USS MOBILE BAY was built in Pascagoula, Mississippi, by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries. The cruiser was commissioned on 21 February 1987 at the Alabama State Docks in Mobile, Alabama.
After commissioning, MOBILE BAY joined the U. S. Atlantic Fleet, arriving at its Mayport, Florida homeport in March 1987. Following a year of crew qualifications, tests and systems trials, MOBILE BAY embarked on her maiden deployment on 11 May 1989. During this cruise, MOBILE BAY earned her first two awards: the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the Armed Services Expeditionary Medal, for operations conducted in the Gulf of Oman. MOBILE BAY also received the Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet Golden Anchor Award for excellence in personnel retention 31 December 1987.
1988 marked an eventful year beginning with the receipt of the Captain Edward Francis Ney Award for Food Service Excellence as well as the COMNAVSURFLANT Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Award. However, the ship’s deployment scheduled for August 1988 was cancelled in support of the Iran/Iraq cease fire scheduled for 20 August 1988. On 24 August MOBILE BAY departed on NATO Exercise TEAMWORK-88 and returned to homeport 12 October 1988. MOBILE BAY again honorably received the Commander-in-Chief US Atlantic Fleet Golden Anchor Award on 15 December 1988.
The beginning months of 1989 were full of qualifications and certifications for MOBILE BAY in preparations for a Mediterranean/Indian Ocean deployment. On 1 April 1989 MOBILE BAY received the SECNAV Energy Conservation Award. 11 May through 30 September, MOBILE BAY participated in operations in the Gulf of Oman as well as the North Arabian Sea. MOBILE BAY received the Sea Service Deployment ribbon on 11 August. On 6 September the ship aided in the evacuation of the American Embassy in Lebanon, and on 30 September MOBILE BAY returned to homeport. For November and December of 1989 MOBILE BAY made U.S. port visits and conducted Anti-Submarine Warfare exercises.
In June of 1990, MOBILE BAY shifted homeports from Mayport, Florida to Yokosuka, Japan. Shortly thereafter, MOBILE BAY deployed in August 1990 in support of Operation Desert Shield, becoming the first Aegis cruiser to circumnavigate the globe. In early January of 1991 the ship distinguished itself by becoming the first Battle Force Anti-Air Warfare Commander to control a four-carrier Task Force. As Operation Desert Shield turned into Desert Storm, MOBILE BAY joined the TOMAHAWK strike, firing a total of 22 TOMAHAWKS at targets in Iraq from 18 to 20 January. From 21 January to 11 March MOBILE BAY, operating in the mine-infested waters of the Northern Gulf, successfully destroyed 38 of Iraq’s primary naval vessels, eliminating Iraq’s navy as a threat to the United States. MOBILE BAY relieved USS BUNKER HILL as Battle Force Anti-Air Warfare Commander from 14 February until the end of the war.
In May of 1991, MOBILE BAY was ordered to Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, to participate in Operation Fiery Vigil, the evacuation of thousands of people displaced by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. MOBILE BAY returned to homeport July 1 to receive the numerous medals awarded to ship and crew: Navy Unit Citation and the Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation for heroic action in Desert Storm, 21 Navy Commendation Medals, 78 Navy Achievement Medals, 87 Flag Letters of Commendation, and all crewmembers earned the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal. MOBILE BAY entered a period of inspections before a short dry dock period September-November. In December 1991, MOBILE BAY began work-ups for a spring 1992 Arabian Gulf deployment.
On 15 April 1992, MOBILE BAY once again set sail for the Arabian Gulf. En route, the ship and crew visited Sydney,
Australia, to represent the U. S. Navy at the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Battle of Coral Sea. Sailing through the Straits of Hormuz in late May 1992, the ship began duties as the Arabian Gulf Anti-Air Warfare Commander. MOBILE BAY also played a vital role in Operation Southern Watch, the enforcement of the United Nations mandated "No Fly Zone" over Southern Iraq. Returning to Japan in October, MOBILE BAY participated in ANNUALEX-92, a major naval exercise involving units of the U. S. Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force. MOBILE BAY served as the Anti-Air Warfare Commander for a joint U. S. - Japanese flotilla. MOBILE BAY was recognized this successful year by COMCARGRU Five for Excellence in all Battle Readiness Mission Areas.
MOBILE BAY visited Nagasaki, Japan on 15 January 1993 marking the first visit to Nagasaki by a U.S. Naval Ship in several years. In May 1993, MOBILE BAY steamed to Western Australia for SPRING TRAINING-93, a multi-national exercise involving units of the U. S., Royal Australian, and Singaporean Navies. Departing Russia, MOBILE BAY participated in ANNUALEX-93 before returning to Yokosuka to finish preparations for an upcoming Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf deployment. The first of July MOBILE BAY received the Block III TOMAHAWK upgrade, becoming the second ship in the fleet. July 19-23 was the first and successful INSURV that the ship experienced. In September of 1993, MOBILE BAY made an historic visit to the Russian seaport of Vladivostok.
On 17 November 1993, MOBILE BAY departed Yokosuka for a third deployment in three years. Arriving in the Arabian Gulf a month later, MOBILE BAY immediately assumed duties as Anti-Air Warfare Commander well as the TLAM strike platform for naval forces in the Gulf. Remaining on station until February 1994, MOBILE BAY helped to maintain stability in the region. MOBILE BAY completed this deployment on 17 March 1994, returning to Yokosuka. MOBILE BAY received the 2003 Battle “E” Award.
After a short period of dry dock, in May of 1994 MOBILE BAY left home waters to participate in RIMPAC-94, a month-long exercise in the mid-Pacific involving over 50 warships from five Pacific Rim nations. Fall 1994 marked the first two occasions of independent steaming for MOBILE BAY as the ship made its way to Hong Kong in early September as well as Leyte Gulf in mid-October. The rest of the year included numerous port visits throughout the SOUTHEAST.
1995 began with qualifications and work-ups while forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. MOBILE BAY visited numerous ports throughout Eastern Asia and the Persian Gulf before returning home in December 1995.
From 8 January to 21 May 1996 MOBILE BAY entered a dry dock period in Yokosuka, Japan. 16 October through 12 November MOBILE BAY participated in exercise FOAL EAGLE, KEEN SWORD, and ANNUALEX, and from 7-13 December 1996 MOBILE BAY participated in MISSILEX 1-97. MOBILE BAY received the 1996 Battle “E” Award.
Early 1997 marked a busy time for MOBILE BAY as they participated in ASWEX97-2 JA, ECERT, NSFS, and other team trainers that led to the ship’s INSURV in July 1997. In Fall 1997 MOBILE BAY participated in various battle group operations with CV 62 USS INDEPENDENCE as well as FOAL EAGLE 98, ANNUALEX09G, and ASWEX97-6JA.
In spring 1999, the MOBILE BAY sailed three times through the Taiwan Straits during a period of tension between Taiwan and China. In early May 1999, USS MOBILE BAY deployed to Singapore to participate in the 1999 International Maritime Defense Exhibition (IMDEX) Asia. In June 1999 MOBILE BAY was dispatched to Korea during the "Crab Wars" over fishing rights between North and South Korea.
In mid-1999, USS MOBILE BAY deployed to serve US forces supporting INTERFET operations off the coast of East Timor. Sailing south on 23 August 1999, for a series of routine Australian port visits and Exercise Crocodile 99, USS MOBILE BAY was redirected by Commander, 7th Fleet, and told to sail for the waters of East Timor. As the first U.S. forces on the scene, MOBILE BAY was designated as Commander, Joint Task Force Timor Sea Operations (CJTF TSO). During Timor Sea operations, MOBILE BAY performed many missions including guard ship; U.S. armed forces sanctuary; air surveillance; intelligence gathering; Timor ground operations repair efforts; link manager (which provided primary air tracking in support of aircraft into and out of East Timor carrying supplies and troops); and ship escort.
Following the East Timor operation, MOBILE BAY visited Singapore; Pattaya, Thailand; Kagoshima and Sasebo, Japan. After the Sasebo port visit, MOBILE BAY in early November participated in the joint exercise ANNUALEX with the Japanese navy.
In July 2000, USS MOBILE BAY changed homeports from Yokosuka, Japan, to San Diego, California, ending 10 years of 7th Fleet service. MOBILE BAY received the 2000 Battle “E” Award.
USS MOBILE BAY was refurbished in 2001 as one of the Navy’s first "Smart Ships" and one of four ships selected to test how well Navy vessels can operate with sharply reduced crews. MOBILE BAY had been nominated for the Navy’s "Optimal Manning Project", an early test of concepts to be integrated into the design of DD-21.
On December 21, 2001, a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment, operating from the USS MOBILE BAY, seized 10.5 metric tons of cocaine approximately 800 miles southwest of Acapulco, Mexico.
USS MOBILE BAY deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in July 2002 as part of the USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group. MOBILE BAY launched Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) into Iraq as part of Navy coalition warships supporting Naval Forces Central Command on March 21, 2003. MOBILE BAY returned from this nine-month deployment in April 2003. MOBILE BAY received the 2003 Battle “E” Award.
From June 17 to December 17 2004 USS MOBILE BAY deployed with USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) and operated in support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. MOBILE BAY received the Iraq Campaign Medal for her support in the War on Terrorism as well as the Battle “E” Award.
On October 12, 2005 MOBILE BAY participated in the annual Fleet Week Parade of Ships in San Francisco Bay. Also present for the Parade of Ships was USS BOXER, USS DUBUQUE and USS HOPPPER, one U.S. Coast Guard cutter, and several Canadian ships.
USS MOBILE BAY departed for a scheduled deployment March 3, 2006 with the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group in the Western Pacific. MOBILE BAY served as Air Defense Commander for the Strike Group, and participated in RSOI and Foal Eagle with the Republic of Korea (ROK). On April 10, 2006, MOBILE BAY participated in flight operations with the Hong Kong Governmental Flight Service (HKGFS), which operates as an emergency search and rescue and airlift service in the local and coastal waters of Hong Kong. MOBILE BAY also participated in Exercise Valiant Shield '06 off the coast of Guam June 19-23, 2006. On July 5, 2006, MOBILE BAY departed from Pearl Harbor to take part in RIMPAC with ships from Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom. USS MOBILE BAY received the 2006 Battle “E” Award.
On 7 June 2007 MOBILE BAY participated in Fleet Week during the annual Portland Rose Festival. In Mid-2007 MOBILE BAY played a key role in COMPTUEX as part of the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group in preparation for the 2008 deployment.
On March 17, 2008, USS MOBILE BAY departed for deployment with the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group. MOBILE BAY deployed in March 2008 to the 5th Fleet, including the 7th Fleet and 3rd Fleet Areas of Operation, as Air Defense Commander for the ABRAHAM LINCOLN Carrier Strike Group. During deployment, MOBILE BAY participated in 8 U.S. Air Defense, 3 Allied Air Defense, and 12 LINK Exercises. MOBILE BAY returned from this deployment in the Western Pacific on August 4, 2008. The 2008 Battle “E” Award as also awarded to MOBILE BAY.
From June 2009 through April 2010 MOBILE BAY became the second Cruiser to undergo Aegis Cruiser Modernization. This entailed a complete replacement of the AWS computer suite and consoles. It also included new five-inch and CIWS gun systems as well as upgraded surface radar systems.
From June through August 2010 MOBILE BAY conducted a post cruiser modernization CSSQT which included the first successful firing of an ESSM from a Cruiser. In addition, in July 2010 MOBILE BAY supported the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program in Monterey, California.
On February 4, 2011 MOBILE BAY departed homeport San Diego in support of USS John C. Stennis Strike Group Operations. She underwent Pre-INSURV Assessments followed by INSURV from March 21, 2011 through April 8, 2011.