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Shreveport II (LPD-12)

1970–2007

Shreve, Henry M
Artist George D’Almaine (1800–1843) captures Capt. Shreve later in his life in this charcoal and chalk drawing. (National Portrait Gallery Image NPG.69.36, Smithsonian Institution)

Named in honor of the city of Shreveport, La., and for Capt. Henry Miller Shreve, born in Mount Pleasant, N.J., on 21 October 1785, to Israel and Mary (nee Cokely) Shreve. His father was a Quaker and an American Revolution veteran. The family relocated to property owned by Gen. George Washington in Fayette County, Pa., on 7 July 1788. Their new home lay near the Youghiogheny River, which probably gave the future explorer his first taste of river life. Israel Shreve died in 1799, and his son worked on several riverboats to help support his family. Shreve married Mary M. Blair on 28 February 1811. They had three children: Harriet Louise, Rebecca Ann, and Hampden Zane.

Shreve moved to Brownsville, Pa., purchased a barge, and traded with ports along the Mississippi and Ohio River basins to New Orleans, La. During one voyage, he registered his vessel at New Orleans (11 February 1814), loaded her with cargo, and hauled and poled 2,200 miles against strong river currents to Brownsville (by June or July).

A group of Brownsville investors formed the Monongahela and Ohio Steam Boat Company to carry out steamboat trade on the western rivers, and commissioned steamboat Enterprise at Brownsville (spring 1814). Inventor Daniel French designed and constructed her engine and power train. Enterprise, Master Israel Gregg in command, made two voyages transporting passengers and cargo to ports between Brownsville and Louisville, Ky. (June–December 1814). The company then dispatched Enterprise, carrying a cargo of munitions, to supply Gen. Andrew Jackson at New Orleans against a British invasion. Shreve relieved Gregg because of his experience with the hazards to navigation on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Enterprise steamed from Pittsburgh, Pa., to New Orleans (21 December 1814–9 January 1815).

Jackson repulsed the British attack during the Battle of New Orleans, but the heirs of inventor Robert Fulton and U.S. Minister to France Robert R. Livingston initiated a lawsuit against Shreve and the owners of Enterprise. The plaintiffs accused the defendants of infringing upon their monopoly of navigating steamboats on Louisiana waters. Shreve served some time in jail, and upon his release took Enterprise on the first northerly voyage by a steamboat from New Orleans to Louisville, continuing to Pittsburgh and then to Brownsville.

Shreve and four partners commissioned George White to build steamboat Washington, of 400 tons burden, at Wheeling, Va. (later West Virginia) in 1816. Daniel French again constructed the engine and drive train, at Brownsville. Washington’s design marked the first steamboat with two decks, the main deck for the boiler and the upper deck for passengers. Shreve took Washington to New Orleans, but the heirs of Fulton and Livingston again sued him and several counterparts (spring 1817). Judge Dominic C. Hall declared that the court did not have jurisdiction and hence dismissed all the suits (21 April).

Shreve developed Heliopolis, a steamboat specifically designed to remove river snags, in 1824. President John Quincy Adams appointed Capt. Shreve, USACE, Superintendent of Improvements for Western Rivers in 1826. During this time, one of the greatest hazards to navigation and exploration of rivers in the Louisiana area consisted of dense masses of logs and other debris, which formed log jams or snags along the shallow rivers. Shreve, with a crew of 159 officers and men, broke up the “Great Raft,” a series of large river snags that ran for approximately 130 miles along the Red River, at a cost of $157.000 (1833–1839). He continued his efforts on other projects until President John Tyler relieved him of his duties as superintendent in 1841. Shreve retired to his farm near St. Louis, Mo. His wife Mary died in 1845, and two years later he married his housekeeper, Lydia Rogers of Boston, Mass. They had two children, one of whom, Florence, died at the age of two (1849–1851). The death of “Our Little Florie” devastated Shreve. He died, either from respiratory illness during an exceptionally bitter winter or possibly from cholera, on 6 March 1851. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.

II

(LPD-12: displacement 16,966; length 570'; beam 100'; draft 22'; speed 21 knots; complement 560; capacity 900; armament 8 3-inch; aircraft 6 Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knights; class Austin)

Shreveport (LPD-12) was laid down on 27 December 1965 at Seattle, Wash., by Lockheed Shipbuilding & Construction Co.; launched on 22 October 1966; sponsored by Mrs. Bertha L. Jackson, wife of Vice Adm. Andrew M. Jackson, Jr.; and commissioned at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Wash., on 12 December 1970, Capt. Pehr H. Pehrsson in command.

Shreveport (LPD-12) II 1970-2007-Seal

The brown pelican, which is the state bird of Louisiana, also appears on the seals of the city of Shreveport, Louisiana, and the state of Louisiana. The major areas in which Shreveport operated were symbolized by the hemisphere depicting the coast of the United States of America and the western littoral of Europe and Africa.

Her motto, “No Shore Too Distant,” was indicative of Shreveport’s readiness and capability to respond to U.S. foreign policy tasking throughout the world. The Marine Corps eagle, globe, and anchor, and the Navy fouled anchor, symbolize the function of the amphibious transport dock, and the necessary cooperation between the sister services, that implemented Shreveport’s amphibious mission.

Shreveport (LPD-12) II 1970-2007
The ship steams majestically at sea early in her career. (Department of Defense Photograph, Defense Visual Information Center)

Shreveport worked up along the west coast (22–30 January 1971), and made her first port calls when she visited San Francisco (27 January) and San Diego (29–30 January), Calif. The ship loaded cargo, including bulldozers and blades, destined for the east coast. As she sailed (31 January), naval helicopters practiced touch and go landings on her half-acre flight deck under the guidance of brightly garbed aviation division sailors. Shreveport visited her initial foreign port when she put in to Acapulco, Mexico (3–4 February), and crossed the equator for the first time (8 February). Shellbacks ran their flag up the halyard, while the Chief Master at Arms led groups of dissident pollywogs in a musical rendition of “We shall overcome.”

The ship passed through the Panama Canal (9 February), and three days later moored to Poland Street Wharf, New Orleans, La., for the Mardi Gras celebration. Favorable seas and balmy airs met Shreveport when she returned to sea, rounded Florida, and reached Morehead City, N.C. (20 February). Marines and Sailors used landing craft to offload her cargo. The ship then headed fair up the channel to Hampton Roads, Va. (21 February), completing her maiden voyage of more than 8,000 nautical miles.

Shreveport and amphibious transport dock Raleigh (LPD-1) deployed from Norfolk, Va. (16 June 1971) with 375 midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy for NatRonLant 71, a cruise to European waters. Shreveport visited Lisbon, Portugal (29 June–2 July); Copenhagen, Denmark (9–12 July), and Portsmouth, England (16–22 July), before returning to disembark the midshipmen at Annapolis, Maryland (4 August). Capt. William A. Gureck relieved Capt. Pehrsson as the commanding officer on 29 September 1972.

The ship made her first deployment to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean (4 January–3 July 1973). She trained with NATO forces and visited ports in France, Italy, Greece, Crete, and Turkey. Shreveport’s sterngate failed to rise as the ship prepared to sail from Naples, Italy, to Izmir, Turkey, to disembark Turkish marines (4 April), whom she transferred to Ponce (LPD-15) for transportation to Izmir while repairing the sterngate. The ship then (19 April) sailed to celebrate Easter at Palma, Spain. Capt. Curtis A. Karvala relieved Capt. Gureck as the commanding officer on 16 November 1973. Capt. Alan W. Crandall relieved Capt. Karvala as the commanding officer on 9 May 1975.

A severe winter storm lashed the ship while she returned from a deployment to the Mediterranean (28 July 1975–4 February 1976). Early on the morning of 2 February, a 40-foot wave, colloquially known as the “North Wall Effect,” slammed into Shreveport bow on, about 65 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. The wave injured seven men, and severely damaged the forward portion of the ship, especially in the area of the flying bridge. The damage control team contained the flooding, and Shreveport rode out the storm. She disembarked the Marines of the 32nd Marine Amphibious Unit at Morehead City, and returned to Norfolk. Capt. Burnham C. McCaffree Jr., relieved Capt. Crandall as the commanding officer on 16 September 1976.

Ninety Army pilots from the 24th Aviation Battalion, 24th Infantry Division, qualified in afloat operations in Bell AH-1G HueyCobras and UH-1 Iroquois, Bell OH-58A Kiowas, and Boeing CH-47 Chinooks on board Shreveport off Savannah, Ga. (early November 1977). Army helicopters trained with the ship more than once during the ensuing years. Capt. Richard F. White relieved Capt. McCaffree as the commanding officer on 17 November 1978.

President James E. [Jimmy] Carter, Jr., ordered (30 April 1980) the Navy to divert ships scheduled for exercise Solid Shield 80 in the Atlantic and Caribbean to assist the Coast Guard in the rescue of Cuban refugees, who fled their country en masse in dangerously overcrowded boats through the Florida Straits for the U.S. Amphibious assault ship Saipan (LHA-2), Ponce, and Shreveport led a combination of amphibious vessels and minesweepers that supported the Coast Guard, and Lockheed P-3 Orions flew patrols, primarily from Key West, Fla. Shreveport rescued 495 refugees: 314 men, 110 women, and 71 children. Crewmen fed, and in some cases provided clothing for, the people. Aircraft flew the refugees to Key West for further transfer. The ship subsequently received the Humanitarian Service Medal (30 May–13 June 1980). More than 125,000 Cuban refugees fled to the U.S. by 12 June, when the tempo diminished. Eleven Navy ships took part in these rescues until the Navy terminated its support of the boat lift (8 July). Capt. Gary F. Wheatley relieved Capt. White as the commanding officer on 29 August 1980.

Shreveport interrupted her training to provide communications and airlift support for President Ronald W. Reagan during the North-South Economic Summit Conference in Cancun, Mexico (16–27 October 1981). She embarked Sikorsky VH-3D Sea Kings of Marine Helicopter Squadron (HMX) 1, the presidential helicopter squadron, together with executive communications and medical staff, at Key West. Upon completing the summit, President Reagan circled above Shreveport in Marine One, and spoke via a communications link through the ship’s intercom system: “I just want to thank you all for being on duty out here during our meeting in Cancun. Thank you all very much, and we’re very proud of all of you. God bless you.” Following these “special operations,” Shreveport spent two days at Cancun. Capt. Keith S. Jones relieved Capt. Wheatley as the commanding officer on 13 February 1982.

In the early 1980s, Lebanon collapsed into a civil war between Muslim extremists, Christians, and Jews. During a deployment to the Mediterranean (23 August of 1982–9 March of 1983), the ship operated with the Multinational Peacekeeping Force for four months off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon (29 October 1982–15 February 1983). She later received the Navy Unit Commendation and the Navy Expeditionary Forces Medal for her operations in Lebanese waters. Capt. Robert J. Ianucci relieved Capt. Jones as the commanding officer on 15 July 1983.

A series of mysterious underwater explosions struck 19 ships in the Gulf of Suez while Shreveport deployed to the Mediterranean (26 July 1984–20 February 1985). On 31 July 1984, Islamic Jihad terrorists linked to the Iranians claimed to have lain 190 mines in the Gulf of Suez and Bab-al-Mandeb. The Egyptians requested international assistance and the U.S. began Operation Intense Look: the clearance of the waterway (3 August).

The Joint Chiefs tasked Shreveport as an airborne mine countermeasures support ship. She embarked four Sikorsky RH‑53D Sea Stallions of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14, Cmdr. Chester F. Harrison, in command, and a detachment of Commander, Mine Warfare Command, Capt. Donald L. Dill, Officer in Charge, at Rota, Spain (6 August). The ship passed through the Strait of Gibraltar (10 August), and two days later, the Mobile Medical Augmentation Team (MMART), Cmdr. Joseph M. Ricciardi, in command, landed on board by helicopter from Sigonella, Italy. Shreveport transited the Suez Canal (15 August), and the following day began operations in the Gulf of Suez off Ras Shukheir, Egypt. Military Sealift Command (MSC) manned hydrographic survey ship Harkness (T-AGS-32) worked with Shreveport during some of these operations. The British, French, Italians, and Soviets also participated. Shreveport shifted her operations slightly north of Ras Shukheir, to the area of Zafarana (9 September). These operations cleared the mines in Shreveport’s sector, and with an additional Sea Stallion embarked, she came about for the Mediterranean (18 September). The ship received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for Intense Look.

Just two days after she completing her minesweeping, terrorists detonated a truck bomb at the U.S. Embassy Annex at Awkar near Beirut, Lebanon, killing 20 people, including two U.S. servicemembers -- Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Michael R. Wagner and Chief Warrant Officer, Two (CWO2) Kenneth V. Welch, USA, both assigned to the U.S. Defense Attaché Office in Beirut -- and wounding more than 75 (20 September 1984). Shreveport, guided missile destroyer Semmes (DDG-18), and guided missile frigate John L. Hall (FFG-32), sailed (at different times) to the Eastern Mediterranean to render assistance.

The ship’s embarked Sea Stallions, together with an embarked CH-53E Super Stallion of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 4, flew logistics, medical, and embassy staff evacuation missions. Helicopters shuttled Ambassador Richard W. Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for East and South Asian Affairs, between Larnaca, Cyprus, and Beirut in the preliminary days on station for situation assessment. The ship provided additional support when a 20 man combined team of ship and squadron sailors assisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an on-site bomb investigation for five days. Capt. Robert L. Goodwin, Jr., Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DesRon) 20, broke his flag in Shreveport as Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) for Beirut Contingency Operations (24–30 September). The ship came about (4 October), the Super Stallion departed for Sigonella (8 October), and she offloaded the Sea Stallions at Rota the following day.

Shreveport carried out deck landing qualifications for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadrons (HMHs) 264 and 461 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 266 while steaming from Onslow Bay, N.C., to Norfolk (10–14 June 1985). On 13 June, she responded to a distress call from 52-foot yawl Aquila, adrift and taking on water approximately 100 nautical miles east of Morehead City. Shreveport contacted the Coast Guard, came about, and sailed through eight to ten foot seas to reach Aquila. She circled about the yawl at 500 yards until Coast Guard motor lifeboat 44343 arrived, and then closed to 100 yards and provided a lee for the ensuing towline hook-up. 44343 towed Aquila to safety. Capt. John N. McKay, Jr., relieved Capt. Ianucci as the commanding officer on 25 July 1985. Capt. Kenneth H. Johnson relieved Capt. McKay on 10 July 1987.

Shreveport deployed to the Mediterranean (30 May–10 November 1989) during a crisis in Lebanon. Capt. David J. Montgomery relieved Capt. Johnson as the commanding officer on 17 June 1989. The ship completed hydro-jetting of both boilers at Haifa, Israel (10–29 July). As Shreveport sailed for Pian di Spille, Italy, the Sixth Fleet ordered her to come about and make for a designated position 50 miles northeast of the Lebanese coast. She reached the area on 1 August, and operated there in anticipation of providing a landing platform for helicopters during contingency plans to evacuate people from the United States Embassy in Beirut to Cyprus. The ship then came about and visited Alexandria, Egypt (28 August–2 September), before sailing for Naples. Security concerns subsequently prompted the State Department to close the Embassy in Beirut (September 1989–November 1990).

The ship deployed for Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm/Desert Sabre (15 August 1990–17 April 1991). She embarked USMC Regimental Landing Team 2 at Morehead City (17 August), and crossed the Atlantic in company with amphibious transport dock Trenton (LPD-14), dock landing ships Gunston Hall (LSD-44) and Portland (LSD-37), and tank landing ship Spartanburg County (LST-1192). Two CH-53Es of HC-2 landed on board the next day. Ten days later, Shreveport passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, and then (30 August) offloaded the Super Stallions at Augusta Bay, Sicily. She transited the Suez Canal (2–3 September) and the Bab-al-Mandeb (7 September).

At different times, she participated in amphibious assault exercises Sea Soldier I–IV. She operated as the primary control ship during the first two exercises. Corp. Raymond Horwath, USMC, of A Company, 2d Combat Engineer Battalion, suffered a fatal heart attack on board (30 November). The ship embarked six AH-1T/Ws and UH-1Ns of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 269 during Sea Soldier III (7–17 December). Shreveport and seven other coalition ships intercepted Iraqi ship Ibn Khaldun, suspected of smuggling, off the Omani coast during the final week of December 1990. She took part in the beginning of Desert Storm (17 January 1991) and steamed to a position 100 miles of the Kuwaiti coast, but then carried out Sea Soldier IV (26 January–2 February).

Shreveport embarked Kuwaiti marines (16 February), and maneuvered with other ships off the Kuwaiti coast to deceive the Iraqis about a possible coalition amphibious assault against their left flank. When the coalition launched the ground offensive during Desert Sabre (24 February), the ship closed to a position within 30 nautical miles southeast of Kuwait. HMLA-269 deployed from her to Saudi Arabia (26 February), and she received four Iraqi prisoners during the announcement of the cease fire (28 February) and held the men until the following day. HMLA-269 returned to the ship (12 March), she passed through the Suez Canal (22–23 March), disembarked the Marines at Morehead City (16 April), and returned the next day to Norfolk. Shreveport logged more than 40,000 nautical miles during her deployment. Capt. Robert L. Peterson relieved Capt. Montgomery as the commanding officer on 27 June 1991. Capt. Alfred G. Harms Jr., relieved Capt. Peterson on 16 December 1992.

Shreveport sailed as part of the America (CV-66) Joint Task Force 2-93 for a scheduled deployment to the Mediterranean (11 August 1993–5 February 1994). Famine wracked Somalia when marauding gangs blocked the distribution of humanitarian supplies. The UN consequently began Operation Restore Hope to ensure the distribution of these supplies. Shreveport visited Trieste, Italy (5–7 October 1993), but received orders to make “best speed” to Somali waters to support Restore Hope. She sortied (8 October), passed through the Suez Canal (11–12 October), and operated off Mogadishu, Somalia (15 October–6 November). The ship returned to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal (10 November), and took part in Operation Provide Promise: UN efforts to supply people in Bosnia-Herzegovina with humanitarian supplies during the fighting there. Shreveport operated in the Adriatic Sea and launched reconnaissance missions over Bosnia-Herzegovina (5–14 January of 1994), before returning to Norfolk. Capt. John M. Carter relieved Capt. Harms as the commanding officer in May 1994. The ship emergency sortied to evade Hurricane Felix (15–20 August 1995).

During a deployment to the Mediterranean (28 August 1995–28 February 1996), the ship participated (16–28 December and 8 January–3 February) in Operations Provide Promise, Deny Flight: to enforce the no-fly zone over the war-torn republics of the former Yugoslavia, and Decisive Endeavor: an element of Joint Endeavor that enforced the military aspects of the Dayton Accords, which brought a temporary lull to the Balkan fighting. She also took part in a number of exercises. Alexander the Great consisted of a simulated amphibious assault with Greek forces, and involved a Pioneer UAV, Inc., RQ-2A Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of Composite Squadron (VC) 6 that flew over the main assault area. In addition, MH-53J Pave Low IIIs of the USAF 20th Special Operations Squadron qualified in afloat operations on board. Capt. H. Denby Starling II, relieved Capt. Carter as the commanding officer in May 1996.

While Shreveport deployed to the Mediterranean and Black Seas (3 October 1997–2 April 1998), Central Command launched Operation Desert Thunder I: a large-scale deployment to the Middle East to pressure the Iraqis and to bolster the UN’s negotiating position. Capt. Michael R. Groothousen relieved Capt. Starling on 11 December 1997. Shreveport visited Valencia, Spain (22 January–3 February 1998) but received orders to reinforce Desert Thunder I, which included support of Operation Southern Watch: enforcement of the southern Iraqi ‘no-fly zone.’ The ship passed through the Suez Canal (9 February), transited the Strait of Hormuz (16 February), and operated in the Arabian Gulf. She came about and passed through the Strait of Hormuz (8 March), and through the Suez Canal (15–17 March), and then returned to Norfolk. Capt. Edward W. Herbert III, relieved Capt. Groothousen as the commanding officer on 6 April 1999. Capt. William D. Valentine Jr., relieved Capt. Herbert as the commanding officer on 22 March 2000.

Shreveport participated in Fleet Week in New York City, N.Y. (23–30 May 2001). Al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on 9/11 (11 September), and the ship emergency sortied to Morehead City to embark Marines, in preparation to assist in relief efforts and to act as a medical platform. Upon arriving at Morehead City, however, the ship learned that she was not needed at New York, because of the scale of the relief efforts and she returned to Norfolk (14 September).

Shreveport deployed with the Bataan (LHD 5) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), also comprising amphibious assault ship Bataan and dock landing ship Whidbey Island (LSD-41), with the 26th MEU (Special Operations Capable—SOC), Col. Anthony P. Frick, USMC, in command, embarked, to the Mediterranean and Arabian Sea (19 September 2001–20 April 2002). The Bataan ARG relieved the Kearsarge (LHD-3) ARG, with the 24th MEU (SOC) embarked, at Rota (1–2 October).

More than 60,000 servicemembers from ten nations took part in Bright Star 01/02, a biennial Joint Chiefs of Staff directed exercise via Central Command (8 October–1 November 2001). Planners designed Bright Star 01/02 in order to increase regional involvement in pursuit of improved security and defense capabilities. The Ninth Air Force, headquartered at Shaw AFB S.C., hosted the command and control portions of the exercise, which included tactical air, ground, naval, and special operations forces field training. The 368th Cargo Transfer Company, USA, deployed from Fort Eustis, Va., to carry out port operations for ships in Egypt. The soldiers ran a cargo marshalling area and helped with airfield departure and control group operations. American, British, Egyptian, French, German, Greek, Italian, Jordanian, Kuwaiti, and Spanish forces participated in Bright Star 01/02. Shreveport participated in the exercise off Alexandria, Egypt (10–24 October), and then Albania National Training Continuum (7–12 November), before she passed through the Suez Canal (14–15 November). The Bataan ARG rendezvoused with the Peleliu (LHA-5) ARG in the North Arabian Sea (22 November).

The coalition then began Operation Swift Freedom I: the liberation of southern Afghanistan in the area of Qandahar (25 November 2001). Six CH-53E Super Stallions of the HMM-163 launched from Peleliu carrying Marines of the 15th MEU (SOC). AH-1W Super Cobras covered the insertion at lower altitudes, and Grumman F-14B Tomcats of Fighter Squadron (VF) 102 and Boeing F/A-18C Hornets flew top cover from Theodore Roosevelt. The Marines rendezvoused with Lockheed KC-130 Hercules to refuel en route. Four hours later they reached a desert airstrip at Dolangi southwest of Qandahar, more than 300 miles from the ships, and with SEALs secured the airstrip. Within an hour, additional equipment and supplies arrived via a Hercules.

The Marines designated their positions Forward Operating Base (FOB) Rhino, which journalists dubbed Camp Rhino. By the following morning, 519 Marines and Sailors had landed and developed a perimeter. They later established an additional forward arming and refueling point and a UAV base nearby. Helicopters and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCACs) from the 26th MEU supported the thrust inland. During the succeeding days, the 26th MEU dispatched additional reinforcements ashore, including a detachment of UH-1Ns and TF Sledgehammer, a composite task force built around Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) 25s, to FOB Rhino, and a site survey team and a security force to FOB Impala at Shamsi, Pakistan.

Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders attempted to flee from Afghanistan, and the coalition developed Leadership Interception Operations (LIOs) to shut down the sea lanes as escape routes. Shreveport combined with Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Golf and Hotel Platoons, SEAL Team 8, Special Boat Unit Detachment 20, Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (HS) 11, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 2 Detachment 18, and USMC Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/6 (6th Marines) and formed Task Force (TF) Cutlass (late November–early December 2001).

Shreveport provided a Leadership Interception Operation detachment that supported a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure of container ship Kota Sejarah, operated by Zodiac Maritime Agencies, Ltd., of London, England, in the Arabian Sea. A Lockheed S-3B Viking detected Kota Sejarah sailing from Aden, Yemen, to Karachi, Pakistan, near 22°37'N, 64°11'E at 1720 on 3 December 2001. Guided missile frigate Ingraham (FFG-61) stood toward the area and gained contact on the vessel as she approached Karachi. Rear Adm. Thomas E. Zelibor, Commander, TF 50, decided to allow the ship into the port. Additional intelligence then indicated the possibility that terrorist leaders, including Mohamed, Usama bin Lāden’s son, might attempt to use the ship to escape allied justice. Evidence also associated Kota Sejarah with Pacific International Lines of Singapore, which analysts suspected of links with the terrorist group Hamas. Zelibor therefore decided to intercept the ship when she returned to sea.

Shreveport (LPD-12) II 1970-2007-011206-N-6550T-006
An SH-60F Seahawk leaves the deck of motor vessel Kota Sejarah after dropping off SEALs and Marines during a search for al-Qaeda and Hamas terrorists in the Arabian Sea, 6 December 2001. (Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Tim Turner, U.S. Navy Photograph 011206-N-6550T-006, Navy NewsStand)

Ingraham detected five ships that sailed from Karachi (0245 on 5 December). Shreveport maneuvered to an area approximately 30 miles to the southwest of Kota Sejarah, in a position to intercept the vessels’ anticipated track to either Somali or Indian waters. Ingraham launched Lonewolf 56, BuNo 163594, her embarked SH-60B of Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light (HSL) 45 Detachment 1 at 0331, and the Seahawk identified and tracked Kota Sejarah. Shreveport, and Ingraham positioned themselves aft and abeam, respectively, of the suspect at a range of 10 miles, and tracked her until they received permission, at 0338, to intercept and board the ship, which steamed 183° at 16 knots, in international waters 7.5 miles outside of Pakistani territorial seas.

A Sikorsky SH-60F and two HH-60H Seahawks from HS-11, two of the helos detached from aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and one from ashore, and additional sailors from HS-6, intercepted the ship and flew armed observer and AGM-114B Hellfire air-to-ground missile cover as they guided two boat loads of SEALs toward Kota Sejarah. The SEALs boarded the ship by “hook and ladder” (0452–0508) and surprised the crew, who made bridge to bridge “mayday” calls and sounded the ship’s whistle. The crew did not resist the SEALs and the boarders mustered the 22 crewmembers. HS-11 deployed 71 additional Marines, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) sailors, and SEALs via fast rope for security and search. Inspectors detained Kota Sejarah but released the ship (at 1234 on 5 December). This event marked the first non-compliant boarding in Leadership Interception Operations, and Shreveport reported: “Don’t try to escape via sea, Task Force Cutlass is waiting.”

Marines then (10 December) cross-decked from Shreveport to other ships in the ARG, to enable Shreveport to support LIOs and Maritime Interception Operations (MIOs): to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions imposed against the Iraqis. The 26th MEU began to deploy the bulk of its remaining Marines ashore (12 December) to FOB Rhino to occupy Kandahar Airfield two days later. Shreveport deployed Mike Platoon, 3/6 BLT, to provide security for SEAL Team 8 for MIOs (14 and 18 December), and additional Marines from Battery K, 3/10, reinforced the United States Embassy at Kabul. Navy and Marine explosive ordnance specialists deployed from the ships of the Bataan ARG cleared mines and defused unexploded ordnance at sites throughout Afghanistan. The 26th MEU re-embarked on board these ships (3–8 February 2002), but some of the Marines and Sailors deployed ashore again to support TF K-Bar, a special operations command, during sensitive site exploitation operations, delaying their withdrawal. The Marines and Sailors returned to Shreveport and her consorts (19–20 February), and the ships came about (28 February) and made for the Arabian Gulf, where they subsequently completed maintenance and equipment washdowns at Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Vice President Richard B. Cheney met with Middle Eastern leaders, including President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a, Yemen, during a tour of the region (10–16 March 2002). Bataan, Shreveport, and Whidbey Island slowed as they sailed around Yemen and through the Bab-al-Mandeb en route to the Suez Canal. Their embarked Marine reconnaissance snipers held a modified alert for security purposes during the Vice President’s visit. Capt. Dennis E. Fitzpatrick relieved Capt. Valentine as the commanding officer on 16 May 2002. Capt. Terry B. Kraft relieved Capt. Fitzpatrick on 22 December 2003. Capt. David R. Pine relieved Capt. Kraft on 17 June 2005.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico on 29 August 2005. A catastrophic storm surge inundated the levees along the Mississippi River and the rising waters flooded 80% of New Orleans, La. Shreveport supported the humanitarian relief efforts (31 August–1 October). She embarked elements of Assault Craft Unit 2 and Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 at Morehead City for the voyage to the Gulf of Mexico. She anchored off Horn Island, several miles south of Biloxi, Miss., on 4 September, and disembarked the Marines, reinforced by a detachment of 97 members of the ships company, led by Cmdr. David Bradley, the ship’s executive officer, to Biloxi. The shore party assisted clean-up efforts at Biloxi, and returned to the ship that night.

Shreveport continued to New Orleans, reaching the mouth of the Mississippi River (dawn on 6 September), and making a tortuous eight hour trek upriver through the poorly marked and debris-plagued channel, mooring to Governor Nichols Wharf, New Orleans (6–9 September). Capt. Pine proudly reported: “As a refueling platform, the hundreds of helicopters operating in and around the New Orleans Metropolitan Area had an always-open place to get gas and a quick bite to eat.”

Shreveport (LPD-12) II 1970-2007-050916-N-0000X-001
Vice Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, Commander, Second Fleet (center), and a group of Sailors and Marines inspect the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, 16 September 2005. The admiral has just boarded Shreveport and thanked her sailors for their relief efforts. (Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Robert L. Elmers, U.S. Navy Photograph 050916-N-0000X-001, Navy NewsStand)

Groups of Shreveport Sailors worked with New Orleans Harbor Police, delivering food and water, and conducting security patrols. Glass and nail debris damaged 19 Harbor Police squad car tires, and sailors from the ship repaired or replaced the tires. In addition, the hurricane severely damaged the Harbor Police station, and 70 people from the ship cleaned the station, enabling then to feed the policemen, who had been unable to use their damaged kitchen. Many sailors worked an average of 20 hours per day. Crewmembers restored Chalmette High School’s football stadium for use as an auxiliary community gathering area for people who lost their homes in the storm. The ship shifted her berth to Chalmette Slip, a location closer to her designated work zone in St. Bernard Parish, on 9 September.

Shreveport Sailors assisted an animal rescue shelter, volunteering alongside other relief workers at “Camp Lucky,” an improvised facility half a mile from the ship’s berth on the Mississippi River. “We built some kennels for the larger dogs,” Quartermaster 3rd Class Michael Hart of the ships company explained, “and have been cleaning and sterilizing cages. Others have been taking dogs for walks and giving them decontamination washdowns.” Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Sean MacDonald and Quartermaster 3rd Class Jose Lopez referred to their humanitarian work as “the experience of a lifetime.” The ship shifted berths to Domino Sugar Factory Pier at Chalmette on 14 September.

Six hospital corpsmen from Shreveport, working initially from a pierside warehouse, and then from a parish emergency operations center established in an oil refinery, immunized more than 1,100 local and federal relief workers from Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and tetanus, because of their vulnerability to illness and disease through potential exposure to rusted sharp metal, blood, and fecal matter. In addition, more than 5,000 Coast Guardsmen deployed to the disaster saved 33,545 lives.

Hurricane Rita struck the Texas coast, and the Navy evacuated all naval installations in that state, including Corpus Christi and Kingsville (September 2005). Shreveport emergency sortied from her relief work at New Orleans and rode out the tempest in the Gulf of Mexico on 21 September. She re-embarked the Marines from Biloxi on 27 September, disembarked them at Lynnhaven Anchorages, Va. (29–30 September), and returned to Norfolk on 1 October. Capt. Paul O’Neal Monger relieved Capt. Pine as the commanding officer on 17 November 2006.

Shreveport sailed on her final deployment as part of the Bataan (LHD-5) Expeditionary Strike Group, with the 26 MEU embarked, to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Gulf (4 January–3 July 2007). At times, the group also comprised dock landing ship Oak Hill (LSD-51), guided missile cruiser Vella Gulf (CG-72), guided missile destroyer Nitze (DDG-94), guided missile frigate Underwood (FFG-36), and attack submarine Scranton (SSN-756). Shreveport reached the Sixth Fleet (10 January), trained with NATO forces, and passed through the Suez Canal (30 January). She then took part in Edged Mallet ‘07, a bilateral military exercise with the Kenyan naval and land forces (early March), and Capt. Kevin Tokarick, Commander Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRon) 3, broke his flag in Shreveport during mine countermeasures exercise Arabian Gauntlet 2007 with the British (24–29 April). Lt. Cmdr. Eric L. Conzen relieved Capt. Monger as the commanding officer on 7 September 2007.

Shreveport was decommissioned at Norfolk on 26 September 2007. MSC-manned fleet ocean tug Apache (T-ATF-172) subsequently towed Shreveport to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NavSea) Inactive Ships On-Site Maintenance Office, Philadelphia, Pa., where she remains pending disposal.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

17 December 2013

Published:Wed Sep 09 13:52:59 EDT 2015