The largest of the islands composing Island County, Washington; named by Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver in honor of one of his junior officers, Joseph Whidbey who circumnavigated the island in June 1792. This is the first ship to be named Whidbey Island, though there was a vessel named Whidbey (AG-141).
(LSD-41: displacement 11,471 (light) 16,360 (full); length 610’; beam 84’; draft 19’ 2”; speed 20+ knots; complement 378, troop capacity 402 (504 surge); armament 2 25mm MK 38 Machine Guns, 2 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts, 6 .50 cal. machine guns; 2 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Mounts; 4 Landing Craft, Air Cushion or 21 Landing Craft, Mechanized-6; flight deck for 2 rotary-wing aircraft; class Whidbey Island).
Whidbey Island (LSD-41) was laid down on 4 August 1981 at Lockheed Shipbuilding Corporation, Seattle, Wa.; launched on 10 June 1983; sponsored by sponsored by Mrs. Sally Gorton, wife of Senator Slade Gorton of Washington; and commissioned on 9 February 1985, Cdr. Patrick M. Muldoon in command.
The dark blue and white colors refer to the sea with the angular green area representing the evergreen terrain of Whidbey Island, Wa. backed by blue sky. The color gold is symbolic of excellence, and the ship's wheel of gold reflects the seagoing pride and professionalism of the ship's crew. The green Maltese cross refers to the humanitarian mission of Whidbey (AG-141). The gold crown emblazoned on red at the center of the wheel recalls the excursion under the British Crown, which explored the Pacific Northwest in the 1790's.
The trident is the traditional symbol of sea power; however the winged trident of LSD-41 further represents the revolutionary dimension of amphibious warfare introduced by this ship. Whidbey Island provides a quantum improvement in the projection of power ashore with an increased capacity for vertical assault, combined with the next generation of Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC). The gold and red colors of the winged trident portray the excellence and courage of those who man the ship. The wreath of Western Hemlock, the state tree of Washington, represents the spirit of the ship's namesake, which will accompany the ship to the distant corners of the globe.
The crossed swords of the Navy and Marine Corps Officers attest to the Navy/Marine Corps teamwork and leadership that are foundation and key elements for accomplishing Whidbey Island's amphibious warfare mission.
After commissioning Whidbey Island embarked on her first major operation in August 1986participating in the NATO Exercise Northern Wedding/Bold Guard '86. The ship’s first deployment was to the Mediterranean in January 1987 where she took part in seven amphibious exercises and carried out duties as the Presidential Support Ship for the World Economic Summit in Venice, Italy in May 1987.
Whidbey Island deployed to the Mediterranean for the second time in December 1988 with Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG) 1-89, participating in three major landing exercises with the Spanish, French and Italian navies before returning to homeport in June 1989. In September and October 1989, Whidbey Island participated in Hurricane Hugo disaster relief operations in the Caribbean Sea.
In August 1990, she again deployed to the Mediterranean as part of MARG 3-90. During the trans-Atlantic crossing, the ship received orders to sail to Mamba Station off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, serving as the flagship for evacuation operations in Operation Sharp Edge, spending 105 consecutive days at sea. By the time Whidbey Island reached its first port, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, the ship had been out to sea for 126 straight days. After further steaming around the Western Mediterranean in support of Operation Desert Storm, Whidbey Island returned to homeport March 1991 from its extended seven-month deployment.
In January 1993, Whidbey Island deployed in support of Operation Sea/Signal/Able Manner, enforcing alien migration policies off the coast of Haiti. Later that year, Whidbey Island deployed to the littorals of South America and West Africa. In August 1994, in a Combined Joint Task Force, Whidbey Island provided emergent lift services for the evacuation of 160 migrant camps from Grand Turk Island. Shortly after, she rescued and transported over 8,100 Cuban migrants from the Straits of Florida during Operation Able Vigil and participated in the restoration of the legitimate government to Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy.
At the turn of 1995, Whidbey Island along with Wasp (LHD-1) and Shreveport (LPD-12) participated in NATO cold weather training in the North Atlantic for Exercise Strong Resolve 95. On 28 August 1995, Whidbey Island deployed for a fifth Mediterranean Deployment with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). During this deployment, the ship participated in Exercises Atlas Hinge, Odysseus 95, Noble Shirley, Bright Star and Alexander the Great, spending over three months in the Adriatic Sea in support of peacekeeping operations for the Dayton Peace Accords in the former Yugoslavia. The crew received the Armed Forces Service Medal and the NATO Medal, returning to homeport 29 February 1996. On 3 June 1996, Whidbey Island entered Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for a Dry-docking Phased Maintenance Availability and received a Women at Sea Certification.
Whidbey Island departed for its sixth Mediterranean deployment 15 September 1999. Along with 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, Whidbey Island participated in Exercises Bright Star, Noble Shirley and Infinite Moonlight. During these exercises the ship worked in partnership with members of the British, Egyptian and Jordanian militaries. Whidbey Island safely transited the Suez Canal as well as the Straits of Tiran, Taranto, Gibraltar, and of Messina, visiting ports such as Antalya, Turkey; Haifa, Israel; Souda Bay, Greece; and Aqaba, Jordan.
On 24 May 2000 Whidbey Island returned to Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for multiple upgrades and additions to the ship's configuration and systems. During this period the ship received two Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) Launchers as well as the Ship's Self Defense System (SSDS) Mk-1, enhancing the ship’s ability to track, engage and destroy incoming missiles at close range.
On 11 June 2001 Whidbey Island completed its Basic Phase of Training and started a five week pre-deployment maintenance period. Starting 11 July 2001 the ship began its intermediate training cycle in preparation for deployment as part of Amphibious Squadron 8, Amphibious Ready Group.
On 19 September 2001 Whidbey Island began her seventh deployment. With troops of 26th MEU (Special Operations Capable), the ship participated in Exercise Bright Star off the coast of Egypt. At the completion of the exercise, the ship transited the Suez Canal en route to the Northern Persian Gulf. While there Whidbey Island spent 123 consecutive days on station in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During this operation the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted an amphibious operation nearly 700 nautical miles (1300 km) inland. Through a seven-month deployment Whidbey Island participated in the National Training Continuum, Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Swift Freedom and also made port calls at Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; Split, Croatia; and Rota, Spain.
Whidbey Island's Vessel Board Search and Seizure Team departs the ship to conduct searches of fishing dhows in the Gulf of Oman, 28 April 2004. (Photographer's Mate 1st Class Bart Bauer, U.S. Navy Photograph 040428-N-7586B-001, Navy.mil Photos).
In response to Hurricane Katrina, Whidbey Island along with Tortuga (LSD-46), Shreveport (LPD-12), Bataan (LHD-5), and Pollux (T-AKR-290) provided initial disaster relief and continued to operate as search and rescue platforms as part of Joint Task Force Katrina.
Sailors assigned to Whidbey Island unload supplies brought ashore by a Landing Craft, Air Cushion at Biloxi, Miss. in support of Hurricane Katrina relief effort, 9 September 2005. (Journalist 3rd Class Chris Gethings U.S. Navy Photograph 050909-N-0793G-004, Navy.mil Photos).
In June 2006 Whidbey Island deployed again in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While in port at Aqaba, Jordan in July 2006, she was recalled through the Suez Canal to support contingency operations resulting from the crisis in Lebanon. Whidbey Island subsequently participated in a Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation whereby she evacuated 817 American citizens (out of a total of 14,555 evacuated by the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group) via Landing Craft, Air Cushion.
Whidbey Island off the Lebanese coastline at Beirut positioned to evacuate of U.S. citizens, 22 July 2006. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert J. Fluegel, U.S. Navy Photograph 060722-N-6214F-008, navy.mil Photos).
Following operations off of Lebanon, Whidbey Island redeployed through the Suez Canal to the Fifth Fleet Operations Area and offloaded elements of the 24 Marine Expeditionary Unit into Bahrain for operations in Iraq. Afterward Whidbey Island deployed to the Northern Persian Gulf in support of Commander Task Force 158, responsible as an Afloat Forward Staging Base. In this role, she was responsible for defense of the Khor al-Amaya Oil Terminal and Al-Basra Oil Terminal rigs. In November Whidbey Island departed the Northern Persian Gulf and returned home on 6 December. Whidbey Island subsequently received the 2006 Battle "E" award on 16 February 2007.
On 1 October 2007, Whidbey Island deployed from Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base to the Horn of Africa, where she assisted the Comoran merchant vessel Al Marjan and her crew when they were released by Somali pirates on 3 November.
Whidbey Island is underway in the Mediterranean Sea conducting maritime security operations as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, 2 June 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman, U.S. Navy photo 110602-N-XO436-038, Navy.mil Photos)
Awards, Citations, and Campaign Ribbons
Navy Unit Commendation
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (2)
Navy Battle "E" Ribbon (3)
Navy Expeditionary Medal (1-Liberia)
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (2)
Humanitarian Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal
Cmdr. P.M. Muldoon 9 February 1985-6 January 1987
Cmdr. G.S. Holder 6 January 1987- 1 May 1989
Cmdr. T.L. Breitinger 1 May 1989-21 June 1991
Cmdr. B.E. Sonn 21 June 1991-19 March 1993
Cmdr. J.C. Collis 19 March 1993-20 January 1995
Cmdr. T.E. McKnight 20 January 1995-11 October 1996
Cmdr. T.C. Pierce 11 October 1996- 27 March 1998
Cmdr. R.L. Clark Jr. 27 March 1998- 17 November 1999
Cmdr. B.E. Barrington 17 November 1999-6 July 2001
Cmdr. M.R. Hoyle 6 July 2001- 7 February 2003
Cmdr. A.L. Woods 7 February 2003- 19 July 2004
Cmdr. C.E. Pringle 19 July 2004-17 February 2006
Cmdr. E.M. Ross 17 February 2006-3 August 2007
Cmdr. M. Junge 3 August 2007-27 March 2009
Cmdr. K. Weatherly 27 March 2009-22 October 2010
Cmdr. E. Conzen 22 October 2010-6 April 2012
Cmdr. V. Stanfield 6 April 2012- 30 August 2013
Cmdr. C. Wells 30 August 2013- 5 December 2014
Cmdr. D.L. Gray 5 December 2014-
Detailed history pending.
Christopher B. Havern Sr.
5 October 2015