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Vicksburg IV (CG-69)

1992–

A city in Mississippi located on a bluff at the mouth of the Yazoo River; founded in 1812; and named for Newitt Vick (1766-1819), the owner of a plantation on the present site of the city. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Union General Ulysses S. Grant besieged the city from 19 May to 4 July 1863. The Confederate garrison surrendered, giving the North control of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and contributing greatly to the eventual overall Union victory.

The fourth ship named Vicksburg. The first Vicksburg, a wooden steamer converted to a screw gunboat, served from 1863-1865. The second Vicksburg (Gunboat No. 11) was reclassified to a patrol gunboat (PG-11) on 17 July 1920, and served from 1897-1921. Light cruiser Cheyenne (CL-86) was laid down on 26 October 1942, but, exactly one month later, was renamed Vicksburg, and served from 1944-1962. The name Vicksburg was also assigned to a light cruiser (CL-81) on 28 December 1940, but she was renamed Houston on 12 October 1942, in honor of heavy cruiser Houston (CA-30), sunk by the Japanese in the Battle of Sunda Strait, Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia), on 1 March 1942.

IV

(CG-69: 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)

The fourth Vicksburg (CG-69) was laid down on 30 May 1990 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries; launched on 2 August 1991; sponsored by Mrs. Patricia T. Lott, wife of Senator C. Trent Lott of Miss.; and commissioned on 14 November 1992, Capt. Paul K. A. Vosseler in command.

Vicksburg (CG-69) IV 1992-Seal

Shield

Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy. Red is emblematic of sacrifice and valor. The blue and gray of the shield recall the two sides that fought the Civil War. The four sections underscore 4 July 1863, the day the Confederate garrison surrendered at Vicksburg. The Navy sword and musket, crossed to express strength, signify the teamwork and joint operations of the land and sea forces at Vicksburg when Union ships transported General Ulysses S. Grant’s soldiers inland under fire. The annulet symbolizes General Grant’s siege of the city by closing the ring on the Confederates to win the battle. The vertical missile symbolizes the firepower of Vicksburg (CG-69). The border simulates the armor plates of the Civil War gunboats and the part they played in the battle; the seventeen black cannon balls pay tribute to Union General James B. McPherson, who led the XVII Army Corps to victory at Vicksburg, and who became Commander of the Vicksburg District on 4 July 1863.

Crest

The American eagle in flight symbolizes the reunification of the states involved in the Civil War. The eagle carries a streamer containing the two battle stars that light cruiser Vicksburg (CL-86) received for her service in World War II. The key the eagle clutches in its right talon represents President Abraham Lincoln’s statement that “Vicksburg is the key…the war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.” The trident in the eagle’s left talon symbolizes sea power with its three tines representing the cruiser’s antiair, antisurface, and antisubmarine warfare capabilities. The trident also honors the three previous vessels named Vicksburg. The embattled wall above the wavy lines recalls the high fortifications of the city of Vicksburg along the east bank of the Mississippi River, and also represents Vicksburg’s defense, strength, and combat capabilities.

Vicksburg (CG-69) IV 1992-8 Nov 1992
Vicksburg glides gracefully through the Gulf of Mexico during her pre-delivery sea trials, 8 November 1992. (Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries, donated to the Navy, Vicksburg (CG-69), Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)

A monsoon swept across the Indian Ocean from the eastern coast of Africa to the western coast of India in mid June 2002, lashing the region with strong winds and heavy rain, and churning the seas into swells towering up to 20 feet. The monsoon overwhelmed merchant vessel Al Murthada as she sailed off Oman, and she lost power and drifted for 11 days. The 16 crewmembers ate the last of their food and issued a distress call on 16 June. Motor vessel Stolt Spray, sailing as a chemical tanker out of Houston, Texas, responded, but the seas pounded Stolt Spray, preventing her crew for rendering assistance to the foundering merchantman. The tanker’s master radioed his agent in Houston, who in turn notified the Coast Guard, which relayed the message to the Navy. The convoluted communications nonetheless succeeded in alerting aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CV-67), which dispatched a Lockheed S-3B Viking from Sea Control Squadron (VS) 31 to investigate.

Vicksburg, Capt. Eric L. Sweigard in command, sailed in the midst of a deployment with the John F. Kennedy Carrier Battlegroup from Norfolk, Va., to the Fifth Fleet and Sixth Fleet (14 February-15 August 2002). The Viking guided Vicksburg to the area the following day, but the heavy seas proved too dangerous to lower a boat. The cruiser launched an SH-60B from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 Detachment 7, Lt. Cmdr. Jim Esquivel officer in charge. The Seahawk hoisted two of the castaways aloft, but Al Murthada rolled and pitched in the heavy seas. “The superstructure impeded safe hover and hoist operations,” Esquivel summarized. The Americans directed the mariners to remove their forward mast light pole, enabling the helicopter to hover over the vessels’ bow and rescue the remaining 14 crewmembers. The Seahawk flew the mariners to Stolt Spray, which then sailed them to Kandla, India, to be reunited with their loved ones. The foul weather continued to pummel Vicksburg, and she cancelled her scheduled visit to the Seychelles Islands (18-19 June), and continued “shotgun duties” for John F. Kennedy (25 June–2 July).

Vicksburg (CG-69) IV 1992-CHR 2002
The ship makes speed through a calm sea, 2002. (Undated or attributed U.S. Navy photograph, Vicksburg (CG-69) Command History Report 2002, Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)

Two Sikorsky CH-53Es of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, Marine Air Group 29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, collided and crashed off the coast of Djibouti, on 17 February 2006. The Super Stallions flew a two-hour training flight in the Godoria Range area in northern Djibouti during cloudy weather, with light variable winds and unlimited visibility, when they collided in the vicinity of Ras Siyyan and plunged into the Gulf of Aden.

Vicksburg, Military Sealift Command-manned combat store ship Spica (T-AFS-9), Italian frigate Euro (F.575), French diving support vessel Le Malin (A.616), and several Djiboutian watercraft searched for survivors. Vicksburg and Spica each lowered a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), and Le Malin deployed an inflatable Zodiac, which collectively combed the area for the crewmembers. In addition, two Seahawks from the cruiser flew aerial searches, joined by a French Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma operating from Djibouti. The searchers rescued two survivors, one of whom underwent knee surgery, while the other suffered muscular and skeletal bruising but no fractures. Both were transported to the Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for further treatment.

Eight Marines died: 33-year-old Capt. Bryan D. Willard of Hummelstown, Pa.; 33-year-old 1st Lt. Brandon R. Dronet of Erath, La.; 22-year-old Sgt. James F. Fordyce of Newton Square, Pa.; 25-year-old Sgt. Donnie L. F. Levens of Long Beach, Miss.; 23-year-old Sgt. Jonathan E. McColley of Gettysburg, Pa.; 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Samuel W. Large Jr. of Villa Rica, Ga.; 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Sovie of Ogdensburg, N.Y.; and 31-year-old Cpl. Matthieu Marcellus of Gainesville, Fla.

Two USAF crewmembers also died: 33-year-old Staff Sgt. Luis M. M. Sanchez of the 1st Communications Squadron, from Bayamon, Puerto Rico; and 23-year-old SrA. Alecia S. Good of the 92nd Communications Squadron, from Broadview Heights, Ohio.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

12 November 2014

Published: Wed Oct 21 15:33:31 EDT 2015