Ship's History

     MISSISSIPPI began her life on August 5, 1978 in a commissioning ceremony featuring President James Carter as the keynote speaker. The world's most advanced nuclear cruiser was equipped to fulfill multiple tasks in all warfare mission areas: Two pressurized nuclear reactors capable of propelling the ship at speeds in excess of 30 knots; two twin-rail missile launchers for AAW with ASROC capability; two 5", 54 caliber gun mounts for AAW and ASUW; two three-barrel torpedo launchers for ASW; and a LAMPS helicopter for ASW. MISSISSIPPI completed her sea trials on November 15 eager for further tasking.
     MISSISSIPPI completed her first operational cruise to South America on February 13, 1979. A six-month Post-Shakedown Availability included installation of the AN/SLQ-32(V)III Electronic Warfare Suite, the RGM-84A Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile launching system, and the "Classic Outboard" electronic intelligence data collection system. Independent operations in the VACAPES operational area in January and February 1980 allowed MISSISSIPPI to complete System Integrated Testing for its improved Combat Systems suite and prepare for the comprehensive combat systems qualification trials. Following REFTRA in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the WSAT in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, MISSISSIPPI completed the ASROC Quality Assurance System Test, Caribbean operations, and the last of the SLQ-32(V)III operational tests. The winter was just as busy as MISSISSIPPI participated in SEABAT 1-81 and COMPTUEX/ASWEX 1-81. MISSISSIPPI returned to Norfolk for a well-deserved holiday standdown on December 28.
     The first nine months of 1981 passed swiftly as she busied herself for her first Mediterranean deployment. On August 10, MISSISSIPPI entered the Mediterranean with CRUDESGRU EIGHT embarked. She saw international attention when two Libyan jets fired on American assets and were shot down over international waters in the Gulf of Sidra on August 18, and again on October 6 when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's assassination led to an emergency sortie from a liberty call in Venice, Italy. The rest of the cruise passed quickly as MISSISSIPPI completed Operations ILES D-OR and DISPLAY DETERMINATION, and returned to Norfolk to receive the coveted Battle Force Sixth Fleet Top Hand Award.
     MISSISSIPPI's second Mediterranean cruise was every bit as successful as the first and, once again, she found herself in the now familiar waters of the Gulf of Sidra conducting Freedom of Navigation exercises. Not only did she distinguish herself as AAWC and ASUWC for the NIMITZ battle group, but she earned COMSIXTHFLT recognition for her ASW activities against Soviet submarine assets with the award of the "Hook 'Em" Trophy. Superior performance had become the hallmark for all MISSISSIPPI endeavors, and it came as no surprise when she broke her own US Navy record by scoring her fourth consecutive "Excellent" on the Operational Reactor Safeguards Exam. MISSISSIPPI returned to Norfolk in May and on July 22, Captain Philip R. Olson relieved Captain Raynor A.K. Taylor as Commanding Officer. In November, she received her second consecutive Battle Efficiency "E" Award and entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a four month overhaul.
     After a successful shipyard period in which CIWS was installed to improve her anti-ship missile defense, MISSISSIPPI conducted COMPTUEX 3-84 in July and READEX 2-84 in preparation for another Mediterranean deployment. Mediterranean Deployment 1-85 found her once again in troubled waters as she conducted numerous operations off the coast of Lebanon and participated in Exercise National Week. She returned home in May and received her third consecutive Battle Efficiency "E" Award. After conducting numerous independent steaming operations in the VACAPES, MISSISSIPPI entered a complex overhaul in Norfolk Naval Shipyard in March 1986. Designed to maintain her as the standard in battle excellence, she was outfitted with the Tomahawk Cruise Missile System, the Standard SM2 (MR) Missile System, and the SPS-49 Air Search Radar. On October 4, 1986, Captain Michael W. Bordy relieved Captain Philip R. Olson as Commanding Officer.
     Even after an extensive shipyard period, MISSISSIPPI continued to set the standard in all areas of performance. After conducting the best LANTFLT PORSE to date, she finished her complex overhaul in October and was once again eager to get underway. After completing another CSSQT, REFTRA, NGFS Qualification, and Weapons System Accuracy Trials, she conducted a two-month Northern European cruise and Law Enforcement Operations in the Caribbean. MISSISSIPPI became the first ship on the east coast to qualify all three Tomahawk watch teams, was selected as a finalist in the 1989 Captain Edward Ney Award for excellence in food preparation, and broke the all-time Atlantic Fleet record high score at the OUTBOARD team trainer with a score of 98%. She was ready for another deployment and began Med 3-89 on May 31.
     Immediately after Captain Don P. Pollard relieved Captain Michael W. Bordy as Commanding Officer on July 30, MISSISSIPPI was called upon to serve as CWC for contingency operation in the Eastern Mediterranean in response to the murder of Marine Colonel Higgins by pro-Iranian terrorists. Other deployment successes included NATO exercise "Display Determination", the U.S. Exercise "National Week 90", and assisting the USS MONONGAHELA combat a shipboard fire and repair her propulsion plant. On November 10, MISSISSIPPI returned to Norfolk and was met with another Battle Efficiency "E" Award as the top nuclear-powered cruiser in the Atlantic Fleet.
     After conducting three Law Enforcement Operations in the Caribbean, MISSISSIPPI returned to the Eastern Mediterranean theater in 1990. With only five days notice, she deployed in August as part of the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY Battle Group to support OPERATION DESERT SHIELD and served as flagship for COMDESRON THREE SIX. In this capacity, MISSISSIPPI was tasked with boarding and searching merchant vessels for cargo bound for Iraq in violation of United Nations resolutions. After performing escort duties for the USS NITRO, MISSISSIPPI was order to steam at flank speed to a launch area in the Red Sea and, on January 25 and 26, 1991, launched Tomahawk cruise missiles at designated strategic and military targets deep inside the country of Iraq. On March 28, she triumphantly returned home to Norfolk for installation of New Threat Upgrade during SRA. On August 1, 1992, Captain William J. Laz relived Captain Don P. Pollard as Commanding Officer.
After leaving the SRA on August 15, MISSISSIPPI conducted a shakedown cruise and completed her third successful CSSQT. After scoring three skin on skin hits and three warhead kills out of six SM2 (MR) missile shots, she proved that she was perfectly compatible with NTU and was once again ready to sail in harm's way. After successful completion of the Combat Systems Assessment, MISSISSIPPI found herself back in the Caribbean for Law Enforcement Operations. On May 4, 1993, she passed through the Panama Canal and crossed the equator at 081 00 W. A new class of shellbacks was initiated into the Navy. Upon return to Norfolk, and after the second set of Law Enforcement Operations for the year, she won the COMNAVSURFGRU Commodore's Cup for scoring first place in the Surface Warfare Training Week. In November, MISSISSIPPI embarked COMDESRON 22 and once again pointed her bow south, this time for OPERATION SUPPORT DEMOCRACY in support of the United Nations embargo on Haiti. Consistent and sustained outstanding performance earned her another Battle Efficiency "E" Award.
     After conducting a second OPERATION SUPPORT DEMOCRACY cruise and COMPTUEX 95-1, MISSISSIPPI conducted JFTX early in 1995 in preparation for her last Mediterranean Deployment. Once again she found herself on the forefront of operations as she entered the waters of the Mediterranean on March 29 and assumed duties as REDCROWN in support of United Nations sanctions against the former Republic of Yugoslavia. After participating in the multi-national naval exercise "Destined Glory", on May 21, 1995, Captain Lawrence A. Lewandowski relieved Captain William J. Laz as Commanding Officer. Never far from a leadership role, MISSISSIPPI assumed duties as AW for air strikes against the former Republic of Yugoslavia. She returned in triumph to Norfolk on September 22. That year she was rewarded with her fifth Battle Efficiency "E" Award and the Navy Unit Commendation Medal.
     February 1996 once again found MISSISSIPPI answering the call to arms. After conducting a port visit to Pascagoula, Mississippi, she was en route to Norfolk with male dependents when a "Brothers to the Rescue" aircraft was shot down by Cuban military forces. After dropping off her passengers in Key West, MISSISSIPPI steamed to the waters off Cuba and assumed tactical control of all Naval and Coast Guard assets in the area. Her positive command and control helped diffuse a volatile situation and, crisis avoided, she one again turned northward.
     After conducting her last Law Enforcement Operations in the Caribbean and crossing the equator for the last time, she escorted USS JOHN F. KENNEDY to Northern Europe. MISSISSIPPI was deactivated on 6 September, 1996 at Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia in preparation for decommissioning at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia after 18 years of NOTHING SHORT OF 4.0 service. On 31 July, 1997, USS MISSISSIPPI was officially decommissioned and was later towed to Bremerton, Washington for reactor core removal and storage.

Source: Information from USS Mississippi CGN-40's Decommissioning Program
More Ship's History
Mississippi (DLGN 40) was laid down on 22 February 1975 at Newport News, Va., by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co.; reclassified as a guided missile cruiser and designated CGN 40 on 30 June 1975; launched on 31 July 1976; sponsored by Miss. Janet H. Finch, daughter of Governor Charles C. Finch of Mississippi; and, in ceremonies attended by President James E. [Jimmy] Carter, Jr., Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, and Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi, was commissioned at Norfolk, Va., on 5 August 1978, Capt. Peter M. Hekman, Jr., in command.

Mississippi conducted her shakedown cruise to Caribbean and South American waters (8 January–13 February 1979), then made her first deployment—to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean -- (3 August 1981 – 12 February 1982) during a confrontation between the United States and Libya. She operated as part of the screen for aircraft carriers Nimitz (CVN 68) and Forrestal (CV 59) when two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter-Js threatened the task force (19 August 1981). Cmdr. Henry M. Kleeman and Lt. David J. Venlet, and Lieutenants Lawrence M. Muczynski and James Anderson, of Fighter Squadron (VF) 41, manned a pair of Grumman F-14A Tomcats on a reconnaissance mission from Nimitz for a missile-firing exercise during freedom of navigation operations over international waters. The Libyans opened fire at the Tomcats and the F-14As shot down the Fitter-Js with AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Mississippi fired three RIM-66B Standard SM-1 surface-to-air missiles during the exercise.

While Mississippi steamed with Nimitz and guided missile cruiser Arkansas (CGN 41) off the coast of Lebanon, she received a distress call from Greek cargo vessel Andalusia, registered with the Belgravia Maritime Company of London, England, bearing 166°, range 26 nautical miles (0030 on 3 December 1982). Crew 11, a Lockheed P-3C Orion from Patrol Squadron (VP) 49, vectored Mississippi to Andalusia and the cruiser rescued all 19 crewmembers. Two Sikorsky Sea Kings from Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 9 operating from Nimitz, an SH-3H designated AJ 615, pilot Lt. Michael G. Mulcahy, copilot Lt. (j.g.) Randall K. Ewald, and aircrewmen Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator 2d Class Robert S. Chronister and Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator Airman Henry J. Miller; and an SH-3G designated AJ 617, BuNo 149000, pilot Lt. Cmdr. David B. Small, Jr., copilot Lt. Cmdr. Larry W. Zimmer, and aircrewmen Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator 2d Class Richard M. Lane and Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Operator Airman Allen L. Estel; transferred survivors from Mississippi to the carrier. Mississippi’s chief engineer and damage control assistant inspected Andalusia but determined that her damage precluded salvage, and the ship sank at 0824, 1,200 yards off the port bow of the cruiser in 195 fathoms (36°1'N, 12°19'2"E).

Arab terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon, kidnapped and hung Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, USMC, a member of the UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, and threatened to murder additional hostages they held (1 August 1989). Aircraft carrier America (CV 66) departed early from a visit to Singapore and made for the Arabian Sea, and Coral Sea (CV 43) steamed from Alexandria, Egypt, to the Eastern Mediterranean as a show of force. Mississippi had deployed as part of the Sixth Fleet’s Med 3-89 Battle Force and was visiting Haifa, Israel, when the crisis began. She emergency sortied and operated as the battle group’s Composite Warfare Coordinator for anti-surface warfare off the Lebanese littoral throughout the remainder of the month. Midway (CV 41) had originally been scheduled to participate in Pacific Exercise-89, but sailed to fill a carrier commitment in the Indian Ocean, where she operated until mid-October.

Mississippi deployed with the John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Battle Group to the Mediterranean for Operations Desert Shield/Storm/Sabre—the liberation of the Kuwaitis from the Iraqis (16 August 1990 – 28 March 1991). She escorted ammunition ship Nitro (AE 21) through the Bab al Mandeb into the Gulf of Aden (18 January) and then made flank speed to her launch position in the Red Sea. Mississippi fired three BGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) at Iraqi strategic and military targets (25 January 1991) and two more the following day. The ship then operated as the local Antiair Warfare Screen commander for the Red Sea Battle Force (27 January–24 February).

Following the Haitian Army’s overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (September 1991), a succession of governments led to sectarian violence. The UN authorized force to restore order and the U.S. initiated Operations Support Democracy and Uphold/Restore Democracy—Uphold Democracy for a peaceful entry into Haiti, and Restore Democracy in the event of resistance. Mississippi enforced the embargoes imposed upon Haiti as part of Support Democracy (14 July–3 August). The deteriorating situation then (12 September 1994) prompted the dispatch of a multinational force that included America (CV 66) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)—about 1,800 soldiers of the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps embarked on board Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Haitians agreed to allow the Americans to land peacefully, and (31 March 1995) the U.S. transferred peacekeeping functions to international forces. The crisis marked the first deployment operationally of Army helicopters on board a carrier in lieu of most of an air wing.

NATO and the UN carried out Operations: Provide Promise to provide humanitarian relief for people displaced by the fighting in former Yugoslavia (2 July 1992 – 9 January 1996); Deny Flight to monitor the air space over Bosnia-Herzegovina to prevent the warring parties from using their air strength (12 April 1993 – 21 December 1995); and Sharp Guard to enforce the arms embargo against the combatants (15 June 1993 – 2 October 1996). Mississippi served as Red Crown—coordinating air operations—in the Maverick Operating Area in the Adriatic Sea (2–18 April, 14–21 May, 11–21 June, 30 June–9 July, 22–27 July, and 22 August–6 September 1995). In addition, the cruiser intercepted Polish vessel Dajti, and her boarding team boarded and inspected the Eastern European ship as a possible smuggler (7 April).

Two Cuban Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-29UB Fulcrums shot down two Cessna 337 Skymasters flown by the “Brothers to the Rescue,” a non-profit organization opposed to the Cuban government of Fidel R. Castro, over contested international waters (24 February 1996). Mississippi led a surface action group that included guided missile cruiser Ticonderoga (CG 47) and guided missile frigate John L. Hall (FFG 32) during Operations Sentinel Lifeguard, Standoff IV, and Escort 1-96 in the Straits of Florida in response to the Cubans’ downing the Skymasters (25–28 February and 1–7 March). In addition, the group escorted a civilian flotilla that laid a wreath on the water where the victims fell.

Mississippi was deactivated on 6 September 1996 at Norfolk, and decommissioned there on 28 July 1997. Pending the cruiser’s further disposition, the Military Sealift Command-operated fleet ocean tug Mohawk (T-ATF 170) took Mississippi under tow to Rodman, Panama Canal Zone, and Navajo (T-ATF 169) towed her from there to the Naval Sea Systems Command Inactive Ships Onsite Maintenance Office, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. (March–May 1998). Circa October 2004, she entered the Ship/Submarine Recycling Program (SRP)—the Navy’s program to dispose of decommissioned nuclear powered vessels.

Source: DANFS (Dictionary of American Naval Fighthing Ships - USS Mississippi-IV