The Amphibious Assault Ship GUAM (LPH-9) is the fourth ship of the Iwo Jima-class (LPH-2) and the third ship to bear the name. Her christening commemorates the historic amphibious landing during World War II. The LPH is designed to transport more than 2,000 fully-equipped Marine assault troops into combat areas and land them by helicopter at designated inland points. GUAM's keel was laid on November 15, 1962 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Launched on August 22, 1964 and completed on March 31, 1965, GUAM is 602-feet long and displaces 18,000 tons (full load). She is powered by two boilers and one geared turbine that generates 22,000 total shaft horsepower for a maximum speed of 24 knots.
GUAM's keel was laid on 15 November 1962 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She was launched on 22 August 1964 and commissioned in Philadelphia on 16 January 1965 during a ceremony that included the principal address by Manuel Guerrero, governor of the Marianas island of Guam. Completed on 31 March 1965, GUAM was 602-feet long and displaced 18,000 tons (full load). GUAM was designed to transport 2,000 fully equipped Marine assault troops into combat areas and land them by helicopter at designated inland points. This modern amphibious technique of vertical envelopment, pioneered by the Navy and Marine Corps team, exploits flexibility and surprise. "Mighty 9's" first commanding officer was Captain Norman E. Thurmon of Warrensburg, Missouri. Thurman served as a dive bomber pilot in the battle for which the ship was named.
GUAM's first major deployment on 29 November 1965 included embarkation of Marine Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/8 at Onslow Beach and participation with 50 other ships in the Caribbean in the full scale amphibious exercise PHIBASWEX/MEBLEX. This exercise began in Norfolk and terminated with a large scale amphibious landing on the island of Vieques. Following the exercise, GUAM and three other ships remained in the Caribbean as the Ready Amphibious Squadron under COMPHIBRON TWELVE. GUAM departed Norfolk, on 6 September 1966, for duty as the prime recovery ship for Gemini XI. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Dick Gordan spent three days in space and set seven new world records for manned space flight before being recovered 710 miles east of Florida on 15 September. In late November GUAM departed Norfolk on LANTFLEX and the CARIB 4-66 deployment that lasted until 9 April 1967. On 6 december, as flagship for Commander Amphibious Squadron TWELVE, GUAM set sail in company with other units of PHIBRON TWELVE and assumed the duties of the Caribbean Ready Group (CARIB) 4-67. CARIB 4-67 included refresher jungle training conducted with the U.S. Army in Panama and port visits to St. Croix, Curacao, Panama, Trinidad, and St. Thomas. On 28 October 1968 GUAM departed for refresher training at Guantanamo Bay. During training, GUAM hosted dependents and school teachers from the naval station for weekend visits to Montego Bay, Jamaica and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. From 12 February to 12 July 1969 GUAM deployed as part of CARIB 1-69 again with COMPHIBRON TWELVE embarked. In March 1970 she was involved in the equipment recovery from the 1970 Solar Eclipse experiment when she recovered an Aerobe research payload fired from Wallops Island under the direction of NASA to study atmospheric conditions during the eclipse.
In May of 1970, GUAM departed Norfolk to embark a BLT and helicopter squadron at Morehead City before participating in exercise EXOTIC DANCER THREE, off the coast of North Carolina. She then headed for San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of CARIB 2-70. In June, while enroute to Cristobal, Panama Canal Zone, GUAM was ordered to Peru where a disasterous earthquake had occurred. GUAM has extensive medical facilities and was designed with a secondary role as prime recover ship for the evacuation of casualties. After transiting the Panama Canal on 8 June and loading relief supplies and medical teams in Balboa, she proceeded to Peru. From June 12-21 while anchored off Chimbote and Paramonga, Peru, the embarked squadron flew hundreds of mercy missions; delivering food, tents, blankets and medical supplies ashore, and returning the most seriously injured to GUAM for medical treatment. GUAM later made a port call at Lima, where over 5,000 Peruvians visited the ship during her two-day stay, before retransiting the Panama Canal and ariving for amphibious exercises at Vieques on 5 July. A port visit to San Juan preceded the return to Norfolk. On 27 September GUAM sailed for the Eastern Mediterranean where she received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for her participation in contingency operations during the Jordanian crisis.
Because of GUAM's similarity to a conceptual Sea Control Ship, she was selected during the summer of 1971 for the Navy's Interim Sea Control Ship (ISCS) project. After entering an extensive re-fit in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on 28 October 1971, GUAM began tests and evaluation in conjunction with the ISCS Project on 18 January 1972. As the ISCS, GUAM provided inputs to preliminary design by developing tactical concepts and measuring system performance. Aircraft operated by GUAM in support of this conceptual project included SH-3H "Sea King" helicopters and the Marine Corps' AV-8A "Harrier" Vertical Short Take-Off and Landing (VSTOL) jet. GUAM completed the ISCS evaluation and reassumed her role as an Amphibious Assault Ship on July 1, 1974.
On 24 September 1974 GUAM became the first Navy ship to deploy operationally with AV-8A aircraft when she left her homeport of Norfolk, Virginia for participation in the North Atlantic NATO exercise "Alien Gold" and a six-month Mediterranean deployment with MARG 2-74. GUAM returned to homeport in March 1975 and began preparations for her first regular overhaul at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard which started on 1 July 1975. Following completion of overhaul on 6 March 1976, refresher training was conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in May and included her second visit to Port-au-Prince. GUAM returned to Norfolk by way of a port visit to Fort Lauderdale and then commenced amphibious refresher training at Onslow Beach on 12 July. Later that month she was certfied to conduct mine countermeasures using H-53 helicopters. GUAM was then selected to be the first ship in the Navy to fly the new Jewish worship pennant that was introduced in October for use to signify that the ship was conducting Jewish worship services. This corresponded to the church services pennant already in use to denote Catholic and Protestant worship services.
GUAM commenced a deployment to the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean in 11 November 1976 in response to JCS tasking. This deployment included special State Department tasking to support Kenya and their celebration of Kenyan Independence day. GUAM sailed directly to the Mediterranean in total electronic silence and conducted turnover with USS IWO JIMA (LPH-2) as GUAM continued to steam through Gibraltar. She continued east and rendezvoused with the FRANKLIN D ROOSEVELT (CV-42 ) off of the east coast of Sicily to transfer the helicopter squadron (HMM-264) to NAS Sigonella. Once completed, GUAM made another milestone in naval history by embarking a AV-8A "Harrier" squadron of 14 aircraft from the FDR to support the Kenyan operation and becoming the first LPH to routinely operate a full squadron of AV-8A aircraft. Leaving Sicily, GUAM transited to Port Said and commenced a middle of the night transit of the Suez Canal at the head of the southbound convoy in the company of USS CLAUDE V. RICKETTS (DDG-5). She proceeded south across the equator but delayed the traditional Shellback initiation until the return voyage because of concern for Ugandan intervention in the mission to Mombasa. USS DUPONT (DD-945) joined Task Group 101.1 on 5 December and the three ships arrived off Kenya in early December after GUAM had steamed non-stop for 28 days. On 12 December, GUAM steamed off of the coast of Kenya and launched 13 AV-8As in 14 minutes to overfly Jamhuri Park in Nairobi to honor President Jomo Kenyatta and for a fly-by celebration of Kenya's 13th year of independence. Following "their spectacular performance" and successful completion of the celebration, GUAM transited back across the equator with the grace of King Neptune and took the opportunity to introduce the 1,100 lowly Pollywogs to the exalted ways of the 47 Shellbacks. Following the northbound transit of the Suez Canal on 22 December, GUAM entered the Mediterranean and Alexandria, Egypt harbor for a port visit over Christmas 1976. GUAM had steamed 11,285 miles in the 39 days required to support the Kenya Special Operations.
In January 1977 GUAM recross-decked the AV-8's to the FDR and recovered HMM-264 from Sigonella. She rejoined the MARG at Naples and participated in exercise PHIBLEX 1-77 and then made a port visit to Barcelona, Spain. Catastrophe struck on the first night of this port visit when a LCM-6 landing craft being used as a liberty boat was struck by a Spanish freighter in the inner harbor and capsized. The boat carried over 100 enlisted sailors and marines half of whom drowned in the freezing winter water. Forty-nine crewman from GUAM and USS TRENTON (LPD-14) were lost in this tragic accident and a memorial to these men has since been erected in Barcelona. GUAM completed the remainder of the Mediterranean deployment with several fleet exercises and port visits to Genoa, Italy, Cannes, France, and Palma de Majorca. In May of 1977, while beginning her transit back home to Norfolk, Guam participated in joint oceanographic studies with the Soviet Union before returning to Norfolk in June.
While deployed to the Mediterranean in May, 1982. GUAM was sent to the coast of Lebanon to prepare for the possible evacuation of non-combatants during the war between the Israelis and opposing Palestinian and Syrian forces. GUAM participated in the evacuation of over 600 Lebanese, Americans and third country nationals from Juniyah, Lebanon, a city north of Beirut. In August, GUAM landed Marines in Beirut as part of a multinational peace keeping force which included Freneh and Italian troops. GUAM then participated in the evacuation of Palestine Liberation Organization guerrillas from Beirut.
While deployed to the Mediterranean in May, 1982, GUAM was sent to the coast of Lebanon to prepare for possible evacuation operations or intervention in the war raging between the Israelis and opposing Palestinian and Syrian forces. GUAM participated in the evacuation of of over 600 Lebanese , Americans and third country nationals from Juniyah, Lebanon, a city north of Beirut. GUAM received the Navy Unit Commendation and the Humanitarian Service Medal for her efforts. In August, GUAM landed Marines in Beirut as part of a multi-national peace keeping force which included the French and Italians. GUAM then participated in the evacuation of Palestine Liberation Organization guerrillas from Beirut. GUAM departed Lebanon after order seemed restored only to return in September, 1982, to re-deploy Marines. GUAM later departed the Mediterranean and arrived home in Norfolk on Thanksgiving Day.
During January, February and March 1983, GUAM participated in COLD WINTER 83 in which British and Norwegian forces joined in war games with the United States in northern Norway. GUAM then returned to Norfolk in April for and extensive upkeep period. Following a summer devoted to Board of Inspection and Survey Trials and an intensive maintenance effort, GUAM deployed in October 1983 as a unit of MARG 1-84. While enroute to the Mediterranean the task force was diverted to the island nation of Grenada where GUAM was a key participant in the rescue of approximately 200 American citizens in Operation Urgent Fury. During her ten days on station off Grenada, four airborne assaults were launched, two of which took place at night. During this action GUAM served as the flagship for the operational commander, CTJF 120, provided logistic support for Navy, Marine, Army and Air Force units involved in the operation, and served as the principal casualty receiving ship treating 76 wounded U.S. military personnel, civilian and prisoners of war without loss of life. GUAM also served as a temporary detention facility for the captured leaders of the Marxist Grenadian Junta. The Mighty Nine was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for her act ions. After the island was secured, GUAM turned east, returning to the coast of Beirut, Lebanon, in early November to assume duties in support of the peace-keeping effort.
In January and February 1986, GUAM was dispatched to help in recovery operations following the space shuttle Challenger disaster. GUAM was instrumental in the recovery of one of the rocket booster nose cones which was able to be loaded on to the flight deck and returned for inspection. GUAM deployed in August 1990 to support Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During this eight-month deployment, GUAM was part of the amphibious force which conducted an historical feint operation, effectively neutralizing thousands of Iraqi forces along the Kuwaiti coast waiting to defend against a possible amphibious attack. In January 1991, GUAM departed the Persian Gulf region and evacuated American and other embassy personnel from Mogadishu, Somalia as part of Operation Eastern Exit, rescuing 282 people. Following the evacuation, GUAM returned to the Persian Gulf and resumed its role in Operation Desert Storm.
In June 1994, GUAM had the honor of representing the U.S. Navy in ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of D-Day in Southampton, England and Cherbourg, France.
In the spring and early summer of 1996, the "Mighty 9" steamed off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia as flagship of Operation Assured Response while embarked Marines guarded the embassy compound. GUAM's presence provided assurance to U.S. embassy personnel working in a country ravaged by civil war. In 1996 Guam ARG and 22d MEU demonstrated: mobility, by transiting over 3500 nautical miles within the region; flexibility, by executing multiple taskings through combined and split force operations; joint capability, by performing as a joint task force commander during a regional crisis; sustainability, by remaining unobtrusively on station for 69 days; and national resolve, by protecting and evacuating U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.
As a result of factional fighting and general violence in Liberia, the exceptional flexibility and capabilities of naval forces were again showcased. In early April 1996, elements of the Guam (LPH 9) amphibious ready group (ARG) and the 22d MEU (SOC), were ordered to the vicinity of Monrovia, Liberia. Upon arrival, the 22d MEU (SOC) commanding officer assumed command of Joint Task Force-Assured Response (JTF-AR) which included Air Force, Navy, and Marine forces. With additional support from an HC-4 MC-53E helicopter detachment and other Navy-Marine Corps aircraft, embassy security and transportation were provided and 309 non-combatants were evacuated - including 49 U.S. citizens. While still conducting this operation, elements of JTF-AR were ordered to Bangui, Central African Republic, to conduct similar operations. A special purpose Marine Air-ground task force, embarked on the Ponce (LPD 15) and with ten days' notice, relieved the Guam task force, and assumed the duties of CJTF-AR. This was done to allow the Guam ready group and the 22d MEU(SOC) to return to the Adriatic Sea and provide the European Command's desired over-the-horizon presence during the Bosnian national elections. During the ship's final deployment from Ocober 1997 to April 1998, GUAM deployed to the Arabian Gulf to support U.S. military assets already present in the area, in response to Iraqi refusal to comply with United Nations weapons inspections. Shortly after the amphibious assault ship's arrival, Iraq agreed to comply, allowing for full and unfettered access to all suspected weapons sites. GUAM was decommissioned on 25 August 1998 and stricken from the Naval Register in November 1998 retroactive to 25 August 1998. She was temporarily stored at Norfolk pending disposal and was later moved to the James River.
The first Guam, launched in 1928, was a 159-foot river gunboat with a complement of five officers and 44 enlisted crewmen whose mission was to protect American interests on coastal and inland Chinese waters prior to World War II. As part of the Yangtze Patrol, or YangPat. the shallow-drafted vessel was ideally suited to transit the Yangtze River to convoy merchantmen, provide armed guards for American flag steamers, and "show the flag" in order to protect American lives and property in a land where war and civil strife had been a way of life for centuries. The ship was later renamed USS Wake and was captured by the Japanese in Shanghai where she was held for the duration of the war. She returned to US control in 1945 but was turned over to the Nationafist Chinese Navy and was renamed RCS Tai Yuan.
The second Guam (CB-2) was the second largest cruiser in the US Fleet and was often referred to as an American versIon of "pocket battleship"'. She was commissioned in September 1944 by Mrs. G.J. McMillan
whose husband, Captain George McMillan, was being held captive by Japanese forces on the island of Formosa. Her 809 foot long hull displaced over 27,000 tons and boasted a massive arsenal including 12-
inch guns. Her crew of over 2000 men entered the war in January 1945, and served in the South Pacific with other giants of the fleeL. By the war's end in August 1945, she had earned two Battle Stars on the Asiatic-Paclfic Area Service Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal and the China Service Medal. CB 2 was decommissioned on February 17, 1947.
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