AGF-3 USS LA SALLE
As a forward-deployed unit, LA SALLE's primary mission was to provide flagship facilities and support to Commander. Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT), and his embarked staff. LA SALLE assumed the role of flagship for the U.S. Sixth Fleet on 8 November 1994, bringing expanded capabilities to the Fleet. With the ability and space available to embark a Joint Task Force staff when necessary, LA SALLE greatly increases the flexibility of the U.S. Sixth Fleet Commander and his staff. Additionally, LA SALLE was outfitted with state-of-the-art communication, command and control electronic equipment. Any operation or exercise involving sea, air, land, and amphibious forces can be controlled and directed from the flagship while at sea or in port. This further increased the U.S. Sixth Fleet's capability to respond to crisis or contingency operations.
Following commissioning, LA SALLE served as flagship for Atlantic Fleet Amphibious Forces during the Dominican Crisis, and participated in the evacuation of Construction Battalion Six from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. During 1969, LA SALLE served as the test platform for the prototype AV-8 Harrier Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) fighter bomber.
In 1972, LA SALLE was designated a Miscellaneous Command Ship (AGF) and assumed duties as the flagship for Commander, Middle East Force. Forward-deployed to Bahrain, and painted white to reflect the Middle East Sun, "The Great White Ghost of the Arabian Coast" steamed an average of 55,000 miles annually in that role.
La Salle and five other ships in the Persian Gulf were the US Navy presence during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 02 August 1990. Over the course of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, La Salle assumed the added responsibility of controlling and coordinating the Maritime Intercept Force and served concurrently as flagship for Commander, US Naval Forces, Central Command. On March 12,1991, USS La Salle became the first United States Navy warship to enter the newly liberated port of Ash Shuaybay, Kuwait.
USS La Salle became the US Sixth Fleet Command Ship on November 8, 1994. Prior to assuming the role of Sixth Fleet flagship, LA SALLE underwent an extensive yard period to upgrade her capabilities.
USS La Salle (AGF 3) was formally "laid to rest" during a pierside decommissioning ceremony 27 May 2005. La Salle was relieved of its flagship duties by USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) during a change of flagship ceremony in Gaeta, Feb. 25. The ship arrived in Norfolk March 17 for the decommissioning process.
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