Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Content
  • nhhc-topics:cruiser
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Antietam III (CG-54)

A major battle in the U.S. Civil War fought along Antietam Creek near the town of Sharpsburg in northwestern Maryland, on 17 September 1862. The battle occurred during the first of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s two major attempts to bring the war home to the North, and marked the bloodiest single day in American military history. The clash ended in a tactical draw, but proved a northern victory strategically because Lee withdrew, gave up the offense, and resumed a defensive posture in northern Virginia.

The third U.S. Navy ship named Antietam. The first Antietam, a screw sloop-of-war begun in 1864, was completed as an equipment storeship and served from 1876-1888 ( The second Antietam, an aircraft carrier (CV-36), was reclassified to an attack aircraft carrier (CVA-36) on 1 October 1952, and to an antisubmarine warfare support aircraft carrier (CVS-36) on 8 August 1953, and served from 1945-1973 (

For the ship's Command Operations Reports see (


(CG-54: displacement 9,600; length 567'; beam 55'; draft 33'; speed 30+ knots; complement 363; armament 2 5-inch, 2 Mk 41 Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) for BGM-109 Tomahawks, RIM-66 SM-2MR Standards, and RUM-139 VL-ASROC Antisubmarine Rockets, 8 RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile canister launchers, 2 Mk 15 Close In Weapon System (CIWS), 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft 2 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawks; class Ticonderoga)

The third Antietam (CG-54) was laid down on 15 November 1984 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 14 February 1986; sponsored by Representative Beverly B. B. Byron, Maryland’s 6th Congressional District; and commissioned on 6 June 1987 at Baltimore, Md., Capt. Philip J. Coady Jr. in command.

Antietam (CG-54) iii 1987-crest


Dark blue and gold are the traditional Navy colors. The trident, a symbol of sea power, represents Antietam’s capabilities in the anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine warfare. The broken chain symbolizes the Emancipation Proclamation, which occurred following the Battle of Antietam in 1862. The two gold battle stars refer to aircraft carrier Antietam (CV-36). Red signifies the heroism and suffering of 17 September 1862, the bloodiest day of the Civil War, and the ‘Burnside Bridge’ is a landmark of the battle.


The serpent has a fourfold meaning: It appears on the first Navy Jack; its wavy shape, movements and tongue allude to Antietam’s advanced sensor systems; it is similar to the copperhead found in the state of Maryland, the site of the Civil War Battle; and its striking position reinforces the guided missile cruiser’s quick striking capabilities. The Parrott guns with the modern missile represent the continuity in ordnance. The upright positive of the missile also symbolizes the ship’s Vertical Launch Systems. The gold laurel wreath symbolizes excellence in accomplishing the mission.

Antietam operated initially with Naval Surface Group Long Beach, Naval Surface Forces Pacific, from Naval Station Long Beach, Calif. The ship completed her first deployment (2 September 1988-2 March 1989) during a voyage to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, where she operated at times with Task Force (TF) 70 and Amphibious TF 76. Oceanlord 21 and Oceanlord 32, two SH-60B Seahawks from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43 Detachment 3, embarked on board during the deployment. Antietam crossed the equator at 085° 54' E on 10 January 1989. She shifted her home port to Naval Station San Diego, Calif., on 14 September 1995.

Antietam begins a week-long exercise in Pacific waters, 31 March 2004. (040331-N-8209D-019)
Antietam off the coast of San Diego, Calif., while she begins a week-long exercise in Pacific waters, 31 March 2004. (Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class John DeCoursey, U.S. Navy Photograph 040331-N-8209D-019, Navy NewsStand)

The ship carried out a circumnavigation of the earth when she sailed westward in company with the Carl Vinson (CVN-70) Carrier Strike Group from San Diego, returning to that port (1 February-19 August 2005). She sailed in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans, and passed through the Suez and Panama Canals. Antietam inspected ships for smuggling, and protected gas-oil separation platforms while in the Northern Arabian Gulf. During some of Antietam’s operations in the Gulf (April-May), Commodore Steve Gilmore, RAN, Commander TF 58, broke his flag in the cruiser.

Antietam sailors clamber into a RHIB to board and inspect a tanker in the Northern Arabian Gulf, 26 June 2005. (050626-N-0905V-048)
Sailors of Antietam’s Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure team clamber into a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat to board and inspect a tanker in the Northern Arabian Gulf, 26 June 2005. (Photographer’s Mate Airman Chris M. Valdez, U.S. Navy Photograph 050626-N-0905V-048, Navy NewsStand)

Antietam “swapped hulls” with guided missile cruiser Cowpens (CG-63) and shifted her home port to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, relieving Cowpens on 5 February 2013. Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda cut a wide swath of destruction across the Central Philippines, killing at least 6,268 people (6-9 November 2013). Multiple U.S. ships including Antietam and aircraft raced to the Philippines during Operation Damayan and provided humanitarian assistance to the victims.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans


Published: Thu Jun 18 07:41:11 EDT 2015