The Aegis Era began in earnest on April 25th, 1981 with the launch of CG 47, the USS Ticonderoga. To be sure, the Ticonderoga was not the first ship fitted with the Aegis system. That distinction belongs to the USS Norton Sound, a WWII era seaplane tender converted to a guided missile test ship. The Norton Sound was fitted with the Aegis system in 1974, and was also the first ship to fire a ship launched VLS missile.
The CG 47 Ticonderoga was laid down on January 21st, 1980, as the first of twelve new guided missile cruisers to be procured over the next five years. Ultimately the class would consist of 27 cruisers, acquired through four upgraded baselines. The Ticonderoga was launched in March of 1981 and commissioned in January of 1983.
Eleven Ticonderoga Class cruisers participated in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990-1991. During the war, on February 18, 1991, the Princeton (CG 59) struck a bottom-laid influence mine in 16 meters of water that detonated causing a sympathetic detonation of a second nearby mine, damaging the ship. USS Princeton restored her TLAM strike and Aegis AAW capabilities within two hours of the mine strike and reassumed duties as the local AAW commander, providing air defense for the Coalition MCM group for 30 additional hours until relieved by the USS Valley Forge. The damage to the Princeton required her to be towed to port, although at no time was the ship in danger of sinking, and most of her combat systems remained operational. Operation of blue water assets in relatively shallow and confined waters continues to be a major operational challenge for the future fleet.
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- U.S.S. NORMANDY
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