US Navy cruiser deploys to Europe, Middle East

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U.S. Navy’s guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 60 departed Naval Station Norfolk on March 27 for a six-month deployment to the Navy’s 5th and 6th fleet areas of operation.

The Leyte Gulf crew went through a demanding training cycle in preparation for its upcoming mission and recently took part in a Missile Defense Agency-led live fire exercise with other U.S. Navy ships.

During its previous deployment to the 6th fleet area of operation in Europe, Leyte Gulf served as the Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) flagship and sailed 35,000 miles crossing the Atlantic Ocean four times.

“Leyte Gulf sailors have been put to the test time and time again over the past year and a half, preparing for deployment,” said Capt. Daniel Sunvold, Leyte Gulf’s commanding officer. “The effort and skills demonstrated over the last year is a testament to the strength and abilities of the entire crew. They are excited to see parts of the world they never would have experienced before and to put their certifications to the test.”

The ship was commissioned Sept. 26, 1987, and is named after one of the largest naval battle in modern history that ended the Japanese Navy’s capacity to fight as an organized force. The battle marked the end of centuries of naval warfare tradition in that it was the last sea battle between forces employing battleships. It also marked the last time surface ships employed the classic maneuver of “crossing the T” and the first time Kamikaze planes were employed.

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