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USS Iwo Jima (LPH 2)

- decommissioned -

USS IWO JIMA, the first ship to be designed and built from the keel up as an amphibious assault ship, was the lead ship of the Navy's IWO JIMA - class of amphibious assault ships (helicopter) and also the first ship in the Navy to bear the name.

Decommissioned on July 14, 1993, and stricken from the Navy list on September 24, 1993, the IWO JIMA was sold for scrapping on December 18, 1995. The ship has been scrapped at Brownsville, TX.

General Characteristics:Awarded: January 30, 1958
Keel laid: April 2, 1959
Launched: September 17, 1960
Commissioned: August 26, 1961
Decommissioned: July 14, 1993
Builder: Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA.
Propulsion system: Two boilers, one geared steam turbines, one shaft, 22,000 total shaft horsepower
Propellers: one
Length: 603, 65 feet (184 meters)
Beam: 104 feet (31.7 meters)
Draft: 25,9 feet (7.9 meters)
Aircraft elevators: two
Displacement: approx. 19,500 tons full load
Speed: 23 knots
Aircraft: 20 UH-46D Sea Knight Helicopters, 10 MH-53E Sea Stallion Helicopters, 3 UH-1 Helicopters, 3 AH-1 Helicopters but the actual mix depends upon mission
Armament: two Phalanx CIWS
Crew: 80 officers, 638 enlisted, 1,750 Marine Detachment

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Crew List:

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

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USS IWO JIMA Cruise Books:

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Accidents aboard USS IWO JIMA:

May 21, 1966San Diego, Ca.
USS CORAL SEA (CV 43) and USS IWO JIMA briefly bump each other in San Diego, Ca., causing slight damage.
March 3, 19751,000 miles southwest
of the Azores
USS IWO JIMA and USS NASHVILLE (LPD 13) are severely damaged when the IWO JIMA loses steering control and crashes into the NASHVILLE during highline transfer.
February 13, 1976Caribbean
USS IWO JIMA suffers a boiler casualty while exercising in the Caribbean. The accident limits the ship's speed to 15 knots and half power. IWO JIMA got underway for New Orleans for repairs.
July 3, 1979Norfolk Naval
USS IWO JIMA suffer a fire in two berthing spaces injuring five. A sailor is arrested on arson 3 days later.
November 17, 1985
A CH-46 helicopter embarked aboard USS SAN DIEGO (AFS 6) crashes into a parked USMC helicopter aboard the USS IWO JIMA during a night replenishment, killing one and injuring five personnel.
October 11, 198980 miles southeast
of Norfolk, Va.
USS EL PASO (LKA 177) accidentally hits the USS IWO JIMA with rounds from its Phalanx CIWS during gunnery practice. One sailor aboard IWO JIMA is killed and another is injured. Damage is slight.
October 30, 1990Manama, Bahrain
USS IWO JIMA experiences a boiler casualty while getting underway from Manama, Bahrain. A leaking boiler valve blows causing large amounts of steam to be dumped into the boiler room. There are 10 casualties reported as a result of the explosion.

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USS IWO JIMA Patch Gallery:

Recovery of Apollo 13Operation Provide Promise - Med 1993

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About the Ship's Name:

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 US 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 US 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 Jima was fought desperately until March 26, when the island was finally secured by US 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.”

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contributed by
Bruce Gillikin

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