The first Navy Aegis ship to be sent to Davey Jones’ locker now rests on the bottom of the Pacific, done in by a combination of missiles and gunfire. The decommissioned cruiser Valley Forge was sunk as part of a Nov. 2 target practice on a test range near Kauai, Hawaii, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The fourth Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruiser to be built, it was in service for only 18 years, from 1986 to 2004. The ships were designed to serve at least three decades, but the Navy decommissioned the first five Aegis cruisers in 2004 and 2005, citing their older missile systems. The Navy could not say whether the Aegis combat system was on board at the time of the sinking, although Naval Sea Systems Command said Nov. 17 that “various components of the Aegis weapon system have been removed.” Topside items such as missile directors, radars and gun mounts were removed prior to the sinking.
None of the other decommissioned Aegis cruisers are currently scheduled for sinking, the Navy said.
Sinking ships at sea, usually for target practice, has become a regular method of disposal. Of 31 decommissioned Spruance-class destroyers, 19 already have been sunk and three more are scheduled. Only two ships have been scrapped, and two more are scheduled to be broken up.
(Source: Navy Times; 17 Nov 2006)