Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton announced today in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery that the Navy's newest amphibious warship will be named USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the seventh ship of the Wasp class.
"It is an honor for me to name our newest amphibious ship after the Battle of Iwo Jima," said Dalton. "I am proud this great Nation will commission USS Iwo Jima to honor the enduring legacy of those who fought and dedicated their lives to the United States of America."
Secretary Dalton made the announcement before a crowd gathered at the Iwo Jima Memorial for the Marine Corps' Tuesday night Sunset Parade in Arlington, Va. Other honored guests included Sen. Robert Smith, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jay L. Johnson, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Charles C. Krulak and World War II veterans who fought at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
"Iwo Jima represents not just a single, costly battle, so long ago. It symbolizes also, the proud heritage of our Marines and Sailors who recognize a greatness beyond themselves and their service," Dalton went on to say. "Because of Iwo Jima and battles like it, the world can appreciate America's commitment to democracy and justice."
USS Iwo Jima will be the second U.S. naval ship to be named such; the first, decommissioned in January 1993 was the lead ship of the Iwo Jima class of amphibious assault ships. The principal mission of Wasp Class ships is to enable the Navy/Marine Corps team accomplish a seamless transition from the sea to a land campaign and conduct prompt, sustained combat operations at sea, as the centerpiece of the Navy's strategy Forward...From the Sea.
The Wasp Class is designed to carry nearly 2,000 combat Marines, 1,200 Sailors, a full range of Navy and Marine Corps assault helicopters, Harrier II V/STOL (AV-8B) "Jump Jets," 50 m.p.h. LCAC hover craft (Landing Craft Air Cushion), and many other landing craft or amphibious vehicles.
"USS Iwo Jima, to be christened at the turn of the century, will embody the most powerful technology and weapons capability available," said the secretary of the Navy. "Iwo Jima's ultimate strength will be the ability to deter aggression and her lifeblood will be our Sailors and Marines who man the deckplates.they will honor the tradition of sacrifice so honorably held by those who fought and died at the battle of Iwo Jima."
A Wasp class amphibious assault ship is fully capable of amphibious assault, advance force and special purpose operations, as well as non-combatant evacuation and other humanitarian missions. Additionally, the ships are fully-equipped with command, control, communication and Intelligence (C4I) systems for flagship command duty; and have medical facilities -- including a 600 bed hospital -- second only to the Navy's hospital ships in capability.
The assault support system aboard a Wasp class ship coordinates horizontal and vertical movement of troops, cargo and vehicles. Monorail trains, moving at speeds up to 600-feet-per-minute, transport cargo and supplies from storage and staging areas throughout the ship to a 13,600-square foot well deck, which opens to the sea through huge gates in the ship's stern. There, cargo, as well as troops and vehicles, are loaded aboard landing craft for transit to the beach. The LCAC air cushion landing craft can "fly" out of the dry well deck, or the well deck can be ballasted down for conventional craft to float out on their way to the beach. Simultaneously, helicopters are brought from the hangar deck to the flight deck by two deck-edge elevators, and loaded with supplies from three massive cargo elevators.
A Wasp class LHD is 844 feet long, with a 106 foot beam. Two 600 p.s.i. steam propulsion plants, developing a combined 70,000 horsepower, will drive the 40,500-ton ship to speeds in excess of 22 knots.