The Navy will commission its newest Dock Landing Ship Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) on Saturday, May 30, 1998, during an 11 a.m. (PDT) ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, Calif.
Pearl Harbor honors Naval Base Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, and the men and women who fought so valiantly in response to the surprise attack by Japanese forces Dec. 7, 1941. "Remember Pearl Harbor" became a rallying cry for the nation during World War II.
Pearl Harbor is the Navy's 4th Harpers Ferry class dock landing ship, which is a "cargo variant" configuration of the Whidbey Island class, therefore providing additional space for Marine Corps equipment. Ships of this class are vital to the U.S. Navy's strategic doctrine of forward presence and rapid deployment of troops and heavy equipment to remote and distant shores, "Forward... From the Sea." Pearl Harbor's mission is to transport Marines with their associated combat equipment, and launch pre-loaded assault landing craft and helicopters during amphibious operations against hostile shores.
Pearl Harbor carries Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicles, which are assault landing craft capable of exceeding 40 knots while carrying a 60-ton payload. Dock landing ships and LCAC were successfully used in the rapid deployment of troops and equipment to Somalia in Operation "Restore Hope."
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii will be the ceremony's principal speaker. Mrs. Beverly A. Young, wife of Rep. Bill Young of Florida, will serve as ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Young will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"
Cmdr. James J. Bird, USN, a native of Scituate, Mass., is the commanding officer of Pearl Harbor. With a crew capacity of 419 officers and enlisted and equipped to carry 504 Marine troops, Pearl Harbor will join the U.S. Pacific Fleet and will be homeported in San Diego, Calif. The ship is 609 feet in length, has a beam of 84 feet, displaces approximately 17,000 tons when fully loaded, is powered by four medium speed diesel engines, and is capable of speeds in excess of 20 knots.