Naval History and Heritage Command

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Iwo Jima II (LHD-7)


The second U.S. Navy ship to be named for the one of the most important and most bitterly fought amphibious operations of the Pacific War. A small volcanic island in the Bonin Group. Iwo Jima was needed as an air base for the assault on Japan, and was invaded on 19 February 1945 and declared secure almost a month later. Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz spoke eloquently of the sailors and marines who fought there: “Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island uncommon valor was a common virtue.” The famous photograph of the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi has become a symbol of valor and strength in the years since 1945. The first Iwo Jima (LPH-2) was launched by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash. on 17 September 1960, the first ship to be designed and built from the keel up as an amphibious assault ship. She carried helicopters and a detachment of embarked marines for use in the Navy’s “vertical envelopment” concept of amphibious operations. Iwo Jima earned eight battle stars for Vietnam War service and also supported Operation Desert Shield. Decommissioned on 14 July 1993, she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 24 September 1993.


(LHD-7: displacement 27,803 (light) 41,684 (full); length 844'; beam 106'; draft 28' ; speed 20+ knots; complement 1,070  ; troop capacity 1,687 (184 surge); armament 2 RAM launchers; 2 NATO Sea Sparrow launchers; 3 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts; 4 .50 caliber machine guns; 4 25 mm Mk 38 machine guns; aircraft: 12 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters; 4 CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters; 6 AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft; 3 UH-1N Huey helicopters; 4 AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter (planned capability to embark MV-22 Osprey VTOL tilt-rotors) and F-35B Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) STOVL aircraft); landing/attack craft 3 Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) or 2 Landing Craft, Utility (LCU); class Wasp)

The second Iwo Jima (LHD-7) was laid down on 12 December 1995 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding; launched on 25 March 2000; sponsored by Mrs. Zandra Krulak, wife of General Charles C. Krulak, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps; commissioned on 30 June 2001 at Pensacola, Fla., Capt. John T. Nawrocki in command.

Iwo Jima Coat of Arms


Celeste on a mount Sable issuing from base the United States Marine Corps War Memorial Proper, in base three pheons radiating Or one to base superimposed by a plate bearing a Hero's boiler Sable. Iwo Jima was the site of one of the most important and most bitterly fought amphibious operations of World War II in the Pacific theater. The United States Marine Corps War Memorial is based on the famous photograph of the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima and has become a symbol of valor and strength. The three pheons represent the amphibious triad: The Landing Craft Air Cushion, The Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle and the Osprey Tilt rotor aircraft. The light blue reflects the seas of the world. The USS Iwo Jima, one of the last ships propelled by steam boilers, is reflected by the white disc with the Hero's boiler.

From a wreath Or and Celeste a wreath of palm Vert superimposed by an osprey stooping Proper. Iwo Jima will be among the first LHDs to deploy with the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. This is symbolized by the attacking Osprey. The previous Iwo Jima was a helicopter carrier during the Vietnam Era. The palm fronds commemorate the previous ship named Iwo Jima and its service in Vietnam.


The coat of arms emblazoned upon a white oval enclosed by a blue collar edged on the outside with gold rope and inscribed "USS IWO JIMA" above and "LHD 7" below in gold.


A United States Navy and Marine officer’s sword saltirewise points down Proper. The crossed swords highlight cooperation and represent the Navy-Marine Corps Team.


A scroll Or fimbriated Gules inscribed “UNCOMMON VALOR” Azure. The motto is based on Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz’s words when he spoke eloquently of the Sailors and Marines who fought at Iwo Jima: “Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island uncommon valor was a common virtue.” The red is emblematic of valor and sacrifice.

Iwo Jima- Sponsor Zandra Krulak and Gen Krulak at keel-laying
Mrs. Zandra Krulak and her husband, General Charles C. Krulak, pose for a photo with welders W.L. Willis (left) and J. J. Smith Jr. after the keel-laying, 12 December 1995. (Ingalls Shipbuilding Photograph donated to the U.S. Navy)
Iwo Jima- Zandra Krulak christening
Iwo Jima’s sponsor, Mrs. Zandra Krulak, christening the ship, 25 March 2000. (Ingalls Shipbuilding Photograph donated to the U.S. Navy)
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Undated view of Iwo Jima. (Ingalls Shipbuilding Photograph donated to the U.S. Navy)
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Iwo Jima pulls into Pier 88 after sailing up the Hudson River to kick off Fleet Week 2002 in New York City, 22 May 2002. (Photographer's Mate 1st Class Michael W. Pendergrass, U.S. Navy Photograph 020522-N-3235P-501, Photos)

On 4 March 2003, Iwo Jima steamed out of Naval Station Norfolk, Va. on her maiden deployment along with amphibious transport dock Nashville (LPD-13) and dock landing ship Carter Hall (LSD-50). Those ships, along with the marines of the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) constituted the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The ARG made a best speed transit to the Fifth Fleet/Arabian Gulf areas of operations in order to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. All three ships launched 26th MEU forces into Northern Iraq during Iraqi Freedom.

Iwo Jima-with Nimitz in Arabian Gulf-29Jun2003-030629-N-1974E-004
Iwo Jima (LHD-7) and Nimitz (CVN-68) conducting air operations in the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 29 June 2003. (Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Kristi J. Earl, U.S. Navy Photograph 030629-N-1974E-004, Photos)

Soon after back-loading the 26th MEU from Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Iwo Jima ARG was ordered to the Arabian Gulf and then to the Horn of Africa. When tensions in Liberia began to arise, the ARG was sent back through the Suez Canal, to the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility. Iwo Jima, Carter Hall and Nashville then deployed to Liberia and steamed in formation three miles offshore as former Liberian President Charles Taylor departed for Nigeria. On 14 August, the Iwo Jima ARG, using air and surface assets, launched marines assigned to the 26th MEU Special Operations Capable (SOC) into Liberia in support of peacekeeping efforts in the war-torn capital of Monrovia.

Iwo Jima-Marines off Liberia-14Aug203-030814-N-6204K-028
Marines from the 26th MEU wait on the flight deck of Iwo Jima prior to boarding helicopters bound for Monrovia, Liberia, 14 August 2003. (Photographers Mate Airman Apprentice Christian N. Knoell, U.S. Navy Photograph 030814-N-6204K-028, Photos)

On 29 August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast. On 31 August, Iwo Jima deployed from Norfolk in order to provide disaster response and humanitarian aid to the victims. After deploying LCACs to bring supplies to Biloxi, Ms., on 4 September, Iwo Jima arrived at New Orleans on 5 September. The ship served as President George W. Bush’s flagship during Katrina operations, was at the center of Joint Task Force Katrina, and led recovery and assistance efforts in the battered cities of Biloxi, Gulfport, and New Orleans. President Bush spent the night of 11-12 September on board the ship. Iwo Jima was the second vessel presented with the flag of the President of the United States.

On 24 September 2005, Hurricane Rita swirled ashore as a Category 3 hurricane, and Iwo Jima was among the first responders in relief efforts. On 25 September, helicopters from the embarked squadrons left for the coastal regions of Louisiana to perform search and rescue operations and flood assessment missions. After completing her disaster relief mission in the Crescent City, Iwo Jima offloaded some 650 marines of the 24th MEU, and the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, at Onslow Bay, N.C., via helicopters and Air Cushion Landing Craft (LCAC) and then returned to Norfolk on 2 October.

Iwo Jima- LCACs arrive at Biloxi-4Sep2005-050904-N-7638K-012
An Air Cushion Landing Craft (LCAC), embarked on board Iwo Jima, arrives on the shores of Biloxi, Miss., to render assistance to Hurricane Katrina survivors, 4 September 2005. (Lithographer First Class Edward S. Kessler U.S. Navy Photograph 050904-N-7638K-012, Photos)
Iwo Jima- Pres Bush on board-11Sep05-050911-N-8933S-100
President George W. Bush walks through rainbow-hued sideboys as he arrives on board Iwo Jima at New Orleans, 11 September 2005. (Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Robert Strachko, U.S. Navy Photograph 050911-N-8933S-100, Photos)
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Iwo Jima steams in dense fog in the Atlantic Ocean, 15 January 2006. (Lithographer Seaman Apprentice Bryant Kurowski, U.S. Navy Photograph 060115-N-6282K-001, Photos)

On 6 June 2006, Iwo Jima cleared Norfolk Naval Station to begin a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. European Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility to conduct maritime security operations. Iwo Jima served as the flagship for the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), which included Nashville; dock landing ship Whidbey Island (LSD-41); guided missile destroyers Bulkeley (DDG-84) and Cole (DDG-67); guided missile cruiser Philippine Sea (CG-58); and the submarine Albuquerque (SSN-706). Additionally, the Iwo Jima ESG included the 24th MEU (SOC), as well as various supporting elements from Assault Craft Unit 4, Beachmaster Unit 2, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26. On 21 July, Iwo Jima-based helos assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 365 joined in the ongoing departure assistance efforts for American citizens in Lebanon. Other ships involved in the evacuation included Nashville, guided missile destroyers Gonzalez (DDG- 66), Barry (DDG-52), Whidbey Island, Trenton, and USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198).

Iwo Jima- off Beirut-21JUl2006-060721-N-6403R-025
CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365, assisting in the departure of U.S. citizens from Lebanon, land on the Iwo Jima flight deck, 21 July 2006. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joshua T. Rodriguez, U.S. Navy Photograph 060721-N-6403R-025, Photos)

On 21 September October 2006 AV-8B Harriers, as part of the 24th MEU Air Combat Element (ACE) attached to Iwo Jima, completed combat missions against Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Iwo Jima returned to Norfolk from her deployment on 6 December.

In July 2010 the ship departed Norfolk on a four-month deployment for a humanitarian mission, Operation Continuing Promise 2010, in Central and South America. During those months, the ship provided support to Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua and Suriname sending a strong message of cooperation and commitment to the entire region. Iwo Jima returned to Norfolk on 18 November.

On 11 April 2012, during Exercise African Lion 12, two marines were killed and two severely injured in the crash of an MV-22 Osprey during a training exercise in southern Morocco. The Osprey took off from Iwo Jima and crashed around 1600, moments after dropping off marines at an inland location near Cap Draa, a military training area southwest of Agadir, Morocco. The aircraft belonged to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, an Osprey unit out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., attached to the 24th MEU deployed from Camp Lejeune, N.C., on March 29.

In January 2015, the Iwo Jima ARG, consisting of Iwo Jima and the dock landing ship Fort McHenry (LSD-43) with embarked units of the 24th MEU, were on station in the Red Sea, ready to respond to any non-combatant evacuation contingencies for U.S. citizens resulting from the civil war between Yemeni government forces and Shiite Houthi rebels.

Iwo Jima- Sunset in the Suez Canal- 21Jun2015-150621-M-QZ288-113
Marines with the 24th MEU watch the sunset as Iwo Jima transits the Suez Canal, 21 June 2015. (Lance Corporal Austin A. Lewis, U.S. Marine Corps Photograph 150621-M-QZ288-113, Photos)

A McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II of VMM-162, embarked on board Iwo Jima while she deployed to the Indian Ocean, crashed while taking off from Djibouti Ambouli International Airport, just after 1600 on 3 April 2018. The pilot ejected and was treated and reported in stable condition while being evaluated at Camp Lemonnier’s expeditionary medical facility. There were no reports of injuries to people on the ground or damage to infrastructure at the airport, which remained open. Investigators began to look into the cause of the accident.

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

National Defense Service Medal

Southwest Asia Service Medal

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Commanding Officers

Detailed history under construction.

Christopher B. Havern Sr.
3 November 2015

Published: Thu Apr 05 06:51:40 EDT 2018