USS GONZALEZ


History

Ready to Strike

USS GONZALEZ (DDG 66) was commissioned on Oct. 12, 1996 and is homported in Norfolk, Virginia. She is the 16th ship of the Arleigh Burke Class of aegis destroyers.

Important Dates in GONZALEZ History

12 Jan 1993    Start of Fabrication

03 Feb1994    Keel laid

22 Oct 1994    Mast stepping ceremony

18 Feb 1995    GONZALEZ launched and christened

12 Oct 1996    GONZALEZ commissioned at Naval Station Ingleside, Texas near Freddy Gonzalez’ hometown of Edinburg, Texas

Command history since the new millennium

2001-2002

In August 2001 GONZALEZ deployed to the Mediterranean as part of NATO's Standing Naval Forces Mediterranean Task Group. GONZALEZ and other NATO ships joined Partnership for Peace naval forces from Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Ukraine in air, surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises.

On September 11, 2001, GONZALEZ sortied from the Royal Navy base of Devonport and conducted combat patrols in the English Channel following the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

2003-2004

GONZALEZ departed Norfolk on November 29, 2003 along with the USS COLE (DDG 67) and USS THORN (DD 988), deploying as a Surface Strike Group to conduct operations in the Mediterranean.

2005-2006

In 2005-2006, GONZALEZ, USS STOUT (DDG 55), and USS LABOON (DDG 58) participated in the Navy's first Atlantic Fleet crew swap experiment for DDG class ships. The goal was to take three ship’s crews (Designated DDG Crew Golf, DDG Crew Sierra, and DDG Crew Lima) that had similar make ups and swap them with a single ship deployed in the Gulf. The STOUT and LABOON hulls stayed in Norfolk conducting training and maintenance for the other crews while the GONZALEZ hull deployed to the Arabian Gulf/Mediterranean Sea for 18 months with each DDG crew serving for six months.

On March 18, 2006 while conducting maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean around the horn of Africa, GONZALEZ and USS CAPE ST. GEORGE (CG 72), engaged suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia. The engagement began after one of the GONZALEZ boarding team members observed a pirate aim a rocket propelled grenade launcher at the ships and then opened fire on the boarding teams. GONZALEZ and CAPE ST. GEORGE returned fire in self defense, destroying the pirate boat. No U.S. Sailors were injured during the engagement.

During the transit across the Mediterranean Sea after an arduous 6 month deployment, GONZALEZ was called upon once again to go “Beyond the Call” by participating in Non-combatant Evacuation Operations from Lebanon. First on the scene, GONZALEZ frequently operated in an anti-ship missile defense position, providing protection to evacuation ships transiting in harms way and contributed to the safe evacuation of more than 14,000 American citizens from Beirut and Tyre.

2006-2007

After a long, 18 month deployment, GONZALEZ completed a much need dry-dock availability, following which the ship performed very well during the critical, 5-year Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) inspection.

2008

After a demanding training cycle, GONZALEZ returned again to the 6th Fleet Area of Operations in the Mediterranean on 19 February 2008, as an independent deployer serving as the Air Defense Commander for Standing NATO Maritime Group Two. Since deploying, the GONZALEZ crew has enjoyed port calls in Rota, Spain; Aksaz, Turkey; Antalya, Turkey; Volos, Greece; Haifa, Israel; Trieste, Italy; Koper, Slovenia; and Palermo, Sicily. She participated in Exercise Mavi Balina 2008 and in several multi-national PASSEX operations.