The U.S. Navy will christen its newest amphibious assault ship, Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Saturday, March 25, 2000, during an 11 a.m. CST ceremony at Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss.
Iwo Jima becomes the second amphibious warship named to honor the enduring legacy of the heroic participants who fought and dedicated their lives to the United States in the February 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima. The first ship named for the battle, Iwo Jima (LPH 2), was the lead ship of the LPH class of amphibious assault ships. It was built in the early 1960s as the first "keel-up" amphibious assault ship and was decommissioned in January 1993.
Delivering the ceremony's principal address will be James Bradley, son of Navy Petty Officer Second Class John H. Bradley. Bradley earned the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for extraordinary heroism on Iwo Jima, and was the longest living survivor among the six men shown in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photo of a large American flag being raised over Mount Suribachi. This photo image has come to symbolize an epic struggle during which over 6,000 U.S. Marines lost their lives in taking the island from the Japanese, whose losses were estimated at 20,000. Hundreds of veterans from the actual battle, as well as former crewmembers of Iwo Jima (LPH 2), will attend the ceremony.
Zandra Krulak, wife of retired former Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Charles C. Krulak, will serve as ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Krulak will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally name the ship.
Navy Capt. John T. Nawrocki, a native of Ambridge, Pa., and a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is the prospective commanding officer of Iwo Jima. Built by Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding, the ship is 844 feet in length with a 106-foot beam. The ship has living areas for nearly 3,200 crewmembers and embarked troops, including accommodations for nearly 450 female officers, chiefs, and enlisted personnel. Two steam propulsion plants, developing a combined 70,000 horsepower, will drive the 40,500-ton ship to speeds in excess of 20 knots.