Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group
Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group
ex-Da Nang / ex-Khe Sanh
Pax Per Potens: "Peace Through Power"
The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) was bid farewell to the 'Iron Nickel' during the ship's decommissioned during a ceremony held at Naval Base San Diego, on March 31, 2015.
During 34 years of service, Peleliu was homeported in both Long Beach and San Diego on the California coast as thousands of Sailors and Marines called the ship home. Capable of launching a coordinated air and sea attack from one platform, Peleliu conducted 17 deployments, 178,051 flight operations, served 57,983 personnel and steamed approximately 1,011,946 nautical miles since being commissioned May 3, 1980 in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
The contract to build LHA-5 was awarded on Nov 6, 1970, Peleliu's keel was laid Nov. 12, 1976, and the ship was launched Nov. 11, 1978. Peleliu was christened Jan. 6, 1979, by Margaret Hayward, wife of former Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Thomas B. Hayward. Commissioning took place in Pascagoula, Miss., at Ingalls Shipyard May 3, 1980.
Peleliu is the first U.S. Navy ship to carry the name Peleliu, and the second ship named in honor of the World War II battles fought in the Palau Islands. The first ship was USS Palau (CVE 122), a Commencement Bay Class aircraft carrier, which served from 1946 until being decommissioned in 1954. Peleliu is named in honor of the 3rd Amphibious Force's assault and capture of Peleliu Island in the fall of 1944.
On May 17th Peleliu arrived in Colon, Panama to begin unrigging for the transit of the Panama Canal. Peleliu departed Colon on May 20th and tied up in Balboa, Panama (Pacific side of the canal) twelve hours later. After five days of rerigging in Balboa, Peleliu departed and entered her homewaters of the Pacific. Peleliu proceeded south from Panama and crossed the equator on the night of May 27th, which is the record for the shortest period between a ship's commissioning and "Crossing the Line."
On May 28th Peleliu headed northerly enroute Mazatlan, Mexico, departing the Baja port on June 7th enroute San Diego, California. Most of the events Peleliu and her crew participated in during this initial transit were "firsts" and the underway refueling with USNS TALUGA was no exception, occurring on June 8th. Peleliu arrived at Naval Air Station, San Diego on June 10th for a one-day stop prior to proceeding to Long Beach, CA, her homeport.
In 1981 Peleliu complete its Post-Shakedown Availability and join the fleet as a fully operational unit of the Navy's Pacific Amphibious Force. The latter part of the year found the ship and her crew well trained having past numerous work up evaluations. The Engineering department passed their Operational Propulsion Plant Examination (OPPE) in 42--hours vice the normal 72 hours required, and REFTRA was successfully accomplished just prior to the holiday season. All efforts were directed toward preparing Peleliu for its first Western Pacific/Indian Ocean deployment.
1982 marked USS Peleliu's first year as a fully operational unit of the Navy's Pacific Fleet Amphibious Force. In January, she was the flagship in a no-notice, non-combatant emergency evacuation exercise conducted off San Clemente Island, and on March 28th the ship got underway for its maiden deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.
The deployment was completed on October 4th, 1984. One month later the ship deployed to the northern Pacific Ocean to participate in an exercise held off Amchitka in the Aleutian Islands. Peleliu conducted its 10,000th accident free landing during this northern Pacific exercise.
The first fleet firing of the RIM 116 RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) occurred in October 1995 from the USS Peleliu.
In Sepember 1997 the Peleliu ARG took part in Fleet Battle Experiment - Bravo's "Silent Fury" phase along with the Constellation Battle Group.
The Peleliu ARG was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1997 (actually being present in the Gulf in November) and participated in Exercise Eager Mace 98.
The ship's crest has Eight stars across the top of the shield - symbolizing eight Medal of Honor awardees from the assault on Peleliu. The crest also has a large Roman "V" in center of shield with a four-pointed star in center of large "V" - symbolizes four functions of the LHA. A ring in lower left of shield - by traditions of heraldry, a ring or annulet symbolizes the fifth born. Emblem of 1st Marine Division - constellation Southern Cross, with numeral "1", superimposed.
Battle of Peleliu
USS Peleliu is the first ship to carry the name Peleliu and the second ship named in honor of the battles fought in the Palau Islands. The first ship was USS PALAU (CVE-I 22), a Commencement Bay class escort aircraft carrier, which served from 1946 until its decommissioning in 1954.
USS Peleliu is named in honor of the Third Amphibious Force's assault and capture of the island of Peleliu. The battle was one of the most vicious and stubbornly contested of the Pacific campaign and nowhere was the fighting efficiency of the U.S. Marines more convincingly demon-strated. Eight Marines were awarded the Medal of Honor during this battle.
Like the bloody World War II island campaigns before it, Peleliu was a fight to capture an airstrip on a far-flung speck of coral in the western Pacific. And, as with previous island battles, the Americans would prevail, but at a cost no one anticipated, against a fanatical enemy whose new defense strategy would make the invaders pay dearly for every chunk of coral taken. By the summer of 1944, the United States had come a long way since the dark days of Pearl Harbor, Wake Island and Bataan. Victories in the Southwest and Central Pacific had brought the war even closer to Japan, with American bombers now able to strike at the Japanese homeland itself. But there was disagreement by the U.S. Joint Chiefs over two proposed strategies to crush the Japanese Empire. One strategy proposed by General Douglas MacArthur called for the recapture of the Philippines, followed by the capture of Okinawa then Formosa for an attack at the Chinese mainland. From there, the eventual invasion of Japan would come.
Admiral Chester Nimitz, on the other hand, favored a more direct strategy of bypassing the Philippines, but seizing Okinawa and Formosa as staging areas for the future invasion of Japan's southernmost islands. As for Peleliu, both commanders' strategies included the invasion of this island, but for different reasons, and the 1st Marine Division had already been chosen to make the assault. To settle this dispute, President Franklin Roosevelt traveled to Pearl Harbor to meet personally with both commanders and hear their respective arguments. From this the president would make his own decision. After a review of both positions, MacArthur's strategy was chosen. However, before MacArthur could retake the Philippines, the Palau Islands - Peleliu specifically, would have to be neutralized to protect his right flank. What followed would be a ferocious battle lasting more than two months and costing over 12,000 lives. It would also be one of the Pacific War's most forgotten campaigns.
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