The U.S. Navy has selected the name Makin Island for its next amphibious assault ship, which honors the daring raid carried out by Marine Corps Companies A and B, Second Raider Battalion, on Japanese-held Makin Island, in the Gilbert Islands, Aug. 17-18, 1942.
The raid was launched from the submarines USS Nautilus and USS Argonaut and succeeded in routing the enemy forces based there, gaining valuable intelligence. The raid’s leader, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Evan Carlson was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions, while Marine Corps Sgt. Clyde Thompson, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism and was the first enlisted Marine to be so honored during World War II.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee, cited the transformational nature of the engagement in a letter to Secretary Johnson and noted that many considered the raid the Marine Corps’ first action in the realm of special operations.
In 2001, the bodies of 19 Marine Corps raiders who died during the operation or were executed after being captured were recovered on the island of Kwajalein and returned to the United States for burial.
An amphibious warship is uniquely designed to support assault from the sea against defended positions ashore. The 844-foot ship weighs more than 40,500 tons and carries a crew of approximately 1,000 Sailors and 1,900 Marines. Aircraft normally carried by this class of ships include a mix of Marine Corps helicopters and the Harrier attack aircraft.
The United States maintains the largest and most capable amphibious force in the world, and the Wasp-class ships are the largest amphibious ships in the world. The lead ship USS Wasp was commissioned in July 1989 in Norfolk, Va. Other ships in the class include USS Essex (LHD 2), Sasebo, Japan, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Norfolk, USS Boxer (LHD 4), San Diego, USS Bataan (LHD 5), Norfolk, USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), San Diego, and USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Norfolk.
The Makin Island will be built at Northrop-Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, Miss, and is expected to be christened in 2006.