintenance period.
USS LEYTE GULF deployed in the Adriatic Sea for Operation ALLIED FORCE as part of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT Battle Group. The THEODORE ROOSEVELT battle group, which arrived in the Mediterranean on April 3, 1999, was originally slated to deploy directly to the Persian Gulf to relieve the USS ENTERPRISE battle group, but was ordered by Secretary of Defense Cohen to remain in the area to suppport Operation Allied Force. It returned home from deployment in September 1999.
As part of the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), and in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, USS LEYTE GULF set sail in support of defense and humanitarian efforts off the coast of New York before she deployed on September 19, 2001, as part of the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Carrier Battle Group, to the Mediterranean, and "to points East" in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The THEODORE ROOSEVELT Carrier Battle Group transited the Suez Canal on October 13th and arrived in the Arabian Sea on October 15th, before returning home in April 2002.
Since her commissioning, LEYTE GULF has earned two Navy Unit Commendations, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, four consecutive Battle "E" Awards (a total of 23 mission area battle excellence awards), two Coast Guard Special Operations Ribbons, Kuwait Liberation Medal, two Southwest Asia Service Medals, National Defense Service Medal, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.
USS LEYTE GULF Patch Gallery:
Accidents aboard USS LEYTE GULF:
|October 14, 1996||100 miles off North Carolina||During a training exercise, LEYTE GULF crashed into USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) as the carrier, without warning, reversed its engines while the LEYTE GULF was behind it and slammed into the cruiser's bow. The collision ripped open the front of the LEYTE GULF and heavily damaged the rear of THEODORE ROOSEVELT. The collision caused $9 million in damages to the cruiser and $7 million to the carrier. LEYTE GULF's captain at that time was relieved of command as a result of the incident.|
|January 18, 2001||off Virginia Beach, VA||LEYTE GULF sustained a 6-foot-by-8-foot paint scratch on its sonar dome but no significant damage when it briefly hit bottom off the Virginia Beach coast. The incident took place while LEYTE GULF was conducting electronic calibration trials in the vicinity of Navy buoy "B" near the Chesapeake Light. During such Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation trials, the ship circles the buoy repeatedly to test the accuracy of naval electronic sensors, such as those used to jam incoming missiles while technicians ashore at nearby Fort Story monitor the activities. LEYTE GULF's captain was relieved of his command as a result of the mishap.|
|September 15, 2007||BAE Systems Ship Repair, Norfolk, Va.||USS LEYTE GULF suffers an explosion and subsequent fire two decks below the main deck where welding work was being conducted. The fire is extinguished within 15 minutes. The accident happened at 0925am local time injuring 5 civilians workers.|
About the Cruiser’s Name, about the Battle of Leyte Gulf:
LEYTE GULF commemorates the naval battle fought 23 - 26 October 1944 in the Philippines, virtually ending the Japanese Navy's capacity to fight as an organized force.
The battle marked the end of centuries of naval warfare tradition, in that it was the last sea battle between forces employing battleships. It also marked the last time surface ships employed the classic maneuver of "crossing the T," when the Japanese ships attempted to enter the Gulf through Surigao Strait early on 23 October.
The battle was showcased by three separate primary engagements, the Battle of Surigao Straits, the Battle of Samar Island, and the Battle of Cape Engano. Called the last of the great sea battles, the Battle of Leyte Gulf used every known weapon of naval warfare, with the exception of mines, and in sheer destruction, the battle has no rival in naval history.
Especially noteworthy of the battle was the battle off Samar, which lasted two hours and thirteen minutes, and was one of the most remarkable displays of absolute bravery in the U.S. Navy's history. In this encounter, U.S. Naval Forces fought against overwhelming odds, from which survival was not expected. Through extraordinary courage and gallantry from air crews and ship's crews, a small task force of destroyers, escorts, and torpedo bombers turned away the Imperial Japanese Center Battleship Force.
USS LEYTE GULF Image Gallery:
The photo below was taken by Karl-Heinz Ahles while USS LEYTE GULF was inport Norfolk, Va, in September 1998.
The two photos below were taken by Jason Long and show the LEYTE GULF undergoing maintenance work at Norfolk, Va., on November 10, 2004.
The photos below were taken by me and show the LEYTE GULF passing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on her way to Norfolk, Va., after completing the Composite Training Unit Exercise with USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65). The other photos show the cruiser moored at the Naval Base a few hours later. All photos were taken on October 29, 2010.
The photos below were taken by me and show the LEYTE GULF at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair facility in Norfolk, Va., for a modernization availability period as part of the Navy's Cruiser Modernization program. The photos were taken on May 6, 2012.
The photos below were taken by Michael Jenning and show the LEYTE GULF at Naval Base Norfolk, Va., on October 28, 2013.