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Belleau Wood ESG Forward Deployment
LHA-3 Belleau Wood
ex-Philippine Sea

On August 31, 1992, BELLEAU WOOD sailed out of San Diego for the last time, bound for its new homeport in Sasebo, Japan. During this transit, the ship provided disaster relief to the people of Kauai, Hawaii after Hurricane Iniki ravaged the island. For this, the crew was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal.

On November 24, 1992, BELLEAU WOOD became the last ship to sail out of the Philippines while conducting the final withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Naval Station Subic Bay and Naval Air Station Cubi Point.

Since her move to Japan, BELLEAU WOOD has become a familiar sight at joint-military exercises such as VALIANT USHER in Australia, TEAM SPIRIT in Korea, COBRA GOLD in Thailand and TANDEM THRUST near Guam. BELLEAU WOOD also became the first large- deck Navy ship to undergo pierside maintenance by COMLOGWESTPAC, Singapore. BELLEAU WOOD participated in the World War II 50th anniversary commemoration ceremonies in Guam and the Philippines and served off the coast of Somalia as the command platform for Operation UNITED SHIELD.

In 2000 the Belleau Wood returned to San Diego Friday, October 13th after more than eight years forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan. The ship docked at Pier 7 at the 32nd Street Naval Station to the cheers of family and friends, the first time since the chip left San Diego on August 31, 1992.

In July 2000, BELLEAU WOOD took part in the largest crew swap to date when she was relieved as forward deployed amphibious assault ship. The procedure started when USS ESSEX (LHD 2) arrived in Sasebo on July 13, 2000. The swap was part of a planned rotation of forward deployed naval forces in Japan, and was the third crew-swap exchange. The ships' crews simply switched ships, minimizing the impact of moving families from homeport to homeport. Sailors in Sasebo assigned to USS BELLEAU WOOD, moved on to ESSEX, while Sailors from San Diego assigned to ESSEX moved aboard BELLEAU WOOD. BELLEAU WOOD and the San Diego-based crew then returned to San Diego in mid-August to begin overhaul and maintenance cycles. BELLEAU WOOD was forward deployed to Sasebo since the fall of 1992.

Chronology

    13 Oct 2000 - returns to San Diego
    26 Jul 2000 - hull swap



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