Uss Iwo Jima LHD-7 - History

LHD-7 is the second ship to bear the name “Iwo Jima.” The first, LPH-2, designed from the keel up as an amphibious assault ship, was launched September 17, 1960 at Bremerton, Washington and commissioned August 26, 1961.

Fabrication work for the new USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) began at Ingalls shipyard on September 3, 1996, and the ship’s keel was laid on December 12, 1997. The ship was launched on February 4th, 2000, and was christened by her sponsor, Mrs. Zandra Krulak, wife of Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen Krulak, in Pascagoula, Mississippi on March 25th, 2000.

The commissioning crew moved aboard in April 2001 and made the ship’s maiden voyage (accompanied by more than 2,000 World War II veterans-many of them survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima) on June 23rd, 2001. She was commissioned a week later in Pensacola, Florida, on June 30th, 2001. Shortly thereafter, the ship and crew began an accelerated Inter-Deployment Training Cycle.

In March 2003, together with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) conducted her maiden, eight-month deployment, returning to Norfolk in October 2003 . Completing essentially four deployments in one, Iwo Jima’s operational capabilities were put to the test as the ship inserted marines from the 26 MEU (SOC) into Northern Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, patrolled the Persian Gulf, conducted operations in and around Djibouti as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and executed a peacekeeping missions off the coast of war-torn Liberia, transiting more than 45,000 nautical miles.

On August 31, 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 was proud to serve as flagship for the commander-in-chief, George W. Bush, and is only the second Navy ship to have been presented the flag of the President of the United States of America.

On June 6, 2006 Iwo Jima departed on her second deployment, this time with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). For the second time in her history, Iwo Jima was off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon helping to evacuate more than 15,000 civilians. Iwo Jima conducted Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf, participated in exercise Infinite Moonlight in D’Jibouti Africa and Exercise Inspired Union in Jordan. The USS Iwo Jima also aided in the Global War on Terrorism by providing support to the forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The USS Iwo Jima returned to her homeport in Norfolk, VA on December 6, 2006 and began an extensive post-deployment maintenance period.

Iwo Jima deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit Aug. 26, 2008.

Awards & Medals

Meritorious Unit Commendation

Battle "E"

National Defense

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Armed Forces Service Medal

Humanitarian Service Medal

Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon