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ROSS' keel was laid in April 1995 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and she was christened one year later by her sponsor Helen Lou Ross, widow of the ship's namesake. ROSS' crew of plankowners moved aboard in April 1997 and sailed her to Galveston, Texas, where she was commissioned on June 28, 1997.

After commissioning, ROSS completed Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials, an Inter Deployment Training Cycle, and left on her maiden deployment March 26, 1999 as part of the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Battle Group. ROSS' first deployment included Tomahawk missile strikes in support of Operation ALLIED FORCE in Kosovo, the first-ever combat operation in NATO history. ROSS was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" for calendar year 1999 in recognition of her outstanding performance throughout her work-ups and during her deployment.

ROSS returned to Norfolk, Virginia in September 1999 and, following a maintenance period, deployed as the flagship for Commander, Carrier Group EIGHT, in support of Exercise BALTOPS 2000 in April 2000. This exercise featured over 50 ships from 14 nations. During BALTOPS, ROSS made port visits to France, Sweden, and Germany.

On September 11, 2001 ROSS deployed on three-hours notice in order to defend the United States' eastern seaboard in response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. ROSS acted for a time as Regional Air Defense Commander, in support of Commander, North American Air Defense Command. ROSS was also recognized that year with the prestigious Arizona Memorial Trophy for being the most combat ready ship in the U. S. Navy.

Just weeks after the attacks, on October 17, 2001 ROSS again deployed, this time to the Mediterranean Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While deployed, ROSS played a crucial role on the global war on terrorism and provided much needed air defense and strike capabilities. Returning from deployment in April 16, 2002, ROSS maintained her combat readiness by participating in numerous exercises, including BALTOPS 2003, and completed the inter-deployment training cycle to prepare for her next deployment.

On April 30, 2004, ROSS left Norfolk, Virginia on her third deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ship completed four months of operations in the FIFTH and SIXTH Fleet areas of responsibility, conducting Maritime Interdiction Operations and participating in the ceremonies surrounding the 50th commemoration of the Allied assault at Normandy.

Shortly after her return in August 2004, ROSS commenced an accelerated basic training cycle and entered Metro Machine Shipyard for her first docking maintenance period in March 2005. She emerged in June, and then spent the summer pursuing the balance of her warfare certifications. In September 2005, she was selected to replace USS THOMAS S. GATES as flagship for UNITAS 47-06, after a significant portion of GATES' crew was displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. With only two weeks’ notice, ROSS put to sea for a two-month deployment embarking Commander, Destroyer Squadron SIX and sailing to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the multinational exercise. ROSS returned on Thanksgiving Day 2005, and then began preparations for another overseas movement, departing Norfolk in February 2006 to participate in NEPTUNE WARRIOR 061 in the waters surrounding Scotland.

Upon return to Norfolk, ROSS’ crew has only one month to prepare for a six-month deployment in support of Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR in the Mediterranean Sea. ROSS deployed on May 1, 2006 as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG 2). During the deployment ROSS conducted more than 850 queries of merchant shipping, over 40 helicopter landings, and traveled more than 45,000 nautical miles. ROSS returned to Norfolk November 6, 2006 having spent 10 of the past 14 months at sea.

2007 began with ROSS preparing for a scheduled February INSURV (Board of Inspection and Survey). That inspection was moved to August and in April ROSS entered BAE Shipyard for a two and a half month Selected Restricted Availability (SRA). During the SRA ROSS received the Tactical Tomahawk WCS (TTWCS), berthing modifications, SHF SATCOM, and the crew performed major preservation work throughout the ship.

In 2007 ROSS completed major Engineering inspections as well as INSURV. On February 20th, 2008 ROSS deployed to the FIFTH and SIXTH Fleet areas of responsibility for a 5 1/2 month deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism. On June 28, 2008 ROSS celebrated its 11th birthday, having been placed in commission 11 years earlier.