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CG 52 Bunker Hill
"Vertical Swordsman" / "Sword of the Fleet"

The USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) is the sixth TICONDEROGA Class Cruiser to be built. The first ship to employ the Vertical Launch System (VLS), she was given the nickname "Vertical Swordsman". The USS Bunker Hill's mission is to protect Navy battle groups from a variety of threats. The cruiser is equipped with the AEGIS Combat System along with the AN/SPY-1A radar and the Vertical Launching System for missiles.

Bunker Hill was commissioned September 20, 1986, in Boston, MA, within sight of the historic monument commemorating her namesake battle.

In early 1988, Bunker Hill was awarded her first Battle Efficiency "E" Award and has since earned seven Battle "E" Awards, including the Golden Battle "E," given when a ship earns five such awards consecutively.

In August, 1988, she shifted homeports from San Diego, CA, to Yokosuka, Japan, to join the USS MIDWAY (CV 41) Battle Group.

In November 1990, Bunker Hill sailed in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM and served as the multinational Anti-Air Warfare Commander (AAWC), directing the tactical employment of 26 ships and over 300 combat aircrat. It was one of the first ships to launch TOMAHAWK Land Attack Missiles against Iraqi forces. It would eventually launch a total of 28 Tomahawks.

In March 1992, Bunker Hill was part of the last battle group to visit the U.S. Naval Base at Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. The following month, Bunker Hill left Yokosuka for a seven month deployment to the Arabian Gulf where its crew helped in organizing and establishing Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, the vigilant guard over Southern Iraq.

Over the years, the crew of Bunker Hill has seen and participated in many special events, including engaging in various multinational operations in the South East Asian region. She has participated in training evolutions involving the military forces of Thailand, South Korea, India, Malaysia, and Japan. In 1993, Bunker Hill made a historic visit to the Russian city Vladivostok. One year later, she made a port visit to Qingdao in the People's Republic of China, the first U.S. Navy ship to have visited the PRC since 1989.

In March 1996, China fired a series of TBMs into the ocean near Taiwan. USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), was called on short notice to reposition and track the TBMs using its SPY-1A radar. The Bunker Hill's Aegis Combat System recorded each missile flight in detail. USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) too part in the 6-day long Exercise ANNUALEX USS headed by the USS Independence (CV 62) Battle Group. The exercise also involved approximately 120 ships and 180 aircraft from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) in the waters surrounding Japan. The exercise aimed at testing the capabilities for coordinated/bilateral operations in defense of Japan.

The Bunker Hill deployed to the Arabian Gulf from January to June 1998.

In August 1998, Bunker Hill returned to the homeport she left ten years earlier.

The USS Bunker Hill took part in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2000, as part of the the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group. The Battle Group was simultaneously beginning its Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) in preparation for deployment to the western Pacific and Arabian Gulf areas. RIMPAC 2000 focuses on conducting area air defense, war-at-sea and power-projection exercises designed to test and practice the Navy's ability to interface with naval allies from Canada, the United Kingdom, Chile, the Republic of Korea and Australia. Following three months spent operating in the Arabian Sea to enforce United Nations sanctions, USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) completed a visit to Perth and Fremantle, two neighboring cities in Western Australia, in mid-January 2001.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Bunker Hill was one of the first warships to conduct Tomahawk strikes against leadership targets in Iraq. Its embarked LAMPS (Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System) helicopter detachment, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45 "the Wolfpack," supported the rescue of United Nations workers being forcibly removed from oil platforms in the Northern Arabian Gulf and provided medical evacuations from Umm Qasr.

USS Bunker Hill (CV 17) "The Holiday Express"

The first ship to bear the name USS Bunker Hill (CV 17) was one of the ESSEX Class Fast Carriers. Commissioned May 20, 1943, she quickly earned the nickname "HOLIDAY EXPRESS" because many of her slashing attacks were made during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

A significant improvement of the ESSEX Class ships over the other US carriers at the time, in addition to more guns and armament, was that they were equipped with a more heavily armored deck, plus a second armored deck on the hangar level designed to detonate armor-piercing shells and bombs before they reached the vital machinery and electronic spaces below.

Bunker Hill was one of the few carriers to survive all the way through the Pacific Island Hopping Campaign to engage the largest battleship ever built - the YAMATO. In the attack on the Japanese super battleship, the YAMATO was hit by several bombs and almost a dozen torpedo strikes in the hull before she finally blew up and sank. Five of her escorts were sunk with her.

But the victories of the HOLIDAY EXPRESS and her deadly airwing were soon to come to an end. On May 11, 1945 off the coast of Okinawa, two Japanese aircraft swept down on the Bunker Hill so quickly that her exhausted gunners barely had time to respond. The first aircraft released its 500 pound bomb which smashed through the flight deck and out the side, exploding just above the water. The aircraft crashed into the flight deck and skidded over the side, destroying nearly all the ready-deck aircraft. The second aircraft dove at the carrier at nearly a vertical dive, dropping its 500 pound bomb just before it hit the deck. The bomb smashed through the flight deck, but did not make it through the hangar deck where it exploded. The thickened armor protecting the machinery spaces below had proved effective.

After several hours of fighting fires, Bunker Hill was able to sail under her own power to dock for repairs. A total of 346 men lost their lives, 43 were counted missing and 264 had been wounded, many with severe burns. Many of the ship's pilots died either in their planes or inside the skin of the ship when the second bomb exploded.

Bunker Hill was repaired just as the war had ended. Her final act of WWII was to bring thousands of servicemen home from the Pacific Theater. In 1947 she was decommissioned.

In the years following her decommissioning Bunker Hill (CV 17) served as an Anti-submarine Warfare Support Carrier (CVS 17), an Aviation transport, and electronics test ship before being sold to Zidell Explorations, Inc, in 1973.

During the few short years she was activated in WWII, Bunker Hill earned eleven battle stars and, in 1946, the President's Citation.

The Battle of Bunker Hill

On the Eve of June 16, 1775, the sun set on a small ragtag army of soldiers besieging a city held by the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. The city was Boston, one of the largest port cities of the Northeastern British colonies. The powerful nation was England, whose colonies and dominions were so expansive that the English proudly stated they had an empire on which the sun never set. And the ragtag army was a small militia of Americans who were willing to fight, and die, for the freedom they so strongly believed in.

Colonel William Prescott was ordered that night to take 1200 troops against England's 7000 and seize Bunker Hill, overlooking Boston Harbor. Instead, Col. Prescott led his troops to Breed's Hill, a hill on the same peninsula. They worked all night fortifying Breed's Hill under the cover of darkness, and had almost completed their task before the night ended. When dawn broke over the city and the British ships anchored in the harbor discovered what the Americans were up to they opened fire.

Cannon fire proved to be ineffective, so Major General Sir William Howe landed over 2000 British regulars on the beach and twice charged the American soldiers on the hill. Both times, the Americans repelled the British attack, forcing Maj. Gen. Howe to retreat and rethink his strategy. As the British prepared for their third offensive against this ragged militia, Col. Prescott recognized that the Americans were almost out of ammunition. He ordered his men to standby for one more volley of fire and then to retreat.

Many British soldiers fell to the last of the Americans' ammunition, but the English continued the charge. Col. Prescott ordered his men to draw back to safety. After two hours and several attempts, the British were able to take back Breed's Hill, but at a price. The cost to the English was 1054 in casualties, while the cost to the Americans was less than 450 killed, wounded and captured.

At first, the Battle of Bunker Hill was seen as a defeat by the Americans and a tactical victory for the British, which it was. However, the Americans soon came to regard the battle as a moral victory for their fight for independence. They used their actions in this battle to earn support, both at home and abroad, and as a rallying point for later battles. The American militia had successfully held off the highly-trained British soldiers during several attacks, and had given in only when their ammunition had run out. The Battle of Bunker Hill served as a victory to Americans, in that, it inspired them to pursue their efforts and to eventually win their freedom from the British Crown.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:45:55 ZULU