USS Essex (LHD-2)
USS Essex in the Pacific Ocean in 2015
|Namesake:||Essex County, Massachusetts|
|Ordered:||10 September 1986|
|Laid down:||20 March 1989|
|Launched:||23 February 1991|
|Commissioned:||17 October 1992|
|Homeport:||Naval Base San Diego|
|Nickname(s):||"The Iron Gator"|
|Status:||in active service|
|Class and type:||Wasp-class amphibious assault ship|
|Displacement:||40,650 tons (full combat load)|
|Length:||844 ft (257 m)|
|Beam:||106 ft (32 m)|
|Draft:||28 ft (8.5 m) (full load)|
|Propulsion:||Geared steam turbines|
|Speed:||exceeds 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)|
|Boats & landing
|3 LCACs or 2 LCUs|
|Complement:||73 officers, 1109 enlisted|
|Aircraft carried:||up to 36, including: UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Viper, CH-53 Super Stallion, MV-22 Osprey, MH-60 Seahawk, AV-8B Harrier|
USS Essex (LHD-2) is a United States Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship built at what is now Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and commissioned on 17 October 1992 while moored at North Island NAS beside USS Kitty Hawk. It is the fifth ship named for Essex County, Massachusetts. Dick Cheney, then the Secretary of Defense in the first Bush Administration, spoke at the commissioning ceremony. Essex served as the command ship for Expeditionary Strike Group Seven until replaced by USS Bonhomme Richard on 23 April 2012. Essex collided with USNS Yukon in May 2012.
Essex conducted an arduous and highly successful training program during the spring of 1993, and from 18 August until 23 November, was undergoing upgrades, during Post Shakedown Availability, in Long Beach harbor, while her crew was at 4 section duty.
Essex's maiden deployment was in October 1994. With the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) embarked, Essex showcased her abilities on numerous occasions. The highlight of the deployment came in January 1995, when she left the Persian Gulf to prepare for the complex task of covering the withdrawal of United Nations multinational force from Somalia in Operation United Shield. Under fire from advancing Somalis, every member of the force was successfully extracted. Essex returned to San Diego on 25 April 1995.
After a short maintenance period, Essex embarked on a vigorous workup cycle, culminating in her participation in Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), a biennial, seven-nation naval exercise. On 10 October 1996, she embarked on her second Western Pacific deployment, with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) and Amphibious Squadron Five.
During the deployment, Essex participated in multinational exercises with Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, as well as Exercise Tandem Thrust 1997, an American-Australian combined exercise with over 28,000 troops, 250 aircraft and 40 ships participating.
On her return in April 1997, Essex again went into a short maintenance period, followed by a shortened workup cycle. She then departed for her third Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf deployment on 21 June 1998 with the 15th MEU (SOC) and Amphibious Squadron Five.
Essex participated in Exercises Sea Soldier and Red Reef, and participated in Military SALT and Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations with the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. Additionally, Essex supported Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the UN-mandated no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
On 26 July 2000, after successful completion of the largest crew swap in U.S. Navy history, Essex replaced USS Belleau Wood and inherited the distinctive role as the Navy’s only permanently forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in United States Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan.
In 2004, Essex carried the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) to Kuwait, along with USS Harpers Ferry and USS Juneau. Essex stayed in the Persian Gulf while the 31st MEU and the combat element 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines went into Iraq for the Battle of Fallujah. During that time, Essex went to aid in Operation Unified Assistance in Banda Aceh, Indonesia after the St. Stephen's Day 2004 Tsunami. She then returned to the Persian Gulf to embark the 31st MEU SOC and the combat element despite being in need of maintenance. After picking up the MEU and the Combat Element, the three ships returned to Okinawa, Japan. The ship had been at sea a total of eight months.
During the 2008 Myanmar Cyclone Nargis crisis and the subsequent Operation Caring Response aid mission, USS Essex and her carrier group (made up of Juneau, Harpers Ferry, and the destroyer USS Mustin) stood by off Burma from 13 May to 5 June, waiting for the Myanmar junta government to permit US aid to its citizens. However, in early June, with permission still not forthcoming, it was decided to put the group back on its scheduled operations.
Early in 2009, Essex completed a successful exercise Cobra Gold, which had been cut short the previous year. Essex followed this with exercise Balikatan with the Republic of the Philippines. Essex then got underway in support of exercise Talisman Saber 2009 and conducted various welldeck and flight deck evolutions in support of this joint bi-lateral exercise between the U.S. and Australian military forces.
During 21–23 October, the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group provided humanitarian assistance/disaster relief to the Philippines after the Super Typhoon Juan (international name Megi) caused extensive destruction to municipalities along the eastern coast of the Province of Isabela. The crew was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal.
On the request for assistance from the Japanese government, the Navy directed Essex to be deployed off the northeastern coast of Honshu after the massive 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The ship was involved in relief activities in the Sea of Japan off Akita Prefecture. Helicopters from the ship helped deliver relief supplies to quake and tsunami survivors along the northeast coast of Tohoku.
In November, Petty Officer 1st Class Regan Young was fatally injured aboard Essex during a weapons systems test while the ship was off the coast of Bali.
Essex was scheduled to depart for Cobra Gold 2012, an annual exercise with Thailand. The mission was canceled, however, due to mechanical or maintenance issues.
It was announced in January 2012 that Essex would be returning to its former home port of San Diego, California. However, the crew of Essex did a hull swap with Bonhomme Richard - i.e. the crews exchanged ships - and so their deployment to Sasebo, albeit on a different ship.
On 16 May 2012, Essex suffered an apparent steering failure while approaching USNS Yukon for an underway replenishment. The two ships collided causing damage to both ships. There were no injuries and no loss of fuel was reported. Both ships were able to continue to San Diego under their own power. On 19 June 2012 the Navy announced that the ship's commander, Captain Chuck Litchfield, had been relieved of command due to "loss of confidence in his ability to command."
An investigation determined that the collision was avoidable and caused by improper supervision by Litchfield over his junior bridge crew. Although Essex's bow had jammed, the investigation determined that better leadership by Litchfield could have prevented the collision. The investigation recommended administrative action against Essex’s executive officer, officer-of-the-deck, conning officer and helm safety officer.
After two years of dry-dock and pier side maintenance, USS Essex executed an on-time underway to conduct sea trials in April 2014. Essex also received an aviation certification in May 2014 by showing proficiency in the launching, landing and refueling of various helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys on the flight deck.
Following a change of command on 28 June 2014, Captain Peter M. Mantz became the new commanding officer of USS Essex.
On November 30, 2015, USS Essex and the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, embarked with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit entered the United States Third Fleet Area of operations (AOO), returning from a deployment that spread across the 5th, 6th and 7th AOO's.
- Burke, Matthew (23 April 2012). "Navy crews swap ships during Sasebo ceremony". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- Watson, Julie (16 May 2012). "2 US Navy ships collide in Pacific; no injuries". seattlepi.com. Archived from the original on 17 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- Byers, David; Schlesinger, Fay (10 December 2007). "US threatens military aid drops as Burma leaders stall". The Times. Retrieved 2012-05-02. (subscription required)
- dead link Archived 27 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "31ST MEU and PHIBRON-11 provide assistance after Super Typhoon Juan". Marines.mil. 21 October 2010. Archived from the original on 7 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- Rabiroff, John (17 March 2011). "U.S. military delivers 40 tons of supplies to hardest-hit areas". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- "Warships Supporting Earthquake in Japan". Seawaves. Archived from the original on 23 March 2011.
- "Japan-U.S. relief efforts expanding". The Daily Yomiuri (Japan). 20 March 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
Essex with 2,200 members of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard ... involved in relief activities in the Sea of Japan off Akita Prefecture[dead link]
- Hansen, Liane (27 March 2011). USS Essex Helps Delivers Aid To Japan. Weekend Edition (NPR). 1 p.m.
- "Essex Ready Group and 31st MEU underway for fall patrol". Stars and Stripes. 26 September 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- Burke, Matthew M. (30 November 2011). "Navy identifies sailor killed aboard USS Essex - Navy". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- Burke, Matthew M. (1 February 2012). "USS Essex unable to fulfill mission for 2nd time in seven months". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- Swearingen, Linda S. (23 January 2012). "Commander ESG 3 Visits Essex to Talk Hull Swap" (Press release). Navy.mil. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- "Commanding officer of USS Essex relieved of command following collision with tanker at sea". Washington Post. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-19.[dead link]
- Fuentes, Gidget (27 August 2012). "Report reveals Essex chaos before collision". Military Times. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- Janik, Christopher B. (20 September 2012). "USS Essex (LHD 2) Prepares For Dry-Dock Maintenance Availability". US Navy. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- Burke, Matthew M. (23 April 2013). "Essex begins 18 months of maintenance, upgrades in San Diego". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- Li, Lauly (30 April 2013). "Taiwan-born captain named USS Essex captain". The China Post. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
- "Essex ARG, 15th MEU Enter U.S. 3rd Fleet Area of Operations". Public Redords US Navy. 2 December 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
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