USS Leyte Gulf is an TICONDEROGA class AEGIS Guided Missile Cruiser home-ported in Norfolk VA. She was commissioned in Fort Lauderdale, FL in 1987. She served in the Persian Gulf for operation DESERT STORM.
As part of New York City's "Fleet Week'93", a celebration honoring the U.S. sea services, the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and the Russian guided missile destroyer Bezuderzhny conducted maneuvering and communication drills 80 miles southeast of New York for a three-hour exercise on June 1. The two ships communicated using radio, signal flags and flashing light while maneuvering in formation. The ships also practiced rescue at sea operations. The exercise was part of an ongoing professional exchange between the two navies.
The AEGIS cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) returned to Mayport, FL, on January 9, 1995, after a successful deployment to the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf conducting Maritime Interception Operations in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. There, the Leyte Gulf steamed independently, providing ready strike capabilities to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. The ship also performed duties as anti-air warfare commander and strike coordinator for aircraft carriers USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) when 80,000 Iraqi troops moved toward the Kuwait border in an act of aggression. During the deployment, Leyte Gulf's efforts resulted in the capture of more than 25,000 tons of contraband Iraqi oil.
In 1996, the USS Leyte Gulf deployed for six months as part of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Carrier Battle Group (CVBG). During that deployment, On October 14, the carrier Theodore Roosevelt, without warning, reversed its engines while the Leyte Gulf was behind it and slammed into the cruiser's bow approximately 100 miles off the coast of Cape Hattaras, NC, while conducting routine operations in the western Atlantic. The collision caused $9 million in damages to the cruiser and $7 million to the carrier. The Leyte Gulf's captain at that time was relieved of command as a result of the incident.
The USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) changed homeport on July 30, 1997, from Mayport, FL, to Naval Station Norfolk, VA. The guided-missile cruiser came to Norfolk under a realignment plan that allowed Carrier Group Eight's two cruisers to be collocated, to improve maintenance and training efficiencies. The move took place after Leyte Gulf's recently-completed deployment and just prior to a maintenance period.
The USS Leyte Gulf deployed in the Adriatic Sea for Operation ALLIED FORCE as part of the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group. The Theodore Roosevelt battle group, which arrived in the Mediterranean on April 3, 1999, was originally slated to deploy directly to the Persian Gulf to relieve the USS Enterprise battle group, but was ordered by Secretary of Defense Cohen to remain in the area to suppport Operation Allied Force. It returned home from deployment in September 1999.
The USS Leyte Gulf sustained a 6-foot-by-8-foot paint scratch on its sonar dome but caused no significant damage when it briefly hit bottom off the Virginia Beach coast in January 2001. The incident took place while the Leyte Gulf was conducting electronic calibration trials in the vicinity of Navy buoy "B" near the Chesapeake Light on January 18. During such Shipboard Electronic Systems Evaluation trials, a ship circles the buoy repeatedly to test the accuracy of naval electronic sensors, such as those used to jam incoming missiles while technicians ashore at nearby Fort Story monitor the activities. The ship's captain was relieved of his command as a result of the mishap.
As part of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), and in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the USS Leyte Gulf set sail in support of defense and humanitarian efforts off the coast of New York.
The Leyte Gulf deployed on September 19, 2001, as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Battle Group, to the Mediterranean, and "to points East" in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Roosevelt Carrier Battle Group transited the Suez Canal on October 13th and arrived in the Arabian Sea on October 15th, before returning home in April 2002.