(CVL-25, originally CV-25, later AVT-1), 1943-1960
USS Cowpens, an 11,000-ton Independence class small aircraft carrier built at Camden, New Jersey, was commissioned in May 1943 with the hull number CV-25. She was redesignated CVL-25 two months later and arrived in the Pacific in September to join the war against Japan. After seeing combat for the first time in the October 1943 raid on Wake Island, she participated in the Gilberts and Marshalls invasions during the last two months of 1943 and the first two months of 1944. From February until May 1944, Cowpens and other Fifth Fleet aircraft carriers attacked enemy targets in the Central Pacific and New Guinea. She took part in the Marianas campaign, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea, during June 1944, and continued her support of operations in that area into July.
In September 1944, Cowpens covered the invasions of the Palaus and Morotai. Over the next three months, she participated in raids on Okinawa, Formosa and the Philippines and in the great Battle of Leyte Gulf. Her combat activities continued into January and February 1945, with raids around the South China Sea and Philippines areas and support for the landings at Lingayen Gulf and Iwo Jima.
Following a west coast overhaul, Cowpens returned to the war zone in June 1945. During the last months of the Pacific War, her aircraft pounded Wake Island and targets in the Japanese home islands. Support for the occupation of Japan was followed by duty transporting war veterans home from the Pacific during late 1945 and early 1946. Cowpens was decommissioned in January 1947 and spent the rest of her Navy service in the Reserve Fleet. She was briefly reclassified as an aircraft transport, with the new hull number AVT-1, in May 1959 and was sold for scrapping a year later.
USS Cowpens CG-63On March 3, 1989, the US Navy launched the second USS Cowpens, CG-63, a guided missile cruiser from Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. She was commissioned two years later in Charleston, South Carolina, on March 9, 1991 and was the seventeenth Aegis cruiser of the Ticonderoga class. This ship is also known as the "Mighty Moo" and her crew call themselves "the Herd."
CG-63 has state-of-the-art technology. Her Mark 41 Vertical Launching System, SPY-1B Phased Array Radar, and Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS) enable the USS Cowpens to fight threats from the air. Her LAMPS Mark III SH-60B Helicopter combined with the AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array Sonar (TACTAS) and AN/SQR-53B Hull Mounted Sonar make up the Anti-Submarine Combat System. She can fire Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, Harpoon Cruise Missiles, or her two 5 inch 54 Caliber Mark 45 Gun Weapon Systems against surface threats. Thus the USS Cowpens, CG-63 can fulfill her mission in all directions, up, down, and out.
On January 17, 1993, while serving in the Persian Gulf, the USS Cowpens fired 10 Tomahawk missiles in response to Iraqi violations of sanctions that the United States had imposed.
The histories of the Battle of Cowpens and of CVL-25 are noted in CG-63s coat of arms. Muskets, bayonets, and a drum represent the Revolutionary War battle. It is also depicted in the three lines that represent the three lines which Brigadier General Daniel Morgan placed his troops. In addition, the motto, "Victoria Liberatis Vindex", Latin for "Victory Vindicates Liberty" was on the medal which Congress awarded Morgan for his valor and leadership at the Battle of Cowpens. The colors blue, gold, red, and green represent the Navy Unit Commendation that CVL-25 earned, and the twelve stars in a circle represent the battle stars. In addition to symbolizing its history, the Coat of Arms denotes the capabilities of CG-63. The Navy sword signifies both the heritage of service and the vertical launch qualifications. The rays shooting upward represent the combat air support and the Aegis Weapons System of CG-63.
Pictures provided by U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center and U.S. National Archives
USS Cowpens history from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
USS Cowpens (CVL 25) was an Independence-Class light aircraft carrier and served during the world's greatest conflict, World War II.
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