Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, Rear Adm. Richard L. Williams Jr. was aboard ship celebrating with her crew the 20th anniversary of her commissioning as a United States Ship.
Over the past 20 years, Navy’s 24th Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser has honorably served our nation in both U.S. and multi-national operations. Just months following commissioning, LAKE ERIE cut her teeth having deployed with the CONSTELLATION Strike Group and has since continued to assert herself throughout the Pacific theater.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and introduction of ballistic missile technology posed a new threat to the world. Our nation responded and with the addition of the world’s most advanced ballistic missile defense technologies came a new mission and opportunities to flex LAKE ERIE’s might.
Given her namesake, which reckons back to the War of 1812, it is most befitting to quote a national hero of the time. John Paul Jones was attributed for saying “Sailors count more than guns in the rating of a ship.” LAKE ERIE’s main batteries are her crew, whereas technology is only but an instrument and extension of her fighting tenacity and spirit. Affirmed by consecutive Unit Tactics Awards, and one ballistic missile defense mission after many others, LAKE ERIE fighting tenacity and spirit is clear!
With the introduction of technological advances and immediate successes, in early July 2000, the Navy designated LAKE ERIE as theater-wide test ship for the Aegis lightweight exo-atmospheric projectile intercept flight-test series. And ever since, LAKE ERIE and her crew have led the world in warfighting capabilities and subsequently moved the fulcrum of geo-political leverage.
20 February, 2008, LAKE ERIE acquired international recognition for having eliminated an ailing satellite with a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) and in so doing she eliminated toxic fuels from re-entry. Most recently, in her 21st consecutive test event, she served as fire control radar for a ground-based missile defense capability ground-based interceptor and once again, further maturing her next generation combat capability while advancing the reach of our force in the defense of our nation.
Lieutenant Commander Raphael Castillejo, LAKE ERIE’s newest crew member and Executive Officer, joined the crew that will celebrate September 10th the 200th Anniversary of her namesake the battle of Lake Erie. He said, “LAKE ERIE’s success has truly been a testament to the invaluable work put forth by her dedicated crew. Their pride in duty and their passion for service embodies the famous words flown by Commodore Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie… “DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP!’”
LAKE ERIE is commanded by Captain John S. Banigan and is homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.