USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) 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, USS Leyte Gulf 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.
USS Leyte Gulf 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).
USS Leyte Gulf changed homeport on July 30, 1997, from Mayport, FL, to Naval Station Norfolk, VA.
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 support Operation Allied Force. It returned home from deployment in September 1999.
As part of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), and in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, 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.
Following an extensive modernization in 2007 at BAE Systems Shipyard in Norfolk, Leyte Gulf in 2008 participated in many exercises off the coast of the United States and went to New York for Fleet week.
In 2011 while on deployment with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG 12), Leyte Gulf supported anti-piracy operations and counter narcotic operations off the coast of Somalia. USS Leyte Gulf also supported the missile strikes against Lybia. USS Leyte Gulf was involved with the Somali pirate hijacking of the motor vessel Quest in the Indian Ocean and captured 75 Somali pirates.
During 2012, USS Leyte Gulf successfully completed an eleven month Extended Selected Restricted Availability (ESRA) and Cruiser Modernization which included significant Combat Systems upgrades and extensive hull, tank and superstructure work.