The fourth USS Vincennes (CG-49)
is a U.S. Navy Ticonderoga class AEGIS guided missile cruiser. In 1988, the
ship shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290
civilian passengers onboard including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children.
The ship was launched 14 April 1984 and sponsored by Marilyn Quayle, wife of
Indiana Senator Dan Quayle. The Vincennes was named for the Battle of
Vincennes during the Revolutionary War, while the previous Vincennes heavy
cruiser and Vincennes light cruiser were named for the city of Vincennes,
Indiana. She was commissioned at Pascagoula 6 July 1985, Captain George N.
Gee in command. The ship carries guided missiles, rapid-fire cannons, and two
Seahawk LAMPS helicopters for anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, personnel
transfers, and other purposes.
The Vincennes was the first of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers to enter the
Pacific Fleet. Upon commissioning in 1985, Vincennes helped test the SM-2
Block II surface-to-air missile. In May 1986, Vincennes participated in the multinational
exercise RIMPAC 86, coordinating the anti-aircraft warfare efforts of two
aircraft carriers and more than 40 ships from five nations.
The Vincennes was deployed in August 1986 to the Western Pacific and Indian
Oceans, a first for a Ticonderoga- cruiser. The ship served as anti-air
warfare commander with the Carl Vinson and New Jersey battle groups, operated
with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy, and
steamed more than 46,000 miles (74,000 km) in waters from the Bering Sea to
the Indian Ocean.
During the Iran and Iraq war the United States took active measures in the
Gulf to protect shipping, mainly oil tankers, that were being threatened by
On 14 April 1988, the guided missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58)
hit a mine in the Persian Gulf during Operation Earnest Will. Six days later,
Vincennes was yanked from Fleet Exercise 88-1, sent back to San Diego,
California and told to prepare for a six-month deployment. The reason for the
haste: Navy leaders decided that they needed an Aegis ship to protect the
exit of the damaged Roberts through the Strait of Hormuz. One month later,
the cruiser entered the Gulf, and in early July, stood guard in the Strait as
the damaged frigate was borne out on the Mighty Servant 2 heavy-lift ship.
The ship made 14 Hormuz transits during its Earnest Will operations.
Civilian airliner shot down
On 3 July 1988, Vincennes, under the command of Captain William C. Rogers
III, shot down an Iran Air Airbus A300B2 over the Strait of Hormuz, killing
all 290 aboard. According to the US government, the crew mistakenly
identified the Iranian airbus as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter. However,
the Iranian government has maintained that the Vincennes knowingly shot down
a civilian aircraft.
In February 1990, Vincennes was deployed on a third six-month tour of the
western Pacific and Indian oceans, with SH-60 helicopters from HSL-45 Det 13.
The ship coordinated all battle group air events and served as the
command-and-control flagship during Harpoon-Ex-90. In July 1990, Vincennes
returned home after steaming nearly 100,000 miles (160,000 km).
In August 1991, Vincennes departed for a fourth western Pacific deployment.
Steaming with Independence, Vincennes performed duties as the anti-air
warfare commander for Battle Group Delta until detaching to participate as
the United States representative in MERCUBEX 91, a joint United States and
Singaporean exercise. Over the next three months, Vincennes participated in
the bilateral exercise Valiant Blitz with the South Korean Navy, the
bilateral exercise Annualex 03G with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense
Force, and ASWEX 92-1K with the South Korean Navy before reaching Hong Kong
to act as the U.S. representative for the Navy Days ceremonies. Vincennes
returned from deployment on 21 December 1991.
In June 1994, Vincennes departed on a fifth western Pacific deployment with
the Kitty Hawk Battle Group. Vincennes performed duties as anti-air warfare
commander for the battle group. During deployment, Vincennes conducted an
anti-submarine exercise, PASSEX 94-2, with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense
Force, the bilateral exercise MERCUB 94-2, a joint U.S. and Singaporean Navy
exercise of the Malaysian peninsula, the bilateral exercise Keen Edge, with
the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Tandem Thrust, a larger-scale
joint exercise which Vincennes participated as the area air defense
coordinator for the entire joint operating area. Vincennes returned from this
deployment on 22 December 1994.
In August 1997, Vincennes changed homeport from San Diego to Yokosuka, Japan,
then steamed to the South Pacific and took part in Exercise Valiant Usher
98-1 with the Belleau Wood amphibious ready group and the Royal Australian Navy
destroyer Perth. The combined exercise took place near Townsend Island,
Vincennes also took part in the U.S. Seventh Fleet's Fleet Battle Experiment
Delta (FBE-D) from 24 October to 2 November 1998, in conjunction with
exercise Foal Eagle, a regularly scheduled exercise that simulates the
defense of the Republic of Korea. Sponsored by the Navy Warfare Development
Command, FBE-D was the fourth in a series of experiments that tested new
combat systems and procedures at sea.
On 12 August 2000, Vincennes completed Sharem 134, a bilateral exercise with
several Japanese ships and other U.S. participants. The exercise included a
week of undersea warfare training and data collection in the South China Sea.
The ship tested its submarine detection, sonar range testing, and sonobuoy
employment and developed new submarine prosecution procedures. The final
Sharem events included a "freeplay", which allowed the cruiser to
detect and prosecute other submarines, combining many of the tactics and
systems tested during Sharem.
In mid-November 2000, the cruiser fired missile batteries at
remote-controlled aerial drones provided by Fleet Activities Okinawa during
On 23 March 2001, Vincennes, as part of the Kitty Hawk Battle Group, cruised
into Changi Naval Base, the first time a U.S. carrier had moored pierside in
Singapore. The Vincennes took part in a 23 August-27, 2001, military training
exercise called Multi-Sail, which was designed to provide U.S. and Japanese
forces interoperability training in multiple warfare areas.
The Vincennes departed from Yokosuka on 17 September 2001, to conduct
operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and the ship returned on
18 December 2001 after more than three months at sea.
The Vincennes was decommissioned on 29 June 2005 at San Diego and stricken
the same date. She is presently mothballed at the Naval Inactive Ship
Maintenance Facility in Naval Base Kitsap, which is located in Bremerton,
Washington. As of 2008 she is slated for scrapping in the next five years
along with her sisters Thomas S. Gates and Yorktown.
The Vincennes has been awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, the
Battle Efficiency "E" three times, the Combat Action Ribbon, the
National Defense Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with four
Captain George N. Gee - 6 July 1985 - 11 April 1987
Captain Will C. Rogers III - 11 April 1987 27 May 1989
Captain Robert B. Lynch - 27 May 1989 26 April 1991
Captain Thomas C. J. McGinlay - 26 April 1991 27 March 1993
Captain Charles R. Burchell - 27 March 1993 6 January 1995
Captain Craig H. Murray - 27 March 1993 21 March 1997
Commander Alan G. Maiorano - 21 March 1997 23 October 1998
Commander Samuel Perez, Jr. - 23 October 1998 17 April 2000
Commander Robert A. Shafer - 17 April 2000 12 April 2002
Commander Steven A. Lott - 12 April 2002 4 February 2004
Commander Mark J. Englebert - 4 February 2004 1 July 2005