USS Kearsarge (LHD-3)

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USS Kearsarge on June 20, 2004
United States
NamesakeUSS Kearsarge
BuilderIngalls Shipbuilding
Laid down6 February 1990
Launched26 March 1992
Sponsored byAlma Powell
Christened16 May 1992
Commissioned16 October 1993
Statusin active service
General characteristics
TypeWasp-class amphibious assault ship
Displacement40,500 long tons (41,150 t) full load
Length843 ft (257 m)
Beam104 ft (31.8 m)
Draft27 ft (8.1 m)
PropulsionTwo boilers, two geared steam turbines, two shafts, 70,000 shp (52,000 kW);
Speed22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Range9,500 nautical miles (17,600 km; 10,900 mi) at 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Well deck dimensions: 266-by-50-foot (81 by 15.2 m) by 28-foot (8.5 m) high
Boats & landing
craft carried
Troops1,687 troops (plus 184 surge) Marine Detachment
Sensors and
processing systems
Aircraft carried

USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) is the third Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy. She is the fifth ship to bear that name, but the fourth to serve under it, as the third was renamed Hornet (CV-12) before launching (after the prior Hornet was sunk).[2]


Named in honor of USS Kearsarge, a sloop-of-war that gained fame hunting Confederate raiders during the American Civil War. The sloop was named for Mount Kearsarge in Merrimack County, New Hampshire.


Kearsarge's keel was laid down on 6 February 1990[3] at Litton-Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation of Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Ingalls built Kearsarge using efficient pre-outfitting and modular construction techniques. Hundreds of smaller sub-assemblies, containing piping, ventilation ducting and other hardware, as well as major machinery equipment, generators, and electrical panels were constructed. The sub-assemblies were then joined with others to form assemblies, which were in turn welded together to form five completed hull and superstructure modules. These giant modules, each weighing thousands of tons, were joined on land to form the completed ship's hull. The result of this early outfitting was a ship that was over 70 percent complete at launch.

She was launched on 26 March 1992, in a ceremony attended by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell. The warship was christened on 16 May 1992, and commissioned on 16 October 1993.


A Landing Craft Air Cushion returns to the well deck

The assault support system on the ship coordinates vertical and horizontal movement of troops, cargo and vehicles. A Monorail system, moving at speeds up to 600 ft/min (3 m/s), transports cargo and supplies from storage and staging areas throughout the ship to a 13,600-square-foot (1,260 m2) well deck, which opens to the sea through huge gates in the ship's stern. There, the cargo, troops and vehicles are loaded onto landing craft for transit to the beach. The air cushion landing craft can "fly" out of the dry well deck, or the well deck can be flooded so that conventional landing craft can float out on their way to the beach.[4]

Simultaneously, helicopters can be lifted from the hangar deck to the flight deck by two deck-edge elevators and loaded with supplies from three massive cargo elevators.

Kearsarge's armament suite includes the NATO RIM-7 Sea Sparrow point defense system for anti-aircraft support, RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles, 25-mm chain guns and the Phalanx close-in weapon system to counter threats from low-flying aircraft and close-in small craft. Missile decoy launchers augment the anti-ship missile defenses.


An AV-8B Harrier about to land on Kearsarge as an MV-22B Osprey prepares to launch
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro visits Kearsarge in Eilat

Kearsarge is capable of amphibious assault, advance force and special purpose operations, as well as non-combatant evacuation and other humanitarian missions. Since her commissioning, she has performed these missions all over the world, including evacuating non-combatants from Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 31 May 1997 and rescuing Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady, whose F-16 aircraft had been shot down over Serb-controlled territory in Bosnia on 8 June 1995, while taking part of Operation Deny Fly.

Operation Noble Obelisk was the evacuation of civilians from Sierra Leone in 1997 undertaken by USS Kearsarge. More than 400 Americans and more than 3000 third-country nationals were taken aboard Kearsarge over 4 days.[5][6]

Additionally, Kearsarge is fully equipped with state-of-the-art command and control (C&C) systems for flagship command duty, and her medical facilities are second in capability only to the Navy's hospital ships, USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy. These facilities allowed Kearsarge to serve a dual role during the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as a platform for bombing missions against Yugoslav forces in Operation Allied Force, and as a treatment facility for Albanian refugees in Operation Shining Hope.

On 19 August 2005, Kearsarge and USS Ashland were targeted by rockets while in port in Jordan. The rockets flew over Ashland's bow and struck the pier adjacent to the ships. The vessels were not hit but one Jordanian soldier was killed and another was wounded.[7] The sailors aboard both warships were awarded the Combat Action Ribbon as a result of the attack.[8]

Kearsarge docked in Portsmouth, 2006

In 1994, 2006, 2008, and again in 2017, USS Kearsarge served as the principal attraction for New York's "Fleet Week". In August 2007, the ship visited the port of Valletta, Malta on the way to a six-month deployment to Iraq (5th Fleet AOR). The ship deployed Sailors and Marines in a relief effort in Bangladesh following Cyclone Sidr and provided support for President George W. Bush's January 2008 visit to Israel.

On 6 August 2008, Kearsarge deployed in support of Operation Continuing Promise. The ship's crew, along with augments from the United States Marine Corps, the United States Air Force, the United States Army, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service, Canadian Forces, and other multi-national forces and NGO's, provided medical, construction and humanitarian services to six Central, South, and Caribbean American countries (Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Trinidad). The ship also provided Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations in Haiti following four Atlantic hurricanes.[9]

Turkish Marines board an MV-22 Osprey on the flight deck of the USS Kearsarge while participating in Turkish-led and hosted amphibious exercise Exercise Egemen.
British Royal Marines on Kearsarge's flight deck

On 2 March 2011, Kearsarge, along with USS Ponce, traveled through the Suez Canal in response to the 2011 Libyan civil war. Robert Gates had said days earlier that he ordered the two warships into the Mediterranean, along with an extra 400 Marines, in case they are needed to evacuate civilians or provide humanitarian relief.[10] As of 20 March, AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft from Kearsarge have been reported attacking Libyan targets as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn.[11] On 22 March, V-22 Ospreys from Kearsarge conducted a successful TRAP operation to recover the crew of a USAF F-15E Strike Eagle after it crashed in Libya due to a mechanical failure during a combat mission. The Daily Telegraph reported a military source, stating that, during the rescue, strafing runs were carried out and two Harriers dropped two 500 lb bombs on a convoy of Libyan vehicles,[12] with other reports alleging that Libyan civilians were wounded in the operation.[13] The ship returned to home port at Norfolk on 16 May 2011.[14]

Following a three-day delay due to bad weather, Kearsarge deployed from Naval Station Norfolk on 11 March 2013 for a scheduled eight-month deployment. One of her first port visits was to Cyprus. Kearsarge later docked at the Israeli port of Eilat for several days beginning on 14 May 2013 before continuing her deployment.[15] One of her MV-22s exercised in a joint operation with HMS Illustrious.[16]

In September 2017, Kearsarge was called upon to assist in search-and-rescue operations during Hurricane Maria, after contact was lost with a ship carrying four people that issued a distress signal while battling 20 ft (6.1 m) seas and 100 mph (160 km/h) winds off the coast of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The United States Coast Guard, Navy, and the Royal Navy utilized an HC-130 aircraft, a fast response cutter, and Navy helicopters. A woman and two children were rescued, but a man died aboard their capsized vessel.[17]

Kearsarge participated in Ft. Lauderdale's 2018 Fleet Week.[18]

On 13 May 2022, Kearsarge took part in a PASSEX training with the Finnish and Swedish navies in the northern Baltic Sea.[19] From 17 May to 23 May, Kearsarge and her amphibious readiness group took part in the NATO vigilance activity, Neptune Shield 2022.[20] On 27 May, Kearsarge docked at Tallinn, Estonia ahead of the Exercise BALTOPS 22.[21] During BALTOPS 2022 Kearsarge trained operating UUVs and UAVs.[22] On 2 June, she arrived in Stockholm, Sweden.[23][24] On 20 August, she arrived in Klaipėda, Lithuania.[25]


  • January to August 1995; Mediterranean[9]
  • April to October 1997 - North Atlantic - Mediterranean[9]
  • April to October 1999; Mediterranean[9]
  • April to October 2001; Mediterranean[9]
  • January to July 2003; North Atlantic - Mediterranean - Indian Ocean - Persian Gulf[9]
  • March to October 2005; Mediterranean[9]
  • September 2007 to February 2008; Mediterranean - Indian Ocean - Persian Gulf.
  • August 2010 to May 2011; Mediterranean - West Africa[9]
  • October 2015 to May 2016; Mediterranean - Indian Ocean - Persian Gulf [9]
  • May 2022 to October 2022; Baltic Sea, (and the BALTOPS 2022 exercise in June)[26]


USS Kearsarge has been awarded the Golden Anchor for Retention Excellence, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Service Award, the CNO Environmental Safety Award, the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award (aviation safety), SECNAV Energy Award (2002), Department of Energy (DOE) Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) Mobility Energy Efficiency Award (2002), the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award and the Commander Naval Surface Force Atlantic Safety Award.

Additionally, Kearsarge has qualified for the following medals and unit awards: Combat Action Ribbon, Humanitarian award, Navy Unit Commendation (three awards), Meritorious Unit Commendation (one award), Battle Efficiency "E" Award (seven awards),[27] National Defense Service Medal (two awards), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal (with bronze star), Armed Forces Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (five awards), and the NATO Medal.[28]

Shield and crest[edit]

Blue and gold are colors traditionally associated with the Navy and symbolize the sea and excellence. The green chevron suggests the green-peaked Mount Kearsarge in New Hampshire. The amphibious nature of the combat operations of the present USS Kearsarge is represented by green and blue, alluding land and sea. The arrowheads, together with the white chevronel, which represents a shore line, allude to assault landings. The stars commemorate the battle stars the third Kearsarge received for Korean War and Vietnam War service.

The wings of the crest symbolize the aviation capabilities of both the present and the third Kearsarge; they are gold for the honor and achievement. The white anchor recalls the round-the-world cruise of the second Kearsarge of the Great White Fleet in 1907 and denotes the naval prowess of the USS Kearsarges. The blue-and-gray wavy bar highlights the Civil War service for the first USS Kearsarge. The swords (one a Navy cutlass and the other a Marine mameluke) are crossed, to denote cooperation and teamwork, as well as the combined combat mission of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Motto ~ "Proud ... Bold ... Trustworthy."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fact File: Amphibious Assault Ships - LHD/LHA(R)". U.S. Navy. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  2. ^ "History". 18 December 2015.
  3. ^ Maritimequest USS Kearsarge LHD-3 Photo Gallery
  4. ^ "LHD-1 Wasp class". Federation of American Scientists. 9 May 2000. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  5. ^ Global "Operation Noble Obelisk" Accessed December 26, 2013
  6. ^ W. M. Kennedy Operation Noble OBELISK: An Examination of Unity of Effort. Naval War Coll., Newport, RI. Joint Military Operations Dept.Technical report Feb 2001
  7. ^ Fattah, Hassan M.; Wong, Edward (20 August 2005). "U.S. Ships Target in Rocket Attack in Jordan's Port". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i "LHD-3".
  10. ^ Nasrawi, Salah (2 March 2011). "2 US warships move closer to Libya via Suez Canal". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  11. ^ [1] Archived 21 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Ward, Victoria; Spillius, Alex; Squires, Nick (1 April 2011). "Libya: Gaddafi's air force 'has been destroyed'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  13. ^ Kington, Tom (1 April 2011). "Off the coast of Libya, aboard America's floating fortress". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  14. ^ McMichael, William H. (16 May 2011). "Kearsarge back from extended deployment". Military Times. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  15. ^ Sterman, Adiv (14 May 2013). "US aircraft carrier docks in Eilat". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  16. ^ "'A little bit special' – unique US aircraft lands on Illustrious". Royal Navy. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  17. ^ "The Latest: Boat missing off Puerto Rico with 4 aboard". Miami Herald. Associated Press. 21 September 2017. Archived from the original on 22 September 2017. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Broward Navy Days, Inc". Broward Navy Days, Inc. 26 February 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  19. ^ "Finnish Navy Holds Drills In Northern Baltic Sea". Naval News. 16 May 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  20. ^ "NATO Begins Vigilance Activity NEPTUNE SHIELD 2022". Naval News. 19 May 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  21. ^ LaGrone, Sam (31 May 2022). "U.S. Warships Now in the Baltic Ahead of BALTOPS as Sweden, Finland Move Through NATO Membership Process". USNI News. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  22. ^ U.S. Naval Forces Europe (17 June 2022). "BALTOPS 22, the premier Baltic Sea maritime exercise, concludes in Kiel". America's Navy. US Navy. Retrieved 11 October 2022.
  23. ^ Nyheter, S. V. T.; Langert, Danielle (2 June 2022). "Jättefartyget USS Kearsarge glider in i Stockholms skärgård". SVT Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  24. ^ Cooper, Helene (4 June 2022). "U.S. Warship Arrives in Stockholm for Military Exercises, and as a Warning". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  25. ^ "Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) visit Baltic allies". U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs. 20 August 2022. Retrieved 20 August 2022.
  26. ^ "U.S. Warships Now in the Baltic Ahead of BALTOPS as Sweden, Finland Move Through NATO Membership Process". 31 May 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  27. ^ "Kearsarge Earns Battle "E"". Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  28. ^ Archived 14 October 2004 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

  • Kearsarge's official website
  • USS Kearsarge
  • Maritimequest USS Kearsarge LHD-3 Photo Gallery
  • USS Kearsarge history at U.S. Carriers
  • Popular Mechanics profile of USS Kearsarge during 2008 Fleet Week
  • Historic Image of USS Kearsarge by E. Caner at Historic Camera