Villefranche-sur-Mer Godmother of the USS Ticonderoga CG-47 on July 14, 1990 – Written by Gilles Perez
In 1990, an event finally sealed Villefranche-sur-mer’s attachment to the Navy! Crossing in the Western Mediterranean, the cruiser USS Ticonderoga CG-47 released for the first time in the harbor of Villefranche from 12 to 16 July 1990 and will be the 14th of this month officially adopted by the town. She remains to this day the only U.S. Navy ship to have had this honor, a beautiful tribute paid by our town which has seen many units of the U.S. Navy. Although he does not hold the record for visits to our beautiful harbor, the ship was still present three times during her career: in July 1990, in March 1992 and finally in June/July 1995. A total of 27 Ticonderoga-class cruisers will be built, and no less than 7 vessels of this class will release many times in the harbor of Villefranche from 1985 to 1996.
Here’s her story:
When the U.S. Department of the Navy announced in February 1980 that the leadership of the new aegis Cruiser Class would be named Ticonderoga, it would mark the history of the U.S. Navy for the fifth time with that name. The new ship will therefore carry the commemoration of the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775 by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. The first ship called Ticonderoga will be an armed schooner, the second will be a steam sloop that served during the US Civil War, the third will be a former German cargo ship converted into transport during the First World War. The fourth Ticonderoga is and will remain for fans of American Naval History associated with the famous Essex-class aircraft carrier who served from 1944 to 1973.
The new Ticonderoga, who was launched in April 1981 and commissioned in January 1983 under the aegis of Nancy Reagan, marked a turning point in the history of the U.S. Navy by becoming the leader of a ultra-modern cruisers class with its new AEGIS defense system. Since then this system has been used and constantly modernized on new US combat ships such as the current Burke-class destroyers.
The USS Ticonderoga CG-47 will be based in Norfolk, Virginia – Atlantic Fleet. She made her first operational cruise in 1983/84 as “Flagship” of the Commander of the Cruiser and Destroyer Group No. 8 and was stationed off Lebanon in support of the multinational force; then will be regularly throughout his career assigned to the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
In January 1985, after her first change of command, Tico engaged in exercises and operations off Central America. The NATO “Ocean Safari” and “Baltops ’85” exercises will follow. She will even pass through the Arctic Circle to make her way to the fjords of Norway. During this period, she fired her 100th missile, 31 months after her commissioning! 1986 saw a new deployment within the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, and successfully participated in operations against Colonel Kaddafi’s Libya.
On March 8, 1990, Ticonderoga returned to the Mediterranean where she participated in the “Distant Thunder”, “Dragon Hammer”, “Poop Deck” and “Flashing Scimitar” exercises.
Crossing in the Western Mediterranean, she will release for the first time in the harbor of Villefranche from 12 to 16 July 1990 and will even be officially adopted by the city on the 14th of that month. She will remain to this day the only U.S. Navy ship to have had this honor. A beautiful tribute paid by this town that has seen such a large number of units of the U.S. Navy.
The celebrations were short-lived: the invasion of Kuwait brought the USS Ticonderoga into new waters in August 90, transiting through the Suez Canal with the Battle Group of the aircraft carrier D.D. Eisenhower, forming the first Strike Force in position in the Red Sea in what would become the famous “Desert Shield” operation from August 1990 to January 1991.
Then, throughout her career, the ship will regularly join the Sixth Fleet and return to make a second visit to her godmother town from March 1 to 5, 1992. Her commanding officer at that time, Captain E. F. Messina, was no stranger: his wife was French and born in Nice…
1995 will again be marked by her participation in the Mediterranean with the battle group of the aircraft carrier T. Roosevelt during the NATO exercises “Destined Glory 95′”. She reappeared in the harbor of Villefranche from June 30 to July 6 of that year before her return to the United States.
In June 1996, the Ticonderoga departed her Norfolk base for Pascagoula in the state of Mississippi, which would take the vessel into South American waters, conducting exercises and maneuvers with local navies, particularly in anti-narcotics missions.
In 1999, the ship will spend 14 months of construction to update her various digital control systems; followed by several test and evaluation cruises of the new systems. These tests validated, the USS Ticonderoga will return on a mission in the South Atlantic and even make a point to the most southern city of the South American continent: Ushuaia in Patagonia.
The early 2000s will again consist of various maneuvers in South American waters such as exercise “Operation Noble Eagle”.
In 2002, Tico returned to construction for renovations at the Mobile, Alabama, shipyard.
After completing her last operational deployment from March to August 2004, the USS Ticonderoga CG-47 was retired from service in September 2004. She is now unarmed and in storage in Philadelphia awaiting her destiny.
Some characteristics of the Ticonderoga class:
Travel: 9600 Tpc
Propulsion: 4 GE gas turbines developing 80,000 hp
Crew: approximately 41 officers, 36 CPO (Chief Petty Officers) and 306 crew.
Photos Gilles Perez :
The USS Ticonderoga in the harbor of Villefranche-sur-Mer in 1992 :
SH2F SeaSprite anti-submarine helicopter on board the Ticonderoga in Villefranche in March 1992: