- USS Tortuga (LSD-46)
USS "Tortuga" (LSD-46) is a "Whidbey Island"-class
dock landing shipof the United States Navy. She was the second Navy ship to be named for the Dry Tortugas, a group of desert coral islets 60 miles west of Key West, Fla., which were discovered in 1513 by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon.
"Tortuga" was laid down on
23 March 1987, by the Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans, La.. The threat of Hurricane Gilbertin the Gulf of Mexicoforced an early launching of the ship, as a precautionary measure, on 15 September 1988. On 19 November 1988, Mrs. Rosemary Parker Schoultz, the ship's sponsor, presided over the christening ceremony, breaking the traditional bottle of champagne over the bow of the ship. "Tortuga" was commissioned on 17 November 1990.
: ["history: 1991–2005"]
In 1997, "Tortuga" was commanded by CDR Kenneth M. Rome, and made a Mediterranean deployment from July 1, 1998 until December 8th 1998. In 1999, CDR J.M. Burdon assumed command and commanded the ship until his retirement in late 2000. He was succeeded by CDR James P. Driscoll, and in October 2000, the ship was ordered on an emergency deployment to support UNITAS 2000 in the South Pacific after "USS Lamoure County" had run aground on an underwater mountain off the coast of Valparaiso, Chile suffering catastrophic damage. After successfully finishing the UNITAS deployment, Tortuga returned to Little Creek. In January 2001, Tortuga was assigned as flagship to the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic|SNFL a NATO peacekeeping/quick reaction force.
29 September 2005"Tortuga" and her crew were pulled from a training exercise and sent to New Orleans to become part of Joint Task Force Katrina. She was the first Navy ship to sail up the Mississippi following the hurricane and berthed on the West Bank of New Orleans Naval Station. The ship instantly became a major rally point for the scattered military and civilian forces across New Orleans. "Tortuga"'s crew conducted rescue missions in the flooded Ninth Ward and assisted local officials from St. Bernard Parish. Crew members employed combat rubber raiding craft (CRRCs) which allowed them to search flooded areas with many underwater obstacles. As the crew rescued people from neighborhoods they were brought back to "Tortuga" with 7 and 11 meter RHIBs. Evacuees were processed, received medical attention, and were forwarded to their next destination at the earliest possible time. As water receded in New Orleans and the CRRCs became useless, the ship turned to serving the Army units camped out on the Naval Station, providing soldiers with hotel services that they could not get in the field.
14 October 2005, the U.S. Navy announced that "Tortuga", would be forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japanto replace "Fort McHenry" (LSD-43). "Tortuga" arrived in Sasebo 31 March 2006for turnover and assignment as part of the U.S. Navy’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF). On 12 Aprilthe crews of the two ships completed an exchange-of-command process. Conducted in 12 days, the hull swap between "Fort McHenry" and "Tortuga" was the quickest in the history of the U.S. Navy."Tortuga"'s former crew departed Sasebo 13 April2006 to return to Little Creek on board "Fort McHenry".
15 May, only a month following the swap, "Tortuga" departed for a three-month deployment. The deployment was centered around an annual exercise called Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2006. "Tortuga" joined a newly established task group(TG 73.5) reporting directly to Commander, Logistics Group WESTPAC out of Singapore. The group consisted of five ships, "Tortuga", "Hopper" (DDG-70), "Crommelin" (FFG-37), "Salvor" (ARS-50), and USCGC "Sherman" (WHEC-720). The group visited and operated with the navies of Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Philippines.
"Tortuga" visited the tiny island of Iwo Jima in March 2008 to celebrate the anniversary of the WWII battle fought there.
* [http://www.tortuga.navy.mil USS "Tortuga" official website]
* [http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/1246.htm USS "Tortuga"] at navsource.org
* [http://www.nvr.navy.mil/nvrships/details/LSD46.htm USS "Tortuga"] at nvr.navy.mil
* [http://navysite.de/ships/lsd46.htm USS "Tortuga"] at navysite.de
* [http://www.hullnumber.com/LSD-46 LSD-46 Personnel Roster at HullNumber.com]
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