The first U.S. Navy ship named for a Civil War battle fought just south of the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers in Virginia (1–5 May 1863). Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA, who led the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, held Gen. Joseph Hooker, USA, who commanded the Union Army and Department of the Potomac, in position while Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, CSA, enveloped the Union right flank, surprising and rolling up the Federal’s right. Lee’s victory, combined with the urgent need to relieve pressure on Vicksburg, Miss., prompted the South’s thrust into Pennsylvania that summer, resulting in the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg.
Also see the ship’s Command Operations Reports.
(CG-62: 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 Systems (CIWS), 4 .50 caliber machine guns, and 6 Mk 46 torpedoes, aircraft 2 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawks; class Ticonderoga)
Chancellorsville (CG-62) was laid down on 24 June 1987 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 15 July 1988; sponsored by Mrs. Sharron M. Martin, wife of Vice Adm. Edward H. Martin, Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces, Europe; and commissioned on 4 November 1989, Capt. Gordon H. Rheinstrom in command.
Dark blue and gold are the traditional Navy colors. The dark blue and gray refer to the colors of the Union and Confederate Armies. The predominant gray refers to General Robert E. Lee’s strategies, and his dominance in the Battle of Chancellorsville. Lee achieved victory at a heavy cost, however, because Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson fell mortally wounded. The inverted wreath commemorates Jackson’s death. The embattled division and separation of the Union and Confederate colors represent the country divided. The battlements, which resemble a stone wall, allude both to Jackson, and to the fortress-like quality of an AEGIS-equipped ship. The border, red for valor and the blood shed, symbolizes the Union’s attempt to preserve the United States. The sword stands for combat readiness, and its upright position emphasizes Chancellorsville’s vertical launch capabilities. The bugle horn, adapted from Civil War insignia, calls the ship’s crewmembers to “Press on”, echoing one of Jackson’s favored phrases.
The trident is symbolic of sea power. Its three tines represent Chancellorsville’s antiair, antisurface, and antisubmarine warfare capabilities. The AEGIS shape and Civil War cannon embody new and old weaponry.
On 14 April 1993, former President George H. W. Bush, his wife Barbara, two of their sons, and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, arrived in Kuwait to participate in ceremonies commemorating the allied victory in Gulf War I. The Kuwaitis arrested and charged 17 men with an attempt to assassinate the chief executive and Kuwaiti Emir (Sheikh) al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah with a car bomb. The CIA announced on 29 April that the bomb bore the evidence of Iraqi origins. On the night of 26 June therefore, Chancellorsville launched nine BGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) from the Northern Arabian Gulf, and destroyer Peterson (DD-969) fired 14 more missiles from the Red Sea, in a coordinated attack against the Iraqi Intelligence Service headquarters building in Baghdad, Iraq. At least 13 missiles struck the walled compound. During a press conference Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, described the attack as a “proportionate” response to the Iraqi assassination plot. The U.S. subsequently dispatched aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and guided missile destroyer Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) to reinforce allied forces deployed to the Red Sea.
Chancellorsville, with Saberhawk 63 (BuNo. 162985) and Saberhawk 71 (BuNo. 163242), a pair of Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawks of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) 47 Detachment 8 embarked, set out from Naval Station (NS) San Diego, Calif., for Operation Carib Shield, a counter-narcotics deployment with Joint Interagency Task Force South in the Caribbean (6 November 1996–6 February 1997). The ship refueled briefly (14–15 November) at Rodman NS at the Panama Canal Zone and then passed through the canal into the Caribbean. Officials meanwhile on 21 November pursued a go-fast boat smuggling illicit substances and attempting to flee and requested assistance. The chase proved too hot for the criminals and they threw their cargo overboard and escaped, but Saberhawk 63 lifted off from the ship and they together confiscated 19 bales of cocaine. Chancellorsville anchored and refueled at Cartagena, Colombia, on the 25th, however, the following day reports reached the warship of another go-fast moving off the Colombian coast. The cruiser sped out of port and although the smugglers tossed their narcotics overboard, Saberhawk 71 and its rescue swimmer worked with the ship and they collectively confiscated 39 bales of cocaine. In total the ship and her helos intercepted more than 800 pounds of unprocessed cocaine in a matter of days. Chancellorsville refueled at Colón at the Panama Canal Zone on 2 December, and visited Aruba in the Netherlands Antilles (6–10 December).
The ship passed westbound through the canal and refueled at Rodman (12–13 December) and resumed patrolling for smugglers, this time in the eastern Pacific. On the 18th, SM2 Joseph Burch spotted a flickering light on the horizon. Chancellorsville closed and identified the light as a flaming rag that a man held aloft in distress, and the ship discovered fishing boat Socrates, which had lost power and been adrift for ten days, and reached a position about 83 miles out to sea. The cruiser’s repair division quickly rigged damage control equipment and boarded the vessel and stopped leaks that endangered her stability. The boarders provided food and water to the fishermen, and rigged a towline while the warship maneuvered into station and took her in tow to safety to territorial waters, where she handed off her charge to the local authorities. Chancellorsville followed that stirring rescue of the stranded mariners by refueling at Rodman on 23 December before returning to sea, and celebrated the holidays underway, the crew’s lonely vigil on Christmas morning broken by a satellite telecommunications call from Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton, who spoke to them through the ship’s 1MC system. Chancellorsville greeted the New Year at Rodman, and then (13–17 January and 30 January–2 February 1997, respectively) visited Salinas, Ecuador, and Acapulco, Mexico, before returning to San Diego.
Chancellorsville carried out an eight week (11 April–5 June 2000) training course in company with Kitty Hawk (CV-63) and destroyer O’Brien (DD-975). The cruiser embarked Hellfire 01, a SH-60B Seahawk of HSL-51, Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey B. Barta, office in charge and airboss. The ship’s company and the air detachment took a break from the grueling pace at sea and the mid-day temperature of 85 F. and held a steel beach picnic on 16 April. In addition that week (19–20 April), the ship embarked marine spotters at Apra, Guam, and then practiced firing both of her 5-inch mounts against targets on the uninhabited island of Farralon de Medinilla, about 180 miles north of Guam, and at a towed target drone — also testing the CIWS against the latter. Chancellorsville was scheduled to test fire two Standard missiles during a missile exercise with Kitty Hawk on the 25th, but the drones ended-up stranded on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and the Navy cancelled the exercise.
Kitty Hawk, Chancellorsville, O’Brien, and Military Sealift Command-manned ammunition ship Flint (T-AE-32) and replenishment oiler Rappahannock (T-AO-204) passed through Leyte Gulf, the Balabac Strait, Sulu Sea, and Surigao Strait (1–3 May) and then (6–10 May) moored at Sembawang, Singapore, for a visit to that bustling international port. The ship’s historian reported that the numerous ships and fishing vessels plying those constricted waters required “some deft maneuvering and shiphandling from the bridge and CIC [Combat Information Center] teams.” Chancellorsville stood down that channel and anchored at Pattaya, Thailand (14–17 May). Crewmembers often volunteered to help in community relations projects when the ship visited ports, and a group did so at Pattaya. Following that visit, Chancellorsville sailed (17–21 May) into Cobra Gold 2000, an annual multinational exercise involving more than 13,000 U.S. servicemembers and members of the Thai and Singaporean armed forces in the western Pacific. Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, visited the ship on the 20th and spoke briefly to officers in the wardroom and then to the whole ship’s company mustered on the fantail.
The crew followed their participation in the exercise with a visit to Hong Kong when Chancellorsville moored to a buoy at that harbor (26–30 May). Here again, sailors went ashore and reached out to people, and STG1 Brian Foster and FC1 Jermaine Whitfield spearheaded the effort to establish “Project Good Neighborhood,” a joint relationship between the ship’s company and the Methodist Epworth Village Community Center, Social Warfare, in the Chai Wan area of Hong Kong, where the sailors played games with the children and read them stories. Rear Adm. Timothy J. Keating, Commander, Task Force 70, visited the ship and spoke to the crew assembled on the forecastle on 3 June. The following night tracer rounds illuminated the night sky as the ship demonstrated some of her firepower for guests on board the cruiser and Kitty Hawk -- including Vice Adm. Norbert R. Ryan Jr., Chief of Naval Personnel, on the carrier -- and fired many of her smaller weapons including M60 and .50 caliber machine guns and the 25 millimeter gun. Chancellorsville’s sailors enjoyed their final steel beach picnic of the cruise on the 4th and the next day returned to Pier 6 at Yokosuka, Japan.
Chancellorsville and Cushing (DD-985) crossed to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force side of Yokosuka and visited the Chibikko Youth Festival on 20 July. More than 12,000 people took part in the festival, and over 7,400 of them toured the cruiser. Chancellorsville then (28 July–12 August 2000) set out for a brief cruise to Chinese and Korean waters. A typhoon compelled the ship to change course more than once during the voyage, but after Chancellorsville emerged from the storm Chinese guided missile destroyer Harbin (DDG.112) rendezvoused with the ship and escorted her into Qingdao on the 2nd. Harbin sported a large banner that read “Warmly Welcome U.S. Navy Ship To Visit Qingdao”, and Adm. Fargo and an entourage of Chinese admirals greeted the cruiser on her arrival. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy hosted a reception for 95 of the ship’s crewmembers at a hotel that day, and the following day Chancellorsville reciprocated the arrangements for her Chinese hosts, and showed more than 1,500 Chinese servicemembers around the ship. Chancellorsville sailors visited a Chinese beach, and a large contingent flew to Beijing for a three-day trip, and toured the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. The ship’s company guided over 3,800 Chinese citizens around Chancellorsville on the 4th, and the following day she stood out the port and took part in CSOFEX, a two-day Counter Special Forces Operations Exercise, off South Korea. Barta and his crew of Hellfire 01 controlled USA Boeing AH-64 Apaches and USAF Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt IIs as they flew multiple practice attack runs against “killer tomatoes” live-fire targets.
While Chancellorsville operated with the Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group in the Molucca Sea on 4 May 2004, she received a call over her bridge-to-bridge radio from motor vessel Stanley, which called on behalf of Indonesian fishing vessel Adem Laut, which requested assistance. Adem Laut had been adrift for nearly a week, but the 14 crewmembers still had (diminishing) stocks of food and water. Chancellorsville made for the area, and Lt. David Grattan, her officer of the deck, ordered a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to aid the fishermen. The sailors manning the RHIB included two engineers, MRC Zoilo DeArce and EN1 Arnold Olea, who boarded Adem Laut and attempted to repair her engine, but they could not complete the extensive repairs required while at sea. Chancellorsville consequently contacted the U.S. Defense Attaché in Jakarta, Indonesia, who explained the situation to the Indonesian fleet. Ens. Shielito Riodique directed Chancellorsville’s boatswain’s mates, led by BM2 Ronnie McKennon, to rig a towing hawser, and the cruiser took Adem Laut in tow to close the range to the nearest Indonesian naval vessel. The following morning, Indonesian patrol boat Kri Batola relieved Chancellorsville of her tow. “This is an example of the goodwill and professionalism of the USS Chancellorsville team,” Ens. Shane M. Fox summarized.
Explosions broke the stillness of the afternoon for Chancellorsville, moored at Berth 5 on Muroran Sakimori Pier at Hokkaido, Japan, at 1345 on 5 February 2006. A fire erupted at the Nippon Petroleum Refinery, about a mile and a half from the ship’s starboard quarter, and appeared to quickly spread out of control. Chancellorsville increased her security and damage control readiness, and prepared to emergency sortie. The ship also notified the Japanese authorities that she stood ready to render assistance. Wind blew the smoke from the fire away from the ship, however, and at 1425 Japanese law enforcement agents informed the cruiser that the firefighters had controlled the blaze. Chancellorsville did not report casualties or damage.
Typhoon Fengshen, known to Filipinos as Typhoon Frank, roared across the western Pacific (17–27 June 2008), and primarily tore a path of destruction through the central and northern Philippines. The U.S. rushed forces to the Philippines to provide relief efforts to victims of the disaster, and on 25 June Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) arrived off Panay, where heavy flooding devastated the island. HH-60H and SH-60F Seahawks from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 4 flying from the carrier, and SH-60Bs from HSL-49, embarked on board Chancellorsville, HSL-43 on Howard (DDG-83), and HSL-37, deployed with guided missile frigate Thach (FFG-43), delivered food and water to people in the area. Two Grumman C-2A Greyhounds from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 flew rice and water from the carrier to Santa Barbara Airport at Iloilo. Ronald Reagan came about from the Sulu Sea on 3 July.
Chancellorsville faithfully shepherded Ronald Reagan when the carrier and her group deployed to the western Pacific and Indian Ocean (13 January–9 September 2011). The ships of the group had reached the area of the Marianas Islands, where Chancellorsville visited Saipan (5–8 February), and had resumed their voyage westward when a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake occurred off the Tōhoku region of Honshū, Japan, at 1446 on 11 March. The earthquake triggered tsunami waves that killed at least 15,894 people. The U.S. initiated Operation Tomodachi (from the Japanese Tomodachi Sakusen — Operation Friend[s]) to provide humanitarian relief to the victims. Ronald Reagan and her screen diverted northward and supported Tomodachi, and Chancellorsville aided the Japanese through the end of the month (12–30 March). A total of 24,000 U.S. servicemembers, 189 aircraft, and 24 ships served in Tomodachi (12 March–4 May 2011).
An aerial target drone malfunctioned and crashed into Chancellorsville while the ship carried out a radar tracking exercise in southern Californian waters, at 1325 on 16 November 2013. The drone’s impact inflicted minor burns on two sailors, who were treated on board, and the ship came about for NS San Diego to repair her (limited) damage.