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USS Port Royal becomes fifth US Navy cruiser to retire this year

USS Port Royal out of service date
USS Port Royal decommissioning at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, September 29, 2022. Photo: US Navy

USS Port Royal (CG 73), the 27th ship of the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser class, retired after more than 28 years of naval service during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The event on September 29 marked the fifth decommissioning ceremony for a Tico this month, after USS Monterey (CG 61) retired at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on September 16, and USS Anzio (CG 68) and USS Hué City (CG 66) followed suit on September 22 and 23.

Before them, the US Navy bid farewell to USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) in August.

Port Royal maintained a crew of 40 officers, 31 chiefs and 300 enlisted sailors. The ship was built in Pascagoula, Mississippi, by Ingalls Shipyard Company and commissioned July. 9, 1994, in Savannah, Georgia.

Guest speaker at the ceremony Capt. Joe Ring, commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific (COMNAVSURFGRU MIDPAC) wished current and former crewmembers and their families fair winds and following seas as they bid farewell to their ship.

“The operations Port Royal sailors supported when the nation called provided tremendous significance to their lives as well as the legacy of the United States Navy,” said Ring. “They left an indelible legacy for the future. To remain ahead of our competitors, we must now invest and provide our Sailors with the most advanced systems and warfighting capabilities that will enable us to maintain our competitive edge.”

“USS Port Royal and generations of Sailors served our nation with honor and distinction for more than 28 years,” said Port Royal’s commanding officer, Capt. Michael “Mike” Wagner. “Port Royal deployed all over the globe and earned numerous awards and accolades during her time of service. We are proud of what this ship and her crews accomplished.”

CG 73 is the second ship in the US Navy to be commissioned as Port Royal. The first ship of the fleet to bear the name “USS Port Royal” was a wooden 1163-ton “double-ender” side wheel steam gunboat, built in New York City. Commissioned in April 1862, Port Royal was soon sent to the Hampton Roads and James River areas, taking part in the battle at Sewell’s Point on 8-9 May 1862 and at Fort Darling on 15 May 1862. The first USS Port Royal was decommissioned in May 1866 and sold in October of that year.

The current Port Royal’s deployment history spans two decades, starting in December 1995 as part of the Nimitz battle group Carrier Group Seven. Following her first deployment, Port Royal became the first Navy cruiser to integrate women into the crew. The ship returned from her final deployment in July 2022.

According to the US Navy, the decommissioning of CG 73 supports “department-wide business process reform initiatives to free up time, resources, and manpower in support of increased lethality.” The current plan is to have all remaining cruisers leave the fleet by 2027.