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USS Mobile Bay, a major player during Operation Desert Storm, will be decommissioned next week in San Diego

The guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) pulls the alongside the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak/Released)

Gary Robbins
The San Diego Union-Tribune

The cruiser USS Mobile Bay, which launched 22 Tomahawk cruise missiles during Operation Desert Storm and helped carry people to safety when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines, will be decommissioned in San Diego on Aug. 10, ending the service life of one of the oldest ships in the Navy.

Mobile Bay will become the latest Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser to be sidelined by the Navy, which is phasing out the Cold War-era vessels in favor of the newer Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

The cruisers were designed for a 35-year service life. Mobile Bay was commissioned 36 years ago and initially operated out of Mayport, Fla. It later spent years based in Yokosuka, Japan, then moved to San Diego in 2000.

In the naval community, the ship is known for the moment in January 1991 when it joined other U.S. forces in launching missiles against Iraqi targets during the start of Desert Storm. Mobile Bay also played a key role in protecting American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf area.

The ship also served stateside. It was dispatched to the waters off San Francisco following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, the government was concerned that more attacks could be launched against U.S. cities.

Boxer update: After a roughly two-year, $200 million overhaul, it’s still unclear when the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship USS Boxer will return to regular service. It appeared that the ship would depart San Diego Bay on July 21, but that didn’t happen.

“The ship’s crew remains focused on readiness and preparing for sea trials and the eventual deployment of the ship, maintaining certifications and qualifications, while conducting integrated training and simulated multi-day underway evolutions,” the Navy said in a statement.

“Of note — we expect USS Boxer to get underway for sea trials in the near future.”

The 844-foot Boxer is regarded as one of the most important warships on the West Coast due to its ability to fly both helicopters and attack aircraft, and to transport upwards of 1,600 Marines.

Christening planned: General Dynamics-NASSCO says that it will christen the USNS Robert F. Kennedy, a fleet oiler ship, at its yard on San Diego Bay on Oct. 22.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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