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CG 59 Princeton
"Honor and Glory"

USS Princeton's primary mission is to operate with aircraft carrier battle groups or as part of surface action groups in extreme threat environments well into the 21st century. The purpose of the ship is to detect, classify and track hundreds of potential targets simultaneously in the air, on the surface, and under the sea. It can destroy targets using a variety of weapons: ship and helicopter launched torpedoes, deck guns, surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, rapid-fire close-in weapons, and electronic jammers and decoys.

The USS Princeton (CG 59) is the sixth ship to bear this name and was commissioned in 1989 in Pascagoula, MS. It won two consecutive Battle Efficiency Awards in 1992-1993.

USS Princeton (CG 59) is equipped to operate in a high-density multi-threat environment as an integral member of a battle group or surface action group (SAG), to include striking targets along hostile shore lines or well inland. In addition to its own anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and anti-surface warfare (ASUW) self-defense capability, Princeton can effectively provide local area protection to the battle group, SAG, or other military shipping against air, surface, and subsurface threats.

USS Princeton was the Navy's first cruiser equipped with the AN/SPY-1B radar system, which provided a significant improvement in the detection capabilities of the AEGIS Weapons System. This radar system incorporates significant advances over earlier radars, particularly in its resistance to enemy Electronic Countermeasures (ECM). With the SPY-1B radar and the ship's MK 99 Fire Control System, the ship can guide its Standard Missile to intercept hostile aircraft and missiles at extended ranges.

The ship is also equipped with the world's most advanced combat system in the ASUW and ASW areas. Anti-ship cruise missile capability is provided by Harpoon missiles, capable of striking surface targets at ranges beyond 65 miles. CG 59's AN/SQQ-89 Integrated ASW Suite is the most advanced ASW system on board surface ship's today. The AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array System provides long-range passive detection of enemy submarines and the hull-mounted AN/SQS-53B sonar can be used to detect and localize submarine contacts. Two LAMPS MK III multi-purpose helicopters function as extensions of the ship to assist in both submarine prosecution and surface surveillance and targeting. In addition to fulfilling the traditional AAW, ASUW, and ASW missions, Princeton is equipped for Strike Warfare. With the vertically-launched Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, Princeton is capable of striking targets well inland.

During Operation Desert Storm, the USS Princeton hit two influence mines on 18 February 1991 while conducting operations in the northern Arabian Gulf. This resulted in a cracked superstructure, a jammed port rudder and leaking port shaft seal. In recognition of the superior and arduous work the crew put in to keep the ship in war-fighting status, the USS Princeton (CG-59) and crew were awarded a Combat Action Ribbon.

The USS Princeton underwent a complete overhaul and modernization from mid-June 1999 to the end of March 2000. The overhaul was performed in Southwest Marine Inc.'s San Diego yard.

USS Princeton set sail from San Diego on 27 July 2001, headed west towards the Arabian Gulf in company with the other ships of the Carl Vinson Battle Group. The Princeton mission was to provide maritime support for Operation Southern Watch. As a result of September 11, 2001, the Princeton was assigned duties as Air Defense Commander for Task Force 50, which encompasses all Navy and coalition forces operating in the Arabian Gulf and the North Arabian Sea. The USS Enterprise Battle Group, along with Carrier Air Wing 8, diverted from their homeward transit and headed back towards the North Arabian Sea as the Princeton north through the Indian Ocean to join them. Several days later, the USS Kitty Hawk was underway from Japan. Within two weeks, the Princeton was assigned to Operation Enduring Freedom.

The USS Princeton's primary duty throughout deployment has been providing air defense for all the ships in the task force, which at one point, included four carriers, three air wings and one ARG. With this came the responsibility of managing over 1500 square miles of airspace in which every type of aircraft from Navy F/A-18 Hornets to Air Force AWACS to British Nimrods operated on a daily basis. Additionally, the ship was called on to launch missiles, conduct boarding operations, and surveillance tasking. At night, the ships's gas turbine engines roared to full power to maintain precise station 2,000 yards off the Carl Vinson's starboard quarter in "planeguard" station. She returned to San Diego on January 19, 2002, after 111 consecutive days on station in the North Arabian Sea.

On November 5, 2003 the Princeton returned from a WESTPAC to the Persian Gulf region. During her deployment, Princeton escorted Nimitz while performing duties as Arabian Gulf Air Defense Commander and Tactical Data Coordinator. Princeton also spent several weeks as the Northern Arabian Gulf Maritime Intercept Commander, directing a coalition of naval forces providing security throughout Iraqi territorial waterways.

Ship Shield and crest

The shield's thirteen red and white stripes around the edge are from a flag of the revolution and stand for the union of the colonies. A profile of George Washington is at the center; his leadership was the essence of the victory at Princeton in 1777. The smaller shield which bears Washington's profile represents the defense of our country, then and now. The golden anchor symbolizes the nation's proud heritage as a seagoing power.

The crest's upward thrust of the trident symbolizes the vertical launching system of the new USS Princeton, and the interlaced lightning bolts represent its quick striking ability. The three times of the trident stand for the ship's multi-mission warfighting capabilities: anti-air, antisubmarine, and surface/strike warfare. The semi-octagonal background shape is a representation of the ship's SPY-1B radar arrays and emphasizes the revolutionary capabilities of the AEGIS Combat System. The five stars represent the previous US Navy ships which bore the name Princeton.

The ship's motto is derived from a letter written on November 15, 1781, by George Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette in which he wrote: "It follows then as certain as night succeeds day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and that with it everything honorable and glorious." It is from this quotation that the ship's motto "HONOR AND GLORY" is derived.

Princeton Namesake

CG 59 is the sixth in a series of U.S. Navy ships to honor the name Princeton. The first vessel named Princeton was a sloop of war, commissioned in 1843. She was the first Navy vessel to be powered by a steam-driven screw. On February 28, 1884, while demonstrating a new type of cannon to the President and numerous dignitaries, ten people were killed when the cannon burst. Among the casualties were the Secretary of State and two senators. The ship was decommissioned in 1849.

The second Princeton was an armed transport and training ship, commissioned in 1852, and in service until 1866. The third vessel named for the Battle of Princeton, was a composite gunboat which was commissioned in 1898. She served in the far east and off Nicaragua, and was decommissioned in 1919.

The fourth Princeton was the Independence class carrier CVL 23, commissioned in 1943. Her battle record included raids on Tarawa, Bougainville, the Gilbert and Marshall Island, Guam, and the Battle of Phillipine Sea. She was sunk in a fierce battle off Surigao Straits in 1944. Among the awards she received were the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Ribbon with 9 battle stars, and the Republic of the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation.

USS Princeton (CV 37)

The fifth Princeton was an Essex class carrier, CV 37. The ship was already in construction when CVL 23 was sunk as she was laid down as Valley Forge at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 14 September 1943. She was renamed Princeton on 21 November 1944; launched on 8 July 1945, sponsored by Mrs. Harold Dodds; and commissioned 18 November 1945.

Following the shakedown off Cuba, Princeton, with Air Group 81 embarked, remained in the Atlantic and operated with the 8th Fleet until June 1946. Then transferred to the Pacific Fleet, she arrived at San Diego on June 30, and departed again 3 July to carry the body of Philippine President Manuel Queson back to Luzon for burial. From Manila Princeton joined the 7th Fleet in the Marianas, becoming flagship of TF 77.

During September and October 1946, she operated in Japanese and Chinese waters, then returned to the Marianas where she remained until February 1947. Maneuvers in Hawaiian waters preceded her return to San Diego on 15 March. She cruised the west coast, Hawaiian waters, and the western Pacific (1 October-23 December) during 1948. She then prepared for inactivation and on 20 June 1948 decommissioned and joined other capital ships in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

Reactivated with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea fifteen months later, Princeton was recommissioned on 28 August 1950. She was reclassed that same year as CVA 37.Intensive training refreshed her Naval Reserve crew and on 5 December she joined TF 77 off the Korean coast, her planes and pilots (Air Group 19) making possible the reinstitution of jet combat air patrols over the battle zone. She launched 248 sorties against targets in the Hagaru area to announce her arrival, and for the next six days continued the pace to support Marines fighting their way down the long, cold road from the Chosin Reservoir to Hungnam. By the 11th, all units had reached the staging area on the coast. Princeton's planes, with other Navy, Marine, and Air Force squadrons, then covered the evacuation from Hungnam through its completion on 24 December 1950.

Interdiction missions followed and by 4 April 1951, Princeton's planes had rendered 54 rail and 37 highway bridges inoperable and damaged 44 more. In May, they flew against the railroad bridges connecting Pyongyang with Sunchon, Sinanju, Kachon, and the transpeninsula line. Next, they combined close air support with raids on power sources in the Hwachon Reservoir area and, with the stabilization of the front there, resumed interdiction. For much of the summer they pounded supply arteries, concentrating on highways, and in August Princeton got underway for the United States, arriving at San Diego on 21 August 1951.

Eight months later, on 30 April 1952, Princeton rejoined TF 77 in the combat zone. For 138 days, her planes flew against the enemy. They sank small craft to prevent the recapture of offshore islands; blasted concentrations of supplies, facilities, and equipment behind enemy lines, participated in air-gun strikes on coastal cities, pounded the enemy's hydroelectric complex at Suiho on the Yalu to turn off power on both sides of that river, destroyed gun positions and supply areas in Pyongyan; and closed mineral processing plants and munitions factories at Sindok, Musan, Aoji, and Najin.

Reclassified CVA-37 on 1 October 1952, Princeton returned to California 3 November for a two month respite from the western Pacific. In February 1953, she was back off the Korean coast and until the end of the conflict launched planes for close air support, "Cherokee" strikes against supply, artillery, and troop concentrations in enemy territory, and against road traffic. She remained in the area after the truce, 27 July 1953, and on 7 September got underway for San Diego.

In January 1954, Princeton was reclassified CVS-37 and, after conversion at Bremerton, took up antisubmarine/Hunter-Killer (HUK) training operations in the eastern Pacific. For the next five years, she alternated HUK exercises off the west coast with similar operations in the western Pacific and, in late 1957 to early 1958, in the Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf area.

Reclassified again, 2 March 1959, she emerged from conversion as an amphibious assault carrier, LPH-5. Capable of transporting a battalion landing team and carrying helicopters in place of planes, Princeton's mission became that of vertical envelopment - the landing of Marines behind enemy beach fortifications and providing logistics and medical support as they attack from the rear to seize critical points, cut enemy supplies, sever communications, and link up with assault forces landed on the beaches.

From May until January 1960, Princeton trained with Marine units from Camp Pendleton, then deployed to WestPac to train in Okinawan waters. For the next three years she followed a similar schedule, gaining experience in her primary mission. Interruptions came in October 1961 when she rescued survivors of the merchantmen Pioneer, Muse and Sheik grounded on Daito Shima and in April 1962 when she delivered Marine Corps advisors and helicopters to Soc Trang in the Mekong Delta area of the Republic of South Viet Nam.

In October 1964, Princeton exchanged WestPac training for the real thing as she returned to Viet Nam and joined the Pacific Fleet's Ready Group in operations against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces. Combat operations, interrupted in November for flood relief work, continued into the new year, 1965, and culminated in May off Chu Lai as she carried out her primary mission, vertical envelopment, for the first time in combat.

Returning to her homeport of Long Beach after that operation, she transported Marine Air Group 36 to Viet Nam in August, and in February 1966 got underway for another tour in the combat zone. Relieving USS Okinawa (LPH-3) as flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group, she engaged the enemy in operations Jackstay, 26 March- 6 April, to clear the Rung Sat Special Zone of Viet Cong guerrillas, and Osage, 27 April-4 May, to protect Vietnamese in the Phu Loc area from Viet Cong "harassment."

Search and destroy missions against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army units followed as Princeton provided transportation, medical evacuation, logistics and communication support for the amphibious Operation Deckhouse I , 18-27 June 1966, in the Song Cau district and the Song Cai river valley, then supported 1st Air Cavalry and 101st Airborne units engaged in Operation Nathan Hale to the south of the Deckhouse I area. Deckhouse II and support for Operation Hastings followed as Navy, Marine, and Army units aga in combined, this time to impede enemy infiltration from the DMZ.

After Hastings, Princeton sailed for home, arriving 2 September 1966. She deployed again to Viet Nam, 30 January-19 June 1967, and again ranged along that long embattled, highly indented coast. In March 1967, she assisted in countering an enemy threat to the Marine artillery base at Gio Ling and evacuated wounded from Con Thien mountain. In April, she participated in Operation Beacon Star, in the Khe Sanh area, and supported search and destroy operations in conjunction with Operation Shawnee. In May, her helicopters lifted Marines to the DMZ to block enemy forces withdrawing across the Ben Hai river.

A much needed overhaul followed Princeton's return to the west coast and in May 1968 she again sailed west to Viet Nam. There, as flagship for Amphibious Ready Group Alpha, she provided amphibious assault carrier services for operations Fortress Attack III and IV, Proud Hunter, Swift Pursuit, and Eager Hunter.

In December 1968, she returned to the United States and in April 1969 she was designated the prime recovery ship for Apollo 10, the lunar mission which paved the way for Apollo 11 and the first landing on the moon. On 26 May, Apollo 10 astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, USAF; John W. Young, USN; and Eugene A. Cernan, USN, were recovered by a helo from HS-4 off Princeton after their eight-day orbit of the earth. Completing that mission successfully, Princeton resumed exercises off the west coast.

After two and a half decades of service, Princeton was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 January 1970. She was sold for scrapping in May 1971.

Princeton received 8 battle stars for service during the Korean Conflict.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:46:02 ZULU