Her keel was laid down on 1 May 1965 by the Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company of Seattle, Washington. She was launched on 1 July 1966. After two years of labor shortages and a 12-month strike, she was commissioned 23 May 1970.
First assigned to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet in the 1970s, Coronado conducted extensive operations, deploying on numerous occasions to the Caribbean Sea and Mediterranean Sea, as well as Northern Europe.
In 1980 Coronado was re-designated an Auxiliary Command Ship (AGF-11). Her first assignment was to relieve La Salle (AGF-3) as command ship for Commander, U.S. Middle East Force, stationed in the Persian Gulf.
Reassigned in October 1985, Coronado relieved Puget Sound (AD-38) as the command ship of Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet. During a ten-month tour with the Sixth Fleet, Coronado operated out of Gaeta, Italy, participating in operations in the Gulf of Sidra and strikes against Libyan terrorist support facilities.
In July 1986, Coronado was relieved as Sixth Fleet command ship and ordered to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to become the command ship for Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet. The Admiral and his staff embarked on board Coronado in November 1986. Subsequently, Coronado was relieved as Third Fleet command ship and deployed to the Persian Gulf to assume duties as command ship for Commander, U.S. Middle East Force in January 1988. Upon her return to Pearl Harbor on 9 November 1988, Coronado again assumed her duties as Commander, U.S. Third Fleet command ship.
Since then Third Fleet and Coronado have become the center for naval innovation and technology experimentation. In November 1998 a large ship modification was completed. Incorporating the latest network-centric technology, Coronado became the most advanced command ship in the world.
Late 2003 saw a see-saw change for the ship. In November it was decommissioned, transferred to the Military Sealift Command and redesignated T-AGF-11. However, it was concluded shortly thereafter that the operations the ship engaged in required it to be a warship and thus it was transferred back to the Navy and recommissioned. However, the ship now has a large civilian complement within the crew which is from the MSC. In 2004, the 7th Fleet command ship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), went into dry dock and Coronado temporarily assumed 7th Fleet command responsibilities. On 27 September 2004, Blue Ridge returned to duty as the command ship.
USS Coronado (AGF-11) was decommissioned at the end of Fiscal Year 2006 and is currently awaiting disposal at Suisun Bay, California.
In October 2000, the Office of the Secretary of the Navy assigned Coronado to host the Navy's Sea-Based Battle Lab (SBBL), an afloat platform for testing prototype systems and software, evaluating future naval capabilities, and assessing operational compatibility and possible further implementation throughout the United States Navy.
Recent developments in technology have spawned significant advances in Naval warfighting capabilities. Wireless and Web-based tools, along with new weapon systems, have enabled Naval forces to conduct precision operations with greater synchronization, expedience, and potency. With over of reconfigurable command space and one of the world's most advanced Naval C4I suites, SBBL offers a unique shipboard environment that facilitates the evaluation of research for maritime and joint operations.
The Third Fleet J9 Directorate is responsible for managing the SBBL. Partnering with other services, national laboratories, academia, and industry, the Third Fleet Staff develops joint exercises and experiments for evaluating the following in an operational environment:
The staff and crew provide an unbiased evaluation of the proposal's viability and functionality. Promising, mature initiatives are endorsed for advancement into the beta testing cycle on board the next deploying carrier battle group (or amphibious ready group) and/or into the acquisition process.