Guided Missile Cruiser

CG 55  -  USS Leyte Gulf

 

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - patch crest insignia

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser - US Navy

USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55)

Type, Class:

 

Guided Missile Cruiser; Ticonderoga (Baseline 2) - class;

planned and built as CG 55;

Builder:

 

Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA

STATUS:

 

Awarded: June 20, 1983

Laid down: March 18, 1985

Launched: June 20, 1986

Commissioned: September 26, 1987

 

ACTIVE in Service / ATLANTIC FLEET

Homeport:

 

Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia

Namesake:

 

named after and in honor of the Naval Battle(s) in the Gulf of Leyte, Philippines

against Japan – October 23 – 26, 1944

Ship’s Motto:

 

ARRAYED FOR VICTORY

Technical Data:

(Measures, Propulsion,

Armament, Aviation, etc.)

 

see: INFO >> Guided Missile Cruiser / Ticonderoga – Class

LINKS:

 

Official US Navy site

 

ship images

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) - Cobh Cork, Ireland - 2003

USS Leyte Gulf 8CG 55) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) / Cobh Cork, Ireland – June 30, 2003

 

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser - Atlantic Ocean 2006

Atlantic Ocean – May 7, 2006

 

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser - Atlantic Ocean 2008

Atlantic Ocean – March 28, 2008

 

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser - Atlantic Ocean 2008

Atlantic Ocean – March 28, 2008

 

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser - US Navy

Atlantic Ocean – March 28, 2008

 

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser - New York 2008

New York – May 21, 2008

 

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser - New York 2008

New York – May 21, 2008

 

 

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, Philippines

 

Leyte and Leyte Gulf, Philippines - area map

map of the Philippines with Leyte in the middle-right

 

 

Commanders of the Battle of Leyte Gulf

 

Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey, US Navy

Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey, jr. (3rd Fleet)

 

 

Admiral Thomas Cassin Kinkaid, US Navy

Admiral Thomas Cassin Kinkaid (7th Fleet)

 

 

Namesake & History:

About the Battle of Leyte Gulf, World War II / Pacific Campaign – October 23 – 26, 1944:

 

The Battle of Leyte Gulf was a naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, fought in the seas around the island of Leyte in the Philippines from 23 October to 26 October 1944. The Japanese intended to repel or destroy the Allied invasion of Leyte. Instead, the Allied navies inflicted a major defeat on the outnumbered Imperial Japanese Navy which took away Japan's strategic force in the Pacific War.

 

The battle is widely considered to be the largest naval battle in history. It was also one of the last major sea battles to use traditional line of battle tactics.

 

Leyte Gulf also saw the first use of kamikaze aircraft by the Japanese. The Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Australia was hit on 21 October, and organized suicide attacks by the "Special Attack Force" began on 25 October.

 

Strategic background

The battles of 1943 drove the Imperial Japanese Army from its bases in the Solomon Islands, and in 1944 a series of Allied amphibious landings supported by large carrier forces captured the Marianas Islands. The Allied victory in the battle of the Philippine Sea in June destroyed the Japanese carrier power and established Allied air and sea superiority over the Western Pacific.

 

This gave the Allies freedom to choose where to strike next. Admiral Chester Nimitz favoured blockading Japanese forces in the Philippines and attacking Formosa (now Taiwan). Possession of Formosa would give the Allies control of the sea routes to Japan from Southern Asia, severing Japan's links with its garrisons, which would then perish from lack of supplies. General Douglas MacArthur favoured an invasion of the Philippines, which also lay across the supply lines to Japan. Leaving the Philippines in Japanese possession would be a blow to American prestige, and a personal affront to MacArthur, who in 1942 had famously vowed to return. President Roosevelt was called in to adjudicate the dispute; he chose the Philippines.

 

The Allied options were equally apparent to the Imperial Japanese Navy. Combined Fleet Chief Toyoda Soemu prepared four "victory" plans: Shō-1 was a major naval operation in the Philippines, Shō-2, -3 and -4 were responses to attacks on Formosa, the Ryukyu Islands and the Kurile Islands respectively. The plans were uncompromising, complex, aggressive operations committing all forces to a decisive battle.

 

Thus, when on 12 October 1944 Nimitz launched a carrier raid against Formosa to make sure that planes based there could not intervene in the Leyte landings, the Japanese put Shō-2 into action, launching wave after wave of attacks against the carriers, losing 600 planes in three days, almost their entire air force, and leaving the Japanese navy without air cover.

 

Shō-1 called for Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa's force to lure the US Third Fleet away from the landings using an apparently vulnerable force of carriers. The Allied landing forces, now lacking air cover, would then be attacked from the west by three Japanese forces: Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's force, based in Brunei, would enter Leyte Gulf and destroy the Allied landing forces. Rear-Admiral Shoji Nishimura's force and Vice Admiral Kiyohide Shima's force would act as mobile strike forces. The latter three forces would consist of surface ships.

 

The plan was likely to result in the destruction of one or more of the forces, but Toyoda later justified it to his American interrogators as follows:

 

Should we lose in the Philippines operations, even though the fleet should be left, the shipping lane to the south would be completely cut off so that the fleet, if it should come back to Japanese waters, could not obtain its fuel supply. If it should remain in southern waters, it could not receive supplies of ammunition and arms. There would be no sense in saving the fleet at the expense of the loss of the Philippines.

 

 

Overview of the battle

 

The battle consisted of four distinct engagements:

 

> Kurita's force entered the Sibuyan Sea, northwest of Leyte, on 24 October. In the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea it was attacked by carrier aircraft and Musashi was sunk. When Kurita turned around the American pilots thought he was retreating, but he turned again and made his way through the San Bernardino Strait in the night, to appear off Samar in the morning.

 

> Nishimura's force headed for the Surigao Strait to the south, where at 03:00 on 25 October it ran into an American battlegroup. In the Battle of Surigao Strait the Japanese battleships Fuso and Yamashiro were sunk, Nishimura was killed, and his surviving force retreated west.

 

> Halsey learned of the approach of Ozawa and took the bait, taking his carriers in pursuit on 25 October. In the Battle off Cape Engaño four Japanese carriers were sunk by air attacks. Ozawa's surviving ships fled for Japan.

 

> Kurita arrived off Samar at about 06:00 on 25 October. With Halsey away in pursuit of Ozawa, the forces supporting the landing were vulnerable to daylight attack. But in the Battle off Samar, desperate American destroyer torpedo attacks, relentless air attacks and bad weather bluffed Kurita into turning back.

 

 

Battle of the Sibuyan Sea

 

Kurita's powerful "Center Force" consisted of five battleships (Yamato, Musashi, Nagato, Kongo, and Haruna), and twelve cruisers (Atago, Maya, Takao, Chokai, Myoko, Haguro, Noshiro, Kumano, Suzuya, Chikuma, Tone, and Yahagi), supported by thirteen destroyers.

 

As Kurita passed Palawan Island shortly after midnight on October 23, his force was spotted by the submarines USS Dace and Darter. Although the submarines' report of the sighting was picked up by the radio operator on Yamato, the Japanese failed to take anti-submarine precautions. Kurita's flagship Atago was sunk by Darter and Maya by Dace. Takao was damaged and turned back to Brunei with two destroyers, shadowed by the submarines. On October 24, Darter grounded on the Bombay Shoal. All efforts to get her off failed, and she was abandoned.

 

Kurita survived and moved his flag to Yamato.

 

At about 08:00 on October 24, the force was spotted entering the narrow Sibuyan Sea by planes from USS Intrepid. 260 planes from Intrepid, Bunker Hill and other carriers of Task Group 38.2 attacked at about 10:30, scoring hits on Nagato, Yamato, Musashi and severely damaging Myoko. The second wave of planes concentrated on Musashi, scoring many direct hits with bombs and torpedoes. As she retreated, listing to port, a third wave from Enterprise hit her with eleven bombs and eight torpedoes. Kurita turned his fleet around to get out of range of the planes, passing the crippled Musashi as he retreated. He waited until 17:15 before turning around again to head for the San Bernardino Strait. Musashi finally rolled over and sank at about 19:30.

 

Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Onishi Takijiro had directed his First Air Fleet of 80 planes based on Luzon against the carriers Essex, Lexington, Princeton and Langley of Task Group 38.3. Princeton was hit by an armour-piercing bomb and burst into flames. At 15:30 the aft magazine exploded, killing 200 sailors on Princeton and 80 on the cruiser Birmingham which was alongside assisting with the firefighting. Birmingham was so badly damaged that she was forced to retire, and other nearby vessels were damaged too. All efforts to save Princeton failed, and she sank at 17:50.

 

 

Battle of Surigao Strait

 

Nishimura's "Southern Force" consisted of the battleships Yamashiro and Fuso, the cruiser Mogami, and four destroyers. They were attacked by bombers on October 24 but sustained only minor damage.

 

Because of the strict radio silence imposed on the Central and Southern Forces, Nishimura was unable to synchronise his movements with Shima and Kurita. When he entered the narrow Surigao Strait at about 02:00 Shima was 40 km behind him, and Kurita was still in the Sibuyan Sea, several hours from the beaches at Leyte.

 

As they passed the cape of Panaon Island they ran into a deadly trap set for them by the 7th Fleet Support Force. Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf had six battleships (Mississippi, Maryland, West Virginia, Tennessee, California, and Pennsylvania), eight cruisers (including the heavy cruisers Louisville, HMAS Australia and HMAS Shropshire), 29 destroyers and 39 PT boats. To pass the strait and reach the landings, Nishimura would have to run the gauntlet of torpedoes from the PT boats, evade two groups of destroyers, proceed up the strait under the concentrated fire of six battleships in line across the far mouth of the strait, and then break through the screen of cruisers and destroyers.

 

At about 03:00 Fuso and the destroyers Asagumo, Yamagumo, and Mishishio were hit by torpedoes. Fuso was broken in two, but did not sink. Then at 03:50 the battleships opened fire. Radar fire control meant that American battleships could hit targets at distance at which the Japanese could not reply. Yamashiro and Mogami were crippled by 16-inch (406 mm) armour-piercing shells. Shigure turned and fled but lost steering and stopped dead. Yamashiro sank at 04:19.

 

At 04:25 Shima's force of two cruisers (Nachi and Ashigara) and eight destroyers reached the battle. Seeing what they thought were the wrecks of both Nishimura's battleships (actually the two halves of Fuso), he realized the hopelessness of passing the strait and ordered a retreat. His flagship Nachi collided with Mogami, flooding the latter's steering-room. Mogami fell behind in the retreat and was sunk by aircraft the next morning. The bow half of Fuso was destroyed by Louisville and the stern half sank off Kanihaan Island. Of Nishimura's force of seven ships only Shigure survived.

 

Yamashiro was the last battleship to engage another in combat, and one of very few to have been sunk by another battleship. The battle itself was the last in naval history to take place solely between all-gun warships. This was also the last battle in which one force (the Americans, in this case) were able to cross the T of their opponents, enabling the US ships to bring all their firepower to bear on the Japanese ships.

 

 

Battle off Cape Engaño

 

Ozawa's "Northern Force" had four aircraft carriers (Zuikaku — the last surviving carrier of the Attack on Pearl Harbor — Zuiho, Chitose, and Chiyoda), two World War I battleships partially converted to carriers (Hyuga and Ise — the aft turrets had been replaced by hangar, deck and catapult, but neither carried any planes in this battle), three cruisers (Oyodo, Tama, and Isuzu), and nine destroyers. He had only 108 planes.

 

On October 24, Ozawa's force was not spotted until 16:40. The Americans were too busy attacking Kurita and dealing with the air strikes from Luzon. On the evening of October 24, Ozawa intercepted a (mistaken) American communication of Kurita's withdrawal, and began to withdraw as well. But at 20:00 Toyoda Soemu ordered all forces to attack.

 

Halsey saw that he had an opportunity to destroy the last Japanese carrier forces in the Pacific, a blow that would completely destroy Japanese sea power and allow the U.S. Navy to attack the Japanese homelands. Believing that Kurita had been defeated by the airstrikes in the Sibuyan Sea, and was retiring to Brunei, Halsey set out in pursuit of Ozawa just after midnight with all three carrier groups and Admiral Willis A. Lee's "Task Force 34" of battleships. In so doing, Halsey or members of his staff ignored reports from scout planes from the USS Independence that Kurita had turned back towards San Bernardo Strait and that the navigation lights in the strait had been turned on. When Admiral G.F. Bogan, commanding TF 38.2, radioed this information to Halsey's flagship he was rebuffed by a staff officer, who replied "Yes, yes, we have that information." Admiral Willis A. Lee, who had correctly estimated that Ozawa's force was a decoy and indicated the same in a blinker message to Halsey's ship, was similarly rebuffed.

 

The U.S. Third Fleet was formidable and completely outgunned the Japanese Northern Force. Halsey had nine fleet carriers (Intrepid, Hornet, Franklin, Lexington, Bunker Hill, Wasp, Hancock, Enterprise, and Essex), eight light carriers (Independence, Princeton, Belleau Wood, Cowpens, Monterey, Langley, Cabot, and San Jacinto), six battleships (Alabama, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Washington), seventeen cruisers and sixty-three destroyers. He could put more than 1,000 planes in the air. But it left the landings on Leyte covered only by a handful of escort carriers and destroyers.

 

Halsey had taken the bait so temptingly dangled in front of him by Ozawa; fittingly, the engagement was to take place off a cape whose name means "deceit" in Spanish.

 

On the morning of October 25, Ozawa launched 75 planes to attack the Americans, doing little damage. Most of the planes were shot down by the American covering patrols. A handful of survivors made it to Luzon.

 

The American carriers launched their first attack group of 180 aircraft at dawn, before the Northern Force had been located, and the search aircraft made contact at 7:10 a.m. At 8:00. the American fighters destroyed the screen of 30 defensive aircraft, and the air strikes began and continued until the evening, by which time the American aircraft had flown 527 sorties against the Northern Force, and sunk three of Ozawa's carriers (Zuikaku, Zuiho and Chiyoda) and the destroyer Akitsuki. The fourth carrier, Chitose, was disabled, as was the cruiser Tama. Ozawa transferred his flag to Oyodo.

 

With all the Japanese carriers sunk or disabled, the main targets remaining were the converted battleships Ise and Hyuga. Their massive construction proved resistant to the air strikes, and Halsey sent Task Force 34 forward to engage them directly. But then news reached Halsey of the engagement off Samar and that disaster was facing Sprague's Task Group 77.4. He abandoned the pursuit and turned south, detaching only a small force of cruisers and destroyers under Laurence T. DuBose to sink the disabled Japanese ships. Ise and Hyuga returned to Japan, where they were sunk at their moorings in 1945.

 

 

Battle off Samar

 

Kurita passed through San Bernardino Strait at 03:00 on 25 October 1944 and steamed south along the coast of Samar.

 

To stop them were three groups of the Seventh Fleet commanded by Admiral Thomas Kinkaid, each with six escort carriers, and seven or eight destroyers and/or destroyer escorts. Admiral Thomas Sprague's Task Unit 77.4.1 ("Taffy 1") consisted of Sangamon, Suwannee, Chenango, Santee, Saginaw Bay, and Petrof Bay. Admiral Felix Stump's Task Unit 77.4.2 ("Taffy 2") consisted of Natoma Bay, Manila Bay, Marcus Island, Kadashan Bay, Savo Island, and Ommaney Bay. Admiral Clifton Sprague's Task Unit 77.4.3 ("Taffy 3") consisted of Fanshaw Bay, St Lo, White Plains, Kalinin Bay, Kitkun Bay, and Gambier Bay. Each escort carrier carried about 30 planes, making more than 500 planes in all. Escort carriers were slow and lightly armoured and stood little chance in an encounter with a battleship.

 

A mix-up in communications led Kinkaid to believe that Willis A. Lee's Task Force 34 of battleships was guarding the San Bernardino Strait to the north and that there would be no danger from that direction. But Lee had gone with Halsey in pursuit of Ozawa. The Japanese came upon Taffy 3 at 06:45, taking the Americans completely by surprise. Kurita mistook the escort carriers for fleet carriers and thought that he had the whole of the American Third Fleet under the 18 inch (457 mm) guns of his battleships.

 

Sprague directed his carriers to turn and flee towards a squall to the east, hoping that bad visibility would reduce the accuracy of Japanese gunfire, and sent his destroyers in to distract the Japanese battleships and buy time. The destroyers attacked the Japanese line with suicidal determination, drawing fire and scattering the Japanese formations as ships turned to avoid torpedoes. Yamato found herself between two torpedoes on parallel courses and for ten minutes she headed away from the action, unable to turn back for fear of being hit. The American destroyers Hoel and Johnston, and destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts were sunk and four others were damaged, but they had bought enough time for Sprague to get his planes into the air. There was no time to reload with armour-piercing bombs, so the planes attacked with whatever they happened to have on board, (in some cases with depth charges). Sprague turned and fled south, with shells falling around his carriers. Gambier Bay, bringing up the rear, was sunk, and most of the others were hit and damaged. The small carriers bravely returned fire with the only guns they had, their single stern-mounted five-inch (127mm) anti-aircraft guns. The weapons loaded solely with anti-aircraft shells, they had little chance of inflicting any damage on even unarmored surface ships.

 

It seemed impossible for Taffy 3 to escape total destruction, but at 09:20 Kurita turned and retreated north. The destroyer attacks had broken up his formations, he had lost tactical control, and the heavy cruisers (Chokai, Suzuya, Chikuma) had been sunk by concentrated sea and air attack. Signals from Ozawa had disabused him of the notion that he was attacking the whole of the 3rd Fleet, which meant that the longer he continued to engage, the more likely it was that he would suffer devastating air strikes from Halsey's carriers. He retreated north and then west through the San Bernardino Strait under continuous air attack. Nagato, Haruna and Kongo were severely damaged. He had begun the battle with five battleships; when he returned to Japan, only Yamato was combat-worthy.

 

Aftermath

The battle of Leyte Gulf secured the beachheads of the U.S. Sixth Army on Leyte against attack from the sea. However, much hard fighting would be required before the island was completely in Allied hands at the end of December 1944: the Battle of Leyte on land was fought in parallel with an air/sea campaign in which the Japanese reinforced and resupplied their troops on Leyte while the Allies attempted to interdict them and establish air-sea superiority for a second amphibious landing in Ormoc Bay; this led to several engagements collectively referred to as the Battle of Ormoc Bay.

 

The battle destroyed Japanese naval power, and opened the way for the advance to the Ryukyu Islands in 1945. The only significant Japanese naval operation in the rest of the war was the disastrous Operation Ten-Go in April 1945.

 

As the battle was coming to an end, Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi put his "Special Attack Force" into operation, launching kamikaze attacks against the Allied ships in Leyte Gulf. On 25 October Australia was hit for a second time and forced to retire for repairs, and the escort carrier St. Lo was sunk.

 

USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55):

 

Leyte Gulf (CG-55) was laid down 18 March 1985 by Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula MS; launched 20 June 1986; and commissioned 26 September 1987.

 

She served in the Arabian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, where she launched Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets in Iraq, and served as local Anti-Air Warfare Commander for a four carrier battle force. In October 1992, she provided support for Operation Provide Comfort in the Adriatic Sea, joining other multi-national forces in response to the conflict in former Yugoslavia.

 

As part of New York City's "Fleet Week'93", a celebration honoring the U.S. sea services, 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 1 June. 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 operated in the Caribbean Sea supporting for the war on drugs. She 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, she 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 integrated into operations with two different Carrier Battle Groups. In October 1994, she 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 CNO 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.

 

She changed homeport on 30 July 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 her recently-completed deployment and just prior to a maintenance period.

 

Leyte Gulf deployed in the Adriatic Sea for Operation Allied Force as part of the Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) Battle Group. The battle group, which arrived in the Mediterranean on 3 April 1999, was originally slated to deploy directly to the Persian Gulf to relieve the Enterprise (CVN-65) 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 George Washington (CVN-73) Carrier Battle Group, and in response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, Leyte Gulf set sail in support of defense and humanitarian efforts off the coast of New York before she deployed on 19 September 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 13 October and arrived in the Arabian Sea on 15 October, before returning home in April 2002.

 

Leyte Gulf departed Norfolk 17 February 2004 to join the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group. As part of the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group, she joined the Albanian military for exercise Adriatic PHIBLEX 04-5 from 8 to 12 March 2004. She returned to Norfolk 13 August 2004.

 

patches

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - patch crest insignia

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - patch crest insignia

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - cruise patch

 

USS Leyte Gulf CG 55 - cruise patch

 

 

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