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USS Bunker Hill, one of the Navy’s last Cold War-era cruisers, is decommissioned in San Diego

The crew of the Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) stand at attention during the ship's decommissioning ceremony. Bunker Hill was decommissioned after more than 37 years of distinguished service.    (Claire M. DuBois/U.S. Navy/US NAVY/TNS)
By Gary Robbins San Diego Union-Tribune The San Diego Union-Tribune

The cruiser USS Bunker Hill – one of the first American warships to attack Iraq with cruise missiles during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 – was decommissioned Friday at Naval Base San Diego, ending 37 years of service.

Bunker Hill also was a key player in Operation Southern Watch, helping maintain a United Nations-backed no-fly zone over southern Iraq that helped coalition forces contain and undermine Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The 567-foot ship shifted homeports in 1998, moving from Yokosuka, Japan, to San Diego, where Bunker Hill finished its long career. The highlights included providing disaster relief to Haiti in 2010 after the country suffered a catastrophic earthquake.

Bunker Hill was a “Tico,” the nickname given to the Ticonderoga-class cruisers that the U.S. built during the Cold War, largely to fend off Russian forces.

The U.S. built 27 of the ships, which are now rapidly being removed from the fleet. Earlier this month, two – the USS Mobile Bay and USS Lake Champlain – were decommissioned in San Diego.

The city is now home to only three Ticonderoga-class cruisers: USS Cowpens, USS Princeton and USS Chosin.

All of the Navy’s Tico cruisers are expected to be decommissioned by the end of 2027.