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      1. CG 72 | USS VELLA GULF

        CG 72

        Namesake:

        The Battle of Vella Gulf

        During World War II, many of the important waterways of the war were named more for their significance than their location. Kula Gulf and the surrounding waters became known as "The Slot." This narrow body of water stretching between Kolombangara and New Georgia became the route of the "Tokyo Express" - a group of fast running Japanese cruisers and destroyers which made midnight runs up "The Slot," resupplying the garrison on Kolombangara. This "slot" also became the site of the Battle of Vella Gulf.

        The operation began on the morning of 6 August 1943 on board the USS DUNLAP, where the captains of six destroyers met with Commander Task Group 31.2, Commander Frederick Moosbrugger, to discuss the 'Battle Plan.' The group was designed in two division of three destroyers each. USS DUNLAP, USS CRAVEN and USS MAURY comprised Division A-1. Division A-2 had USS STACK, USS STERRETT, and USS LANG. CDR Moosbrugger's plan was to have Division One make a torpedo attack and Division Two to attack with guns and torpedoes when the initial attack was complete.

        The Task Group was proceeding in a column formation at General Quarters on the night of the 6th of August at twenty-five knots, when the first report of a radar contact, using the "Sugar George" radar was made. Both the DUNLAP and CRAVEN held contact at 19,700 yards, bearing 351 degrees true from DUNLAP. It was soon determined there were multiple targets on course 180 true at 26 knots. The Commander Task Group 31.2 ordered Division One to prepare to fire eight torpedoes to port. A fourth target eventually appeared on the radar scope, and the formation maneuvered to fire.

        At 2341, eight torpedoes were fired as the crew waited for the explosions to begin. "Turn 9" was given by CDR Moosbrugger. At the completion of the turn, the explosions began. The first explosion was soon followed by another ten seconds later, and to the right of the first. Another ten seconds passed before a third explosion even farther to the right echoed in the Gulf.

        Rounds of gunfire from the second division followed these explosions. Both divisions closed on the enemy. With two targets sinking, and the other fiercely burning, another round of gunfire assaulted the fourth, remaining Japanese ship. Eighty-seven rounds were fired in total. This remaining ship was identified by lookouts to be a three-stack cruiser, but the extent of the fire precluded any further recognition.

        Various torpedoes were reported by the ships of Task Group 31.2, but the enemy's aim was poor, and no damage was sustained. Under threat of an enemy submarine in the area, constant course changes were required over the next hour to avoid torpedo and "bogey" reports.

        At 0105 on 7 August, the decision was made to reverse course in hopes of trying to recover survivors. Nets and lines were readied for use, and armed men posted; however, the MAURY's main feed pump crashed. Division One was ordered to retire with MAURY as the guide.

        General Quarters was secured at 0359, and friendly air cover arrived three hours later. The Task Group passed north of the Russell Islands and proceeded toward Koli Point.

        There were several lessons learned from this engagement. First, destroyers, when correctly handled making a coordinated torpedo attack, are an effective asset in securing sea lanes to enemy traffic. Complete understanding of battle plans by all hands results in battle confidence and success. The element of surprise contributed to the enemy defeat.

        Historical Notes:


        USS VELLA GULF was sponsored by Mrs. Mary Ann McCauley and was commissioned into the Naval Service on 18 September, 1993 in ceremonies at Norfolk, VA.

        USS VELLA GULF successfully completed Sea Trials during the month of February 1998. In the months of May and June, VELLA GULF completed a two-month BALTOPS Cruise, taking part in the 26th annual maritime exercise U.S. Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) '98 in the Western Baltic Sea from June 8-19, 1998. During the exercise, the commander, Carrier Group Eight, commanded the exercise from USS VELLA GULF. The cruise was an opportunity to work with foreign military units and show presence in ports that no Navy vessel had been to before. In November, VELLA GULF completed an AMMO onload, LAMPS moved aboard, completed a successful C2X, and had made a port call at St. John, U.S. Virgin Island. Upon the completion of C2X, VELLA GULF continued pre-deployment work-ups.

        In January 1999, after winning her fifth consecutive "Battle E", VELLA GULF performed Tomahawk Launch Area Coordinator duties during Tomahawk training exercises and had the AEGIS training and readiness center onboard for a week of Force Air Defense Commander training.

        VELLA GULF's successful completion, in February 1999, of JTFEX '99 marked the end of a ten-month work-up. The vessel headed out for deployment to the Adriatic Sea on 26 March 1999. After a six-day transit, VELLA GULF took her position in the Adriatic Sea and participated in everything from Tomahawk Strike Ops to Fast-track Logistics Ops as part of Operation Noble Anvil. In May and June, VELLA GULF continued to participate in support of combat operations, shot Tomahawks, assumed warfare commander duties (ADC, ASUWC, ASWC and Launch Area Coordinator), and conducted numerous at-sea refueling and stores replenishment events until the relaxation of weapons posture and cessation of hostilities.

        VELLA GULF began the month of August engaged in multi-ship exercises. She Participated in DIVTACS, LeapFrogs, Tomahawk exercises, submarine exercises, Flight Ops, and Gunnery exercises. VELLA GULF returned home on 22 September 1999 and went in November to Yorktown, VA, for a complete weapons offload.

        As part of the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) Carrier Battle Group (CVBG), and in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, USS VELLA GULF set sail in support of defense and humanitarian efforts off the coast of New York.

        VELLA GULF deployed on September 19, 2001, as part of the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Carrier Battle Group, to the Mediterranean, and "to points East" in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The THEODORE ROOSEVELT Carrier Battle Group transited the Suez Canal on October 13th and arrived in the Arabian Sea on October 15th, before returning home in April 2002.

        Ship's Crest:

        The Shield: The Coat of Arms of the VELLA GULF links the officers and men of Division "Able One" and Division "Able Two," who fought so valiantly at the Battle of Vella Gulf, with the crew that will sail the VELLA GULF into the future. The commissioning pennant recalls the previous ship of the same name, USS VELLA GULF (CVE 111). Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy. The Battle of Vella Gulf occurred in a body of water known as "The Slot" in the Solomon Islands, which is represented by the flaunches in the middle of the shield. The wavy division at top refers to the sea. The six U.S. Navy destroyers involved in the battle are recalled by the six sections comprising the shield, while the four Japanese destroyers, the "Tokyo Express," which were defeated, are suggested by the red discs. Dark blue alludes to the darkness of the nighttime battle. Counter- changing the colors of the shield underscores unity of U.S. Naval components, while the bald eagle characterizes the U.S. victory and naval strength, past and present. The crossed swords embody the synergism of the officer-enlisted teams.

        The Crest: The trident symbolizes sea prowess and the modern weapons of CG 72: The vertical launch, and the AEGIS Systems (anti-submarine, surface, and air warfare). The lightning flashes represent quick strike capabilities and allude to the advantage of radar, which was instrumental to the U.S. Navy victory in the Battle of Vella Gulf. Red traditionally symbolizes courage and firepower. The star commemorates the Battle Star awarded to the previous VELLA GULF for her service in World War II.

        Motto: The motto is adapted from a favorite military maxim of General Stonewall Jackson, which reads: "To move swiftly, strike vigorously, and secure all the fruits of victory, is the secret to successful warfare."

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