The tenth U.S. Navy ship to carry this historic name that called to mind any of numerous winged hymenopterus insects possessing smooth, slender bodies, and an abdomen attached by a narrow stalk. They have well developed wings, biting mouthparts, and often administer painful stings. The first was a unit of Commodore Esek Hopkin’s squadron, one of the first ships of the fledgling Continental Navy to go to sea, and participated in the landings at New Providence in 1776. The second was a sloop-of-war famous for her single-ship action in which she defeated HMS Frolic in 1812 and, together with Hornet, was featured in the famous contemporary cartoon depicting insects labelled “Hornet” and “Wasp” stinging a harried “John Bull.” The fifth, a square-rigged sloop-of-war, also fought in the War of 1812, defeating HMS Reindeer in a single-ship action in 1814. The eighth, CV-7, won two battle stars during World War II and was perhaps most famous for her prominent role in two vital reinforcement runs carrying Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire fighters to the beleaguered island of Malta in 1942. Her performance caused British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous interrogatory message—“Who said a Wasp couldn’t sting twice?” After shifting to the Pacific theater, CV-7 participated in a number of major engagements before being sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal on 15 September 1942. The ninth, CV-18, earned eight battle stars for her World War II service. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in 1972.
(LHD-1: displacement 28, 050 (light) 41,684 (full); length 847'; beam 106'; draft 28' ; speed 20+ knots; complement 1,204; 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 tenth Wasp (LHD-1) was laid down on 30 May 1985 at Pascagoula, Miss., by Ingalls Industries, Inc., Shipyard; launched on 4 August 1987; sponsored by Mrs. Diane Lawrence, wife of Vice Admiral William P. Lawrence, USN (Retired); commissioned on 6 July 1989, Capt. Leonard F. Picotte in command.
Or, a pile Azure, overall a chevron debased counterchanged; in chief a pair of wings conjoined Argent surmounted by a ship's hull affronté upon waves of the sea all of the first in front of two crossed swords; a cutlass with point to base of the third and a saber point to dexter of the first. Dark blue and gold are the traditional U.S. Navy colors. Blue alludes to the sea, the theater of naval operations. Gold stands for excellence. The chevron, a traditional symbol for support, represents the amphibious assault mission of the ship. It resembles a wave moving to shore and refers to the deployment of men and cargo. The wings highlight Wasp's aviation heritage and capabilities. The modern ship with the crossed officer and enlisted swords adapted from the surface warfare emblem represents leadership, teamwork and the ship's mission of surface warfare operations. The pile (or sharply pointed "V" shape) is expressive of assault, combat readiness and victory. The counterchange of colors emphasizes the ship's capability to integrate sea, air and land combat missions to conduct an amphibious assault. The shield is divided into nine sections honoring the nine previous ships named Wasp.
On a wreath Or and Azure a demi-torteau below two tridents saltirewise Or, overall a wasp Proper; all encircled by ten mullets four on either side and two at top Azure. The wasp, with its well-developed wings and ability to administer painful stings, epitomizes quick striking power. The stars recall two of the past Wasps, CV-7 and CV-18, aircraft carriers that earned two and eight battle stars respectively for World War II service. The red disc or rising sun refers to World War II Japan and the Pacific Theater where those aircraft carriers experienced heavy combat action. The tridents are symbolic of sea power and weaponry.
The coat of arms as blazoned in full color upon a white oval enclosed within a dark blue collar edged on the outside with gold rope and bearing the inscription “USS WASP” at top and “LHD 1” in base, all in gold.
On a scroll Azure edged Or, the words "HONOR TRADITION EXCELLENCE" in letters of the second.
From June to December 1991 Wasp was deployed to the Mediterranean.
From February to August 1993 she took part in Operation Restore/Continue Hope off Somalia. On 20 April 1993, while operating off Somalia she scraped her keel and propeller on a charted reef about three and a half miles offshore but was able to continue her assigned mission. Following this incident her commanding officer and navigator were relieved.
From May to August 1993 Wasp conducted counter-drug operations in the Caribbean. The following May, she took part in Operation Support Democracy until July 1994 when that operation became Uphold Democracy. She took part in the NATO exercise Strong Resolve from February to April 1995, during which time, on 29 March, Wasp collided with Seattle (AOE-3) while returning from the exercise. The resulting damage proved minor.
Wasp conducted a Mediterranean deployment from August 1995 to February 1996.
In June 1998 the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked aviation elements from the 26th MEU (Special Operations Capable) (SOC) was deployed to the Adriatic Sea for Exercise Determined Falcon and NATO’s demonstration of support for the Kosovo cease fire.
On 22 February 2002 the Wasp ARG -- Wasp, Trenton (LPD-14), and Oak Hill (LSD-51) -- with the embarked 22nd MEU/SOC deployed from Hampton Roads in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Wasp ARG steamed nearly 95,000 miles during their deployment. Along the way, the ships of the ARG participated in Operation Sea Eagle in the Gulf of Aden and numerous multi-national exercises, in addition to making a variety of port visits including Souda Bay, Crete; Kingdom of Bahrain; and Rota, Spain, before returning to their respective homeports on 30 August.
On 17 February 2004 the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG 2) -- Wasp, Shreveport (LPD-12), Whidbey Island (LSD-41), guided missile cruisers Leyte Gulf (CG-55) and Yorktown (CG-48), guided missile destroyer McFaul (DDG-74), and attack submarine Connecticut (SSN-22) -- deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the Global War on Terrorism. The embarked marines of the 22nd MEU based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. conducted combat operations in Afghanistan. While other constituents of ESG 2 returned to their respective home ports earlier, Wasp returned to Naval Station Norfolk on 18 September 2004.
In mid-July 2006 a crisis developed from the confrontation between Israeli Defense Forces and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. On 25 August Wasp undertook a surge deployment from Norfolk Naval Station, Va. to support Joint Task Force (JTF) Lebanon. Wasp arrived off the coast of Lebanon on 6 September and became the command platform for the maritime component commander of JTF Lebanon. Tactical units remained in the joint area of operations to coordinate activities for air, land, and sea support to the American embassy in Beirut. On 12 October 2006 Wasp made a port visit to Reykjavik, Iceland after her deployment as part of JTF Lebanon.
On 4 September 2007 Hurricane Felix made landfall in Nicaragua. On 5 September 2007 Wasp diverted from her participation in the PANAMAX 2007 Exercise and off-loaded multinational personnel from the exercise in Panama and deployed to the waters off Nicaragua in order to provide disaster relief/humanitarian assistance to hurricane survivors. Also embarked in Wasp was Commander Task Group (TG) 40.0 along with officers from the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. This joint command cell coordinated relief efforts with the lead U.S. federal agency for this effort, the United States Agency for International Development and its Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. TG 40.0 also coordinated with local Nicaraguan authorities and the U.S. Military Group Commander in Nicaragua. On 7 September Wasp began aerial delivery of relief supplies, efforts later continued from guided missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58).
On 13 January 2011 Wasp moved to BAE Systems Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., for scheduled Phased Maintenance Availability (PMA). That period of work ended on 27 April and Wasp then conducted sea trials that ended on 2 May.
On 12 August 2013 two F-35B Lightning II jets (BF-01 and BF-05) touched down on board Wasp to initiate a week of Development Testing II where Wasp sailors and the Integrated Test Force team members evaluated the F-35B. Wasp and the ITF completed a major milestone when Lt. Col. C. R. Clift launched from the flight deck and landed safely, marking the first successful night launch and recovery of the F-35B at sea.
Wasp completed a pre-deployment overhaul in 2017 and subsequently departed Norfolk on 30 August to deploy to Sasebo, Japan to relieve Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) as the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in the Seventh Fleet. This change of homeport was part of an effort to place the most advanced capabilities in the Indo-Pacific. A few days later, while en route, she was diverted to the Caribbean to assist the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The amphibious assault ship then provided assistance to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. In support of relief efforts, Wasp’s aircraft flew 108 missions on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico totaling 385 hours of flight time moving 1,129 total passengers along with 26,720 pounds of equipment and 1,718,200 pounds of various logistical support items, including 328,100 pounds of food and water. Resuming her passage to Sasebo, she arrived on 14 January 2018.
Wasp departed Sasebo on 3 March 2018 for a routine patrol in the Indo-Pacific. While underway two days later, on 5 March, a detachment of F-35B Lightning II's with Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) arrived on board Wasp March 5, marking the first time the aircraft had deployed on board a U.S. Navy ship and with a MEU in the Indo-Pacific, concluding the testing and shipboard structural modifications begun in 2013. The F-35Bs, capable of conducting precision strikes inland, supporting Marine units ashore, or providing air defense for the ESG, were assigned to the Okinawa-based 31st MEU.
Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, ESG 7, remarked that: "Pairing F-35B Lightning II's with Wasp represents one of the most significant :leaps in warfighting capability for the Navy-Marine Corps team in our lifetime." "This 5th generation stealth jet is extremely versatile and will greatly enhance and expand our operational capabilities." The aircraft and the 2,300 marines of the 31st MEU were deployed on board the ships of the ESG for follow-on operations in the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen regional alliances, provide rapid-response capability, and advance the 'Up-Gunned ESG' concept initiated by the Pacific Fleet. This change was made to provide increased lethality and survivability to a traditional three-ship amphibious ready group with the integration into amphibious operations. The combined capabilities of the multi-mission surface combatants and F-35B was intended to enable the amphibious force to defend against threats in the undersea, surface and air domains more effectively while also providing offensive firepower to strike from the sea. Col. Tye R. Wallace, USMC, 31st MEU Commanding Officer, called the deployment of the aircraft “historic.” He noted that, “The F-35B is the most capable aircraft ever to support a Marine rifleman on the ground. It brings a range of new capabilities to the MEU that make us a more lethal and effective Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF)." Capt. Colby Howard, Wasp’s commanding officer, added: "Deployment of the versatile F-35B enhances the full range of Expeditionary Strike Group capabilities with one of the world's most technologically-advanced air warfare platforms."
This was followed in April with the Wasp ESG conducting combined navigational maneuvers with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF) amphibious transport dock JS Shimokita (LST 4002).
The operational relationship with the JMSDF was further enhanced on 26 August 2018 when the Wasp ARG, including Wasp, the amphibious transport dock ship Green Bay (LPD-20), the dock landing ship Ashland (LSD-48) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer Shoup (DDG- 86), with the attached 31st MEU, conducted as passing exercise (PASSEX) with the JMSDF amphibious transport dock ship JS Osumi (LST 4001). The ARG was operating in the region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force. In this exercise the ships sailed in formation practicing communications and maneuvering procedures. The exercise allowed the ships to improve each crews' knowledge and seamanship skills. Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, Commander, Amphibious Force, 7th Fleet, said this PASSEX served as another building block in the continued positive relationship between the Wasp ESG and the JMSDF and further noted that “Today, we continue to strengthen our relationship and work together as one team with the goal of enhancing our combined amphibious capabilities.”
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Navy Battle "E" Ribbon (3)
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (3-Somalia)
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal
Detailed history pending.
Christopher B. Havern Sr.
28 August 2018