For over four decades, the Ticonderoga-class missile cruisers have patrolled the world’s oceans as a cornerstone of American naval power.

Nicknamed “Aegis Cruisers” for their revolutionary combat system, these once-futuristic warships have witnessed historical events and technological advancements, leaving an undeniable mark on naval history.

As their final deployment nears its end, with decommissioning scheduled by 2027, it’s time to reflect on the legacy of these remarkable ships.

From Drawing Board to High Seas: A Flexible Design

The Ticonderogasstory began in the late 1970s when the Navy envisioned a new generation of destroyers.

Based on the Spruance-class destroyer hull, these ships were designed to be powerful additions to the fleet.

However, a change in course came with the development of the AEGIS Combat System (ACS). With its powerful phased-array radar, this groundbreaking technology promised unparalleled air defense capabilities.

To accommodate this game-changing system, the Ticonderoga design evolved. The familiar sleek lines of a destroyer gave way to a distinctive silhouette characterized by two large superstructures – one forward and one aft – housing the powerful AEGIS radar.

Ticonderoga-class cruise
The USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), a Ticonderoga-class Aegis-equipped guided missile cruiser. (Wikimedia Commons)

Another crucial addition was the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), a marvel of versatility.