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USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.

Fabrication work for Iwo Jima began at Ingalls shipyard on 3 September 1996, and the ship's keel was laid on 12 December 1997. She was launched on 4 February 2000. USS Iwo Jima was christened by her sponsor, Mrs. Zandra Krulak, wife of General Charles C. Krulak, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, in Pascagoula, Mississippimarker on 25 March 2000. The commissioning crew moved aboard in April 2001, and made the ship's maiden voyage on 23 June 2001, accompanied by more than 2,000 World War II veterans — many of them survivors of the Battle of Iwo Jimamarker. She was commissioned a week later in Pensacolamarker, Floridamarker, on 30 June 2001.

Shortly thereafter, the ship and crew began an accelerated Inter Deployment Training Cycle, which tested virtually every system onboard in realistic combat conditions. Iwo Jima was also the first ship on the waterfront open to the public after the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Iwo Jima operating in fog in the Atlantic Ocean

2003 deployment

The Iwo Jima and the Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit along with two other amphibious assault ships formed the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. The Iwo Jima left port on 4 March 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed Marines in April 2003 from the Mediterranean Seamarker into Northern Iraqmarker for the Iraq War. In July 2003, the Iwo Jima deployed to the coast of Liberiamarker as part of JTF Liberia in response to the Second Liberian Civil War. During this operation, the Southern European Task Force as the command element of JTF Liberia and the Iwo Jima with the 26 MEU landed Marines in Liberia to stabilize the area and prevent a humanitarian disaster. "At its height, JTF Liberia consisted of over 5,000 service members from the SETAF headquarters, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the three-ship Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, 3rd Air Force's 398th Air Expeditionary Group, U.S. Army Europe's 21st Theater Support Command, and Army Special Forces." [62738].

USS Iwo Jima served as the 2nd Fleet flagship in 2005, based out of Norfolk, Virginia.



Hurricane Katrina

On 31 August 2005, the Iwo Jima was sortied to the Gulf of Mexicomarker to provide disaster relief and to conduct support operations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Iwo Jima sailed up the Mississippi River to the city of New Orleans to directly support relief operations and act as the central command center for all federal, state and local disaster recovery operations.

During this critical period, the Iwo Jima also served as the region’s only fully functional air field for helicopter operations, conducting over one thousand flight deck operations; provided hot meals, showers, drinking water, and berthing to thousands of National Guardsmen and relief workers; provided medical services, including first aid and surgical services, for disaster victims; and conducted clean-up operations in the city and suburbs of New Orleans.

The Iwo Jima served as flagship for the Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush, during Hurricane Katrina Joint Task Force, and is only the second Navy ship to have been presented the flag of the President of the United States.

2006 deployment

On 6 June 2006, the Iwo Jima left its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, and began a regularly scheduled six-month deployment to the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command area of responsibilities, as flagship for the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, encompasing 6,000 Sailors and Marines. The ship has also been a part of the evacuation effort of American citizens from the conflict in Lebanonmarker.

News reports on 15 July 2006 [62739] stated that the Iwo Jima, along with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, would be used to evacuate U. S. citizens from Lebanonmarker after the Israeli Defense Force made the Beirutmarker International Airportmarker unusable through bombing its runways and fuel storage areas.

In 2002, 2004, and 2009, Iwo Jima participated at the annual Fleet Week in New York Citymarker.

On 16 February 2007, Iwo Jima was awarded the 2006 Battle "E" award. [62740]

Motto

A close-up of the ship's motto, Portland, ME, July 2, 2005.
The ship's motto, "Uncommon Valor," is based on Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz's words when he spoke of Sailors and Marines who fought at Iwo Jimamarker: "Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island uncommon valor was a common virtue."

References

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