The second U.S. Navy ship to be named for the Shoshone native American girl who acted as guide and interpreter for Lewis and Clark on their expedition into the Northwest region of the U.S. “The Bird Woman,” as her name was translated, proved an invaluable aide to the explorers. On one occasion, she saved the expedition's records after they had fallen in the Missouri River when her husband's boat capsized. The first (YT-241, YTM-326) served from 1942 to 1945.
(T-AKE-2: displacement 41,000; length 689’; beam 106’; draft 30’; speed 20 knots; complement 129; class Lewis and Clark)
Sacagawea (T-AKE-2) keel was laid on 7 June 2005 at National Steel & Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, Calif.; launched on 24 June 2006 sponsored by Ms. Lucy Diaz and Ms. Rachel Ariwite, Sacagawea’s descendants; and delivered on 27 February 2007.
“Leading the Way”
Sacagawea sponsors christen the ship at National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego, Calif., 24 June 2006. (Military Sealift Command Photograph).
On 11 May 2007 Sacagawea arrived at her new homeport, Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
A porpoise plays off the bow of Sacagawea in the Arabian Gulf, 10 February 2008. (Lt. Erik Reynolds, U.S. Navy Photograph 080213-N-7179R-001, Navy.mil Photos).
On 22 February 2008 Sacagawea assisted with the rescue of ten Iraqi citizens from a sinking 250-foot coastal tanker in the central Arabian Gulf. The Bahrain-based Maritime Liaison Office issued an alert that the North Korean-flagged vessel Nadi was sinking and that her crew needed assistance. Nadi, which was flooding, had been operating without power for a week and its crew members were suffering from dehydration and exhaustion. Sacagawea was conducting logistics operations in the area and arrived on-scene to help shortly after the distress call was issued. Aircraft from Harry S. Truman's (CVN-75) Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 7 picked up the seamen and delivered them to Sacagawea where they were examined by medical officers. On 23 February HS 7 transferred the Iraqi mariners to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary landing dock ship Cardigan Bay (L.3009) and the next day the mariners were transferred to the Iraqi Navy for further transport home.
In the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, the Navy deployed an amphibious relief mission as part of Operation Unified Response, providing military support capabilities to civil authorities engaged in disaster response and humanitarian assistance operations. On 23 January, Sacagawea successfully completed a vertical replenishment and connected replenishment with the amphibious assault ship Bataan (LHD-5). She received more than 450 pallets of supplies. Four days later, on 27 January, Bataan successfully received approximately 170 pallets of material aid in a further replenishment-at-sea with Sacagawea. Bataan then moved the supplies ashore by air cushion landing craft (LCAC), utility landing craft (LCUs), and helicopters.
A Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk returns to Sacagawea during a vertical replenishment with Bataan and dock landing ship Carter Hall (LSD-50) during Operation Unified Response in Haiti, 20 February 2010. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julio Rivera, U.S. Navy Photograph 100220-N-7508R-003, Navy.mil Photos).
A merchant seaman on board Sacagawea hooks a pallet of supplies to the bottom of an MH-60S helicopter during a vertical replenishment with Bataan in the Caribbean, 20 February 2010. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Hendrick Dickson, U.S. Navy Photograph 100220-N-2000D-241, Navy.mil Photos).
Sacagawea transits the Suez Canal as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, 18 June 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho, U.S. Navy Photograph 110618-N-QL471-100, Navy.mil Photos).
On 5 July 2012 Sacagawea conducted vertical replenishments at sea with the guided missile frigates Underwood (FFG-36) and Curts (FFG-38).
On 6 April 2013, Marine Corps pilots from the Okinawa-based Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron VMM-265, flying MV-22B Ospreys, conducted training with Sacagawea off the coast of Subic Bay, Philippines. Flight operations with the Ospreys continued through 11 April. During the test flights, Marine Corps aviation people worked closely with Military Sealift Command civil service mariners aboard the vessel, familiarizing themselves with the aircraft's unique capabilities, as well as its cargo lifting and passenger transfer capabilities.
An MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265, lands on board Sacagawea off the coast of Subic Bay during Exercise Balikatan 2013, 6 April 2013. (Ensign Chang Liu, U.S. Navy Photograph 130406-N-KI757-001, Navy.mil Photos).
Detailed history under construction.
Christopher B. Havern Sr.
3 December 2015