By Devon Hubbard Sorlie, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
Only two ships celebrate major commissioning anniversaries this month, 30-year-old USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720), and USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), moving into double-digits for her 10th anniversary since commissioning.
30 Years of History Since Commissioning
USS Pittsburgh was commissioned on Nov. 23, 1985 at Groton, Conn. The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine is the fourth vessel in the Navy to be named after Pennsylvania’s “Steel City.” Of the 62 Los Angeles-class submarines, 40 are still in active service.
What Else Was Going On in 1985?
- The price of a gallon of gasoline was around $1.17 during that week in November 1985. Unemployment was at seven percent.
- The median household income for a family was around $23,618, but the median cost to purchase a new house was $87,200.
- The E-4 basic monthly salary (without Basic Allowance for Housing) was $757.40 a month, or $9,204 annually
- Movie goers turned out in droves to see Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky IV” and William Petersen, before his “CSI” days, starred in “To Live and Die in L.A.”
- The small screen introduced Elmo as a new character on “Sesame Street”
- Playing on the radio were “We Built This City” by Starship, “Separate Lives by Phil Collins, and “Part-Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder.
- Topping the list of ‘Most Read Books” were “Goddess,” Anthony Summer’s manuscript about Marilyn Monroe and two men, Connell Cowan and Melvyn Kinder, opined about females in their book “Smart Women, Foolish Choices.”
- Other forms of entertainment debuted that week in 1985: A mischievous boy and his stuffed tiger enchanted newspaper readers and made Bill Watterson’s cartoon “Calvin and Hobbes” an instant hit.
- Remember when ‘Da Bears’ dominated the gridiron? Me, neither. But the Nov. 24 cover of Sports Illustrated featured then-undefeated Chicago Bears after they annihilated the Dallas Cowboys 44-0.
- The news reel that week included President Ronald Reagan meeting for the first time with Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev at Geneva and the first .com domain name (symbolics.com) was registered, and Microsoft unveiled Windows 1.0. Nov. 23, 1985.
Pittsburgh’s Career Highlights
Over the boat’s 30-year history thus far, Pittsburgh has had numerous deployments, including support in liberating Kuwait from Iraqi aggression during Operation Desert Storm (1990-91) where she fired UGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles against Iraqi military targets, and then again March 20, 2003 at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In October of that same year, USS Pittsburgh launched a Tactical Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile from the Atlantic Ocean. The missile completed its 818-nautical mile, fully-guided flight and the parachute system activated successfully at the recovery site.
After a 10-month Extended Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability at NSB New London in 2012, USS Pittsburgh rejoined the fleet Aug. 15, 2013.
Where is Pittsburgh Now?
USS Pittsburgh returned to her homeport at U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London, Conn., in May after a regularly-scheduled deployment that began in November 2014. During the deployment Pittsburgh steamed more than 30,000 nautical miles while making port visits at Haakonsvern, Norway; Rota, Spain; and Faslane, Scotland.
10 Years of History Since Commissioning
USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) was commissioned Nov. 12, 2005 during a ceremony at Port Everglades, Fla. The 46th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer is the fifth U.S. Navy vessel named in honor of Commodore William Bainbridge, who was the skipper of USS Constitution when the frigate defeated HMS Java during the War of 1812.
What Else Was Going On in 2005?
- The price of a gallon of gasoline rose to $2.26 during that week in November 2005, while unemployment stabilized to around five percent.
- The E-4 basic monthly salary (without Basic Allowance for Housing) was $1,612.80. On the civilian side, the median household income was $46,242, but the median cost of a home came in at $237,900.
- The top movies that week included Kiera Knightley’s “Pride and Prejudice,” but it didn’t come near to the success of another British import: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which premiered in London and in less than eight weeks became the most successful film of 2005, earning nearly $900 million.
- On the small screen, Ted Koppel resigned after 25 years as host of ABC’s “Nightline” and NBC’s long-running soap opera “Days of Our Lives” celebrated its 40th anniversary.
- The top singles playing on the radio included “Gold Digger” by Kanye West; “Run It” by Chris Brown; “My Humps” by Black Eyed Peas; “Photograph” by Nickelback, and Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off.”
- Sports-wise, NFL quarterback rivals Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were featured on the cover of the Nov. 7, 2005 Sports Illustrated magazine. Also in print, top reads were Kurt Vonnegut’s “A Man Without A Country,” while “Marley and Me,” Josh Grogan’s touching memoir about his neurotic Labrador retriever, delighted legions of animal lovers everywhere.
Bainbridge’s Ship Highlights
Following the ship’s commissioning, USS Bainbridge left for its maiden deployment in Aug. 2007, participating in a number of exercises.
It was during its second deployment in 2009 when the action got real for Bainbridge Sailors. The destroyer was part of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Carrier Strike Group when it responded April 9 to a distress call about Somali pirates taking over the American-flagged cargo ship Maersk Alabama and kidnapped the ship’s captain Richard Phillips. The cargo ship had been carrying relief supplies to Kenya.
On April 13, when one of Phillips’ captors pointed an AK-47 rifle at his back, U.S. Navy snipers took out three of the pirates. A fourth had already surrendered. Phillips was taken aboard Bainbridge before being flown to USS Boxer (LHD 4) for a medical exam.
More about Navy’s AntiPiracy Mission here!
Bainbridge responded to a second pirate attack that deployment, but the pirates were unable to board the ship and had fled the scene by the time the destroyer arrived.
In 2010, Bainbridge participated in Joint Warrior 2010 off the coast of Scotland, returned home to render assistance to a fishing vessel with a steering casualty east of Delaware Bay, and then departed Jan. 4, 2011, for a deployment to the U.S. Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of operation. During that deployment, Bainbridge freed 15 hostages from a Pakistani fishing vessel. The pirates surrendered upon Bainbridge’s approach.
By the end of this deployment, Bainbridge’s crew had conducted nearly 30 counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and off the coast of Somali.
Following another routine deployment in support of NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield in 2013, Bainbridge stood down for a Selected Restricted Availability at Norfolk, returning to the fleet in time for a scheduled deployment for Ocean Shield in May 2015. The ship arrived in time to participate in the multinational exercise Phoenix Express off the coast of Tunisia. On Sept. 2, the destroyer was the first U.S. Navy combatant to transit the new Suez Canal northbound upon its reopening in August.
Where is Bainbridge Now?
As of October, Bainbridge was cruising in the Mediterranean Sea, having conducted deck landing qualifications with MH-60R Seahawks assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 46 Det. 6 embarked aboard USS Farragut (DDG 99).