The late summer and fall of 1777 saw America's War
for Independence going badly for the American troops under the command of
George Washington. In late August 1777, the British had landed their forces at
the upper end of the Chesapeake Bay with the objective of occupying Philadelphia,
the American capital.
Washington's efforts to defend Philadelphia failed. After defeating the
Americans at Brandywine, the British occupied Philadelphia on September 26,
1777. Efforts to retake the capital also failed when the American troops were
defeated at the Battle of Germantown on October 4.
With winter approaching, Washington sought quarters for his weary troops to
pass the winter. He selected Valley Forge, located 18 miles northwest of
Philadelphia. The area was named for an iron forge on Valley Creek.
Valley Forge was selected since it was considered easily defensible, with
Mount Joy and Mount Misery to the west and the Schuylkill River to the North.
Yet it was close enough to the British in Philadelphia to prevent any
attempts by the British to move inland to the rich farmlands of the interior
On December 19, 1777, over 12,000 members of the Continental Army arrived at
Valley Forge. Weary, ill-fed and poorly equipped, the men struggled to
construct shelters for protection against the rapidly approaching winter.
While no battles against the British were fought that winter, casualties
mounted at alarming rates as the army faced irregular food supplies,
inadequate clothing. Over 2000 soldiers died from disease such as dysentery,
pneumonia, typhus and typhoid. Little help arrived from Congress and the suffering
continued to grow worse.
The arrival of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben in February 1778 marked a
turning point in encampment at Valley Forge. A former member of the General
Staff of Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, von Steuben was without work
and willing to assist the struggling Continental Army.
Arriving at Valley Forge with a letter of introduction from Benjamin
Franklin, Washington quickly assigned von Steuben the position of Acting
Inspector General and charged him with developing and implementing a training
program for the American troops.
Von Steuben's work with the troops over the next months instilled a new
confidence in the soldiers and in their ability to succeed in their mission.
As Spring arrived, so did much needed supplies and fresh troops to replace
those who had deserted or died. Spring also brought news that the Continental
Congress had forged an alliance with the French that guaranteed military
support. The British had departed Philadelphia.
On June 19, 1778, the Continental Army under the command of General George
Washington marched away from Valley Forge in pursuit of the British who were
heading towards New York. While the War for Independence would continue for
several more years, the young army had survived its most difficult tests yet
during its winter encampment at Valley Forge.
Valley Forge (CG-50) was laid down by Ingalls
Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi 14 April 1983; launched 23 June 1984;
and commissioned 18 January 1986.
In April 1987, Valley Forge made her initial deployment to the Western
Pacific and Indian Ocean. This was the first time an Aegis cruiser deployed
with a Pacific Fleet Battle Group. While in the North Arabian Gulf, Valley
Forge conducted escort operations with reflagged Kuwaiti tankers in support
of Operation Earnist Will. The ship deployed to the Western Pacific and Indian
Ocean in December 1988.
In December 1990, Valley Forge returned to the Arabian Gulf in support of
Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As Anti-Air Warfare Commander for
two battle groups, the ship provided protection to coalition ships deployed
to the Arabian Gulf. In addition, Valley Forge played a key role in the
elimination of the Iraqi Navy as a threat to coalition forces.
In July 1992, Valley Forge returned to the Pacific and Indian Oceans in
support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Restore Hope. Off the coast
of Somalia, the ship acted as the Air Defense Zone Coordinator, Anti-Air
Warfare Commander, and primary naval gunfire support ship.
Valley Forge departed San Diego in April 1993 to conduct extended
counter-narcotics operations. While deployed, the ship served in a
coordinated air surveillance network that included our Air Force, Coast
Guard, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Customs Department. The operations
culminated in the seizure of five tons of cocaine from the motor vessel Sea
From December 1994 until May 1995, Valley Forge again deployed to the Eastern
Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea in support of counter-narcotics operations.
The ship served as the Anti-Air Warfare Commander for the Joint Interagency
task Force East, providing air traffic surveillance and coordinated joint
In August 1995, Valley Forge transited to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to participate
in "Cooperation from the Sea "95," the first combined
U.S.-Russian exercise to take place on American Soil, and the Commemoration
of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the end of World War II with Russian,
Canadian, New Zealand, and Australian naval units.
In August 1996, Valley Forge conducted a Middle East Force deployment with
extensive operations in the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern
Watch. While in the Arabian Gulf, Valley Forge conducted carrier escort
duties, acted as Air, Surface and Subsurface Coordinator, and detained and
boarded numerous Iraqi sanction violators. While deployed in the region,
Valley Forge (CG-50) participated in the joint U.S.-British GULFEX 97-1
exercise in the Gulf of Oman. GULFEX 97-1 was a three-day exercise involving
eight American and British ships, including the aircraft carriers Enterprise
(CVN-65) and HMS Invincible and a U.S. submarine. Valley Forge returned to
San Diego in February after port visits to Manila, Singapore, Bahrain,
Muscat, Bali, Perth, Sydney, New Caledonia and Pearl Harbor.
The Valley Forge, in September 1997, took part in Teamwork North 97, an
undersea warfare exercise against the Chilean diesel submarine Simpson and
Salt Lake City (SSN-716), off the coast of Southern California. The exercise
provided the Valley Forge (CG-50), Elliot (DD-967) and Jarrett (FFG-33) an
opportunity to evaluate search, classification and engagement techniques
against a diesel submarine threat, as well as providing an opportunity to
determine how ships and aircraft can best protect other assets from a
submarine attack. The week began with submarine familiarization exercises
designed to train personnel on the characteristics of submarine sensors.
Next, the exercise focused on protecting two priority assets - an oiler and
an aircraft carrier - while refueling. That was followed by a choke
point/barrier transit exercise in which the three surface combatants had to
transit a narrow water lane, while screening the carrier or oiler and
avoiding the enemy submarine. The week concluded with an exercise torpedo
firing by Valley Forge and Jarrett.
The Valley Forge finished WESTPAC 98 in December. The deployment was an
overwhelming success for the ship and the Abraham Lincoln Battlegroup. Valley
Forge saw liberty in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Albany and Melbourne
Australia, and several Arabian Gulf ports. The ship's time on station in the
Middle East was action packed with many new and interesting missions.
In April of 2000, Valley Forge conducted a six months Counter Drug Operations
in the Southern Pacific as a part of the Joint-Interagency Task Force
interdicting the illegal flow of narcotics into the United States and other
countries being transported via the sea-lanes. Working in conjuntion with the
Coast Guard, Valley Forge seized approximately two and a half tons of
cocaine. Valley Forge returned in September after port visits to Acapulco,
Panama, Ecuador, Puerto Vallarta, Cartegena, Mayport, Aruba, and Curacao.
The Valley Forge completed in mid-2001 its installation of a new integrated
control system which utilizes the Navy's advanced smart ship technology, and
is designed to provide an improved command and control system throughout the
entire ship and in nearly every mission area.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Valley Forge was designated as the
flagship for the commander of Maritime Interception Operations in the
Northern Arabian Gulf. It also served as the logistics command for many of
the coalition ships in the Arabian Gulf, and in the days prior to the start
of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Valley Forge played a crucial role as the command
and control platform for Special Forces Units (U.S. Navy SEALs and USMC Fast
Platoons) for the seizing of two Iraqi offshore oil platforms. Throughout OIF
combat operations, Valley Forge was the closest U.S. cruiser or destroyer to
Valley Forge was decommissioned 30 August 2004 but retained in maintenance as
a surge asset.
ex USS Valley Forge was sunk on November 2, 2006 as
part of a target practice on a test range near Kauai, Hawaii.