PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- Friends, family members, plankowners and former crew members said farewell to USS Ticonderoga (CG 47), as she was decommissioned in a traditional Navy ceremony at her homeport, Naval Station Pascagoula, Sept. 30.
With current crew members manning the rails just prior to the ship's demanning, Rear Adm. Charles Bush, program executive officer for Integrated Warfare Systems on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, told the crew and assembled guests, "We are not going to talk of sadness today. We are going to celebrate the storied accomplishments of the guided-missile cruiser Ticonderoga, the first AEGIS cruiser."
Bush was the seventh commanding officer of Ticonderoga from June 1995 to December 1996, and was the commanding officer when Ticonderoga changed homeports from Norfolk, Va., to Pascagoula, Miss., in June 1996. He is also a Ticonderoga plankowner, serving as the ship's first operations officer when it was commissioned in January 1983, and was responsible for the firing of almost 100 surface-to-air missiles, completing the most extensive live-fire test and evaluation program ever undertaken in the history of surface combatant ships.
"Ticonderoga has a proud record of service," he said. "Throughout her career Ticonderoga has served as an example of personal excellence, and excellence found in the hundreds of officers, chief petty officers and enlisted personnel who have served on her. Regardless of the missions or fleet assignment, the constants in Ticonderoga have been the pride and professionalism of the men and women who served her.
"The people have made the difference. It was the men and women who brought life to this ship, manned its revolutionary combat systems, tended her gas turbine propulsion system, painted her decks," he added. "They are the reason Ticonderoga is the grand lady she is today, the day of her retirement."
Ticonderoga was the first ship of the AEGIS guided-missile cruiser class, built locally at what is now Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Ingalls Shipbuilding. Many of the people who helped build the ship still live in the Jackson County area.
Ticonderoga's adventures took her to duty in the Gulf of Sidra, off the coast of Beirut, to the Arctic Circle, the Equator, and through the Suez and Panama Canals. She was one of the first Navy ships to report on station in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990. She has been deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea and the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
"You represent the finest this Navy has to offer," Cmdr. Glenn Zeiders III, Ticonderoga's 11th and final commanding officer, told his crew. "I am proud to have served with you." He then gave the order to deman the ship.
The crew walked off the ship to a standing ovation. The ship's commissioning pennant was lowered, and Lt. Perry Summers, the final officer of the deck, presented the ship's logbook and spy glass to Zeiders.
"This ship's done it all," said Summers after the ceremony. "It's sad to see her go, but I am proud to have served on her."
"We who served in Ticonderoga are the ship," concluded Bush. "We have taken in her lines, set sail for foreign shores, and returned home again, and again and again. For as long as we are around - those who served on her - there will always be a Ticonderoga."
Immediately following the decommissioning ceremony, tug boats tied towing lines to the ship and pulled Ticonderoga away from the pier. She is being towed to the Inactive Ships' Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia. No decision has been made on the final disposition of the ship.
The current Ticonderoga was the fifth U.S. Navy ship to bear the historic name. She was named in commemoration of the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in eastern New York in May, 1775, by Ethan Allen and his 'Green Mountain Boys.' One of the first military successes of the American Revolution, the seizure provided desperately needed cannons and supplies to George Washington's army.
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