Naval History and Heritage Command

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Cowpens II (CG-63)


A battle during the American War of Independence, fought between Continental troops under the command of Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, and British forces led by Lieutenant General Banastre Tarleton, north of Cowpens, South Carolina, on 17 January 1781. The battle draws its name from its site, pastureland used by frontier farmers. Morgan decisively defeated Tarleton, and his victory raised the patriots’ morale.

The second ship named Cowpens. The first Cowpens (CV-25), an aircraft carrier, was laid down as light cruiser Huntingdon (CL-77) on 17 November 1941, reclassified to CV-25 on 27 March 1942, renamed Cowpens on 31 March 1942, reclassified to a small aircraft carrier (CVL-25) on 15 July 1943, reclassified to an auxiliary aircraft transport (AVT-1) on 15 May 1959, and served from 1943-1959 (

(CG-63: 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 32 torpedo tubes, aircraft 2 Sikorsky SH-60B Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III Seahawks; class Ticonderoga)

The second Cowpens (CG-63) was laid down on 23 December 1987 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works; launched on 11 March 1989; sponsored by Mrs. Lucy H. Mustin, wife of Vice Adm. Henry C. Mustin, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Plans, Policy and Operations; and commissioned on 9 March 1991, Capt. Edward Moore Jr. in command.

Cowpens (CG-63) Ship's Seal.
Cowpens (CG-63) Ship's Seal.


Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy. Red denotes valor and sacrifice; white represents high ideals. The wavy bars refer to the sea and Cowpens’ area of operations. The circle of twelve stars represents the battle stars that Cowpens (CV-25) attained in World War II. The Navy sword symbolizes a heritage of service, as well as the vertical launch capabilities of the cruiser. Brigadier General Morgan drew up his forces in three lines (alluded to by the three bars) on a terrain of felled trees and rough fences (denoted by the jagged raguly edge of the wedge shape) during the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. Morgan’s rally and attack turned the battle into a decisive victory. The wedge or pile symbolizes the spearhead of that attack, as well as suggesting the vertical launch capabilities of AEGIS and its weapons systems.


The muskets with bayonets emphasize that the patriots won the Battle of Cowpens by the close combat of sustained fire and bayonet attack. The drum stems from the Revolutionary War period and suggests the call to arms. The first eagle and stripes flag and the Maryland Regimental flag were displayed on the battlefield. Cowpens (CV-25) received the Navy Unit Commendation for her World War II service, represented by the colors blue, gold, red, and green. The rays or spikes shooting skyward characterize combat air support and quick strike capabilities of CV-25, and the AEGIS weapons system of CG-63.

Iraqi antiaircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles fired at allied aircraft on 17 January 1993, and enemy fighters darted back and forth across the 36th parallel in an attempt to draw coalition aircraft toward heavier concentrations of air defenses deployed just below the boundaries. Cowpens and destroyers Hewitt (DD-966) and Stump (DD-978), steaming in the Arabian Gulf, and destroyer Caron (DD-970) in the Red Sea, therefore launched 42 BGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) at the Zaafaraniyah Fabrication Facility, a plant located in the Baghdad area, that coalition intelligence analysts suspected of making nuclear weapons parts. At least 30 missiles struck the target area. Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagles bombed the Tallil Station Air Operations Center.

Al-Qaeda terrorists detonated truck bombs at the U.S. Embassies at Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, killing at least 301 people including 12 Americans, and injuring an estimated 5,000 victims, on 7 August 1998. Saudi émigré terrorist Usama bin Lāden had issued two fatāwās (Islamic legal pronouncements) in which he instructed Muslims to kill Americans, and bin Lāden subsequently failed to distinguish between the military and civilians, including women and children.

On 20 August 1998 the U.S. launched Operation Infinite Reach (Resolute Response) - two simultaneous retaliatory raids in response to the twin al-Qaeda attacks. Guided missile cruisers Cowpens and Shiloh (CG-67), destroyers Elliott (DD-967) and Milius (DDG-69), and attack submarine Columbia (SSN-771), operating with the Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) Carrier Battle Group sailing in the North Arabian Sea, fired 73 TLAMs at the Zhawar Kili al-Badr terrorist training and support complex, located 30 miles southwest of Khowst, Afghanistan. Destroyers Briscoe (DD-977) and Hayler (DD-997), steaming in the Red Sea, launched six more TLAMs against the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant near Khartoum, Sudan. Intelligence analysts suspected the plant of having ties to bin Lāden, and of manufacturing precursor chemicals for the deadly VX series of nerve gas. The Sudanese and critics claimed that the plant did not produce VX. Additional ships involved in these battles included amphibious assault ship Essex (LHD-2), dock landing ship Anchorage (LSD-36), and amphibious transport dock Duluth (LPD-6), with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked. Forward deployed Lockheed EP-3E Aries IIs of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1 and P-3C Orions of Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 operated as part of Task Force 57. The attacks killed at least 11 terrorists. Abraham Lincoln evaluated the “pivotal” role of her command, control, communications, computers, and information suite in the two simultaneous operations on two separate continents, and in the dissemination of the initial battle damage assessment.

Following an earthquake that devastated Mumbai, India, Cowpens, with Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light (HSL) 51 Detachment 2 embarked, delivered more than $80,000 worth of disaster relief supplies to victims in the area, on 15 February 2001.

Cowpens, Capt. Charles B. Dixon in command, deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom I and on short notice fired 11 TLAMs from both her forward and aft launchers against Iraqi military targets while sailing in the Arabian Gulf, just before dawn on 20 March 2003.

Cowpens maneuvers into position during a replenishment while deployed to the South China Sea, 24 October 2013. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes, U.S. Navy Photograph 10460669003_ff58e91f83_o, Naval Surface Force, Pacific Fleet Public Affairs)

Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda cut a wide swath of destruction across the Central Philippines, killing at least 6,268 people, from 6-9 November 2013. Multiple U.S. aircraft and ships, including Cowpens, raced to the Philippines during Operation Damayan, humanitarian assistance to the victims of the disaster. Cowpens sailed at times in company with aircraft carrier George Washington (CVN-73). The cruiser’s embarked SH-60B, from HSL-49 Detachment 6, supported an MH-60R Seahawk flying from littoral combat ship Freedom (LCS-1), and delivered relief supplies to people from a position 16 nautical miles off shore, beginning on 16 November. American and Filipino servicemembers and civil aid workers unloaded ten pallets (five of medical and five of hygienic supplies) at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport at Tacloban, Leyte. The victims of the tragedy, as well as the aid workers, desperately needed the supplies, especially hand sanitizer, baby wash, band-aids, and disinfectant. The first time I saw the impact of the typhoon, I was shocked,” Lt. j.g. Christine Mayfield of HSL-49 recalled. “It feels great to be out there and helping people.”

Filipinos thank Aviation Aircrewman 3rd Class Peter Olson of HSL-49 Detachment 6, 18 November 2013. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman, U.S. Navy Photograph 131118-N-BX824-021, Navy NewsStand)

“We had people who just kept helping us carry boxes, bags, and water onto the helicopter,” Aviation Aircrewman 3rd Class Peter Olson explained. “It was good to see people out there who were carrying supplies, sweating all day to make sure that these supplies got to where they needed to go.” The helicopters often delivered supplies in areas hitherto inaccessible to aid workers, which taxed the pilots’ skills to steer clear of trees, debris, fallen structures, and mud. “It took a lot of crew coordination to land in some of the landing zones,” Lt. Anthony Morana, an HSL-49 pilot, elaborated. “The first place we went to had soft ground so we started sinking. We had to come up and found a place to hover over to drop supplies. The co-pilot and the aircrewman did a great job talking to each other and letting each other know what they saw and how to make adjustments and clear a flight path.” The sailors collected candy and crackers in a box marked “For the children” in the ship’s hangar bay, and delighted the young recipients by distributing the snacks.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

Published: Mon Jul 06 09:19:01 EDT 2015