Named for a borough in west central New Jersey 

Washington at the Battle of Princeton 
General George Washington
Significant because it’s the scene of a famous Revolutionary War battle when General George Washington's revolutionary forces defeated British forces near Princeton, New Jersey.

The USS Princeton (CG 59) is named for a borough in west central New Jersey that is significant because it’s the scene of a famous Revolutionary War battle on 2–3 January 1777 when General George Washington's revolutionary forces defeated British forces near Princeton, New Jersey. It was also the birthplace of the USS Princeton’s first commanding officer, Capt. R. F. Stockton.

Current USS Princeton

USS Princeton (CG-59) is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser that was laid down on 15 October 1986, launched on 2 October 1987 and commissioned on 11 February 1989 in the Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi with Captain Ted Hontz as the commanding officer.

In 1990 Princeton joined the USS Ranger Battle Group preparing to deploy to the Persian Gulf.

February 18, 1991 During Operation Desert Storm, the USS Princeton hit two influence mines while conducting operations in the Persian Gulf, off Fylaka Island. This resulted in a cracked superstructure, a jammed port rudder and leaking port shaft seal. In recognition of the superior and arduous work the crew put in to keep the ship in war-fighting status, the USS Princeton and crew were awarded a Combat Action Ribbon.

July 27, 2001 USS Princeton departed San Diego for a Middle East deployment, as part of the Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Battle Group to provide maritime support for Operation Southern Watch. As a result of September 11, the cruiser was assigned duties as Air Defense Commander for Task Force 50, which encompasses all Navy and coalition forces operating in the Arabian Gulf and the North Arabian Sea. Within two weeks, the cruiser was assigned to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

January 19, 2002 USS Princeton returned home after 111 consecutive days on station in the North Arabian Sea.

March 3, 2003 USS Princeton departed Naval Base San Diego for a scheduled deployment with the USS Nimitz Carrier Battle Group in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In July the guided-missile cruiser was in the northern Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as Maritime Interception Operations commander for Task Force 55. In November CG 59 returned to San Diego after an eight-month underway period in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf.

In May 2005 USS Princeton departed homeport for a scheduled deployment as part of the Nimitz CSG in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In July the Princeton provided humanitarian aid to an Iranian fishing dhow Hamid in a distress call. In November USS Princeton returned to San Diego after a six-month underway period in the western Pacific and Persian Gulf.

In October 2006 CG 59 participated in San Diego's Fleet Week celebration and San Francisco’s Fleet Week 2006.

In April 2007 USS Princeton departed San Diego in support of operations in U.S. Central Command AoR with the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) CSG. In August USS Princeton participated in Exercise Valiant Shield 2007. In September USS Princeton returned to homeport after a six-month deployment.

In January 2008 USS Princeton departed Naval Base San Diego for a surge western Pacific deployment as part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. In February the guided-missile cruiser participated in Exercise Key Resolve/Foal Eagle 2008. In June USS Princeton returned to San Diego after a four-month underway period. In November 2009 The Princeton departed Naval Base San Diego to participate in a strike group sustainment exercise (SUSTAINEX) with the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) CSG.

In June 2010 USS Princeton departed homeport for an independent Middle East deployment. In December USS Princeton returned to Naval Base San Diego after a six-month underway period in support of counter-piracy missions and maritime security operations.

In March 2011 CG 59 entered the BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair facility for the Navy's Cruiser Modernization program. In July the Princeton participated in L.A. Navy Week and in September participated in the San Diego Fleet Week celebration.

June 16, 2012 USS Princeton assisted in retrieving 186 bales of marijuana, with an estimated wieght of 19,000 pounds, that had been dumped into the Pacific Ocean by three boats off the California coast. In July the guided-missile cruiser participated in exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012. In September USS Princeton held an "Open Hose" at Naval Base San Diego as part of the San Diego Fleet Week festivities. In October the Princeton was underway for a three-week Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), as part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group In November she completed Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX).

In February 2013 the guided-missile cruiser departed San Diego for local operations.

1st USS Princeton

The first USS Princeton was laid down 20 October 1842 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard under the supervision of Capt. Robert F. Stockton. She was launched 5 September 1843 and commissioned 9 September 1843 with Capt. Robert F. Stockton as the commanding officer. Princeton was the first screw steam warship of the U.S. Navy.

Princeton 17 October 1843 for a sea trial and then proceeded to New York where she engaged in a speed contest with the British steamer Great Western. On 28 November Captain Stockton dressed ship and received visitors on board for inspection. Princeton sailed 1 January 1844 for New York where she received her two big guns named “Peacemaker” and “Oregon”.

Princeton was sent to Washington, D.C. in late January 1844, arriving 13 February. Washingtonians displayed great interest in the ship and her two big guns. She made trial trips with passengers on board down the Potomac River 16, 18 and 20 February, during which the “Peacemaker” was fired several times. On the 29th, she departed Alexandria, Va. with President Tyler, his Cabinet and approximately two hundred guests on board. Against the better judgment of Captain Stockton, the Secretary of the Navy, desiring to please the distinguished company, allowed the “Peacemaker” to be fired. The gun burst killing the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Navy and four others. The explosion also injured twenty people, including Captain Stockton. A Court of Inquiry exonerated Capt. Stockton, his officers and crew of all blame in the matter.

Princeton was employed with the Home Squadron from 1845 to 1847. She later served in the Mediterranean from 17 August 1847 to 24 June 1849. Upon her return from Europe she was surveyed and condemned to be broken up at the Boston Navy Yard 17 July 1849.

For a more detailed history of the first USS Princeton see http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/p12/princeton-i.htm.

2nd USS Princeton

The second USS Princeton, a clipper-built ship, was laid down in June, 1851 at Boston Navy Yard, launched in October 1851, and commissioned 18 May 1852 at Boston with Comdr. Sidney Smith Lee as the commanding officer. Some of the usable timbers of the first Princeton were incorporated in the new hull of the second Princeton. Upon completion of the hull at Boston, Princeton proceeded 19 May 1852 to Baltimore where her machinery was installed at Vulcan Iron Works.

Princeton was fitted out for duty with Commodore Perry’s Squadron in the Far East and sailed 18 November 1852 from Baltimore. On the way down the Chesapeake Bay, she developed boiler trouble and remained at Norfolk where she decommissioned 1 January 1853.

After being recommissioned, Princeton served as flagship of the Eastern Squadron under the command of Commodore Shubrick from July to September 1853. Princeton then went to New York until 31 October 1854 when she got underway for duty in the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies. She returned to Norfolk 10 June 1855 and was placed in ordinary.

In 1857 Princeton was taken to Philadelphia until 9 October 1866 and then sold.

For a more detailed history of the second USS Princeton see http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/p12/princeton-ii.htm.

3rd USS Princeton

The third USS Princeton, a composite gunboat, was laid down in May 1896 by J. H. Dialogue and Son in Camden, N.J., launched 3 June 1897 and commissioned 27 May 1898 at Philadelphia with Comdr. C. H. West as the commanding officer.

After acceptance trials 7–25 July 1898 off Delaware Bay, Princeton got underway for Key West where she joined the North Atlantic Fleet 27 July at the beginning of the Spanish American War. She was immediately sent (2 August) to patrol from the Yucatan Peninsula to Livingston, Guatemala.

Princeton sailed for the Pacific in early 1899, joining the Asiatic Fleet 16 April at Cavite, Philippines. Princeton cruised throughout the Philippines 4–15 May with Petrel, distributing the proclamation of peace with Spain. Later she carried Sen. A. J. Beveridge on a tour of the newly acquired Philippine Territory.

In late May Princeton blockaded the Lingayen Gulf ports of St. Vincent and Musa and extended the blockade to the entire Gulf 18–26 June. During local disturbances on Luzon, she landed troops, transported cavalrymen, conveyed dispatches, received surrendered arms and carried stores to the Marines at Subic Bay. Princeton took formal possession of the Babuyan and the Batan Islands 10–13 January 1900 and continued to patrol off Luzon until 10 February.

During the Boxer Rebellion, Princeton cruised in Chinese waters (26 June–29 November) between Hong Kong and Woosung. On 4 December she returned to operations in the Philippines and remained on duty until 20 July 1902. While at Cavite, she participated in large-scale maneuvers off the Philippines (29 December–3 February 1903). Princeton decommissioned 12 June 1903 at Mare Island Navy Yard.

Princeton recommissioned 12 May 1905 and was attached to the Pacific Squadron. She left 4 June for duty as station ship at Panama City, where she remained until 24 October. On 2 December 1905 Princeton cruised off the Pacific coast from San Diego to Esquimalt, British Columbia.

Princeton remained on station off the West coast until directed to rejoin the Pacific Squadron 3 January 1907 at Magdalena Bay, Mexico. Princeton proceeded to Corinto, Nicaragua, arriving 17 March 1907 for the purpose of protecting American interests there. She returned to San Diego 30 May and decommissioned 3 July 1907 at Bremerton, Wash.

Princeton recommissioned 5 November 1909 and sailed 28 November to Central America for duty with the Nicaraguan Expeditionary Squadron. From 20 December 1909 until 21 March 1911 she showed the flag in this area and operated between San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and La Union, El Salvador. From late 1911 until 1915 she was used as a station ship at Tutuila, American Samoa.

Princeton sailed to San Francisco 18 September 1915, was decommissioned and laid up until 20 February 1917 when she proceeded to Puget Sound for repairs. She commissioned in ordinary there 16 January 1918 for use as a training ship at Seattle from 9 May 1918 to 25 April 1919 when she decommissioned. Princeton was struck from the Navy List 23 June 1919.

For a more detailed history of the third USS Princeton see http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/p12/princeton-iii.htm.

4th USS Princeton

The fourth USS Princeton was laid down as a Cleveland-class light cruiser USS Tallahassee (CL–61) by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J. on 2 June 1941, reclassified CV–23 on 16 February 1942, renamed Princeton 31 March 1942, launched in 18 October 1942 and commissioned at Philadelphia 25 February 1943 with Capt. George R. Henderson as the commanding officer.

Following a shakedown in the Caribbean and reclassification to CVL–23 on 15 July 1943, Princeton embarked with Air Group 23 for the Pacific. She sortied with TF 11 on August 25th and headed for Baker Island. There she served as the TG 11.2 flagship and provided air cover during the occupation of the island and the construction of an airfield there. During that time her planes downed Japanese “Emily” reconnaissance planes and, more important, furnished the fleet with photographs of them.

Completing that mission Princeton rendezvoused with TF 15 and conducted strikes against enemy installations on Makin and Tarawa. In mid October 1943 she sailed for Espiritu Santo where she joined TF 38. She sent her planes against airfields at Buka and Bonis on Bougainville (1–2 November) during the landings at Empress Augusta Bay. On the November 5th and 11th her planes raided Rabaul and on the 19th helped neutralize the airfield at Nauru.

In January 1944 she rejoined the fast carriers of TF 58. On the 19th she sortied with TG 58.4 for strikes at Wotie and Taroa (29–31 January) to support amphibious operations against Kwajalein and Majuro. Her planes photographed the next assault target, Eniwetok on 2 February and on the 3rd returned to destroy the Japanese airfield on Engebi. On the 10th–13th and l6th–28th, Princeton’s planes softened the beaches for the invasion force, then provided air cover during the assault and ensuing fight. In March 1944 Princeton got underway for strikes against enemy installation and shipping in the Carolines. After striking the Palaus, Woleai and Yap, the force replenished at Majuro and sortied again 13 April. Princeton provided air cover for the Hollandia operation (21–29 April), then crossed back over the International Date Line to raid Truk (29–30 April) and Ponape (I May).

In May 1944 Princeton pointed her bow toward the Marianas to support the assault on Saipan. From 11–18 June she sent her planes against targets on Guam, Rota, Tinian, Pagan, and Saipan, then steamed west to intercept a Japanese fleet reported to be enroute from the Philippines to the Marianas. In the ensuing Battle of the Philippine Sea, Princeton’s planes contributed 30 kills and her guns another 3, plus 1 assist, to the devastating toll inflicted on Japan’s naval air arm. Returning to the Marianas, Princeton again struck Pagan, Rota and Guam, then replenished at Eniwetok. On 14 July she got underway to the Marianas to furnish air cover for the assault and occupation of Guam and Tinian. In August Princeton participated in the Palaus. In September Princeton fought in northern Mindanao, the Visayas, the Palau’ offensive and in Luzon.

In early October Princeton planes bombed and strafed enemy airfields, installations and shipping in the Nansei Shoto and Formosa area in preparation for the invasion of the Philippines. On the 20th, landings were made at Dulag and San Pedro Bay, Leyte. Princeton, in TG 38.3, cruised off Luzon and sent her planes against airfields there. On the 24th however enemy planes found TG 38.3 and reciprocated.

Shortly before 1000 on 24 October 1944 a lone enemy dive-bomber came out of the clouds above Princeton. At 1500 feet the pilot released his bomb. It hit between the elevators, crashed through the flight deck and hanger, then exploded. Initial fires expanded and explosions sent black smoke rolling off the flight deck and red flames along the sides from the island to the stern. Covering vessels provided rescue and fire-fighting assistance and shielded the stricken carrier from further attack. At 1524 another, much heavier explosion, possibly the bomb magazine, blew off the carrier’s stern and with it the after flight deck.

Efforts to save Princeton continued, but at 1604 the fires won. Remaining personnel left the ship and shortly after 1706 Irwin fired torpedoes at the burning hulk. At 1746 Reno relieved Irwin and at 1749 the last, and biggest, explosion occured. Flames and debris shot up 1000–2000 feet. Princeton’s forward section was gone. By 1750 she disappeared, but 1,361 of her crew survived. Included in that number was Capt. John M. Hoskins, who was the prospective commanding officer of CVL–23 and lost his right foot that day, but who, despite the loss, would become the 1st commanding officer of the fifth Princeton (CV–37).

The USS Princeton earned 9 battle stars during World War II.

For a more detailed history of the fourth USS Princeton see http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/p12/princeton-iv.htm.

5th USS Princeton

The fifth USS Princeton (CV–37) was laid down as Valley Forge at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 14 September 1943, renamed Princeton on 21 November 1944, launched on 8 July 1945 and commissioned on 18 November 1945 with Capt. John M. Hoskins as the commanding officer.

Following her shakedown cruise, Princeton, with Air Group 81, embarked and operated with the 8th Fleet in the Atlantic until June 1946. Princeton transferred to the Pacific Fleet, arrived in San Diego on June 31st and departed 3 July to Luzon. Princeton then joined the 7th Fleet in the Marianas, becoming flagship of TF 77. During September and October she operated in Japanese and Chinese waters, then returned to the Marianas where she remained until February 1947. She cruised the west coast, Hawaiian waters, and the western Pacific during 1948. She then prepared for inactivation and on 20 June decommissioned and joined other capital ships in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

The USS Princeton was reactivated with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea fifteen. Princeton was recommissioned 28 August 1950. On 5 December she joined TF 77 off the Korean coast and her planes and pilots (Air Group 19) flew combat air patrols over the battle zone. She targeted the Hagaru area and supported marines fighting their way down the road from the Chosin Reservoir to Hungnam. Princeton’s planes covered the evacuation from Hungnam through its completion on the 24th. In May 1950 Princeton’s jets flew against the railroad bridges, provided close air support with performed raids on power sources in the Hwachon Reservoir area. For much of the summer they pounded supply arteries, concentrating on highways. In August Princeton got underway for the United States, arriving at San Diego on the 21st.

Eight months later, on 30 April 1952, Princeton rejoined TF 77 in the combat zone. For 138 days her planes flew against Korean forces. Reclassified CVA–37 (in October 1952), Princeton returned to California 3 November. In February 1953 she was back to the Korean coast and until the end of the conflict launched planes for close air support “Cherokee” strikes against supply, artillery, and troop concentrations in enemy territory’ and against road traffic. She remained in the area after the truce (27 July 1953) and on 7 September got underway for San Diego.

In January 1954 Princeton was reclassified CVS–37 and, after conversion at Bremerton, took up antisubmarine/Hunter-Killer (HUK) training operations in the eastern Pacific. For the next five years she alternated HUK exercises off the west coast with similar operations in the western Pacific and in late 1957–early 1958, she operated in the Indian Ocean / Persian Gulf area. Reclassified as an amphibious assault carrier, LPH–5 on 2 March 1959 she emerged from conversion capable of transporting a battalion landing team and carrying helicopters in place of planes.

In January 1960 Princeton departed for a WestPac deployment. For the next three years she followed a similar schedule. In October 1964 Princeton exchanged WestPac training for the real thing as she returned to Viet Nam and joined the Pacific Fleet’s Ready Group in operations against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces. Combat operations, interrupted in November for flood relief work, continued into 1965 and culminated in May off Chu Lai as she carried out her primary mission, vertical envelopment, in combat. She transported Marine Air Group 36 to Viet Nam in August.

In February 1966 Princeton got underway for another tour in the combat zone. Relieving Okinawa as flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group, she engaged the enemy in operation “Jackstay”, 26 March–6 April and operation “Osage”, 27 April4 May. Princeton’s jets performed search and destroy missions against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army units and the ship provided transportation, medical evacuation, logistics and communication support for the amphibious operation “Deckhouse I”, 18–27 June. Princeton also supported 1st Air Cavalry and 101st Airborne units engaged in operation “Nathan Hale” to the south of the “Deckhouse I” area. Support for operation “Deckhouse II” and operation “Hastings” followed. After “Hastings”, Princeton sailed for home, arriving 2 September.

USS Princeton deployed again to Viet Nam 30 January 1967. In March she assisted in countering an enemy threat to the Marine artillery base at Gio Ling and evacuated wounded from Con Thien mountain. In April she participated in “Beacon Star” and supported search and destroy operations in conjunction with “Shawnee”. In May her helicopters lifted Marines to the DMZ to block enemy forces withdrawing across the Ben Hai river.

In May 1968 Princeton returned to Viet Nam. There, as flagship for Amphibious Ready Group Alpha, she provided amphibious assault carrier services for operations “Fortress Attack” III and IV, “Proud Hunter”, “Swift Pursuit”, and “Eager Hunter.”

In April, 1969 she was designated the prime recovery ship for Apollo 10, the lunar mission. Completing that mission successfully, Princeton resumed exercises off the west coast.

Princeton received 8 battle stars for service during the Korean Conflict. For a more detailed history of the first USS Princeton see http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/p12/princeton-v.htm.

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