LSD 46 Tortuga
The contract for the Tortuga was awarded on Nov 26, 1984 and her keel was laid on Mar 23, 1987. She was launched on Sept 15, 1988 and was commissioned on Nov 17, 1990.
In April 1996, the Tortuga along with the Portland, Guam and Trenton assisted the 22nd MEU in a deployment to Liberia from the Mediterranean Sea.
In October 1998 LSD-46 participated in Dynamic Mix 98, a combined task force, Mediterranean-wide amphibious assault exercise featuring naval units from the United States and other NATO countries.
Later in 1998, the Tortuga took part in Sardinia '98, an exercise off of Sardinia. Sardinia '98 was a combined amphibious operation exercise involving Italian naval and ground forces, which was designed to familiarize the two militaries with each others capabilities in amphibious warfare. Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked aboard Tortuga, landed on the beach and met with their counterparts for a series of weapons firings, cross training and an amphibious assault scenario. This was the fifth and final exercise that the Tortuga had taken part in during her 1998 Med deployment.
In Sept-Oct 1999 the Tortuga took part in testing for the MV-22 which included building the wind envelope for two landing spots and completing over 75 day and night launches and recoveries on these spots. This testing was important in determining the wind tolerances for safely launching and landing the MV-22 on the ship's helicopters spots.
In January 2000 the Tortuga and the USS Nashville provided a maritime platform for Navy Construction Battalion and Marine Corps engineering personnel who helped the Venezuelans clear roads along the flood-ravaged Venezuelan coastline. She carried bulldozers and other equipment to assist the units.
In October 2000, Tortuga took part in UNITAS 2000 off the coast of Argentina.
On June 6, 2002 the Tortuga ran aground approximately 1,000 yards off the coast late at night. No one was injured, and there did not appear to be any significant damage. An investigation into events that caused the grounding was initiated. Following the refloat of the Tortuga the CO and XO were relieved of command.
SHIELD: Dark blue and gold are traditional Navy colors and symbolize the sea and excellence. In honor of Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer who discovered the Dry Tortugas in 1513, the colors red and yellow are adopted from the national flag of Spain. Red is also the color of valor and is symbolic of the proud history of amphibious warfare. The angular configuration simulating Fort Jefferson appears as a spearhead and represents the ship's primary mission of amphibious assault. The gold wings below the spearhead reflect the ship's capability of amphibious airlift. The crossed officer's sword and enlisted cutlass honor the spirit of leadership and teamwork between the ship's wardroom and crew.
CREST: The morion embellished with a lion's head commemorates Ponce de Leon. The wreath of palm refers to the tropical climate of Florida and the Dry Tortugas. The stars and spearheads surrounding the morion represent the five battle stars the first USS TORTUGA (LSD 26) earned for Korean service and the eight battle stars LSD 26 earned for service in Vietnam. SUPPORTERS: The supporters are rifled Parrott guns of the mid-19th century and are of the same design as those first installed at Fort Jefferson. They symbolize toughness and tenacity in battle. MOTTO: The ship's motto, "Tough, Tall and Tenacious," is inscribed on the scroll surrounding the shield.
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