The USS Vincennes (CG-49) was a Ticonderoga-class Aegis guided missile cruiser in service with the United States Navy from July 1985 to June 2005. Five years after being decommissioned, the USS Vincennes was sold for scrapping to International Shipbreaking in July 2010, and was completely scrapped by the end of November 2011.

The USS Vincennes is perhaps best known for shooting down a Iranian civilian passenger jetliner, Iran Air Flight 655, over the Persian Gulf on July 3, 1988, killing all 290 civilians on board (including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children), sparking an international incident between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America.



The USS Vincennes (CG-49), was launched on April 14, 1984 and sponsored by Marilyn Quayle, wife of Indiana Senator Dan Quayle. The Vincennes was named for the Battle of Vincennes during the Revolutionary War, while the previous Vincennes heavy cruiser and Vincennes light cruiser were named for the city of Vincennes, Indiana. She was commissioned at Pascagoula 6 July 1985, Captain George N. Gee in command. The ship normally carries guided missiles, rapid-fire cannons, and two Seahawk LAMPS helicopters for anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare, personnel transfers, and other purposes.

The USS Vincennes was the first of the Ticonderoga-class cruisers to enter the Pacific Fleet. Upon commissioning in 1985, Vincennes helped test the SM-2 Block II surface-to-air missile. In May 1986, Vincennes participated in the multinational exercise RIMPAC 86, coordinating the anti-aircraft warfare efforts of two aircraft carriers and more than 40 ships from five nations. The Vincennes was deployed in August 1986 to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, a first for a Tico cruiser. The ship served as anti-air warfare commander with the Carl Vinson and New Jersey battle groups, operated with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Royal Australian Navy, and steamed more than 46,000 miles (74,000 km)Template:Dubious in waters from the Bering Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Iran-Iraq WarEdit

During the Iran-Iraq War the United States of America took active measures in the Persian Gulf to protect shipping, mainly oil tankers, that were being threatened by both countries.

Operation Ernest WillEdit

On April 14, 1988, the guided missile frigate Template:USS hit a mine in the Persian Gulf during Operation Earnest Will. Six days later, Vincennes was re-deployed from Fleet Exercise 88-1, sent back to San Diego, California and told to prepare for a six-month deployment. The reason for the haste: Navy leaders decided that they needed an Aegis ship to protect the exit of the damaged Roberts through the Strait of Hormuz. One month later, the cruiser entered the Persian Gulf, and in early July, stood guard in the Strait as the damaged frigate was borne out on the Mighty Servant 2 heavy-lift ship. The ship made 14 Hormuz transits during its Earnest Will operations.

Iran Air Flight 655 incidentEdit

On July 3, 1988, Vincennes, under the command of Captain Will Rogers III, fired two radar-guided missiles and shot down an Iran Air Airbus A300 civilian airliner over the Strait of Hormuz, killing all 290 passengers and crew on board. According to Captain Rogers, they were being attacked by eight Iranian gun boats. Vincennes was defending themselves from this attack when the plane was shot at with two standard missiles. Crucially, the Vincennes then misidentified the Iranian Airbus as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter. A radio warning had been sent to the aircraft on the international air distress frequency. CNN showed video from the area were they found plane wreckage, 25 miles away from the location that Vincennes fired the two standard missiles. The video showed naked bodies tied together, and if this video was correct, it is the only time that bodies were recovered from a plane that crashed at sea. Also noted from CNNs video footage was the lack of other floating debris such as luggage, airplane seat cushions and clothing on the victims seeing that all bodies recovered were bloated and floating hours after they passed.

The Iranian government has maintained that the Vincennes knowingly shot down the civilian aircraft.[1] Iran Air flight IR655 flew every day out of Bandar Abbas—a civil as well as military airport—on a scheduled passenger flight to Dubai using established air lanes. The Italian navy and another US warship, the frigate Sides, confirmed that the plane was climbing—not diving to attack—at the time of the missile strike. The U.S. radio warnings were only broadcast on 121.5 MHz, not air traffic control frequencies and mistakenly identified the altitude and position of the plane, so the Airbus crew, if they were monitoring "guard," could have misinterpreted the warnings as referring to another aircraft. Captain David Carlson of the USS Sides later said that the destruction of the airliner "marked the horrifying climax to Rogers' aggressiveness".[2]

The shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 has continued to be the subject of fierce debate. The Iranian government has not released any passenger lists at the request of the United Nations.


In February 1990, Vincennes was deployed on a third six-month tour of the western Pacific and Indian oceans, with SH-60 helicopters from HSL-45 Detachment 13. The ship coordinated all battle group air events and served as the command-and-control flagship during Harpoon-Ex-90. In July 1990, the USS Vincennes returned home after steaming nearly 100,000 miles (160,000 km). Template:Dubious

In August 1991, Vincennes departed for a fourth western Pacific deployment. Steaming with Independence, Vincennes performed duties as the anti-air warfare commander for Battle Group Delta until detaching to participate as the United States representative in MERCUBEX 91, a joint United States and Singaporean exercise. Over the next three months, Vincennes participated in the bilateral exercise Valiant Blitz with the South Korean Navy, the bilateral exercise Annualex 03G with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, and ASWEX 92-1K with the South Korean Navy before reaching Hong Kong to act as the U.S. representative for the Navy Days ceremonies. Vincennes returned from deployment on 21 December 1991.

In June 1994, the USS Vincennes departed on a fifth western Pacific deployment with the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) Battle Group. The USS Vincennes performed duties as anti-air warfare commander for the battle group. During deployment, Vincennes conducted an anti-submarine exercise, PASSEX 94-2, with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, the bilateral exercise MERCUB 94-2, a joint U.S. and Singaporean Navy exercise of the Malaysian peninsula, the bilateral exercise Keen Edge, with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Tandem Thrust, a larger-scale joint exercise which Vincennes participated as the area air defense coordinator for the entire joint operating area. Vincennes returned from this deployment on 22 December 1994.

In August 1997, the USS Vincennes changed homeport from San Diego to Yokosuka, Japan, then steamed to the South Pacific and took part in Exercise Valiant Usher 98-1 with the USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) amphibious ready group and the Royal Australian Navy destroyer Perth. The combined exercise took place near Townsend Island, Australia.

The USS Vincennes also took part in the U.S. Seventh Fleet's Fleet Battle Experiment Delta (FBE-D) from October 24, 1998, to November 2, 1998, in conjunction with the exercise, Foal Eagle, a regularly scheduled exercise that simulates the military defense of South Korea. Sponsored by the Navy Warfare Development Command, FBE-D was the fourth in a series of experiments that tested new combat systems and procedures at sea.


On August 12, 2000, Vincennes completed Sharem 134, a bilateral exercise with several Japanese ships and other U.S. participants. The exercise included a week of undersea warfare training and data collection in the South China Sea. The ship tested its submarine detection, sonar range testing, and sonobuoy employment and developed new submarine prosecution procedures. The final Sharem events included a "freeplay", which allowed the cruiser to detect and prosecute other submarines, combining many of the tactics and systems tested during Sharem.

In mid-November 2000, the cruiser fired missile batteries at remote-controlled aerial drones provided by Fleet Activities Okinawa during MISSILEX 01-1.

On March 23, 2001, Vincennes, as part of the Kitty Hawk Battle Group, cruised into Changi Naval Base, the first time a U.S. carrier had moored pierside in Singapore. The USS Vincennes took part in a August 23, 2001 to August 27, 2001, military training exercise called Multi-Sail, which was designed to provide U.S. and Japanese forces interoperability training in multiple warfare areas.

The USS Vincennes departed from Yokosuka on September 17, 2001, to conduct operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ship returned on December 18, 2001 after more than three months at sea.


The USS Vincennes was decommissioned on June 29, 2005 at San Diego, California and was stricken later that day. She was mothballed at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Naval Base Kitsap, in Bremerton, Washington]]. In 2008, the Vincennes was slated for scrapping within the next five years along with her sister ships USS Thomas S. Gates and USS Yorktown.


On July 9, 2010, a contract to scrap the Vincennes was issued to International Shipbreaking, Brownsville, Tx.[3] {C On November 21, 2010, The Vincennes arrived via Panama Canal to International Shipbreaking in Brownsville, Texas, and was completely scrapped by November 23, 2011.[4]

Image galleryEdit

Awards and decorationsEdit

The USS Vincennes has been awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Battle Efficiency "E" three times, the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with four stars.

Commanding officersEdit

  • Captain George N. Gee, 6 July 1985 – 11 April 1987
  • Captain Will C. Rogers III, 11 April 1987 – 27 May 1989
  • Captain Robert B. Lynch, 27 May 1989 – 26 April 1991
  • Captain Thomas C. J. McGinlay, 26 April 1991 – 27 March 1993
  • Captain Charles R. Burchell, 27 March 1993 – 6 January 1995
  • Captain Craig H. Murray, 27 March 1993 – 21 March 1997
  • Commander Alan G. Maiorano, 21 March 1997 – 23 October 1998
  • Commander Samuel Perez, Jr., 23 October 1998 – 17 April 2000
  • Commander Robert A. Shafer, 17 April 2000 – 12 April 2002
  • Commander Steven A. Lott, 12 April 2002 – 4 February 2004
  • Commander Mark J. Englebert, 4 February 2004 – 1 July 2005[5]

In popular cultureEdit

  • In the 1986 novel Red Storm Rising, by Tom Clancy, the USS Vincennes (CG-49) was one of three missile cruisers sent to protect U.S. forces fighting to liberate Iceland from Soviet military occupation. When Soviet aircraft fire antiship missiles at U.S. amphibious assault ships, the USS Vincennes interceps the incoming missiles with missiles of her own.


  1. Template:Cite web. New York Times 15 July 1988. Retrieved 2008-01-10
  2. Robert Fisk 'The Great War For Civilisation' (2005) pages 320-328 ISBN 978 1 84115 008 6
  3. Template:Cite web
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. Book: Vincennes (Guided missile cruiser: CG-49)USS Vincennes (CG 49) Freedom's Fortress: Decommissioning Ceremony 29 June 2005.Government publication. National government publication. OCLC Number: 71425192. Retrieved 2009-09-09

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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