Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Cape St. George (CG-71)


The Battle of Cape St. George, fought by U.S. and Japanese forces off Cape St. George, New Ireland, Bismarck Archipelago, during the early hours of 25 November 1943. The five U.S. ships of Destroyer Squadron 23, Captain Arleigh A. Burke in command, intercepted five Japanese destroyers led by Captain Kagawa Kiyoto. American destroyers Charles Ausburne (DD-570), Claxton (DD-571), and Dyson (DD-572) sank Japanese destroyers Ōnami with torpedoes and Yūgiri with gunfire; the same three U.S. ships, joined by Converse (DD-509) and Spence (DD-512), sank Makinami with torpedoes and gunfire and damaged Uzuki. The United States ships emerged from the fighting unscathed, and the battle validated the Navy’s efforts to utilize radar to offset the (hitherto) Japanese superiority in night tactics.

The first U.S. Navy ship named for the battle.

For Cape St. George’s Command Operations Reports see (

(CG-71: 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)

Cape St. George (CG-71) was laid down on 19 November 1990 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 10 January 1992; sponsored by Mrs. Doree Heckman, wife of Vice Adm. Peter M. Hekman Jr. (Ret.), former Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command; and commissioned on 12 June 1993, Capt. Donald H. Nash in command.

Cape St. George (CG-71) Ship's Seal.
Cape St. George (CG-71) Ship's Seal.


Blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy. White and red, the colors of the flag of St. George, stand for integrity and courage. The cross refers to St. George and the ship’s name, while recalling the Battle of Cape St. George in World War II. The torpedo alludes to the primary weapon used in that battle; and the missile refers to the modern weaponry that equips Cape St. George (CG-71). The trident, symbolizing naval power, is surmounted by three Indian arrows, recalling the nickname, “Little Beavers,” by which Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 23 became known, as well as alluding to the three Japanese ships sunk in the battle.


The capabilities of the Aegis system are represented by the stylized black demi-array; the dragon symbolizes the Japanese. The swords and star recall the many honors and awards of the destroyers of DesRon 23 and allude to a strong and ready defense. They are intertwined by a ribbon in the colors of the Presidential Unit Citation, which the destroyers that fought in the Battle of Cape St. George subsequently received. Silver and gold symbolize integrity and excellence; black represents power and steadfastness and recalls the nighttime engagement.

Cape St. George steams beneath the setting sun through a tranquil Arabian Gulf, 28 February 2006. (Photographer’s Mate Airman Kathleen Gorby, U.S. Navy Photograph 060228-N-4776G-187, Navy NewsStand)

Cape St. George and guided missile destroyer Gonzalez (DDG-66) conducted maritime security operations as part of Combined Task Force 150, Commodore Hank Ort, RNN, in command, in international waters about 25 nautical miles off the central eastern Somali coast when they spotted a suspicious vessel towing two smaller skiffs, bearing west toward that coast, at 0540 on 18 March 2006. Gonzalez dispatched her boarding team in rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) to investigate, but the boarders observed that the suspected pirates brandished what appeared to be rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers. The pirates opened fire and Cape St. George and Gonzalez returned the shooting with small arms fire, killing one of the pirates, wounding five more, and igniting a fire on board the pirate’s main vessel, which subsequently sank. The Americans did not suffer any casualties, and the boarders took 12 pirates, including the five wounded men, into custody, together with an RPG launcher and automatic weapons. A Dutch medical team from replenishment ship Amsterdam (A.836) assisted the Americans in providing medical attention to the wounded men, two of whom were afterward transferred to amphibious assault ship Peleliu (LHA-5) for additional treatment. The U.S., working through the International Committee of the Red Cross, later repatriated ten of the pirates.

Some of the pirates peer suspiciously from one of their skiffs, 18 March 2006 (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 060318-N-8623S-002, Navy NewsStand)
The pirate’s primary vessel burns after the battle. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 060318-N-8623S-003, Navy NewsStand)
A bullet hole in Cape St. George’s hull attests to the deadliness of the battle against the pirates. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 060318-N-8623S-006, Navy NewsStand)
The boarders confiscate one of the pirate’s RPGs and a couple of assault rifles. (Unattributed U.S. Navy Photograph 060318-N-8623S-001, Navy NewsStand)

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans


Published: Mon Jun 29 15:03:30 EDT 2015