Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group
Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group
LHD-7 Iwo Jima
USS Iwo Jima is the seventh WASP-class Amphibious Assault Ship and the second ship in the Navy to bear the name. The IWO JIMA is also the Navy's third Amphibious Assault Ship designed and built from the keel up with accommodations for female sailors.
Iwo Jima was commissioned in June 2001. Following the March 2000 christening ceremony, the crew accompanied by more than 2,000 World War II veterans, many of whom were survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jima, made the ship's maiden voyage on June 23, 2001 to the ship's commissioning location of Pensacola, Fla.
Together with the 26th MEU, Iwo Jima completed her maiden, eight-month deployment in 2003. During those 45,000 nautical miles, she directly supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and spearheaded a peace keeping mission off the coast of Liberia.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the ship was at the center of Joint Task Force Katrina, and led recovery and assistance efforts in the battered Mississippi cities of Biloxi, Gulfport, and New Orleans. Iwo Jima also served as President George W. Bush's flagship during Katrina operations, and was the second ship presented with the flag of the President of the United States.
The three-ship U.S. naval group supporting West African peacekeeping operations in Liberia since August 2009 began withdrawing from the waters off Monrovia in October 2009. There were about 2,300 Marines in the USS Iwo Jima group, but only about 200 went ashore in Liberia and only for a short period of time. Despite African pressure, U.S. officials said the force was only designed as a back-up to the West African peacekeeping mission and was never intended to take a leading role or to remain involved for a lengthy period of time.
In 2010, the ship departed on a four-month deployment for a humanitarian mission, Continuing Promise 2010, in Central and South America. During those months, the ship provided support to eight partner nations, and sent a strong message of cooperation and commitment to the entire region.
In December 2012 The USS Iwo Jima amphibious assault group is at sea as part of the U.S. 6th Fleet, whose area of responsibility includes the Mediterranean.
Since commissioning, Iwo Jima was homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. and concucted a homeport change to Naval Station Mayport, Fla., in 2014.
Crest and Shield
The Shield: Iwo Jima was the site of one of the most important and bitterly fought amphibious operations of World War II. The United States Marine Corps War Memorial is based on the photograph of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima and has become a symbol of valor and strength. The three spearheads represent the amphibious triad: The Landing Craft Air Cushion, The Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle and the Osprey Tilt rotor aircraft. The light blue reflects the sea of the world. The USS IWO JIMA, one of the last ships propelled by steam boilers, is reflected by the white disc with the Hero's boiler.
The Crest: USS IWO JIMA will be among the first LHD's to deploy with the Osprey MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft. This is symbolized by the attacking Osprey. The previous USS IWO JIMA (LPH-2), was a helo-carrier during the Vietnam Era. The palm fronds commemorate the previous ship named Iwo Jima and its service in Vietnam.
The motto is based on Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz's words when he spoke eloquently of Sailors and Marines who fought at Iwo Jima: "Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island uncommon valor was a common virtue." The red is emblematic of valor and sacrifice.
Battle of Iwo Jima
USS IWO JIMA is named for the epic battle of February 1945, in which three divisions of the United States Marine Corps took control of the tiny island of Iwo Jima from 22,000 determined Japanese defenders. The United States had recovered from the disastrous attack on Pearl Harbor, to the point where routine air attacks on Japanese cities could be made by heavy bombers launched from the Marianas. The successful outcome of the war seemed inevitable, but victory over the Japanese would come only at a high price. The Japanese considered Iwo Jima a part of mainland Japan, and an invader had not set foot on Japanese soil for 4,000 years.
Iwo Jima was a thorn in the side of the U.S. heavy bomber crews. Air attacks on the Marianas bomber bases, and bombers enroute to and from Japan, were launched from Iwo Jima. An assault on the island was necessary to eliminate these air attacks and to provide a haven for damaged American aircraft returning from Japan.
Amphibious forces of the U.S. Pacific Fleet attacked the fortress of Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, with a formidable force, totaling 495 ships, including 17 aircraft carriers, 1170 planes, and 110,308 troops. Before the amphibious assault, elements of the Air Force and Army Air Corps pounded the island in the longest sustained aerial offensive of the war. Incredibly, this ferocious bombardment had little effect. Hardly any of the Japanese underground fortresses were touched.
The Japanese defenders devised a unique and deadly strategy to defend Iwo Jima from an American assault. Instead of building a barrier to stop the Americans at the beach, they fortified the interior of the island, creating a defense that could not be breached in a day.
On February 19, 1945, the first wave of Marines were launched after an hour-long bombardment by the Navy's "big guns." The Americans planned to capture, isolate and fortify Mt. Suribachi. The success of the entire assault depended upon the early capture of the mountain.
After an hour of calm, the Japanese defenders, hiding in their network of caves and underground bunkers, unleashed a hail of gunfire. Mortars, machine guns and heavy artillery rained down from scores of machine gun nests atop Suribachi. After the first day of fighting, 566 American men were killed and 1,755 more were wounded. For the next several days, some of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific were fought on the isle of Iwo Jima. It was a battle of attrition on terrain that had no front lines; where the attackers were exposed and the defenders fortified.
The battle for Iwo was fought desperately until March 26th, when the island was finally secured by U.S. forces. In the struggle, nearly 7,000 Americans and more than 20,000 Japanese were killed. It was one of the most savage and costly battles in the history of the Marine Corps. As Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz observed, "Among the Americans who served on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue."
The first ship named for the battle, LPH 2, was the lead ship of the LPH class of amphibious assault ships, built as the first "keel-up" amphibious assault ship. Among the ship's proud accomplishments, on April 17, 1970, LPH 2 served as the primary recovery ship for the return of the crew of Apollo 13. HS-4 helicopters from LPH 2 recovered the three Apollo 13 astronauts from the South Pacific.
In August 1990, two weeks after the initial deployment of troops to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield, USS IWO JIMA became the first amphibious assault ship to deploy to that area and helped military forces which ultimately would be used to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait. LPH 2 was decommissioned in 1993.
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