- USS Essex (LHD-2)
USS "Essex" (LHD-2) is a sclass|Wasp|amphibious assault ship built at what is now the Northrop Grumman Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and commissioned on
17 October 1992while moored at North Island NAS beside the "Kitty Hawk" (CV-63). Dick Cheney, then the Secretary of Defense in the first Bush Administration, spoke at the commissioning ceremony.
"Essex" conducted an arduous and highly successful training program during the spring of
1993, and from August 18th until November 23rd, was undergoing upgrades, during Post Shakedown Availability, in Long Beach harbor, while her crew was at 4 section duty. Her 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 Gulfto prepare for the complex task of covering the withdrawal of United Nationsmultinational force from Somaliain Operation United Shield. Under fire from advancing Somalis, every member of the force was successfully extracted. "Essex" returned to San Diegoon 25 April 1995.
After a short maintenance period, "Essex" embarked on a vigorous workup cycle, culminating in her participation in
RIMPAC’96, 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, Omanand Kuwait, as well as Exercise Tandem Thrust ’97, an American-Australian combined exercise with over 28,000 troops, 250 aircraft and 40 ships participating.
Upon 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 Oceanand Persian Gulf deployment on 22 June 1998with 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.
26 July 2000, after successful completion of the largest crew swap in U.S. Navy history, "Essex" replaced "Belleau Wood" (LHA-3) and inherited the distinctive role as the Navy’s only permanently forward-deployed Amphibious Assault Ship in United States Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan.
In the role, "Essex" has participated in various humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations including
East Timorin October and November 2001 and Foal Eagle in Koreain 2002.
In 2004, Essex carried the
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit(31st MEU) to Kuwait. Along with USS|Harpers Ferry|LSD-49 and USS|Juneau|LPD-10. "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 Assistancein Banda Aceh, Indonesiaafter the St. Stephen's Day 2004 Tsunami. She then returned to the Persian Gulf to embark the 31st MEU 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 8 months.
During the 2008 Myanmar
Cyclone Nargiscrisis and the subsequent Operation Caring Response aid mission, the "Essex" and her carrier group (made up of the USS|Juneau|LPD-10|6, the USS|Harpers Ferry|LSD-49|6, and the USS|Mustin|DDG-89|6) stood by off Burma from May 13 to June 5, waiting for the Myanmar junta government to permit US aid to its citizens. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3897844.ece US threatens military aid drops as Burma leaders stall - Times Online ] ] However, in early June, with permission still not forthcoming, it was decided to put the group back on its scheduled operations. [http://www.pacom.mil/news/news2008/USPACOM_PRESS_RELEASE_%20008_08.pdf]
Since her commissioning, "Essex" has received numerous awards, including all of the warfare excellence awards, seven Battle “E” awards (most recently in 2006 [http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=27895] ), the Golden Anchor Award for retention, the Ney Award for food service excellence, the Thompson Award for public affairs excellence, the Ogden Award for firefighting excellence, and the Chief of Naval Operations and Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific Safety Award.
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/08/0802.htm NavSource Online: "Essex"]
* [http://www.essex.navy.mil/Site%20Pages/History.aspx USS "Essex" history]
* [http://www.essex.navy.mil USS "Essex" official website]
* [http://www.maritimequest.com/warship_directory/us_navy_pages/amphibious_assault_ships/essex_lhd_2/uss_essex_lhd_2_page_1.htm Maritimequest USS Essex LHD-2 Photo Gallery]
* [http://www.hullnumber.com/LHD-2 LHD-2 Personnel Roster at HullNumber.com]
* [http://www.uscarriers.net/lhd2history.htm USS Essex history at U.S. Carriers]
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