The first Arlington (AP-174) was named for the county in Virginia; the second Arlington (AGMR-2) (ex-Saipan) was named for that same county, but specifically honoring its being the site of one of the U.S. Navy’s first radio test stations; the third Arlington (LPD-24) was also named for that county, but specifically honoring the victims of the al-Qaeda attack on the Pentagon, the seat of administration for the U.S. Department of Defense, on 11 September 2001, that killed 189 (all 64 people on board American Air Lines Flight 77 alone) and injured 125.
(LPD-24: displacement 25,883; length 684'; beam 105'; draft 23'; speed 22+ knots; complement 396; troop capacity 699 (800+ surge); armament 2 RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), 2 Bushmaster II 30 millimeter, and 9 .50 caliber machine guns; aircraft launch or recover 2 Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions, or 2 Bell Boeing MV-22B Ospreys, or up to 4 Boeing-Vertol CH-46 Sea Knights, Bell AH-1Z Vipers, or Bell UH-1Y Venoms; class San Antonio)
The third Arlington (LPD-24) was laid down on 26 May 2008, at Pascagoula, Miss., by Northrop-Grumman’s Ingalls shipyard; launched on 23 November 2010; sponsored by Mrs. Joyce P. Rumsfeld, wife of former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; delivered to the U.S. Navy at her building yard on 7 December 2012; and commissioned on 8 February 2013, at Naval Station (NS) Norfolk, Va., Cmdr. Darren W. Nelson in command.
Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally used by the Navy. The pentagon-shaped shield, representing the Department of Defense (DoD), has a border or façade the color of limestone buff except the red section of the Southwest wall. The red section symbolizes the area of the Pentagon where American Air Lines Flight 77 crashed into the building on 11 September 2001. The laurel wreath is symbolic of honor and high achievement, and commemorates the heroism of the first responders on that terrible day. The trident, representing sea prowess, underscores Arlington’s mission to embark, transport, and deploy marines for amphibious warfare. The Pentagon’s location in Arlington County is highlighted by the Arlington House adapted from the county’s seal.
The 13 stars between the rays are from the DoD’s seal. The two benches with the trees represent two of the 184 illuminated benches of the Pentagon Memorial, dedicated to those who lost their lives on 9/11. The bald eagle, the embodiment of strength, vigilance, and resolve, is long associated with the United States and its armed forces. The eagle soars above, bowing its head in respect for the fallen, and its wings echo the shape of the memorial’s benches.
The crossed naval officer sword and chief petty officer cutlass, and the marine officer and non-commissioned officer swords, symbolize the teamwork of the two services for Arlington.
The ship’s museum included a display of steel taken from the Pentagon following the terrorist attack on 11 September 2001. Arlington ship took part in the Stationary Recovery Test in the protected waters around NS Norfolk (12–16 August 2013). Navy and National Aeronautics and Space Administration planners developed the exercise to demonstrate the hardware and techniques they hoped to be able to use to recover the unmanned Orion spacecraft at sea.
The testing helped them to prepare for Exploration Flight Test 1 with Orion on 5 December 2014. Orion launched atop a Delta IV rocket from Space Launch Complex 37B at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., made two orbits of the planet during a four and a half hour mission, and splashed down in the Pacific. Anchorage (LPD-23), another San Antonio class amphibious transport dock, Military Sealift Command-manned salvage ship Salvor (T-ARS-52), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, Mobile Diving and Salvage Company 11-17, Fleet Weather Center San Diego, and Fleet Combat Camera Pacific took part in the recovery when the spacecraft splashed down. Anchorage retrieved Orion’s crew module, forward bay cover, and parachutes.
Arlington, Capt. Sean R. Bailey in command and with marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked, set out on her maiden deployment during a voyage to European waters (6 October–3 May 2016). The ship operated at times with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, including Kearsarge (LHD-3) and dock landing ship Oak Hill (LSD-51). Arlington steamed 36,740 nautical miles and served in both the Fifth and Sixth Fleets, passing through the Suez Canal and on 9 November entering the Fifth Fleet’s area of responsibility. In addition, she called at: Lisbon, Portugal; Souda Bay, Greece; Eilat, Israel; Aqaba, Jordan; Bahrain; Kuwait; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Marseilles, France.
As the ship steamed in the Gulf of Aden on 23 December 2015, a lookout sighted a vessel waving red and white flags indicating distress. Arlington closed and lowered a rigid-hull inflatable boat that made for the stricken craft. The boat team discovered that the vessel’s engine suffered a broken piston, which rendered her helpless and adrift. Arlington did not carry the specific spare parts to repair the craft, but gave the distressed mariners food and water, and waited nearby until coalition forces reached the scene and further assisted the mariners.
Arlington took part in BaltOps 2017, a U.S.-led, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO-executed, multi-national maritime exercise in the Baltic Sea (1–16 June 2017). The 45th edition of the exercise, BaltOps 2017 involved 4,000 American, Belgian, British, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, and Swedish crewmembers manning 50 ships and submarines, and supported by more than 50 of their aircraft.
Detailed history pending.
Robert J. Cressman and Mark L. Evans
12 March 2018