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CG 51 Thomas S. Gates
"Defender of the Republic"

USS Thomas S. Gates decomissioned on 16 December 2005. Gates was an Aegis guided-missile cruiser, one of three assigned to Destroyer Squadron 6, homeported at Pascagoula. It is a multi-mission surface combatant capable of supporting carrier strike groups or amphibious forces, operating as a flagship of a surface strike group, or operating independently.

It has a crew of more than 350 men and women, and has the ability to carry out multi-dimensional, multi-threat combat missions. As part of its Aegis weapons arsenal, Gates is equipped with SPY-1 radar, sophisticated displays and computer systems, and advanced surface-to-air missiles, and is ideally suited to perform duties as "Defender of the Republic" against a complex and fast-moving air attack of any kind.

The contract to build the USS Thomas S. Gates was awarded to Bath Iron Works on May 20, 1982 and its keel was laid on August 31, 1984. On December 14, 1985 the Gates was launched and it was commissioned roughly two years later, on August 22, 1987.

The USS Thomas S. Gates was became, in fall 1998, the first installation ship in the U.S. Navy's Integrated Ship Controls (ISC) Program. This upgrade program aimed to install innovative labor and cost savings initiatives on USS Thomas S. Gates, USS Ticonderoga (CG 47), USS Vincennes (CG 49) and USS Valley Forge (CG 50). Many of the technologies installed are the result of the initiatives proven sucessful on Yorktown. The upgrade program also included options to install systems on the remaining 22 CG 47 Class AEGIS Cruisers.

During Operations Desert Shield/Storm, the USS Thomas S. Gates conducted operations in the Maritime Intercept Force, and under the command of Destroyer Squadron 36, the Red Sea escort cruiser played a decisive role in maritime interceptions.

The USS Thomas S. Gates (CG 51) deployed in late July 2000 to serve as the flagship for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Standing Naval Forces Atlantic (SNFL). The ship hosted an international professional naval staff made up of officers from Germany, Poland, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Canada. SNFL fills a very important role in the NATO military command structure. It is a permanently established multinational force which conducts routine presence and surveillance missions as well as providing a maritime Immediate Reaction Force. If needed, SNFL is prepared to deploy to crisis areas in support of NATO objectives. As STANAVFORLANT, the ship's first exercise was DANEX 2000.

Ship personnel also participated in cross-deck opportunities with the other NATO ships and, as well, have the opportunity to visit Finland, a non-NATO nation, and Poland. Port visited during this deployment were Oslo, Norway; Helsinki, Finland; Copenhagen, Denmark; Gdynia, Poland; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Leithe, Scotland; Plymouth, U.K.; Plymouth, U.K.; Brest, France; Santander, Spain.

USS Thomas S. Gates left its homeport at Naval Station Pascagoula, Pascagoula, Miss., for a five-month deployment March 10, 2004. The deployment will cover a variety of missions, including a circumnavigation of the South American continent. Gates' deployment will include counter-drug operations, high-profile port visits along the eastern Atlantic seaboard; escorting the nation's newest carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), to her new homeport in San Diego; and international exercises with South American navy ships. Gates' eastern seaboard tour will include a visit to New London, Conn., home of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy; Philadelphia, Pa., where Gates was commissioned in August 1987; and Annapolis, Md., home of the U.S. Naval Academy, where Gates will serve as the visiting ship for this year's graduation ceremony.

Gates was selected to escort Reagan on her maiden voyage to San Diego, where Reagan will be homeported. Reagan is the ninth aircraft carrier of the nuclear-powered Nimitz class. Gates' escort duties will include a visit to Punta del Este, Uruguay, and a voyage around the southern tip of South America, one of the most hazardous and legendary passages in maritime history.

Gates return in early August 2004.

The first five AEGIS cruisers (CG47 - CG51) were not part of the Cruiser Conversion program because of affordability. The Navy decided not to include these five ships, they were not modernized, and were targets for early decommissioning. Gates was the last of these five ships be be decommissioned after slightly more than 20 years in service.

Crest and Shield

The crest is built on the government service of the ship's namesake, the Honorable Thomas S. Gates, Jr. of Philadelphia. The upper section of the shield represents the World War II service of Thomas S. Gates, Jr. aboard various aircraft carriers. The deep blue represents the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the gold symbolizes the U.S. Navy tradition. The heraldic rayonne division of scarlet and gold, simulating fire and flames, is symbolic of the severity of the Japanese Kamikaze attacks concentrated upon U.S. aircraft carriers during the invasions of Lingayen, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, in which Gates participated. The anchor and stars, adapted from the flag of the Secretary of the Navy, refer to his tenure as Under Secretary and Secretary of that Department. His subsequent terms as Deputy Secretary and Secretary of Defense are indicated by the three arrows which appear on the flag of the Secretary of Defense.

On the crest, the eagle, symbolic of power and authority, along with the ship's wheel, allude to the strong leadership Mr. Gates provided while leading the Department of Defense during a period that heralded technological changes from guns to missiles, conventional power to nuclear, piston to jet aircraft engines, and the beginning of space exploration. This era of change is recognized by the alternating colors of the wheel.

Mr. Gates' last public service followed his appointment by President Ford to head the U.S. Liaison Office to the People's Republic of China. He stated that his task would be "to work for the normalization of Chinese-American relations." This concept is indicated by the blue and red stars above the gold rays. The blue represents the USA; red is for China; and the gold rays from the President's Seal emphasize the significance of this appointment, and Mr. Gates' contributions to the United States in this role.

Thomas Sovereign Gates, Jr.

Thomas Sovereign Gates, Jr. was born in Philadelphia on 10 April 1906 to Thomas Sovereign and Marie Rogers Gates. His father was a lawyer and investment banker who served as President of the University of Pennsylvania from 1930 to 1944. His mother died when he was born. After graduating from Chestnut Hill Academy in 1924, Gates attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa member of the Class of 1928. On 29 September 1928, Gates married Millicent Anne Brengle of Philadelphia. Following graduation, Gates entered his father's investment banking business, Drexel and Co., and in 1940, became a partner. During those years he served in the Pennsylvania National Guard as a private.

A member of the U.S. Naval Reserve since 1935, Gates was called to World War II active duty in April 1942, and commissioned a Lieutenant. He graduated from the Quonset Point Air Intelligence School in Rhode Island and was assigned to the staff of the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Theater to help organize the Naval Air Intelligence Center under that Command. During this tour, he participated in the North African "Casablanca" landings as an observer in the aircraft carrier USS RANGER.

In the summer of 1943, Gates joined the new light carrier USS MONTEREY as Air Combat Intelligence Officer. As part of the Fast Carrier Task Force, Pacific Fleet, MONTEREY supported amphibious landings at Tarawa and Kwajalein, and participated in strikes against New Britain, New Guinea, and the Island of Truk. Gates returned to the United States in the early summer of 1944 to join the staff of Rear Admiral Calvin T. Durgin as Flag Lieutenant and Air Intelligence Officer, and participated in Operation DRAGOON, the planned invasion of Southern France.

Upon the successful completion of DRAGOON, Durgin's American carriers redeployed to the Pacific, where on the USS MAKIN ISLAND, Gates participated in the invasions of Lingayen, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. For service in these operations, Gates received the Bronze Star Medal. After three additional months of combat operations in support of the Okinawa Invasion, Gates completed his service and arrived in San Francisco on V-J Day, where he reverted to the Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander.

Gates resumed civil life as a partner in Drexel and Co. in the fall of 1945, and shortly thereafter was elected a director of several corporations in the Philadelphia area. Continuing in the reserves, Gates was promoted to Captain and continued to take an interest in local reserve activities, being a founder of the "Reserve Officers of Naval Service." In addition to serving as National Vice President and Director of the Navy League of the United States, he served on the naval advisory council of the Bureau of Aeronautics, in Washington.

In October of 1953, he accepted an appointment as Under Secretary of the Navy from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Four years later, on 1 April 1957, Thomas S. Gates, Jr. assumed the Office of Secretary of the Navy. Admiral Arleigh Burke summed up Gates' time in the Navy Department when he told him "Your service was in an era marked by the most rapid technological changes in the history of the Navy." Missiles were replacing guns, nuclear power for conventional, jets replaced propellers, supersonic speeds, and even exploration into space, were part of the changing Navy. During that time, he participated in a re- organization of the Department, and delineated Navy-Marine Corps relationship to the satisfaction of both services.

In May of 1959, President Eisenhower asked Gates to become Deputy Secretary of Defense. He then succeeded Neil McElroy as Secretary of Defense in December of the same year. During his tenure as Secretary, Gates accomplished management innovations that facilitated the Pentagon's transition to modern weapons and tactics, including long- range ballistic missiles, supersonic jets and tactical atomic bombs. After 14 months as Secretary, Gates left the Pentagon. He was appointed President of Morgan Guaranty Trust, and in 1966 became Chairman of the Board and CEO.

In 1976, Gates was called back to government service when an old shipmate from the MONTEREY, President Gerald Ford, appointed him as head of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People's Republic of China. He relieved Vice President Bush when he took over the post in May 1976. Mr. Gates retired from public life, at the age of 71, in May of 1977.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:45:54 ZULU