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USS Shiloh, Mobile Bay Return Home After 9 Months

Navy NewStand

Story Number: NNS030423-28
Release Date: 4/24/2003 12:00:00 PM

By Ensign Dave Banschbach, USS Shiloh Public Affairs and USS Mobile Bay Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The crews of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) will return to port April 25 after carrying out a series of combat operations and Tomahawk cruise missile launches, completing its vital role in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Both ships out to sea on a routine six-month deployment July 24 as part of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group and ended up spending more than nine months away from home on a record-setting deployment.

Sept. 11, 2002, marked the end of Shiloh's westward transit and the commencement of operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This historic date was marked with a ceremony to remember the events of Sept. 11, and included raising a giant American flag signed by members of the New York Fire Department from the ship's mainmast.

For the remainder of the month, Shiloh provided air defense for the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), while its carrier air wing conducted strike missions over Afghanistan, as well as airspace deconfliction for all coalition aircraft.

The crew earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for three months of intensive operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Shiloh departed the Persian Gulf Dec. 11 and commenced her transit home.

Mobile Bay arrived back in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility Jan. 29 along with the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, which became the senior battle group in the Arabian Gulf.

This time, a different role was needed from this great ship - carrier escort duties for USS Constellation (CV 64). During this time, Mobile Bay did an impeccable job defending the carrier leading up to the impending war.

When the time came March 19, Mobile Bay took its position and became one of the first warships to conduct Tomahawk cruise missile strikes against leadership targets within Iraq. Multiple Tomahawks were fired over a seven-day span. To reward this heroic ship and crew, Mobile Bay was released to proceed home to San Diego after nine months on deployment.

On the last evening of nearly a week of liberty in Fremantle, Australia, Shiloh's port visit was extended by two days, signaling that the end of the deployment was in doubt. Shiloh was underway Jan. 19 and remained so for 82 days. Shiloh again entered Central Command's area of responsibility Jan. 31 and immediately resumed Air Defense Commander duties.

While in the Gulf, Shiloh's responsibilities as Air Defense Commander expanded to include defense of all coalition naval forces, three aircraft carrier strike groups, several amphibious strike groups, and maritime prepositioning and cargo ships carrying equipment for the U.S. Army and Marines.

Upon the commencement of combat operations in late March, Shiloh was tasked and launched dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets in Iraq.

After a week of operations against Iraq, Shiloh's crew was surprised to hear the news that they were going to begin their return trip to San Diego.

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