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U.S. Navy’s Cruiser Countdown

The U.S. Navy’s cruisers will all be gone before 2027 is over. Here’s the order in which they’ll go.

The decommissioning schedule for the U.S. Navy’s remaining 13 Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers has been set. Next to leave service will be the Vicksburg (CG 69) in June 2024, followed by the Cowpens (CG 63) in August, Antietam (CG 54) and Leyte Gulf (CG 55) in September. Overall, the last two cruisers will likely be Chosin (CG 65) and Cape St. George (CG 71), both to be decommissioned in fiscal 2027. The close of their careers will bring an end to the service life of the class, the world’s first to be equipped with the Aegis combat system.

Vicksburg and Cowpens had been two of the seven cruisers inducted in the mid-20-teens into the Navy’s Cruiser Modernization Program, and the cost of their protracted, never-finished modernizations has approached nearly one billion dollars. Although Congress had directed otherwise, the U.S. Navy in early 2024 ordered all further work on the ships to stop and they were placed on the decommissioning list. Of the seven cruisers in the program, only Gettysburg and Chosin have been redelivered, with work continuing on Cape St. George. Two other ships in the program, Hue City (CG 66) and Anzio (CG 68), were decommissioned in 2022 in poor condition and far from completion.

This list presents the 13 remaining cruisers in the order they’re currently scheduled to be decommissioned. Specific projected dates such as these are subject to change, but there is not expected to be any change in the overall order or in the decision to inactivate all cruisers by the end of fiscal 2027, which is 30 September 2027. Unless otherwise noted, all ships are to become Logistical Support Assets – that is, spare parts sources. After that, they presumably will either be scrapped or used in sinking exercises (SINKEXs).

The cruisers are being decommissioned approximately at the end of their planned 35-year service lives. They are being replaced in the air warfare commander role by new Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, only one of which currently is in service.

This list presents the 13 remaining cruisers in the order they’re currently scheduled to be decommissioned. The dates are from the most recent Navy directive regarding fiscal 2024 inactivations and an appendix from the 2025 30-year shipbuilding plan, issued in March 2024. Specific projected dates such as these are subject to change, but there is not expected to be any change in the overall order or in the decision to inactivate all cruisers by the end of fiscal 2027, which is 30 September 2027. Unless otherwise noted, all ships are to become Logistical Support Assets – that is, spare parts sources. After that, they presumably will either be scrapped or used in sinking exercises (SINKEXs).

13 – USS Vicksburg (CG 69)

Projected inactivation date 29 June 2024. The ship last deployed in 2015. The first of a series of modernization overhauls began in 2016 at BAE Systems Norfolk, Virginia, and the Navy noted in May 2022 that the work was about 85 percent complete. Work on the ship ceased earlier in 2024 and the Vicksburg was towed back to Norfolk Naval Station to await her decommissioning ceremony.

Cruiser Countdown
The Vicksburg at Norfolk Naval Station on 11 April 2024, shortly after being towed from BAE Systems Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia. Note the cruiser is stripped of topside gear, with covers over the SPY-1D Aegis radars and gun barrels removed from both five-inch gun mounts. (Photos by Christopher P. Cavas)

12 – USS Cowpens (CG 63)

Projected inactivation date 30 August 2024. Cowpens completed her last deployment in 2014. Inducted into the Cruiser Modernization Program in 2015, she began a series of modernization overhauls managed by BAE Systems San Diego in 2016. Work on the ship ceased by early February 2024 and she is scheduled to be decommissioned by 30 August 2024.

Cruiser Countdown
Cowpens at the San Diego Naval Base on 12 February 2024 shortly after modernization work was ordered to stop. Note that missile fire control radars and satellite communications domes have been reinstalled and the gun barrels are in place. The modernization work was undertaken by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, but the ship remained at the naval base during the latter stages of the overhaul. (Photo by Christopher P. Cavas)

11 – USS Antietam (CG 54)

Projected inactivation date 27 September 2024. Antietam was active as a unit of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, based in Japan, until shifting to Pearl Harbor in early April 2024. She is slated to be decommissioned by 27 September 2024.

Cruiser Countdown
As her crew lines the rail, Antietam leaves Yokosuka, Japan on 26 January 2024 for the last time as she begins a homeport shift to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Antietam had been based in Japan with the U.S. Seventh Fleet since 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Askia Collins)

10 – USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55)

Projected inactivation date 27 September 2024. Leyte Gulf carried out a brief U.S. Fourth Fleet deployment in early 2024 and attended Miami Fleet Week in early May. She is to be decommissioned by 27 September 2024.

Cruiser Countdown
Leyte Gulf getting underway from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia on 28 January 2024 for a short deployment to the U.S. Fourth Fleet in the Caribbean and Central America region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anderson W. Branch)

9 – USS Philippine Sea (CG 58)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2025. At the time of writing, this Norfolk-based cruiser is still deployed as the air warfare commander for the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), operating at the moment in the Red Sea. She’s expected to return to Norfolk in 2024.

Cruiser Countdown
Philippine Sea departing Norfolk Naval Station on 13 October 2023 to begin a deployment to the U.S. European and Central Command operating areas with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Carrier Strike Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan Seelbach)

8 – USS Normandy (CG 60)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2025. Normandy returned to Norfolk in January 2024 from a deployment with the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Carrier Strike Group. She attended Miami Fleet Week in early May 2024 and pulled into Cherbourg, France on 2nd June for the D Day commemorations.

Normandy tied up at a cruise ship pier in Miami, Florida on 7 May 2024 for Miami Fleet Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Malachi Lakey)

7 – USS Shiloh (CG 67)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2025. Shiloh was based in Japan with the U.S. Seventh Fleet from 2006 to September 2023, when she transferred home port to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from where she’s expected to continue operating until her 2025 decommissioning.

Shiloh departing Yokosuka, Japan for the last time on 5 September 2023 as she begins a homeport shift to Pearl Harbor. The cruiser is expected to take part in several exercises during 2024. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Askia Collins)

6 – SS Lake Erie (CG 70)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2025. Lake Erie deployed with the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Carrier Strike Group in January 2024 for an expected six-month cruise in the Western Pacific.

Lake Erie approaches a fleet oiler on 17 September 2023 during pre-deployment exercises with the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Benvie)

5 – USS Princeton (CG 59)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2026; to be placed Out of Commission, In Reserve. Princeton returned to San Diego on 21 February 2024 after deploying with the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Carrier Strike Group. She’s expected to take part in RIMPAC 2024 exercises during the summer of 2024.

Princeton returning to her homeport of San Diego early on 21 February 2024 after a deployment as the air warfare commander for USS Carl Vinson. (Photo by Christopher P. Cavas)

4 – USS Robert Smalls (CG 62)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2026; to be placed Out of Commission, In Reserve. The former USS Chancellorsville (renamed in February 2023) deployed with the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group during 2024. She is the last cruiser forward-deployed to the U.S. Seventh Fleet in Japan.

Robert Smalls underway in the Indian Ocean on 22 July 2023 during exercise Talisman Sabre while deployed with the USS Ronald Reagan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryre Arciaga)

3 – USS Gettysburg (CG 64)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2026; to be placed Out of Commission, In Reserve. Gettysburg entered the Cruiser Phased Modernization Plan during 2015 and in 2023 became the first ship to complete the program. She is engaged in pre-deployment training out of Norfolk, Virginia and is expected to deploy during 2024.

Gettysburg, the first cruiser to complete the Cruiser Modernization Program, alongside at Norfolk Naval Station on 11 April 2024. The ship’s modernization was extremely difficult, and her appearance today is a far cry from the empty, stripped, engineless shell of a ship she was just a few years ago. (Photo by Christopher P. Cavas)

2 – USS Chosin (CG 65)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2027; to be placed Out of Commission, In Reserve. Chosin entered the Cruiser Phased Modernization Plan during 2016 and in early 2024 became the second ship to complete the program, returning to her homeport of San Diego 15 February 2024. She is expected to deploy either in late 2024 or during 2025.

Chosin returning to her homeport of San Diego on 15 February 2024 after an absence of more than four years. Her sistership Cowpens is at left preparing to be decommissioned. Much work remains to be done on Chosin before she works up for deployment. (Photo by Christopher P. Cavas)

1 – USS Cape St. George (CG 71)

Projected for inactivation during fiscal 2027; to be placed Out of Commission, In Reserve. Inducted into the Cruiser Phased Modernization Plan during 2017, Cape St. George continues in overhaul at Vigor Marine in Seattle, Washington. She is expected to be the third and last cruiser to complete the program and – if she completes the program — is likely to be the last cruiser in commission with the U.S. Navy.

Cape St. George entering a floating drydock at Vigor, Seattle in July 2021. The ship remains at Vigor as the last and final project of the once-vaunted Cruiser Modernization Program. It is not clear when the ship will be redelivered. (Photo via ship’s Facebook page)

Fourteen of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers already have been decommissioned:

  • Ticonderoga (CG 47), decommissioned and stricken 16 May 16 2013. Scrapped.
  • Yorktown (CG 48), decommissioned and stricken 10 Dec. 2004. Scrapped.
  • Vincennes (CG 49), decommissioned and stricken 29 June 29 2005. Scrapped.
  • Valley Forge (CG 50), decommissioned and stricken 30 Aug. 30 2004. Sunk as a target.
  • Thomas S. Gates (CG 51), decommissioned and stricken 16 Dec. 2005. Scrapped.
  • Bunker Hill (CG 52), decommissioned and stricken 29 Sept. 2023. Awaiting disposal.
  • Mobile Bay (CG 53), decommissioned and stricken 18 Aug. 2023. Awaiting disposal.
  • San Jacinto (CG 56), decommissioned and stricken 29 Sept. 2023. Awaiting disposal.
  • Lake Champlain (CG 57), decommissioned and stricken 8 Sept. 2023. Awaiting disposal.
  • Monterey (CG 61), decommissioned and stricken 30 Sept. 2022. Awaiting disposal.
  • Hue City (CG 66), decommissioned and stricken 30 Sept. 2022. Awaiting disposal.
  • Anzio (CG 68), decommissioned and stricken 30 Sept. 2022. Awaiting disposal.
  • Vella Gulf (CG 72), decommissioned and stricken 30 Sept. 2022. Awaiting disposal.
  • Port Royal (CG 73), decommissioned and stricken 30 Sept. 2022. Awaiting disposal
Chris Cavas has been covering and dealing with naval and maritime events since well into the last century. As a journalist, his work has appeared in numerous outlets, including newspapers, magazines, television and radio programs and now, Naval News. He cohosts the CavasShips Podcast.
https://www.navalnews.com/cavasships/2024/06/u-s-navys-cruiser-countdown/

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