USS VANDEGRIFT (FFG 48), named for Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, U.S. Marine Corps, was built at Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle, Washington, and was commissioned on 24 November 1984. The ship's inaugural cruise began on 5 January 1987. During the course of this around-the-world cruise, it sailed three oceans, seven seas and visited four continents. The plank owners also crossed the international dateline, equator, Greenwich meridian, and sailed through the straits of Gibraltar, and the Suez and Panama canals. VANDEGRIFT conducted operations with USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63) in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. These operations were highlighted by an air and sea power demonstration for the President of Pakistan. Port visits included Pearl Harbor; Subic Bay in the Republic of the Philippines; Karachi, Pakistan; Mombasa, Kenya; Maxime, France; Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; and St. Croix and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. VANDEGRIFT returned home to Long Beach in June, 1987.
The ship's second deployment began in June, 1988, returning it to operations in the Arabian Gulf shortly after the cease-fire between Iran and Iraq. VANDEGRIFT's mission while on patrol in the Northern Arabian Gulf focused on providing protection and logistic support for joint forces in the area. VANDEGRIFT also participated in numerous Earnest Will missions, escorting U.S. and reflagged Kuwaiti tankers. Port visits included Pearl Harbor; Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines; Bahrain; Pattaya Beach, Thailand and Hong Kong. VANDEGRIFT returned home in December, 1988.
The ship's third deployment to the Arabian Gulf began in March, 1990. VANDEGRIFT patrolled the Northern Arabian Gulf and conducted Earnest Will escort missions. As the senior ship on station in the Arabian Gulf during the invasion of Kuwait, VANDEGRIFT served as the Anti-Air Warfare Commander and Electronic Warfare Coordinator. VANDEGRIFT participated in Operation Desert Shield's Maritime Interception Operations with units from United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and France. Ports of call included Pearl Harbor; Subic Bay; Phuket, Thailand; Singapore and Hong Kong. VANDEGRIFT returned home after an extended deployment in October, 1990.
On April 22, 1992, VANDEGRIFT began its fourth deployment to the Arabian Gulf. VANDEGRIFT participated in exercises with India, Qatar and Pakistan, helping to strengthen U.S. relations in that area. Ports of call included Doha, Qatar; Dubai, Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Karachi, Pakistan; Phuket, Thailand; Goa, India; Bahrain; Hong Kong; Singapore and Guam, and earned the Chief of Naval Operations LAMPS Helicopter Safety Award. VANDEGRIFT returned home on 22 October 1996.
VANDEGRIFT changed homeport to San Diego in February, 1993, and earned the COMNAVSURFPAC Food Service Award in March, 1994. The fifth deployment to the Arabian Gulf began on 25 October 1994. VANDEGRIFT's mission was the enforcement of U.N. sanctions against Iraq in the Northern Arabian Gulf. The most memorable event was conducting a non-permissive boarding of a sanctions violator on Christmas Day. During the return transit, VANDEGRIFT played host to a major diplomatic reception in Muscat, Oman, to better diplomatic relations. Ports of call included Sasebo, Japan; Manila, Republic of the Philippines; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; Bahrain; Singapore and Hong Kong. VANDEGRIFT returned home on 25 April 1995.
On May 13, 1996, VANDEGRIFT began its sixth deployment to the Arabian Gulf. VANDEGRIFT again conducted operations in support of U.N. sanction enforcement against Iraq. VANDEGRIT also participated in exercises with Bahrain, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, helping to strengthen U.S. relations in that area. Ports of call included Hong Kong; Lumut, Malaysia; Karachi Pakistan; Bahrain; Albany, Australia; Sydey, Australia; Suva, Fiji; and Pearl Harbor, HI. earned the Chief of Naval Operations LAMPS Helicopter Safety Award. VANDEGRIFT returned home on 22 October 1992.
On 23 February 1998, VANDEGRIFT departed San Diego, California en-route to its new homeport in Yokosuka, Japan. On 13 March 1998, VANDEGRIFT chopped to Commander, Seventh Fleet and the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) and arrived Yokosuka, Japan on 23 March 1998. In her first year with the FDNF, VANDEGRIFT conducted RIMPAC as part of the Kitty Hawk Battle Group. VANDEGRIFT also participated in the two major annual exercises in SEVENTH Fleet, FOAL EAGLE and ANNUALEX.
VANDEGRIFT’s next three years in the FDNF were highlighted by her seventh deployment to the Arabian Gulf, supporting international efforts to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq and her participation in the planning and execution of contingency operations in relation to the May 2001 EP-3C incident at Hainan Island.
Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, VANDEGRIFT was surge deployed to the Straits of Malacca. From September to November 2001, she successfully completed more than 25 escorts for U.S. vessels and support ships through the most heavily trafficked straits in the world.
In January 2003, VANDEGRIFT deployed for the eighth time to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom. Assigned escort operations in the Straits of Hormuz, VANDEGRIFT conducted over 50 transits, safely escorting over 78 vessels carrying over 1 million tons of hardware in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Additionally, VANDEGRIFT seized two Iraqi mine-laying vessels in the Southern Arabian Gulf and was credited with protecting the Coalition’s flank from planned mine-laying operations.
From 2003-2006, VANDEGRIFT’s service in the Forward Deployed Naval Forces was marked by a series of “first ever” U.S. Navy ship visits.
- In September 2003, VANDEGRIFT conducted the first ever visit by a U.S. Navy warship to Zhanjiang, China.
- In November 2003, VANDEGRIFT conducted a historic visit to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, becoming the first U.S. Navy warship to visit the country in thirty years.
- In May 2004, VANDEGRIFT conducted another significant diplomatic mission – becoming the first U.S. warship to visit the newly independent nation of East Timor.
- In October 2004, VANDEGRIFT participated in the Proliferation Security Initiative Exercise (PSIEX) with units from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the French and Australian Navies. The exercise tested the abilities of the Western Pacific navies to identify and intercept sea-borne weapons of mass destruction (WMD). VANDEGRIFT demonstrated the abilities of a joint force to detain and board a suspect vessel.
- In 2005, VANDEGRIFT became the first U.S. Warship to visit the Japanese city of Sakata.
- In May 2005, VANDEGRIFT conducted her last deployment with the Kitty Hawk Strike Group. Earmarked by a series of major exercises including a SINKEX and Anti-submarine Warfare Exercise - Talisman Saber, it proved to be a fitting final strike group deployment as VANDEGRIFT navigated much of the same waters that General Vandegrift and the First Marine Division traveled in the Solomons and the battle of Guadalcanal.
VANDEGRIFT completed eight years of service in the Forward Deployed Naval Forces and departed Yokosuka, Japan on 14 August 2006 executing a change of homeport to San Diego, California. VANDEGRIFT’s service in the FDNF concluded following multiple deployments to the Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific Ocean and numerous combined and joint operations with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the navies of Korea, Australia, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Egypt and Jordan. VANDEGRIFT also completed numerous operational and goodwill port visits throughout the Western Pacific including visits to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, Sakata Japan, Okinawa Japan, Pyongtaek Korea, Donghae Korea, Hong Kong, Sasebo Japan, Guam, Cairns and Brisbane Australia, Saipan and Chinhae Korea.
VANDEGRIFT arrived in San Diego, California on 1 September 2006 completing her homeport shift. VANDEGRIFT was assigned to Carrier Strike Group Eleven and Destroyer Squadron Twenty Three. On 1 February 2007, VANDEGRIFT was re-assigned to Destroyer Squadron One.
The ship's decorations include the Meritorious Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Southwest Asia Service Medal, and five Sea Service Ribbons.