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General Characteristics Crew List Memorabilia About the Name "Harpers Ferry" The mission of USS Harpers Ferry Image Gallery end of page

USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49)

USS HARPERS FERRY is the first of four new cargo variants to the WHIDBEY ISLAND class of dock landing ships. The HARPERS FERRY class is also called LSD 41(CV) class.

On September 1, 2002, HARPERS FERRY relieved USS GERMANTOWN (LSD 42) as a forward deployed naval unit in Sasebo, Japan. After nine years in Japan, HARPERS FERRY was again relieved by GERMANTOWN in mid-2011 and returned to her new old homeport of San Diego, Calif.

General Characteristics:Keel laid: April 15, 1991
Launched: January 16, 1993
Commissioned: January 7, 1995
Builder: Avondale Industries, New Orleans, Louisiana
Propulsion system: four 16 cylinder Colt-Pielstick Diesel Engines
Propellers: two
Length: 610 feet (186 meters)
Beam: 84 feet (25.6 meters)
Draft: 20 feet (6 meters)
Displacement: approx. 16,500 tons full load
Speed: 22 knots
Well deck capacity: two LCAC or one LCU or four LCM-8 or nine LCM-6 or 15 amphibious assault vehicles (AAV)
Aircraft: none, but two landing spots allow for operation of aircraft as large as the CH-53E
Crew: Ship: 24 officers, 328 enlisted     Marine Detachment: 504 Marines
Armament: two 20mm Phalanx CIWS, two Mk-38 Machine Guns, six .50 Machine Guns, Rolling Airframe Missile System
Cost: about $157 million
Homeport: San Diego, Calif.

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USS HARPERS FERRY. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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About the Ship’s Name, about the City of Harpers Ferry:

Harpers Ferry is a small, residential town (population 423) and tourist center in the northeastern corner of West Virginia. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Harpers Ferry is known for its scenic beauty and historic significance. Harpers Ferry has forever entrenched itself in the "American Story" as a place where brave men and women lived, fought, and died for their ideals.

Settled in 1732, Harpers Ferry is named for Robert Harper, who in 1747 began to operate a ferry across the Potomac River there. In 1796 President George Washington selected Harpers Ferry as the site for a new United States Arsenal and Armory. Many of the rifles used in the War of 1812 and American Civil War were manufactured at this armory. The armory also made the town of Harpers Ferry a logistically strategic location during the Civil War; coveted by the North and South.

During the Civil War, Harpers Ferry changed hands between the Union and Confederacy several times, spilling much American blood on its rocky soil. In September 1862, Harpers Ferry's capture by the South provided General Robert E. Lee with a launching point for the Confederate invasion of Maryland, which ended in the bloody battle of Antietam.

What the town is probably most famous for though, is John Brown's failed raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory. John Brown, called Old Brown of Osawatomie (1800-1859), was one of America's most famed abolitionists. Brown's attempts to end slavery by force greatly increased tension between North and South in the period before the American Civil War.

Brown was born on May 9, 1800, in Torrington, Connecticut. His family moved to Ohio when he was five-years-old. John Brown acquired a hatred of slavery that marked his subsequent career, with his father having been actively hostile to the institution. John Brown initiated a project among sympathetic abolitionists to educate young blacks in Pennsylvania, where he was then living. The next 20 years of his life were largely dedicated to this and similar abolitionist ventures.

Aided by increased financial support from abolitionists in the northeastern states, Brown began in 1857 to formulate a plan, which he had long entertained, to free the slaves by armed force. He secretly recruited a small band of supporters for this project, which included the establishment of a refuge for fugitive slaves in the mountains of Virginia. After several setbacks, he finally launched the venture on October 16, 1859, with a force of 18 men (including several of his sons), seizing the U.S. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, and winning control of the town.

After his initial success he made no attempt at offensive action, but instead occupied defensive positions within the arsenal. His force was soon surrounded by the local militia, which was reinforced on October 17 by a company of U.S. Marines under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. Ten of Brown's men, including two of his sons, were killed in the ensuing battle, and he was wounded and forced to capitulate. He was arrested and charged with various crimes, including treason and murder. Convicted, he was hanged on December 2, 1859 at Charlestown, West Virginia.

Today Harpers Ferry is hardly the torrid site of bloodshed and struggle it was in the 19th century. Harpers Ferry is now a National Historical Park, visited by thousands of tourists every year. The town includes many old structures restored as museums and shops. Harpers Ferry is also home to several buildings of Storer College, a Freedman's Bureau School opened in 1867 to educate former slaves.

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About the Ship’s Mission:

USS HARPERS FERRY’s mission is to project power ashore by transporting and launching amphibious craft and vehicle loaded with embarked Marines and their equipment in an amphibious assault. HARPERS FERRY can also render limited docking and repair service to small ships and craft, as well as act as primary control ship in an amphibious operation.

HARPERS FERRY is an extremely flexible, capable platform, ready to handle a myriad of tasks within an amphibious maritime assault. She has been fitted with state of the art medical facilities, comfortable berthing for her crew and embarked Marines, and a shortened well deck to carry additional cargo and ammunition.

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The photos below were taken by me on September 29, 2011, and show the HARPERS FERRY well-packed in drydock at NASSCO in San Diego, Calif., undergoing a $104 million overhaul after being forward-deployed to Japan for nine years.

The photos below were taken by me on March 15, 2012, and show the HARPERS FERRY still undergoing overhaul in San Diego, Calif.

The photos below were taken by me on May 10, 2012, and show the HARPERS FERRY still undergoing overhaul at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif.

The photos below were taken by me on October 3 and 11, 2012, and show the HARPERS FERRY at Naval Base San Diego, Calif.

The photos below were taken by Michael Jenning and show the HARPERS FERRY at Huntington Ingalls Industries Continental Maritime of San Diego shipyard on December 27, 2014.

The photos below were taken by Michael Jenning and show the HARPERS FERRY arriving at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., respectively at the Naval Base a few hours later. The photos were taken on October 2, 2015.

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