USS Ticonderoga CG 47 was decommissioned on Thursday, September 30th, 2004
in Pascagoula, MS. It was towed by USS Grasp to the Navy Inactive Ships
Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia. Its fate is, as yet,
unknown; however ships assigned to one of the four NISMF are typically
disposed of in one of several ways: sale or lease to another country,
donation to a museum, sinking exercise, or dismantling for scrap.
of the ceremony are here. All photos were taken by Joe Knight, except
for "man-the-rails.jpg" and "dead_stick.jpg", which
came from the Navy Newstand, Copyright 2004, Stacey Byington. You may
use Joe's photos however you wish, provided you credit USSTiconderoga.com.
from Joe on the decommissioning
Pace and I attended the decommissioning because we felt drawn to see
the ship one last time. We arrived at the Naval Station in Pascagoula
shortly before the ceremony was to begin. Our first good look at Tico
came as we walked from the parking lot to the head of the pier. She
looked very different. Gone were the radars, CIWS mounts, Harpoon launchers,
and much of the other topside gear. The exhausts and intakes were covered
with metal plates, signaling that the fires that gave her life had been
quenched. Most strikingly, the 5" guns and missile launchers were
depressed, pointing at the deck of the ship -- an unnatural posture
for weapons of war. That sight, more than anything else, brought home
the reality of what would occur that morning.
headed toward a set of bright blue and white tents, which stood in stark
contrast to the somber mood of the day. As we walked the length of the
ship, we saw that the many ribbons on the bridge wings were still present
-- mute testimony to the victories of crews past. She still looked strong,
formidable even at nearly twenty-two years old.
took our seats as the ceremony began. The decommissioning crew was ordered
to man the rails and the colors were paraded. After these opening formalities,
Rear Admiral Charles Bush, a former Weps and CO of Tico, related his
memories from his time on the ship. He said, in part, "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." Truly, Tico has an unprecedented list of accomplishments,
from pioneering the successful implementation of the Aegis combat system,
to deploying only nine months after commissioning (the first of eleven
deployments), to being the first ship to report for service in the Gulf
War. Ticonderoga fulfilled her mission in every aspect.
Rear Admiral Bush was the final Commanding Officer of Ticonderoga, Commander
Glenn Zeiders. CDR Zeiders is the longest serving CO of Tico. He spoke
of his pride in the ship and her crew. It was clearly an emotional time
for him as he said goodbye to Tico.
came the ceremonial traditions that mark the end of service life for
U.S. Navy ships. First, the crew was ordered to debark the ship. They
filed off solemnly from the midships and aft brows, receiving a standing
ovation, and formed up on the pier. Next, the colors were hauled down
from the fantail and fo'c'sle, and the commissioning penant was lowered
and presented to CDR Zeiders. Finally, the quarterdeck watch was secured.
Lt. Perry Summers, the last Officer of the Deck in Ticonderoga history,
presented the ship's spyglass and log book to CDR Zeiders, then briefly
returned to the ship to formally ask permission to secure the watch.
When permission was given and Lt. Summers left the ship, Ticonderoga
was, for the first time in nearly twenty-two years, quiet. The roar
of the gas turbines, the call of the 1MC, the steady hum of the ventilation
system, and the sound of "squids" going about their daily
routine -- all were stilled. No one walked her decks.
following the ceremony the brows were removed and a tug came in to pull
Tico out to sea to rendezvous with the tow ship USS Grasp. She was pulled
out "dead stick," meaning without power or guidance. It didn't
seem like a fitting way for a warship to be treated, but Tico wasn't
a warship any longer.
Ticonderoga means different things to those of us who have served aboard
her. For some it was their introduction to Navy life. For others it
was just one stop in a long career. For a few it was something they'd
like to forget. For me it was a time of learning about the world and
maturing into an adult. The long hours and time away from home strengthened
my character, which led to the successes I've had in my life. Navy life
can be frustrating at times, and when walked off the ship for the last
time with my seabag in one hand and my discharge papers in the other
I was eager to move on with my life, but the Ticonderoga was my home
and classroom for four years. She gave me the opportunity to make many
good memories and close friends. For that, she's earned an honored place
in my heart.
close this letter with a quote from Rear Admiral Bush's speech: "We
who served in Ticonderoga are the ship. 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."
winds and following seas to all who served aboard the First and Formidable
5 October, 2004