At a critical junction, when the US is competing with China to outmatch its swelling naval ship fleet, the former decided to decommission its Cruiser, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), which remained in service for 36 long years.
The ship’s decommissioning ceremony was held at Naval Base San Diego on 10th August 2023.
Mobile Bay was constructed by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in 1982 and was commissioned on 21st February 1987 at Alabama State Docks in Mobile.
The Cruiser was named in honour and remembrance of the pivotal 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay. This American Civil War Naval Battle was fought between the Union forces commanded by Adm David Farragut and Confederate forces led by Adm Franklin Buchanan. Ultimately, the Union forces won.
Mobile Bay Cruiser has had an illustrious history and participated in several critical operations worldwide, leading the US Navy to many victories. It played an active role in the evacuation of the US Embassy in Beirut in 1989. It launched land attack missiles in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
It also helped the US Coast Guard confiscate 10.5 metric tonnes of cocaine in Mexico.
The guest speaker of the decommissioning ceremony was Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener, Commander of the Naval Surface Forces. He appreciated the efforts and resolve of the USS Mobile Bay’s sailors in protecting the nation’s interests.
Importance of Having a Robust Naval Fleet At The World Stage
The ship’s decommissioning comes when the US seems to be in a disadvantageous position in front of China concerning the latter’s rapidly increasing naval fleet.
However, the US Navy strives to maintain its position until new ships are ready to join the naval force. This is evident in the recent decision of the Surface Fleet Force, which extended the operational life of 4 Arleigh Burke-Class Destroyer Ships (DDG 51).
The decision is imperative to maintain the US Navy’s ‘round the clock readiness,” especially in the Indo-Pacific region coveted by China and dotted by its vessels.
Although Director of Surface Warfare, Rear Adm Fred Pyle, mentioned it was vital to extend the functional life of these vessels to maintain the size of the US naval force, it seems to be a move for buying enough time so the nine new DDG 51s and other ships can join the Navy in the next ten years.
Although the US Navy has decided to inactivate Mobile Bay and take it to Bremerton’s Inactive Ship Facility, it will have a Logistic Support Asset Status.
To put it in perspective, the inactive ships labelled as assets serve as a reserve that can be reactivated in future if the need arises.
Although this is a standard policy for decommissioned vessels, one can assume that Mobile Bay can still prove useful given the current US Naval force structure.
References: Naval Technology, navy.mil
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