The first U.S. Navy ship named to commemorate the Allied landings on the coast of France, northeast of Brittany, on 6 June 1944 [D-Day] in Operation Neptune/Overlord. See Invasion of Normandy for additional information.
(CG-60: 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)
Normandy (CG-60) was laid down on 7 April 1987 at Bath, Maine, by Bath Iron Works; launched on 19 March 1988; sponsored by Mrs. Gayle Wilson, wife of Senator Pete Wilson of Calif.; and commissioned on 9 December 1989, Capt. Joseph W. Perrotta Jr., in command.
A fire erupted in the forward fireroom on board guided missile destroyer Conyngham (DDG-17), (Cmdr. William R. Williams), while she trained about 80 miles off the North Carolina coast, during the morning watch on 8 May 1990. The destroyer sent a distress call, which Normandy received at 0505. The cruiser came about and raced toward the scene, but the conflagration spread upward into berthing areas, the Combat Information Center, and the bridge, and smoke billowed from Conyngham’s superstructure by the time Normandy reached the scene.
On board Normandy, Lt. Hasson mustered 19 crewmen, principally from the Repair 5 fire party, and other sailors shuttled them via the captain’s gig and motor whaleboat to the burning ship. Hasson took station on Conyngham’s torpedo deck forward of the pilothouse, assisting the Damage Control Assistant, Normandy’s historian later vividly describing Hasson’s face as “charred and bloodied from the raging inferno.” Thirty-four-year-old Lt. Algernon P. Gordon Jr., Conyngham’s operations officer, formed a party topside that battled the flames. He then bravely re-entered the burning superstructure to awaken sailors and led a man to safety, and then returned for his roommate but died in the attempt. Gordon received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal posthumously, and was survived by his wife and three children. The cruiser’s Damage Controlman 2nd Class Bloomer proved instrumental in extinguishing the fire by ventilating the signal bridge area with an exothermic cutting outfit. The firefighters defeated the blaze within four hours.
Eighteen men -- 14 of whom required immediate medical attention and were flown ashore to Naval Hospital Portsmouth, Va. -- suffered injuries ranging from burns to smoke inhalation. Besides providing firefighters, Normandy also functioned as a triage ship, and Chief Hospital Corpsmen Gauna and Conyngham’s Hospital Corpsmen 3rd Class Marree tirelessly treated the casualties. Destroyer Briscoe (DD-977), three Coast Guard cutters, and a Coast Guard helicopter also rendered assistance. Capt. Perrotta personally congratulated each of the 20 men that boarded Conyngham and fought the flames when they returned to Normandy. Conyngham was towed into port and Normandy returned to Norfolk at 1940.
Fittingly, Normandy took part in the 50th anniversary commemorating D-Day. She embarked nine World War II veterans -- five of whom had landed on the beaches that day -- and sailed on 18 May 1994, visiting Portsmouth, England (27-31 May). The cruiser then sailed on the Slapton Sands Commemorative Cruise to pay tribute to the men who died when nine German motor torpedo boats sank LST-507 and LST-531 off Portland Bill, England, and damaged LST-289, as the tank landing ships entered Lyme Bay on 28 April 1944. Normandy anchored off Pointe Du Hoc, France, during a speech by President William J. [Bill] Clinton, visited Le Havre (6-9 June), and returned to Staten Island, N.Y., for the ceremony marking the disestablishment of Naval Station New York, on 27 June.
A 40-foot fiberglass dhow carrying an estimated 135 people sank in the Gulf of Aden 25 miles off the Somali coast, at 1545 on 29 April 2005. A multinational force including Normandy, with her embarked SH-60B Seahawk of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 Detachment 1, coastal patrol ships Firebolt (PC-10) and Typhoon (PC-5), and German frigate Karlsruhe (F.212), rescued 89 people. Karlsruhe queried the boat, which appeared to be a dhow with approximately 35 people on her deck.
When the vessel failed to respond, Firebolt joined Karlsruhe and the two coalition ships closed and investigated the dhow. Sailors on board Firebolt spotted nearly 100 people on board, and noted alarmingly that the vessel did not appear to be seaworthy and was taking on water, the overloaded boat was designed to carry fewer than half that number of people. Accordingly, Firebolt immediately requested assistance and distributed life vests to the passengers, while Typhoon made for the area and soon rendezvoused with her. The Americans began transferring the people to their two ships but the dhow suddenly capsized and sank. Sailors frantically threw life rings and jackets to floundering people, and some crewmembers jumped into the water to save children. Eventually, the coalition sailors pulled 94 Somalis from the water, but five people died despite medical attention. The allies transferred the 89 survivors to Normandy for additional treatment. Capt. Stephen W. Hampton, Normandy’s commanding officer, recalled that some of the ship’s crewmembers literally gave “the shirts off their backs so the Somalis could be dry.”
Commodore Steve Gilmore, RAN, Commander Combined Task Force (CTF) 58, transferred his flag from guided missile cruiser Antietam (CG-54) to Normandy on 5 June 2005. “Our mission here as CTF 58 flagship,” Capt. Hampton explained, “is to protect the Iraqi oil terminals and to conduct maritime security operations, ensuring the safety and security of these waters.” While Gilmore and his staff embarked on board Normandy they also supported the Iraqi armed forces during phase two of the three-phase process of turning over the security of the strategically and economically vital Khawr Al Amaya and Al Basrah oil terminals to the Iraqis.
Detailed history under construction.
Mark L. Evans
5 September 2014