USS Saipan (LHA-2)
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (January 2009)|
|Name:||USS Saipan (LHA-2)|
|Namesake:||Battle of Saipan|
Pascagoula, Mississippi, U.S.
|Laid down:||21 July 1972|
|Launched:||20 July 1974|
|Commissioned:||15 October 1977|
|Decommissioned:||25 April 2007|
|Fate:||Sold to International Shipbreaking, Brownsville, Tx 30 September 2009|
|Class and type:||Tarawa class amphibious assault ship|
|Displacement:||27,165 tons (27,601 t)|
|Length:||820 ft (250 m)|
|Beam:||106 ft (32 m)|
|Draft:||26 ft (7.9 m)|
|Propulsion:||Two boilers, two geared steam turbines|
|Speed:||20+ kt (37+ km/h)|
|Complement:||65 officers, 1,009 enlisted
Marine detachment: 125 officers, 1,730 enlisted
|Armament:||2 × RAM launchers
2 × Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS
3 × .50-caliber M2HB machine gun
6 × Mk 38 25 mm cannons
|Aircraft carried:||Depends on mission|
|Motto:||Omnia Facimus ("We do it all")|
Saipan was laid down on 21 July 1972 by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries of Pascagoula, Mississippi; launched on 20 July 1974 and sponsored by the wife of Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf.
Saipan’s operational career began in July 1979 when she was diverted from Fleet Refresher Training to Special Contingency Operations, for possible non-combatant evacuation of American personnel from the Nicaraguan Revolution.
From February to April 1980, the Saipan was involved in 'Anorak Express 80'. The Navy crew of around 800 and an entire Marine battalion of over 2,000 sailed from Norfolk to Norway.
In May 1980, Saipan was underway to augment U.S. Coast Guard efforts to assist Cuban refugees crossing the Straits of Florida to the United States during the Mariel boatlift. On 25 August 1980, Saipan departed Norfolk for the first Mediterranean deployment by an LHA.
On 3 September 1981, Saipan deployed for her second tour in the Mediterranean Sea. During that deployment, Saipan visited or operated in seven different countries on three continents.
From August 1982 through July 1983, Saipan was in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for her first scheduled complex overhaul. In September 1983, while undergoing Refresher Training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Saipan was diverted to participate in Operation Urgent Fury off Grenada. in 1984 the Saipan on another North Atlantic deployment.
In January 1985, Saipan departed for her third Mediterranean deployment. She steamed more than 32,000 miles (60,000 km), logged over 6,700 safe aircraft landings and visited ports in three countries.
Following a four-month restricted availability in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Saipan sailed to Guantanamo Bay to complete various training evolutions.
On 17 August 1986, Saipan departed on its fourth Mediterranean deployment. Extended briefly in the Eastern Mediterranean for contingency operations, Saipan returned to Norfolk on 24 February 1987.
Starting at the end of October 1987, Saipan was in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for major refitting. In January 1989, Saipan returned to Norfolk, Virginia.
From March 1990 through September 1990, was deployed for the fifth time to the Mediterranean. However, in late May 1990 it was diverted into the Eastern Atlantic, to what would become known as Mamba Station. While there, Saipan conducted a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO), evacuating 1,600 civilians from war-torn Liberia in support of Operation Sharp Edge.
Saipan again deployed to the Mediterranean in March 1993, in support of Operation Deny Flight and Operation Provide Promise. The ship returned in September 1993 and began her third scheduled complex overhaul in April 1994.
In June 1996, Saipan deployed to the Mediterranean and participated in Operation Decisive Endeavor and various multi-national training exercises. She returned to Norfolk in December 1996.
In 1999, Saipan became the developmental and operational test platform for the V-22 Osprey aircraft.
In July 2000, Saipan began her eighth Mediterranean deployment. The ship commenced Adriatic presence operations during the Fall of 2000 federal elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
On 12 February 2001, Saipan entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for its fourth scheduled complex overhaul.
From late January 2005 until early March 2005, Saipan was on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. Southern Command (NAVSO) area of responsibility in support of New Horizons, the humanitarian civic assistance efforts in Haiti.
During the week of 26 June 2005, Saipan was one of two American military vessels (the other being the USCGC Eagle) to participate in the Royal Navy International Fleet Review in the waters off Portsmouth, England. This review, conducted by Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family, consisted of a parade of more than 166 ships from around the world. This event also coincided with the 2005 International Festival of the Sea and Trafalgar 200 celebration.
On May 2006, Saipan sailed for the Mediterranean to take part in multi-national training exercises (Operation Phoenix Express) involving the countries of Spain, Morocco, and Algeria. She returned to Norfolk in July 2006.
From 16 August 2006, Saipan deployed to the Persian Gulf region in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for her final operational deployment. She returned to Norfolk on 22 December 2006.
Saipan was decommissioned on 20 April 2007 at its home port in Naval Station Norfolk with Captain Richard Fitzpatrick in command. She was used for weapons effect testing, providing vital information on structural integrity and survivability which will assist in the designing and planning of future ships. She was transferred to the inactive fleet, and was tied up at Pier 4 of the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia, where she was joined by Ex-John F. Kennedy on 22 March 2008.
On 30 September 2009, a contract to dismantle Saipan was issued to International Shipbreaking Ltd, Brownsville, Texas and on 28 October 2009 the ship departed Philadelphia under tow.
In Popular Culture
Saipan appears as herself in the 1986 movie Heartbreak Ridge starring Clint Eastwood, reprising her role in the invasion of Grenada sequence of the film. In the Tom Clancy novel Red Storm Rising, Saipan is sunk with very heavy loss of life during a Soviet attack on an American carrier battle group.
USS Saipan awards
Saipan’s awards include the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal (two awards), Humanitarian Service Medal, Battle Efficiency "E" (four awards), the Admiral Flatley Safety Award (two awards), the Sledge Award, the Atlantic Fleet Surface Force "Admiral’s Cup" in 1985, COMPHIBRON Twelve’s "Bronze Anchor" for retention excellence, and the 1993 COMNAVSURFLANT Command Excellence Award for Command and Control, Maritime Warfare and Logistics Management.
- "SAIPAN (LHA 2)". Retrieved 2009-07-05.
- Ewing, Philip, "Ex-Saipan begins journey to scrap yard", Military Times, 28 October 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to USS Saipan (LHA-2).|
- history.navy.mil: USS Saipan
- nvr.navy.mil: USS Saipan
- navsource.org: USS Saipan
- navysite.de: USS Saipan
- USS Saipan history at U.S. Carriers
- Department of the Navy. Command History of USS Saipan (LHA-2) for 1998. 
- U.S. Naval Institute. Amphibious Operations 1990 to 1999.