US Navy - Guided Missile Cruiser
CG 51 - USS Thomas S. Gates
Guided Missile Cruiser; Ticonderoga class (Baseline 1);
planned and built as CG 51;
Awarded: May 20, 1982
Laid down: August 31, 1984
Launched: December 14, 1985
Commissioned: August 22, 1987
Decommissioned: December 16, 2005
Fate: sold for scrap
Thomas Sovereign Gates, Jr. (1906 – 1983)
United States Secretary of Defense from 1959 to 1961 under President Eisenhower.
DEFENDER OF THE REPUBLIC
(Measures, Propulsion, Armament, Aviation, etc.)
Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington - August 2015
Thomas Sovereign Gates, jr. (April 10, 1906 - March 25, 1983):
He was born in Germantown,
Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas S. Gates Sr., an investment banker who was
president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1930 to 1944. Gates
graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1928, then joined the
investment banking firm of Drexel and Company in Philadelphia and became a
partner in 1940.
Gates was sworn in as
secretary of defense on an interim appointment on 2 December 1959 and
confirmed by the Senate on 26 January 1960. He was born in Germantown,
Pennsylvania, on 10 April 1906, the son of an investment banker who served at
one time as president of the University of Pennsylvania. Gates graduated from
the University of Pennsylvania in 1928, then joined the investment banking
firm of Drexel and Company in Philadelphia and became a partner in 1940.
During World War II he served in the Navy, rose to the rank of lieutenant
commander, and participated in campaigns in the Pacific and Mediterranean
areas. He was released from active duty in October 1945.
USS Thomas S. Gates (CG 51):
Chronology and Significant Events:
Commissioned, Penn-s Landing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Departed Norfolk for Guantanamo Bay.
Refresher Training, Guantanamo Bay.
Post shakedown Availability, Portland, Maine.
Fleet Exercise; flagship for RADM Jeremy Boorda,
Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group Eight)
During this time, Thomas S. Gates conducted independent
ship exercises and type training; operated on the AUTEC range, transited to
Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and underwent ANGLICO training. She also hosted
Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy Seth Cropsey, and capped the period with a
visit to Antigua, Netherlands Antilles.
Intermediate Maintenance Availability (IMAV) alongside
destroyer tender Shenandoah (AD-44), Norfolk, Virginia.
While en route to Boston, conducted CNO VLS project with
nuclear-powered attack submarines Providence (SSN-719) and Boston (SSN-703).
Port visit to Boston, Massachusetts; Thomas S. Gates
hosted 3,500 visitors.
Thomas S. Gates departed Boston for Newport, Rhode Island,
on 26 September, and arrived at her destination the following day, where she
served as Surface Warfare Officer School Command school ship, hosting 425
students from Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW), Damage Control
Assistant (DCA), Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) Division Officer, Department
Head, and Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) courses between 27 September
and 1 October. She departed on the latter day for Norfolk.
Fleet Exercise (FleetEx) 1-89, upon the conclusion of
which Thomas S. Gates returned to Norfolk.
Carrier escort operations, Puerto Rico Operating Area,
punctuated by a port visit to St. Maarten (9-11 December).
Availability and upkeep alongside Shenandoah, Norfolk.
After conducting deck landing qualifications and type
training in the Virginia capes operating area (17-21 January), Thomas S.
Gates underwent a period of upkeep at Norfolk (21 January-8 February), after
which time she participated in FleetEx 2-89 (Basic) with RADM Richard Macke
(Commander Carrier Group 2) embarked as Composite Warfare Commander. Port
visits to Port Canaveral, Florida (23-26 February) and Savannah, Georgia
(14-21 March) followed, punctuated by upkeep at Norfolk (27 February-13
March). The guided missile cruiser underwent a maintenance period, followed
by a Harpoon certification. She then participated in FleetEx 3-89 (Advanced)
(13-30 April), after which time she prepared for her first extended
Maiden deployment. After transiting to the Mediterranean
as part of the battle group formed around Coral Sea (CVA-43), Thomas S. Gates
in-chopped to the Sixth Fleet on 10 June 1989; she participated in Operation
National Week (10-19 June), conducting turnover with the guided missile
cruiser Leyte Gulf (CG-55) at Augusta Bay, Sicily (15 June). After visiting
Palma, Majorca (20-27 June) and Toulon, France (30 June-15 July), where she
underwent an IMAV, Thomas S. Gates transited to the eastern Mediterranean
(15-21 July); following a port visit to Izmir, Turkey (21-23 July), Thomas S.
Gates participated in Exercise Demon Jazz 89 (24-29 July). She then visited
Istanbul, Turkey (31 July-2 August), where she embarked VADM Paul Ilg, Deputy
Commander in Chief U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, and then stood into the Black
Sea (3-4 August). Accompanied by the guided missile frigate Kauffman
(FFG-59), Thomas S. Gates visited Sevastapol, USSR, from 4-8 August, and then
returned to Istanbul, where she disembarked VADM Ilg (9-10 August).- Owing to
the crisis in Lebanon, which had dictated that the fleet flagship, guided
missile cruiser Belknap (CG-26) not carry out her scheduled visit to
Sevastapol, Thomas S. Gates then operated in support of the Coral Sea and
America (CVA-66) battle groups off Beirut. Returning to Toulon, Thomas S.
Gates there underwent a period of maintenance (7-13 September). After taking
part in NATO Exercise Display Determination 89 (14 September- 3 October) in
concert with units of the French and Turkish Navies, she conducted a period
of escort operations (3-11 October) as she transited to the western
Mediterranean. She then underwent a period of maintenance in Marseilles,
France (11-22 October) before she participated in Exercise National Week
(24-31 October), during which she conducted turnover with her relief,
Yorktown (CG-48) at Pollensa Bay, Majorca (29 October). Out-chopping to
Commander, 2d Fleet, on 31 October, Thomas S. Gates then conducted her return
transit to Norfolk (31 October-10 November).
Following her return from her maiden extended deployment,
Thomas S. Gates underwent a period of upkeep (10-19 November), followed by a
maintenance period (20 November-12 December), type training (12-14 December),
and further upkeep that extended into the new year (14 December 1989-17
January 1990). A -fast- cruise and embarkation of HSL-44 Detachment 9 (Magnum
455) culminated that period.
Thomas S. Gates escorted battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) to
Guantanamo Bay (19-21 January), after which time she embarked a U.S. Coast
Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (23 January). Embarking Caribbean Squadron
staff members during an in-port period at Roosevelt Roads (25-26 January),
the guided missile cruiser embarked CAPT Galen R. Siddall, USCG, Commander
Caribbean Squadron (ComCaribRon) on 29 January.- Thomas S. Gates spent the
last days of January and first week of February engaged in anti-drug operations,
taking part in 41 boardings of vessels suspected of carrying drugs. Following
a port visit to Curacao, Netherlands Antilles (CAPT Siddall disembarking on 9
February), the guided missile cruiser conducted high-intensity operations (as
Task Unit 44.7.3) until 25 February, when she reached Port Everglades to
begin a three-day port visit (25-27 February), after which time she got
underway to return to her home port.
Thomas S. Gates underwent upkeep upon her return to
Norfolk (3-4 March), after which point she received an IMAV there (5-23
March). Following a combat systems assessment off the Virginia capes (28-29
March), the guided missile cruiser served as engineering school ship out of
Newport (30 March - 4 April). The ship visited New York City (6-8 April),
then offloaded ammunition at Earle, N.J. (9-10 April); Thomas S. Gates then
underwent upkeep (13-15 April), after which time she underwent a concurrent
restricted availability and IMAV (16 April-15 June), followed by further
upkeep (16-17 June) and sea trials off the Virginia capes (18 June).
Thomas S. Gates operated out of Norfolk during this time,
conducting midshipman training (26-29 June; 10-13 and 24-27 July),
interspersed with upkeep, and (20 July) embarkation of HSL-44, Detachment 9
(Magnum 447), punctuated with a transit to the waters off Puerto Rico (28-29
July) and operations there, conducting naval gunfire support services and
qualifications off Vieques (30 July-3 August) and antisubmarine warfare operations
with the submarine John Marshall (SSN-611) (4-6 August), followed by the
transit to Norfolk (7-9 August),- upon return from which she received word
(10 August) of her impending deployment to the Middle East in the wake of
Iraq-s invasion of neighboring Kuwait (2 August). Despite her imminent
departure, Thomas S. Gates hosted 2,800 visitors as the Norfolk Naval
Station-s -Visit Ship- (11-12 August), after which time, during continued
preparations for sea, she underwent a communications security management
inspection (13-14 August).
Following that relatively short period (five days!) of
intensive preparations, Thomas S. Gates deployed as an element of the battle
group (RADM Riley D. Mixson) formed around the aircraft carrier John F.
Kennedy (CV-67) to participate in Operation Desert Shield. The group
exercised at sea (16-21 August), then began its voyage toward the
Mediterranean (22 August), transiting the Strait of Gibraltar on 30 August to
become Task Force (TF) 60. On 1 September, the ship experienced a gas turbine
casualty while transiting the western Mediterranean that compelled her to put
in to Augusta Bay, Sicily, for an engine changeout (3-11 September), after
which time she rejoined TF-60 (13 September) off Port Said, Egypt. Thomas S.
Gates began her maiden transit of the Suez Canal (14 September), leading the
battle group on its passage through that historic waterway. Becoming part of
Task Group (TG) 150.5 (15 September) upon entering the Red Sea, the guided
missile cruiser rode -shotgun- for John F. Kennedy and operated as anti-air
warfare commander (16 September-14 October) before being detached from the
carrier on 15 October. With a USCG detachment embarked, Thomas S. Gates
transited the Strait of Tiran, at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, and
conducted maritime interdiction operations to enforce United Nations-enforced
sanctions against the ingress of Iraqi goods (15-19 October); the boarding
operations conducted during this time -putting to good use skills developed
in February in the Caribbean Sea-- The ship then visited Hurghada, Egypt
(20-23 October), after which time she served as -Gate Guard- in the Gulf of
Suez, screening all shipping traffic. TG 150.5 became TF-60 on 26 October,
and on the 27th transited the Suez Canal. Between 28 October and 11 December,
Thomas S. Gates operated in the central and eastern Mediterranean, evolutions
punctuated by port visits to Naples (31 October-2 November), Izmir, Turkey
(7-13 November), and Haifa, Israel (16-17 November), and an IMAV alongside
destroyer tender Yellowstone (AD-41) at Suda Bay, Crete (29 November-5
December). Transiting the Suez Canal on 9 December, the guided missile
cruiser returned to the Red Sea, in-chopping to CTG 150.5 the following day.
Thomas S. Gates then conducted maritime interdiction operations in the Strait
of Tiran (10-14 December), completing her 37th boarding of the deployment on
the latter date (14 December). Between 15 and 28 December, the ship rode
shotgun for John F. Kennedy and served as anti air warfare commander,
participating in three exercises with Royal Air Force units (20, 23, and 26
December) during that time.- She put in to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 29
December in company with John F. Kennedy, where Vice President Dan Quayle
addressed the crews of both ships on New Year-s Day 1991. Between 3 and 16
January, Thomas S. Gates conducted Desert Shield operations in the Red Sea,
punctuating that period exercising the Royal Saudi Navy in an antisubmarine
warfare exercise, Operation Camelot 91 (3-7 January). Iraq-s ignoring the
UN-imposed deadline (16 January) for withdrawing from Kuwait, however,
changed the complexion of events in the region, and Operation Desert Storm
soon got underway early the following day (17 January). Over the ensuing weeks
(17 January-13 February), Thomas S. Gates, as Red Crown (Inter Anti Aircraft
Warfare Defense Zone Coordinator) coordinated the departures and returns of
air strikes from John F. Kennedy, Saratoga (CV-60) and America (CV-66),
-ensuring that all friendly aircraft returned safely through the air defense
net while preventing any possible raid-following Iraqi aircraft getting
through.-- Following a visit to Hurghada (14-18 February), Thomas S. Gates
operated once more in the Red Sea (19 February-1 March), during which time
(24 February) the ground war began in Iraq and Kuwait. Following the
cease-fire (28 February), the ship conducted a brief period of maritime
interdiction operations in the Gulf of Aqaba. Following an in-port period at
Jeddah (2-10 March), where she underwent an IMAV alongside the destroyer
tender Puget Sound (AD-38), Thomas S. Gates transited the Suez Canal (12
March). She then conducted anti submarine warfare exercises in the central
Mediterranean (15-17 March), after which she transited the Strait of
Gibraltar (18 March), headed for Norfolk, returning to her homeport on 28
Thomas S. Gates alternated periods of upkeep out of
Norfolk with an IMAV (1-10 May), a combat systems assessment rehearsal in the
Virginia capes operating area (15-17 May), operations in the Puerto Rican
operating area (29 May-11 June), a visit to Port Everglades (7-9 June), a
combat systems assist visit (18-20 June) off the Virginia capes, and INSURV
rehearsal (9 July) and an INSURV inspection (15-19 July) in those same
Thomas S. Gates sailed from Norfolk (29 July) for the
Caribbean. Pausing at Roosevelt Roads (2 August), she embarked RADM James A.
Lair (Commander, TG 4.1) Commander, Carrier Group 2, and CAPT Grant W.
Risinger, USCG, ComCaribRon; she conducted energetic counter-narcotics
operations for the balance of the month, underway periods punctuated by port
visits to Curacao (10 August) and La Guaira, Venezuela (19-21 August).
Disembarking ComCarGru 2 and ComCaribRon at Roosevelt Roads on 26 August, the
ship conducted missile exercises the following day (27 August), and then made
the transit to Norfolk- (28-30 August).
During this period, Thomas S. Gates alternated periods of
upkeep and maintenance at Norfolk with local operations and training,
highlighted by her participation in short-notice exercises Fast Break 01
(19-20 September) and Fast Break 03 (4-6 December 1991) off the Virginia
capes, and FleetEx 2-92 (13 January-13 February 1992). During the latter
period, she served as flagship for RADM P. A. Dur, Commander, Cruiser
Destroyer Group 8 (17-26 January), embarking him at Roosevelt Roads (17
January). Operating in Puerto Rican waters, Thomas S. Gates conducted a
missile-firing exercise (18 January), naval gunfire support qualifications at
Vieques (19 January) and an ASW weapons firing evolution on the St. Croix
range (20 January), capping that period with battle group operations (21-23
January), after which the ship visited Port Everglades (24-26 January), where
she disembarked RADM Dur. The ship then returned to Puerto Rican waters for a
combat systems assessment (27-28 January), then conducted a second stint of
battle group exercises (29 January-13 February) that culminated with her
return to Norfolk. Following a period of upkeep, Thomas S. Gates then
participated in a multi-national exercise, Fabric Falcon Brave, off the Bay
of Fundy (26 February-4 March) and another Fast Break evolution (25-26 March)
off the Virginia capes. She spent the remainder of this period engaged in
upkeep at Norfolk, punctuated by a dependents cruise in the Virginia capes
operating area (30 April).
Thomas S. Gates, with HSL-44 Detachment 9 embarked,
deployed (Med 2-92) in company with guided missile cruiser Biddle (CG-34) and
destroyer Comte de Grasse (DD-974) on 6 May 1992, and joined the battle group
formed around the carrier Saratoga three days later. Transiting the Strait of
Gibraltar on 18 May, the guided missile cruiser operated from one end of the
Mediterranean to the other for almost two months, pausing at Augusta Bay
(23-24 May), Naples (26-30 May), and Gaeta, Italy (4-7 June), participating
in Exercise Dasix Lafayette 92-1 (9-11 June), and visiting Ibiza, Spain (13-19
June), a call enlivened by an emergency sortie from her anchorage (14 June)
because of heavy seas. Following her participation in joint-service exercise
Eclipse Bravo (21-28 June), Thomas S. Gates then visited Villefranche, France
(30 June-10 July, during which time she received an IMAV alongside destroyer
tender Yellowstone. She then operated in the Gulf of Lyon (11-12 July), after
which she paused at Monaco (13-17 July). The guided missile cruiser
participated in ASW exercises in the Strait of Bonafacio (19-20 July), before
she was diverted to the Adriatic to serve as anti-air warfare commander for
Commander TF 61 in support of Operation Provide Promise (23 July-2
September), monitoring the safety of relief flights into beleaguered
Sarajevo. During that time, she took part in missile-firing exercises in the
Ionian Sea (27 August). At the conclusion of those operations, she employed
her embarked SH-60B Seahawk helicopters in search and rescue efforts in the
wake of the crash of an Italian relief aircraft in the former region of
Yugoslavia (3 September). Following a visit to Trieste, Italy (4-13
September), Thomas S. Gates then operated in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas
(14-24 September), before pausing briefly for a port visit to Aksaz Karagac,
Turkey (25 September). The guided missile cruiser then took part in a
multi-phase NATO exercise, Display Determination 92, evolutions marred by
tragedy when live missiles hit the Turkish destroyer Mauvemet (DM-357),
formerly the light minelayer Gwin (DM-33), on 2 October; Thomas S. Gates
provided a damage control boarding team, communications assistance, and
directed her fire hoses on the flames on board the Turkish warship from 20
yards away; ten of the guided missile cruiser-s crew received decorations for
the valor they displayed during the incident. The exercises began anew the
next day at the request of the Turkish government. -Subsequently, Thomas S.
Gates hosted dignitaries (Lieutenant General Mihov, Bulgarian Chief of Staff,
on 4 October, and His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium on 6
October). Detached from Display Determination 92, the guided missile cruiser
proceeded to Naples for a three-day port visit (8-11 October), then
participated in Exercise Dasix Lafayette 92-2 (14-15 October), after which
time she returned to the Adriatic and Ionian Seas (16-17 October), reprised
her visit to Trieste (18-20 October), and operated once more in the Adriatic,
turning over her duty as AAW commander to Gettysburg (CG-64) in those waters
on 22 October, in the John F. Kennedy battle group, and then headed for home.
Transiting the Strait of Gibraltar on 25 October and detached from the
Saratoga battle group on 4 November, Thomas S. Gates stood in to Norfolk on 6
Thomas S. Gates spent this period alternating upkeep with
type training, and concluded it with an IMAV.
Underway for Rodman, Panama, on 8 February, Thomas S.
Gates, HSL-44 Detachment 9 (Magnum 457) embarked, transited the Panama Canal
on 12 February. Embarking RADM James R. Fitzgerald, Commander, Cruiser
Destroyer Group 3 to serve as Commander Joint Task Group (JTG) 4.1, and
ComCaribRon (Commander Task Unit 44.7.3), for the first of two periods of
counter-narcotics operations during the first half of the year. Crossing the
Equator on 20 February (during which time over 70% of the crew received
initiation as “shellbacks”), Thomas S. Gates transited the Panama Canal (23
February), and then operated off the coast of South America, monitoring air
and surface ship traffic (23 February-3 March) as flagship for JTG 4.1,
punctuating the period with a visit to Martinique (26-28 February). Operating
as JTG 4.1 flagship, RADM Michael A. McDevitt relieving RADM Fitzgerald on 3
March, during the first part of March, interrupting that work briefly for
naval gunfire support qualification at Vieques (5 March), the guided missile
cruiser debarked RADM McDevitt at Roosevelt Roads (14 March), and soon
commenced the return voyage to Norfolk, diverting briefly to Mayport, Florida,
due to a severe winter storm (18 March) before ultimately returning to
Norfolk on 21 March, immediately commencing an IMAV alongside Yellowstone.
Assigned to the newly-formed George Washington (CVN-73)
Thomas S. Gates sailed for Port Canaveral on 19 April,
HSL-44 Detachment 9 (Magnum 457) embarked, and after a visit to that place
(21-23 April), took on stores and fuel on 27 April to enable her to conduct
her second anti-drug operations period of the year (27 April-19 May). She
exercised briefly with the French helicopter carrier Jeanne D-Arc (R.97) and
escort sloop Enseigne de Vasseau Henry (F.749) (8-9 May) during her
counter-narcotics work, at the conclusion of which she conducted a missile
exercise in the northern Puerto Rican operating area (19 May), before she
conducted the return voyage to Norfolk.
Local operations for engineering training group visits,
limited team training and combat systems assessment inspections.
Restricted availability at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard,
including a dry dock period.
Sea trials and refresher training for upcoming deployment.
Evolutions included Exercise Comptuex 1-94 (19 January - 18 February), Joint
Task Group workups (8-11 March) and FleetEx 2-94 (8-24 April). Final
preparations included a short dry dock period in Sustain (ADFM-7). During
this period the warship hosted dignitaries on several occassions, including a
send off visit by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jeremy Boorda (20 May).
Underway in company with the George Washington Battle
Group, Thomas S. Gates, HSL-44 Detachment 9 (Magnum 453) embarked, sailed to
Britain to take part in ceremonies for the 50th anniversary of the D-Day
landings in Normandy. On 5 June, she anchored off Point du Hoc along with a
dozen other NATO warships as a backdrop for the ceremonies and put in to Le
Havre on the 6th to allow veterans to tour the ship. Underway on 9 June, the
cruiser sailed south to the Adriatic Sea (arriving there on the 20th via
Gibraltar) for duty as "Redcrown" (AAW defense warship) in support
of Operations Sharp Guard, Deny Flight and Provide Promise. An engine failure
on the 24th sent the cruiser to Augusta Bay for repairs, where she remained
until 5 July. The warship then sailed east to Haifa, Israel, for a port visit
(10-12 July) before returning to the Adriatic on the 16th. After turning over
duties on 27 July, the cruiser proceeded to the south of France for
festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the amphibious landings at
Theoule Sur Mer (10-16 August). Following a short repair period at Naples
(16-23 August), Thomas S. Gates quickly steamed to the Suez Canal, transited
the Red Sea and proceeded on to the Northern Arabian Gulf. Once there, she
provided AAW coverage for Operation Southern Watch (27 August - 21
September), the Allied flights over Iraq designed to protect local Shia Arabs
from attacks by Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime. Back in the Mediterranean
on 29 September, she participated in NATO Exercise Dynamic Guard 94 (2-12
October) and conducted additional "Redcrown" ops in the Adriatic
(17-31 October) before sailing for home, arriving in Norfolk on 17 November.
Thomas S. Gates, with HSL-44 Detachment 9 (Magnum 442)
& Law Enforcement Detachment (LeDet) 8I embarked, got underway early in
the year for counter-drug operations in the West Indies. The almost three
month cruise also took the warship to Cartagena, Columbia, and to the gunnery
training range off Puerto Rico.
Restricted availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
Refresher training, aviation and other certifcations and
inspections carried out until March, when the cruiser participated in NATO
Exercise Unified Spirit 1996 (22 March - 1 April).
Underway for counter-drug ops, Thomas S. Gates, with
HSL-48 Detachment 1 (Venom 507) & Law Enforcement Detachment (LeDet) 5G
embarked, transited the Panama Canal and operated in the eastern Pacific.
During this deployment, the ship held a "crossing the line
ceremony" on 18 May. The cruiser returned to Norfolk on 22 June.
Following more service inspections in the summer, the
warship began preparations for her upcoming deployment by carrying out
training exercises off Puerto Rico in mid-November and early December,
including a Harpoon missile exercise on 22 November.
Following holiday leave and upkeep, and a three week availability
at Norfolk, Thomas S. Gates conducted two weeks of JTFEX 97-2 with the John
F. Kennedy battle group in preparation for a Mediterranean deployment.
Departing Norfolk on 29 April, with HSL-48, Detachment 1
(Venom 500) embarked, the guided missile cruiser sailed across the Atlantic
and in-chopped to the 6th Fleet on 11 May, the same day she relieved guided
missile destroyer Ramage (DDG-61) as anti-air warfare commander. Following
the week-long Exercise Linked Seas (11-18 May), pulled into Palma de
Mallorca, Spain, for a five day port visit. Underway 26 May, the cruiser
sailed to Barcelona, arriving there 3 June after conducting a burial at sea
with the remains of three World War II veterans. The warship then shifted
north on the 9th, arriving at Cannes, France, on 16 June after flying off
Venom 500 on the 13th to participate in the Paris Air Show. Thomas S. Gates
then sailed to La Maddalena, Italy, for a short maintenance period (24-29
June) alongside submarine tender Simon Lake (AS-33). Following Exercise
INVITEX 97 (30 June-18 July) in the Tyrrhenean Sea, and a short visit to
Naples (18-25 July), the cruiser steamed east for a diplomatic visit to
Constanta, Rumania, arriving there via Corfu, Greece, on 11 August. The
cruiser hosted a press conference on 14 August, as well as a reception for
over 200 guests -- including Rear Admiral Traian Atanasiu, Romanian Chief of
the General Staff -- before getting underway for joint Exercise Rescue Eagle
97 (17-18 August) in the Black Sea. The warship then sailed west, arriving in
Rota, Spain, on 7 September after stops in Istanbul, Turkey and Livorno,
Italy. The cruiser then participated in joint Exercise Strong Tarpon (14-21
September) in the eastern Atlantic before conducting return port visits to
Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona and Cannes. After Thomas S. Gates put in to
Gibraltar on 10 October, she turned over with guided missile cruiser South
Carolina (CGN-37) on 16 October before sailing to Bermuda, arriving there 25
October. That same day, just after embarking crew relatives for a Tiger
cruise home, the cruiser responded to a distress call, recovering two crewmen
from the drifting sailboat Glou Glou. The warship arrived home at Norfolk on
Post-deployment leave and restricted availability.
Thomas S. Gates conducted east coast operations out of
Norfolk in the spring of 1998. These included a school ship visit to Newport,
RI, and tow escort duty while USNS Apache (T-ATF-172) towed ex-Groton
(SSN-694) south to Fort Lauderdale in April, and participation in JTFEX 98-2
in May. This cruise was followed by another availability at Norfolk (15 May -
The cruiser sailed to Puerto Rico on 15 June, conducting a
two SM-1 missile shoot off Roosevelt Roads and a Project Handclasp visit to
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, before arriving at her new home port in Pascagoula,
Mississippi on the 29th.
Restricted availability at Pascagoula; interrupted by a
hurricane sortie 1-4 September.
Local operations out of Pascagoula and Norfolk,
highlighted by a second hurricane sortie (23-30 September), guard ship
operations for the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor (OV-105) STS-88 (30 November
- 11 December) and a gunnery exercise in the Virginia Capes operating area
(25 February). The warship also visited Charleston, S.C. (1-8 March). Thomas
S. Gates then participated in Exercise Index 99-1 (26 April - 6 May).
After embarking HSL-44, Detachment 1, the cruiser got
underway for the West Indies, loading a Coast Guard LEO team at Guantanamo
Bay on 5 June. The cruiser conducted eight-weeks of counter-drug ops in the
southern Caribbean, broken only by port visits to Curacao, Netherlands
Antilles; Cristobal, Panama; Aruba; and Cartagena, Columbia, until 9 August
when the warship transited the Panama Canal. Counter-drug operations in the
eastern Pacific continued until 12 September, with work punctuated by port
visits to Rodman, Panama and Manta, Ecuador. The cruiser also carried out a
"crossing the line" ceremony on 31 August, during which nearly 300
"pollywogs" became "shellbacks." Returning to the West
Indies on 14 September, the cruiser conducted one last week of patrols before
preparing for turnover with Yorktown (CG-48) at Jamaica.
Thomas S. Gates responded to a call for assistance from
Coast Guard cutter Resolute, then in the process of conducting boarding
operations of the suspect merchant vessel Love. After an attempt by the
Love's crew to scuttle their ship, the cruiser sent a damage control team to
try and keep the merchant vessel seaworthy but those efforts failed after
repeated attempts to stop the flooding. The cruiser then sank the awash
vessel with 5-inch gunfire as it was as a hazard to navigation.
Thomas S. Gates returned to Pascagoula on 3 October and
quickly resumed local operations, conducting port visits to Pensacola (14-16
November), Galveston, Texas (2-6 December), before returning to port for the
Following local operations out of Pascagoula in the
spring, the cruiser entered Bender Marine Shipyard, Mobile, Alabama, for a
selective repair availability (07 May - 24 September). Following the attacks
of 11 September, Thomas S. Gates served as a contingency "ready
ship" for Operation Noble Eagle. Later in the fall, the warship made a
short visit to Newport in October and conducted a Destroyer Squadron Six
group sail (25 Oct - 6 Nov). In early 2002, the cruiser conducted SAR
training and endured several administrative inspections in preparation for
another counter-drug deployment.
Departing Pascagoula on 3 June, Thomas S. Gates, with HSL
42, Detachment 9 (Proud Warrior) embarked, transited the Panama Canal on 7
June to conduct counter-drug ops in the eastern Pacific. During a three-month
deployment, the cruiser conducted six patrols out of Rodman, Panama, during
which she made two major drug seizures (4.5 tons of cocaine) from
"Go-Fast" speedboats off El Salvador. The warship also conducted a
special forces exercise called Trident Warrior and a submarine tracking and
gunnery exercise with the Peruvian Navy.
Following a very brief two-week maintenance period, Thomas
S. Gates, got underway on 23 September for Exercise UNITAS 43-02 (8 - 28
October), a multi-national exercise with ships from Argentina, Brazil, Spain,
Venezuala and Uruguay. During the exercise, the warships conducted maritime
interdiction operation drills, submarine hunts and close-in ship handling.
Following leave and upkeep, Thomas S. Gates steamed to
Naval Station Yorktown to offload ordnance in preparation for a two-month
selected restricted availability. Returning south in mid-February 2003 after
stops at Staten Island and Newport, the cruiser moored at Mobile to begin
yard work on 1 March. She then sailed to Pascagoula to begin preparations for
a deployment scheduled to begin the following year. In between department
inspections and exams, the warship spent the 4th of July at Savannah,
Georgia; conducted cruise missile qualifications in August and final
engineering exams in September. The cruiser also rearmed with cruise missiles
in October before conducting Exercise Miniwar 03-4 in November.
Thomas S. Gates departed Pascagoula for operations in the
Atlantic, with HSL 42, Detachment 9, embarked.
Thomas S. Gates rendezvoused with cruise ship Celebrity
Summit (Royal Caribbean International Cruise Lines) (Bahamian Registry) in
the central Caribbean; the cruiser-s embarked USCG Enforcement Detachment
boarding team, with the cooperation of the cruise ship-s captain and security
force, apprehended Jose Miguel Battle, Jr. (El Padrino) suspected leader of
The Corporation, an organized crime outfit.
Following port visits to New London, Philadelphia and Annapolis in April and May, Thomas S. Gates helped escort the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) from Norfolk to San Diego via Cape Horn. During the circumnavigation of South America, the cruiser conducted exercises with warships from Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru. The highlight of the voyage was the passage through the Strait of Magellan, an exhausting 36-hour transit through very restricted waters.
Due to Hurricane Katrina, her last deployment was cut short. The crew was given leave to take care of their families and other personal business. The Navy decommissioned Thomas S. Gates on 15 December 2005, four months earlier than the planned March 2006 date, and only after serving 18 years in the active fleet. She was stricken the same date and was berthed at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia, PA as of 2014. As of 2008, she was slated to be dismantled in the next five years along with her sisters Vincennes and Yorktown. As of July 2014, NAVSEA planned to place ex-Thomas S. Gates and ex-Ticonderoga up for bid to scrappers via the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). DLA awarded a contract to scrap ex-Thomas S. Gates to ESCO Marine, 15 December 2014.
sources: US Naval History & Heritage Command / wikipedia