USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2)
Overview
 
USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) was the lead ship
Lead ship
The lead ship or class leader is the first of a series or class of ships all constructed according to the same general design. The term is applicable military ships and larger civilian craft.-Overview:...

 of her class
Iwo Jima class amphibious assault ship
The Iwo Jima class amphibious assault ships of the United States Navy were the first amphibious assault ships designed and built as dedicated helicopter carriers, capable of operating up to 20 helicopters to carry up to 1,800 marines ashore. They were named for battles featuring the United States...

 and type—the first ship to be designed and built from the keel up as an amphibious assault ship
Amphibious assault ship
An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault...

. She carried helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s and a detachment of embarked Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 for use in the Navy's "vertical envelopment" concept of amphibious operations. Iwo Jima was the second of three ships of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 to be named for the Battle of Iwo Jima
Battle of Iwo Jima
The Battle of Iwo Jima , or Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Empire of Japan. The U.S...

, although the first to be completed and see service (the first
USS Iwo Jima (CV-46)
Iwo Jima , a "long hull" , was under construction by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Virginia, but was canceled 12 August 1945. Her partially completed hull was scrapped.-See also:* List of aircraft carriers...

 was cancelled during construction).
Iwo Jima was laid down 2 April 1959 by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility is a United States Navy shipyard covering 179 acres on Puget Sound at Bremerton, Washington...

, Bremerton, Wash.; launched
Ship naming and launching
The ceremonies involved in naming and launching naval ships are based in traditions thousands of years old.-Methods of launch:There are three principal methods of conveying a new ship from building site to water, only two of which are called "launching." The oldest, most familiar, and most widely...

 17 September 1960, sponsored by Mrs.
Encyclopedia
USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) was the lead ship
Lead ship
The lead ship or class leader is the first of a series or class of ships all constructed according to the same general design. The term is applicable military ships and larger civilian craft.-Overview:...

 of her class
Iwo Jima class amphibious assault ship
The Iwo Jima class amphibious assault ships of the United States Navy were the first amphibious assault ships designed and built as dedicated helicopter carriers, capable of operating up to 20 helicopters to carry up to 1,800 marines ashore. They were named for battles featuring the United States...

 and type—the first ship to be designed and built from the keel up as an amphibious assault ship
Amphibious assault ship
An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault...

. She carried helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s and a detachment of embarked Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 for use in the Navy's "vertical envelopment" concept of amphibious operations. Iwo Jima was the second of three ships of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 to be named for the Battle of Iwo Jima
Battle of Iwo Jima
The Battle of Iwo Jima , or Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Empire of Japan. The U.S...

, although the first to be completed and see service (the first
USS Iwo Jima (CV-46)
Iwo Jima , a "long hull" , was under construction by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Virginia, but was canceled 12 August 1945. Her partially completed hull was scrapped.-See also:* List of aircraft carriers...

 was cancelled during construction).

First cruises and Cuban Missile Crisis

Iwo Jima was laid down 2 April 1959 by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility is a United States Navy shipyard covering 179 acres on Puget Sound at Bremerton, Washington...

, Bremerton, Wash.; launched
Ship naming and launching
The ceremonies involved in naming and launching naval ships are based in traditions thousands of years old.-Methods of launch:There are three principal methods of conveying a new ship from building site to water, only two of which are called "launching." The oldest, most familiar, and most widely...

 17 September 1960, sponsored by Mrs. Harry Schmidt
Harry Schmidt (USMC)
General Harry Schmidt served as Commanding General of the Fourth Marine Division during the Marshall Islands campaign and the Battle of Saipan, and as Commanding General of the Fifth Amphibious Corps during the battles of Tinian and Iwo Jima, during World War II...

; and commissioned
Ship commissioning
Ship commissioning is the act or ceremony of placing a ship in active service, and may be regarded as a particular application of the general concepts and practices of project commissioning. The term is most commonly applied to the placing of a warship in active duty with its country's military...

 26 August 1961, Captain T. D. Harris in command.

Following shakedown training, she spent the rest of 1961 off the California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 coast in amphibious exercises. In April 1962 the ship joined Joint Task Force 8 in the Johnston Island-Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 area for an important series of nuclear tests. Iwo Jima evacuated several islands and took part in the test evaluation. She sailed for Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

 26 July from the test area, and continued to San Diego
San Diego, California
San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round...

, where she arrived 10 August 1962.

In September the ship took part in full-scale amphibious exercises in California, departing 17 October from San Diego for her first deployment to the western Pacific. As a crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

 flared 19 October over the introduction of offensive missiles into Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, however, Iwo Jima returned to San Diego, embarked Marines 22 October to 27 October, and departed quickly for the Caribbean. As part of America's powerful and mobile force afloat, she cruised in a "ready" status until December brought an easing of the Cuban situation. She arrived in San Diego 13 December.

WestPac Cruises

Iwo Jima operated out of her home port during the first half of 1963, carrying out amphibious exercises and training. She departed 30 August on her long-delayed Western Pacific
Philippine Sea
The Philippine Sea is a marginal sea east and north of the Philippines occupying an estimated surface area of 2 million mi² on the western part of the North Pacific Ocean...

 cruise. Joining the 7th Fleet, she ranged from Hawaii to the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 and Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

.

On 31 October 1963 Iwo Jima departed Philippine waters for special operations along the coast of South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

, standing by to protect American nationals during a period of increased strife. She returned to Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the United States Navy located in Zambales, Philippines. It was the largest U.S...

 12 November. The following months she sailed with Special Landing Forces of Marines for rigorous amphibious assault and landing raids practice off the coasts of Taiwan and Okinawa. After unloading ammunition at Sasebo, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, she departed 13 April 1964 for return to San Diego, arriving 28 April. Following amphibious training with Marines along the California seaboard, she overhauled in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard
Long Beach Naval Shipyard
thumb|right|300px|Long Beach Naval Shipyard in 1993The Long Beach Naval Shipyard, which closed in 1997, was located at Terminal Island between the city of Long Beach and the San Pedro district of Los Angeles and approximately 23 miles south of the Los Angeles International Airport.The Long Beach...

. This work was completed by 7 December 1964 when Iwo Jima began amphibious refresher training ranging to the Hawaiian Islands. On 13 March 1965 she departed Pearl Harbor for San Diego, arriving 6 days later.

Vietnam War

Iwo Jima received tons of supplies and scores of Army helicopters, tanker trucks, and vehicles in her hangar and flight deck spaces. Nearly a thousand troops were embarked for her western transit that began 12 April 1965. She touched Pearl Harbor a few hours the 17th to off-load 50 Marines and their equipment, then steamed off St. Jacques
Vung Tàu
Vũng Tàu is a city in southern Vietnam. Its population in 2005 was 240,000. The city area is including 13 urban wards and one village. It is the capital of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, and is the crude oil extraction center of Vietnam. It is also known as one of the most beautiful cities of tourism...

, Republic of Vietnam, 1 May to 2 May, flying off 77 Army helicopters, loaded with troops and combat cargo. From there she proceeded to Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the United States Navy located in Zambales, Philippines. It was the largest U.S...

 in the Philippines, where troops and equipment were received for amphibious landing at Chu Lai
Chu Lai
Chu Lai is a sea port, urban and industrial area in Dung Quat Bay, Núi Thành district, Quang Nam province of Vietnam. The city is served by Chu Lai Airport.-Vietnam War:...

, Vietnam, 11 May 1965.

Iwo Jima remained off Chu Lai for a month, protecting Marines and Seabees establishing an air field on the sandy shore. Besides helicopter support ashore, including defense perimeter patrol, she was a support center for laundry, showers, fresh provisions, store and mail service. She also supervised the continual off-load of ships over the beach for the entire month, then on 7 June 1965, landed squadron personnel and helicopters ashore at Hue-Phu Bai, some 30 miles north of Da Nang
Da Nang
Đà Nẵng , occasionally Danang, is a major port city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea at the mouth of the Han River. It is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam; its well-sheltered, easily accessible port and its location on the path of...

. After a few days rest in Subic Bay she was routed to Sasebo, thence to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, where she embarked Marines and equipment. This was completed 26 June 1965 when she sailed for Quinohn, Republic of Vietnam, in company with Talladega
USS Talladega (APA-208)
USS Talladega was a Haskell-class attack transport ship of the United States Navy. She was named for the city of Talladega and Talladega County, Alabama....

 (APA-208) and Point Defiance
USS Point Defiance (LSD-31)
USS Point Defiance was a of the United States Navy. She was named for a location in Pierce County, Washington, the site of a military reservation established by the U.S. Government in 1866...

 (LSD-31). These ships were designated Task Group 76.5, that part of the 7th Fleet that carries the Marine Special Landing Force. On the 30th she arrived at Quinohn, about 100 miles south of Chu Lai. The following day Marines landed ashore to take up defensive positions for the protection of Army engineers and communications units.

Iwo Jima remained off Quinohn for defensive support until 20 July 1965, then steamed for Pratas Reef about 240 miles southwest of Taiwan. Arriving the morning of the 22d her helicopters were immediately pressed into service to aid the salvage of destroyer Frank Knox
USS Frank Knox (DD-742)
USS Frank Knox was a Gearing-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named after Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox.Frank Knox was built at Bath, Maine...

 (DD-742). The close approach of typhoon
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

 "Gilda" pounded the grounded destroyer so badly that it was impossible for small boats to get alongside her. Extra men were heli-lifted off the destroyer while surf rose 12 feet high to break completely over the stern of Frank Knox. Support given by Iwo Jima included such items as hot food, clothes, water, pumps, hose, gasoline, air compressors, welding machines, damage control equipment and technicians. Feed water was heli-lifted in special tanks constructed by destroyer tender Prairie
USS Prairie (AD-15)
USS Prairie was a built just before the start of World War II for the U.S. Navy. Prior to U.S. entry into World War II, Prairie cruised between Atlantic ports from Colon, C.Z. to Argentia, Newfoundland...

 (AD-15) who had faint hope of keeping the destroyer's boiler alive. Detached from this duty 1 August 1965, Iwo Jima made a brief call at Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, then proceeded to the Philippines.

On 17 August 1965 Iwo Jima steamed out of Subic Bay for Vung Tau
Vung Tàu
Vũng Tàu is a city in southern Vietnam. Its population in 2005 was 240,000. The city area is including 13 urban wards and one village. It is the capital of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, and is the crude oil extraction center of Vietnam. It is also known as one of the most beautiful cities of tourism...

, Republic of Vietnam, to join in Operation Starlight, a 5-day search-and-destroy operation that eradicated some 600 Viet Cong. The successful Navy-Marine Corps amphibious operation backed by gunfire support from cruiser Galveston
USS Galveston (CLG-3)
The USS Galveston was a Cleveland class light cruiser of the United States Navy that was later converted to a Galveston class guided missile cruiser. She was launched by William Cramp and Sons Shipbuilding Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania., 22 April 1945: and sponsored by Mrs. Clark Wallace Thompson...

 (CLG-3) and two destroyers, came to a close late on 24 August. Iwo Jimas evacuation and surgical teams kept the American casualties down to a very low percentage. During transit back to Subic Bay she learned Frank Knox had been refloated, good news for the crew who had put in so many hard and long hours at Pratas Reef. She landed her Marine Special Landing Force at Chu Lai 1 September to 2 September, embarked 800 Marines of a rotation draft, and sailed for Buckner Bay.

Iwo Jima landed the rotation troops at Okinawa, then came off Quinohn, 10 September 1965, to cover the landing of the Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

's 1st Air Cavalry Division. She had supported three amphibious assault search-and-destroy raids along the coast by 1 October when she steamed to southern waters, remaining in stand-by status for possible evacuation of U.S. nationals in revolt-torn Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. Eight days later she sailed for Danang for a helicopter squadron exchange, thence to Subic Bay where she was relieved by Valley Forge
USS Valley Forge (CV-45)
USS Valley Forge was one of 24 s built during and shortly after World War II for the United States Navy. The ship was the first US Navy ship to bear the name, and was named for Valley Forge, the 1777–1778 winter encampment of General George Washington's Continental Army...

 (LPH-8). Following a visit to Yokosuka, she departed 1 November for return to San Diego, arriving 17 November 1965. Several months later she again joined the 7th Fleet Amphibious Ready Group, a fast moving assault force which had completed more than 20 search-and-destroy operations along the South Vietnamese coast between March 1965 and September 1966. One of these missions hit only 3 miles south of the demilitarized zone to search out and decimate a regiment of the North Vietnam Army's 342B Division which had infiltrated South Vietnam through the neutral zone.

During the first 3 months of 1966, Iwo Jima was at San Diego for upkeep and improvement changes. From April through June extensive refresher training occupied all hands as Iwo Jima, prepared for her forthcoming Western Pacific deployment. On 24 July, steaming with a task group, she passed the volcanic island whose costly conquest by stouthearted sailors and marines had inspired her name. On board was one of the marine groups that had landed on Iwo Jima over two decades earlier. After operations in the Vietnam area, she sailed for Japan. December 30 once again found Iwo Jima, on the line and underway for special operations in the Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

 region of South Vietnam in a Navy-ready group with a two pronged punch. Early in January 1967 the Commanding Officer, Captain Nils W. Boe, was relieved by Captain F. X. Timmes. Upon his departure Captain Boe said of his crew in a family-gram to mothers and wives, "I want to thank each of you for letting me borrow these magnificent young men for a little while. They have made me feel ten feet tall." On 1 July 1967 Iwo Jima was reassigned to Amphibious Squadron 3 from Amphibious Squadron 1, with which she continued to sail with the Pacific Fleet.

Pacific Recovery Forces (Task Force 130)

On 17 April 1970, Iwo Jima was the flagship
Flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 of TaskForce 130 that waited for the Apollo 13
Apollo 13
Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST. The landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command...

 spaceship's astronauts after their memorable "successful failure" mission and splashdown near American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

. In the 1995 film Apollo 13
Apollo 13 (film)
Apollo 13 is a 1995 American drama film directed by Ron Howard. The film stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Kathleen Quinlan and Ed Harris. The screenplay by William Broyles, Jr...

, Iwo Jima was played by her sister ship, New Orleans
USS New Orleans (LPH-11)
USS New Orleans was an Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship in the United States Navy. She was the third Navy ship to be so named, and is the first named for the Battle of New Orleans, which was the last major battle of The War of 1812....

 (LPH-11). Her skipper, Captain Leland E. Kirkemo, is portrayed by the film's central protagonist, Captain Jim Lovell
Jim Lovell
James "Jim" Arthur Lovell, Jr., is a former NASA astronaut and a retired captain in the United States Navy, most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission...

.

Multinational Peacekeeping Force (Marg 2-83) (24th Mau)

May 10 1983 to December 8 1983 Lebanon October 23 1983 Support after bombing of MAU Headquarters in Beirut Lebanon where approx 330
Personal killed and wounded.

Catastrophic Boiler Accident

In October 1990 Iwo Jima was in the Persian Gulf, as part of the buildup for Operation Desert Storm
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. Having been in operation there for two months, she had developed a leak in a steam valve which supplied steam to a stand-by electrical generator. She docked in Manama
Manama
Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain, with an approximate population of 155,000 people.Long an important trading center in the Persian Gulf, Manama is home to a very diverse population...

, Bahrain
Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

, where the valve was repaired by a local contractor under US government inspection.

Repairs were completed towards the end of October. On October 30, as she raised steam to get underway and rejoin the fleet, the valve began to leak once more. The bonnet blew off the valve, flooding the boiler room with steam from two boilers. Ten of the crewmen in the room were killed, with the last surviving until 2330 that evening.

The cause of the accident was determined to be the use of fasteners of the wrong material on the valve, combined with a lack of proper inspection.

Decommissioning

Iwo Jima was decommissioned 14 July 1993, and struck from the Naval Vessel Register
Naval Vessel Register
The Naval Vessel Register is the official inventory of ships and service craft in custody of or titled by the United States Navy. It contains information on ships and service craft that make up the official inventory of the Navy from the time a vessel is authorized through its life cycle and...

 on 24 September. She was sold for scrap on 18 December 1995. The ship's island is at The Museum Of The American GI in College Station, Texas
College Station, Texas
College Station is a city in Brazos County, Texas, situated in East Central Texas in the heart of the Brazos Valley. The city is located within the most populated region of Texas, near three of the 10 largest cities in the United States - Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio...

.

External links

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