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Ticonderoga-class cruiser


Ticonderoga-class cruiser

USS Bunker Hill (CG-52)
USS Bunker Hill transiting in the Atlantic Ocean in 2010.
Class overview
Name: Ticonderoga class
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: Virginia class
Succeeded by: CG(X)[N 1]
Cost: ≈$1 billion (USD)[1]
Built: 1980–1994
In commission: Since 1983
Completed: 27
Active: 22
Laid up: 4
Retired: 5 (CG-47 to 51)
General characteristics
Type: Guided missile cruiser
Displacement: Approx. 9,600 long tons (9,800 t) full load
Length: 567 feet (173 m)
Beam: 55 feet (16.8 meters)
Draft: 34 feet (10.2 meters)
  • 4 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbine engines, 80,000 shaft horsepower (60,000 kW)
  • 2 × controllable-reversible pitch propellers
  • 2 × rudders
Speed: 32.5 knots (60 km/h; 37.4 mph)
Range: 6,000 nmi (11,000 km) at 20 kn (37 km/h); 3,300 nmi (6,100 km) at 30 kn (56 km/h).
Complement: 33 officers, 27 Chief Petty Officers, and approx. 340 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Armor: Limited Kevlar splinter protection in critical areas
Aircraft carried: 2 × Sikorsky SH-60B or MH-60R Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.

The Ticonderoga class of guided missile cruisers is a class of warships in the United States Navy, first ordered and authorized in the 1978 fiscal year. The class uses passive phased-array radar and was originally planned as a class of destroyers. However, the increased combat capability offered by the Aegis Combat System and the AN/SPY-1 radar system was used to justify the change of the classification from DDG (guided missile destroyer) to CG (guided-missile cruiser) shortly before the keels were laid down for Ticonderoga and Yorktown.

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers are multi-role warships. Their Mk 41 VLS can launch Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike strategic or tactical targets, or fire long-range antiaircraft Standard Missiles for defense against aircraft or anti-ship missiles. Their LAMPS III helicopters and sonar systems allow them to perform antisubmarine missions. Ticonderoga-class ships are designed to be elements of carrier battle groups or amphibious assault groups, as well as performing missions such as interdiction or escort.[2]

Of the 27 completed vessels, 19 were built by Bunker Hill, Antietam, San Jacinto, Lake Champlain, Philippine Sea, Princeton, Monterey, and Vella Gulf; share their names with World War II aircraft carriers.


  • History 1
    • Shoot down of Iran Air Flight 655 1.1
    • Interception of United States satellite USA-193 1.2
    • Possible early retirement 1.3
  • Design 2
    • Vertical Launching System 2.1
    • Upgrades 2.2
  • Ships in class 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Shoot down of Iran Air Flight 655

One ship of the class, Vincennes, became infamous in 1988 when she shot down Iran Air Flight 655, resulting in 290 civilian deaths. The commanding officer of USS Vincennes, William C. Rogers III, had believed the airliner was an Iranian Air Force F-14 Tomcat fighter jet on an attack vector, based on reports of radar returns, revealed to be misinterpreted. The investigation report recommended that the AEGIS large screen display be changed to allow the display of altitude information on plots, and that stress factors on personnel using AEGIS be studied.[3]

Interception of United States satellite USA-193

On 14 February 2008, the United States Department of Defense announced that Shiloh and Lake Erie would attempt to hit the dead satellite USA-193 over the North Pacific Ocean just before it would burn up on reentry.[4][5] On 20 February 2008, at approximately 22:30 EST (21 Feb, 03:30 UTC), an SM-3 missile was fired from Lake Erie and struck the satellite. The military intended that the missile's kinetic energy would rupture the hydrazine fuel tank allowing the toxic fuel to be consumed during re-entry.[6] The Department of Defense confirmed that the fuel tank had been directly hit by the missile.[7]

Possible early retirement

Due to Budget Control Act of 2011 requirements to cut the Defense Budget for FY2013 and subsequent years, plans were being considered to decommission some of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers.[8] For the U.S. Defense 2013 Budget Proposal, the U.S. Navy was to decommission seven cruisers early in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.[9]

Because of these retirements, the U.S. Navy was expected to fall short of its requirement for 94 missile defense cruisers and destroyers beginning in FY 2025 and continuing past the end of the 30-year planning period. While this is a new requirement as of 2011, and the U.S. Navy has historically never had so many large missile-armed surface combatants, the relative success of the AEGIS ballistic missile defense system has shifted this national security requirement onto the U.S. Navy.[10] Critics had charged that the early retirement of these cruisers would leave the Navy's ship fleet too small for the nation's defense tasks as the U.S. enacts a policy of "pivot" to the Western Pacific, a predominantly maritime theater. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget bill to require that these cruisers instead be refitted to handle the missile defense role.[11]

By October 2012, the U.S. Navy had decided not to retire four of the cruisers early in order to maintain the size of the fleet. Four Ticonderoga-class cruisers, plus 21 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, are scheduled to be equipped to be capable of antiballistic missile and antisatellite operations.[12]


Bunker Hill (rear) during a passing exercise in the Strait of Malacca
Ticonderoga–class cruisers were built on the same hull as the Spruance-class destroyer.

The Ticonderoga-class cruiser's design was based on that of the Spruance-class destroyer.[2] The Ticonderoga class introduced a new generation of guided missile warships based on the Aegis phased array radar that is capable of simultaneously scanning for threats, tracking targets, and guiding missiles to interception. When they were designed, they had the most powerful electronic warfare equipment in the U.S. Navy, as well as the most advanced underwater surveillance system. These ships were one of the first classes of warships to be built in modules, rather than being assembled from the bottom up.[2]

Operations research was used to study manpower requirements on the Ticonderoga class. It was found that four officers and 44 enlisted sailors could be removed from the ship's complement by removing traditional posts that had been made obsolete.[2] However, manpower savings by eliminating the very manpower intensive Mk 26 GMLS and replacing it with the far more capable and versatile MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) was harder to repeat with the Mk 45 127 mm (5") gun systems. The Aegis Cruisers are "Double Enders", and the only surface combatants in the fleet that can employ two 5" guns simultaneously until the USS Zumwalt DDG-1000 Class is fielded. This capability gives it greater firepower via the two guns that can employ guided projectiles.

Vertical Launching System

An overhead view of the Ticonderoga class Lake Champlain, with VLS visible fore and aft as the gray boxes near the bow and stern of the ship.
The older Ticonderoga with the pre-VLS twin-arm launchers visible fore and aft.

In addition to the added Tomahawk missile. After the end of the Cold War, the lower capabilities of the original five warships limited them to duties close to the home waters of the United States. These ship's superstructures were a modification of that on the Spruance-class destroyers, and were required to support two deck-houses (one forward for antennas forward and starboard), and the aft deck-house housed the aft and port antenna arrays. Every Aegis cruiser looks almost identical with the exception of the Mk 26 GMLS was replaced with the Mk 41 VLS systems. The later Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers are designed from-the-keel-up to carry the SPY-1D radars, and have them all clustered together on the forward deck-house saving space and weight, and simplifying the power cooling provision. Radar support equipment is closer too each other minimizing cable runs and concentrating support equipment.

The greater size and equipment on the CG-47-class warships increased displacement from 6,900 tons of the DD-963-class destroyers to 9,600 tons of displacement for the heavier cruisers. Aegis cruisers can steam in any ocean and conduct multi-warfare operations anywhere. Some cruisers have reported some structural problems in early service after extended periods in extremely heavy seas, which were generally corrected in the late 1980s and mid-1990s. Several ships had superstructure cracks which were repaired.


Originally, the U.S. Navy had intended to replace its fleet of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers with cruisers produced as part of the CG(X) missile cruiser program; however, severe budget cuts from the 21st century surface combatant program coupled with the increasing cost of the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer program resulted in the CG(X) program being canceled. The Ticonderoga-class cruisers were instead to be replaced by Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers.[13]

All five of the twin-arm (Mk-26) cruisers have been decommissioned. In 2003, the newer 22 of the 27 ships (CG-52 to CG-73) in the class were upgraded to keep them combat-relevant, giving the ships a service life of 35 years each.[14] In the years leading up to their decommissioning, the five twin-arm ships had been assigned primarily home-waters duties, acting as command ships for destroyer squadrons assigned to the eastern Pacific and western Atlantic areas.

As of July 2013, 12 cruisers have completed hull, mechanical, and electrical (HM&E) upgrades and 8 cruisers have had combat systems upgrades. These include an upgrade of the AEGIS computational system with new computers and equipment cabinets, the SPQ-9B radar system upgrade introducing an increased capability over just gunfire control, some optical fiber data communications and software upgrades, and modifications to the vertical launch system to fire the RIM-162 ESSM. The most recent upgrade packages will include SM-6 and Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFC-CA) capability. Another upgrade is improving the SQQ-89A(V)15 sonar with a multi-function towed array. Hull, sonar, radar, electrical, computer, and weapons systems upgrades can cost up to $250 million per ship.[15]

In its 2015 budget request, the Navy outlined a plan to operate 11 cruisers while 11 cruisers were upgraded to a new standard. The upgraded cruisers would then start replacing the older ships which would be retired starting in 2019.[16] This would retain one cruiser per CVN group to host the group's air warfare commander, a role for which the DDGs do not have sufficient facilities. Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyers equipped with the Air Missile Defense Radar give enhanced coverage, but putting the radar on standard DDG hulls does not allow enough room for extra staff and command and control facilities for the air warfare commander; DDGs can be used tactically for air defense, but they augment CGs that provide command and control in a battle group and are more used for other missions such as defending other fleet units and keeping sea lanes open. Congress is opposed to the plan, claiming it makes it easier for Navy officials to completely retire the ships once out of service; the Navy would have to retire all cruisers from the fleet by 2028 if all are kept in service, while deactivating half and gradually returning them into service could make 11 cruisers last from 2035 to 2045. There is no current CG replacement program, as most funding is committed to the Ohio Replacement Submarine, so work on a new cruiser is expected to begin in the mid-2020s, and begin fielding by the mid-2030s.[17]

Ships in class

See also


  1. ^ Originally the replacement class for the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers was to come out of the CG(X) development program, however the CG(X) program was cancelled in 2010, and the original mission of the CG(X) cruisers has been taken up by Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, leaving this class without a replacement cruiser program.


  1. ^ "United States Navy Fact File Cruisers". America's Navy. United States Navy. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "CG-47 Ticonderoga (class)".  
  3. ^ Fogarty, William M. (28 July 1988). Formal Investigation into the Circumstances Surrounding the Downing of Iran Air Flight 655 on July 3, 1988 (PDF) (Report). CM-1485-88 / 93-FOI-0184. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Mount, Mike (14 February 2008). "Officials: U.S. to try to shoot down errant satellite". CNN. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Roberts, Kristin (14 February 2008). "Pentagon plans to shoot down disabled satellite". Reuters. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Shanker, Thom (21 February 2008). "Missile Strikes a Spy Satellite Falling From Its Orbit". New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Navy Succeeds In Intercepting Non-Functioning Satellite". NNS. 20 February 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Cavas, Christopher P. (26 January 2012). "Navy avoids most of Pentagon's latest cuts". NavyTimes. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  9. ^ Fellman, Sam (13 February 2012). "Navy budget request avoids deep cuts". Navy Times. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  10. ^ O'Rourke, Ronald. "CRS-RL32109 Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress." Congressional Research Service, 2 March 2012.
  11. ^ Dutton, Nick (28 May 2012). "US Navy: 'Hollow' force or 'the best in the world'?". WTVR 6. CNN. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "American Cruisers Not Allowed To Retire". 2 October 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  13. ^ "Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress". Open CRS. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  14. ^ "The Ticonderoga (CG 47) - Class". Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Osborn, Kris (9 July 2013). "Navy Upgrades More Than a Third of Cruisers". Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  16. ^ Axe, David (13 March 2014). "The Navy's New Cruiser Is … the Navy's Old Cruiser". War is Boring. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  17. ^ Cavas, Christopher P. (6 July 2014). "US Navy's Cruiser Problem". (Gannett Government Media). Retrieved 6 July 2014. 

External links

  • U.S. Navy Fact File
  • Federation of American Scientists Report: Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers
  • Global Security Article
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