Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Leyte Gulf (CG-55)

1987-

The Battle of Leyte Gulf, 23-26 October 1944. The first ship named for Leyte Gulf (the third ship named Leyte (CV-32) was also named after the battle).

(CG-55: 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)

Leyte Gulf (CG-55) was laid down on 18 March 1985 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 20 June 1986; sponsored by Mrs. Jane Hays, wife of Adm. Ronald J. Hays, Commander in Chief, Pacific Command; and commissioned on 26 September 1987 at Port Everglades, Fla., Capt. Joseph M. Browne II in command.

DN-SN-88-01322
Leyte Gulf carries out her sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico, October 1987. (Ingalls Shipbuilding, donated to the Navy, Department of Defense Photograph DN-SN-88-01322, Ships History, Naval History & Heritage Command)

Destroyer Peterson (DD-969) intercepted and diverted suspected smuggler Samra to a holding anchorage during maritime interception operations in the North Arabian Gulf, on 18 November 2001. A boarding party discovered 1,700 metric tons of Iraqi oil, but the weather deteriorated and a shamal (a hot wind from the north) developed with heavy winds and seas. Samra sank and EN1 Vincent Parker, ET3 Benjamin Johnson, and four smugglers died. Proud Warrior 437, an SH-60B Seahawk from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 Detachment 2, flying from Leyte Gulf; two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) from the cruiser; Magnum 443, a LAMPS Mk III helo from HSL-44 Detachment 4, embarked on board Peterson; and guided missile frigates Ingraham (FFG-61), and Australian Sydney (FFG.03), rescued six Americans and ten smugglers.

The North Koreans test launched multiple ballistic missiles on 5 July 2006, and the following day aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65) and Leyte Gulf detached from their operations in the Indian Ocean and turned eastward. A storm lashed the ships as they made for the Western Pacific, and high winds and heavy seas churned the sea into froth, sent waves crashing over the flight deck of the carrier, and damaged Leyte Gulf, which came about for the Arabian Gulf for repairs. Enterprise continued to the Pacific.

110131-N-0569K-162
Leyte Gulf passes through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean while sailing in company with aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN-65 – out of the picture), 31 January 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jared M. King, U.S. Navy Photograph 110131-N-0569K-162, Navy NewsStand)

In December 2004, four American Christians, Scott U. and Jean S. Adam, and Phyllis P. Macay and Robert C. Riggle, had begun a global circumnavigation on board their sailing vessel Quest. The four evangelized and distributed bibles to people in multiple countries, but on 18 February 2011 Somali pirates hijacked Quest and the four missionaries, 190 nautical miles southeast of al Masirah. Enterprise, Leyte Gulf, and guided missile destroyer Bulkeley (DDG-84) sailed to the area to free the hostages, subsequently reinforced by guided missile destroyer Sterett (DDG-104). On the morning of 22 February, a pirate suddenly fired a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) at Sterett and gunfire broke out on board Quest. Fifteen Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) team members in two RHIBs boarded the sailboat and killed two pirates, one in a knife fight, and captured the remaining 15. The boarders discovered that the Somalis had shot and killed all four prisoners, and identified the bodies of two pirates apparently killed by the others during a dispute. At least two of the pirates, Ali A. Mohamed and Burhan A. Yusuf, received life sentences for murdering the missionaries.

When pirates seized the Philippines-registry merchantman Falcon Trader II in the Arabian Sea on 21 March 2011, the freighter’s 20 crewmembers locked themselves into a safe room known as a ‘citadel,’ located over the vessel’s steering and propulsion, and radioed for help. At 1030, Enterprise dispatched pilot Lt. Joshua A. Overn of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 11 in a Seahawk to the area. Leyte Gulf sent a second Seahawk from HSL-48. The first helo fired warning shots to dissuade the brigands from continuing their depradations. Two pirates jumped off the bow of Falcon Trader II and the others fled in their skiff. Overn pursued them while they rendezvoused with their mother ship and the pirates fired at the Seahawk. “We could definitely see the muzzle flashes from their AK-47s,” Overn recalled, “but we weren’t hit.” The Americans monitored Falcon Trader II overnight to ensure that none of the pirates hid on board, and a Tagalog-speaking sailor from Leyte Gulf contacted the Filipinos. The next morning boarders from the cruiser searched the ship, failed to locate any stowaways, and freed the crew. At 2100 on 18 April, a Sailor fell overboard from Enterprise, but a Seahawk from HS-11 retrieved the crewmember. A RHIB from the carrier and a second Seahawk from Leyte Gulf assisted in the rescue.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

20 August 2014

Published: Wed Jul 29 05:49:44 EDT 2015