(LPH-7: dp. 18,000 (f.); l. 592'; b. 84'; ed. 105'; dr. 27'; cpl. 900; cl. Iwo Jima)
A volcanic island 90 miles long and 25 miles wide in the Pacific Ocean, Solomon Islands group. Guadalcanal was captured by the Japanese in 1942. Before they could develop it as a bastion Admiral Keily Turner's amphibious force struck in August. The next 4 months saw some of the bitterest fighting of World War II. Six major naval battles and uncounted smaller engagements were fought in the waters adjacent to the island. The victory on Guadalcanal was the next great step to victory following Midway.
The second Guadalcanal (LPH-7), an amphibious assault ship, was launched by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 16 March 1963, sponsored by Mrs. David Shoup, wife of the former Commandant of the Marine Corps; and commissioned 20 July 1963, Captain Dale K. Peterson in command.
Upon completion of sea trials and outfitting, Guadalcanal departed Philadelphia to join the Amphibious Forces, United States Atlantic Fleet. One of a new class of ships designed from the keel up to embark, transport, and land assault Marines by means of helicopters, she lends new strength and flexibility to amphibious operations. After departing Norfolk 23 October 1963 for 6 weeks shakedown training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Guadalcanal steamed to Onslow Beach, North Carolina, 6 December for practice amphibious landings. She then carried on training and readiness operations with the Atlantic Fleet, based in Norfolk until departing for Panama 11 February 1964. Following 2 months on station as flagship for Commander PhibRon 12 with the 12 Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked and ready to land anywhere needed. Guadalcanal entered Philadelphia Naval Shipyard 26 May, but was deployed again 7 October as a unit of Operation "Steel Pike 1", a NATO landing exercise on the beaches of southern Spain.
Guadalcanal has continued to serve in the Atlantic Fleet into 1967. One of the highlights of her career occurred 21 July 1966 when she recovered Gemini X astronauts after their spacecraft landed in the Atlantic east of Cape Kennedy.