YOKOSUKA, Kanagawa Pref. — The arrival of the Chancellorsville here Tuesday was more than just Part II of the Kitty Hawk show.
While all the attention focused on the aircraft carrier, the U.S. 7th Fleet’s mission capability in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean gained new dimensions of flexibility.
Despite almost identical statistics to those of the Ticonderoga class cruiser it replaced — the Bunker Hill — the Chancellorsville completed a comprehensive overhaul last year in San Diego that gave it the navy’s latest combat systems suite, increased missile capabilities and basic hull and fuel tank strengthening.
“This is a multimission ship,” said Lt.j.g. John Sullivan. “Our primary mission is anti-air warfare, but we can also handle antisubmarine warfare, missile intercept and anti-surface warfare.”
The Chancellorsville is equipped with the AEGIS weapons system, MK41 vertical launching system, antisubmarine rockets, Tomahawk cruise missiles and the Phalanx close-in weapons system.
It has a total capacity of 122 air, surface shipping and land-attack missiles. During the Gulf War, Ticonderoga cruisers operated independently in forward battle areas to coordinate air support and provide missile targeting data.
The cruiser’s executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Liepfelt, noted another upgrade that the Bunker Hill didn’t have: modifications to the ship’s berthing spaces so that women could serve on-board. About 12 percent of the Chancellorsville’s crew of 360 is female. According to Liepfelt, the cruiser’s success in integrating the crew has created an unofficial model for the rest of the navy. “We formed an action team and went step by step over every possible (male-female) interaction on-board and clearly documented the type of conduct we expect,” Liepfelt said. “We have had no difficulties whatsoever (in integrating the crew).”
Liepfelt’s expectations of professional behavior extend to the crew when it is not on duty as well. Responding to local concerns about the conduct of newly arrived sailors in Japan, Liepfelt said: “We treat the crew with respect and they give back equal respect. I can say that in my time on-board, since January, we have had no problems ashore. This crew conducts itself very professionally.”
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