USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Iwo Jima.
USS Iwo Jima
USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) pulls into Pier 88 after sailing up the Hudson River to kick off Fleet Week 2002 in New York City, 22 May 2002
United States
Name: USS Iwo Jima
Namesake: Battle of Iwo Jima
Ordered: 28 February 1995
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding
Laid down: 12 December 1997
Launched: 4 February 2000
Sponsored by: Zandra Krulak, wife of Commandant of the Marine Corps, Charles C. Krulak
Christened: 25 March 2000
Commissioned: 30 June 2001
Homeport: Naval Station Mayport
Motto: Uncommon Valor
Status: in active service, as of 2015
Badge: USS Iwo Jima COA.png
General characteristics
Class & type: Wasp-class amphibious assault ship
Displacement: 40,530 long tons (41,180 t) full load
Length: 844 ft (257 m)
Beam: 110 ft (34 m)
Draft: 30 ft (9.1 m)
Propulsion: Geared steam turbines
Speed: 22 knots (25 mph; 41 km/h)
Troops: 1,897 Marines
Complement: 73 officers, 1009 enlisted
Aircraft carried: Mix of 30 helicopters, 6–8 AV/ 8B Harrier II

USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy. The ship was named for the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II. The ship was commissioned in 2001 and is currently in service.

Construction and career[edit]

Fabrication work for Iwo Jima began at Ingalls shipyard on 3 September 1996, and the ship's keel was laid on 12 December 1997. At the keel laying ceremony, Private first class Jacklyn H. Lucas, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima, placed his Medal of Honor citation in the hull of the ship, where it remains today.[1] She was launched on 4 February 2000. USS Iwo Jima was christened by her sponsor, Mrs. Zandra Krulak, wife of General Charles C. Krulak, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, in Pascagoula, Mississippi on 25 March 2000. The commissioning crew moved aboard in April 2001, and made the ship's maiden voyage on 23 June 2001, accompanied by more than 2,000 World War II veterans — many of them survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima. She was commissioned a week later in Pensacola, Florida, on 30 June 2001.

Shortly thereafter, the ship and crew began an accelerated Inter Deployment Training Cycle, which tested virtually every system on board in realistic combat conditions. Iwo Jima was also the first ship on the waterfront open to the public after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. In 2002, Iwo Jima participated in Fleet Week in New York City.

Iwo Jima operating in fog in the Atlantic Ocean

2003 deployment[edit]

Iwo Jima and the Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26 MEU) along with two other amphibious assault ships formed the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. Iwo Jima left port on 4 March 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed Marines in April 2003 from the Mediterranean Sea into Northern Iraq for the Iraq War. In July 2003, Iwo Jima deployed to the coast of Liberia as part of JTF Liberia in response to the Second Liberian Civil War. During this operation, the Southern European Task Force (SETAF) as the command element of JTF Liberia and Iwo Jima with the 26 MEU landed Marines in Liberia to perform humanitarian assessments. "At its height, JTF Liberia consisted of over 5,000 service members from the SETAF headquarters, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the three-ship Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, 3rd Air Force's 398th Air Expeditionary Group, U.S. Army Europe's 21st Theater Support Command, and Army Special Forces."[2]

In 2004, Iwo Jima participated in Fleet Week. Iwo Jima served as the 2nd Fleet flagship in 2005, based out of Norfolk, Virginia.

USS Iwo Jima pier side in New Orleans
Looking toward the bow of the interior of the ship.
A LCAC boat assigned to USS Iwo Jima.

Hurricane Katrina[edit]

On 31 August 2005, Iwo Jima was sortied to the Gulf of Mexico to provide disaster relief and to conduct support operations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Iwo Jima sailed up the Mississippi River to the city of New Orleans to directly support relief operations and act as the central command center for all federal, state and local disaster recovery operations.

During this critical period, Iwo Jima also served as the region’s only fully functional air field for helicopter operations, conducting over one thousand flight deck operations; provided hot meals, showers, drinking water, and berthing to thousands of National Guardsmen and relief workers; provided medical services, including first aid and surgical services, for disaster victims; and conducted clean-up operations in the city and suburbs of New Orleans.

Iwo Jima served as flagship for the Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush, during Hurricane Katrina Joint Task Force,[3] and is only the second Navy ship to have been presented the flag of the President of the United States.


On 6 June 2006, Iwo Jima left its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, and began a regularly scheduled six-month deployment to the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command area of responsibilities, as flagship for the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, encompassing 6,000 sailors and Marines. The ship was also a part of the evacuation effort of American citizens from the conflict in Lebanon.[4]

News reports on 15 July 2006 stated that Iwo Jima, flagship of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, would be used to evacuate U. S. citizens from Lebanon after the Israeli Defense Force made the Beirut International Airport unusable through bombing its runways and fuel storage areas.[citation needed]

On 16 February 2007, Iwo Jima was awarded the 2006 Battle "E" award.[5]

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, Iwo Jima participated at the annual Fleet Week in New York City.

On 3 November 2010, Iwo Jima was deployed to Haiti in anticipation of providing humanitarian assistance due to an impending Tropical Storm Tomas.[6]

On 27 March 2012, Iwo Jima was deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit supporting maritime security operations and security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.[7]

On 11 April 2012, an MV-22 from VMM-261 crashed near Agadir, Morocco, during a joint training exercise after taking off from USS Iwo Jima. Two US Marine crew chief's were killed and the two pilots were seriously injured.[8][9][10]

Early in May 2012, Iwo Jima was operating in the Gulf of Aqaba and in the south of the Red Sea. In November 2012, Iwo Jima was dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean, during escalating warfare between Israel and Hamas, in case the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Israel was required, delaying the scheduled return of Iwo Jima to Norfolk.[11]

In August 2014, Iwo Jima shifted homeport to Mayport.[12]

In January 2015, Iwo Jima and USS Fort McHenry were positioned off the coast of Yemen on standby to evacuate the staff of the US embassy should the need arise due to the collapse of the Yemeni government.[13]


A close-up of the ship's motto, "Uncommon Valor", Portland, Maine, 2 July 2005.

The ship's motto, "Uncommon Valor", is based on Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz's words when he spoke of Sailors and Marines who fought at Iwo Jima: "Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island uncommon valor was a common virtue."[citation needed]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

  1. ^ Negrete, Daniel (10 November 2010). "Marines, sailors celebrate 235th USMC birthday aboard USS Iwo Jima". Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System. Archived from the original on 11 November 2010. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ DiRenzo Ill, Joe; Doane, Chris; Zeldis, Jennifer; Carrier, John; Hoffman, Frank (31 August 2015). "10 Years After Hurricane Katrina: The Sea Service Response". Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Schogol, Jeff (19 July 2006). "USS Iwo Jima to evacuate Americans from Lebanon". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Ludwick, Paula M. (19 February 2007). "Surface Force Ships, Crews Earn Battle "E"" (Press release) (NNS070219-04). Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "USS Iwo Jima Deploys to Haiti". 3 November 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010. [dead link]
  7. ^ 120327-N-ZO696-033. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Schemm, Paul (11 April 2012). "2 US Marines killed, 2 injured in Morocco". Google News. Associated Press. Retrieved 12 April 2012. [dead link]
  9. ^ Majumdar, Dave (11 April 2012). "Two killed in USMC MV-22 accident in Morocco". Flightglobal. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  10. ^ "Two U.S. troops die in helicopter crash in Morocco". CBS News. Associated Press. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  11. ^ Starr, Barbara (19 November 2012). "U.S. sends warships near Israel in case evacuation needed". CNN. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  12. ^ Department of Defense Public Affairs (15 June 2012). "Secretary of the Navy Announces Early Move for Amphibious Ready Group" (Press release) (NNS120615-29). Retrieved 25 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Starr, Barbara (20 January 2015). "Pentagon in position to evacuate U.S. Embassy in Yemen". CNN. Retrieved 25 October 2015. 

External links[edit]