USS Okinawa (LPH-3)

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USS Okinawa

USS Okinawa</small>
Career USN Jack
Ordered: 24 October 1958
Laid down: 1 April 1960
Launched: 19 August 1960
Commissioned: 14 April 1962
Decommissioned: 17 December 1992
Fate: Disposed of as a target
Struck: 17 December 1992
General Characteristics
Displacement: 11,000 tons
Length: 592 ft (180 m)
Beam: 84 ft (25.6 m)
Draft: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Propulsion: two 600 lbf/in² (4 MPa) boilers, one geared steam turbine, one shaft, 22,000 shaft horsepower (16 MW)
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h)
Complement: 667
Armament: four 3 in (76 mm) 50 AA guns, (modifications) two Phalanx CIWS added
Aircraft: 25 helicopters

USS Okinawa (LPH–3) was laid down 1 April 1960 (15th anniversary of the invasion of Okinawa) by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; launched 19 August 1961; sponsored by Mrs. John L. McClellan, wife of Arkansas Senator John L. McClellan; and commissioned 14 April 1962, Capt. William E. Lemos in command. She was the second Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship.

Following commissioning and sea trials, Okinawa departed Philadelphia 20 June 1962 for her homeport, NS Norfolk, where she spent a month fitting out. After a six-week shakedown cruise out of Guantanamo Bay and another month in Norfolk, the amphibious assault ship began participation in her first fleet exercise in the Caribbean, 15 October. Shortly thereafter the Cuban Quarantine was placed in effect and Okinawa remained in the area, lending force to the United States’ stand, until 3 December when she returned to Norfolk.

The first half of 1963 was spent in availability at the Philadelphia and Norfolk Naval Shipyards and further trial operations in the Caribbean and out of Norfolk. On 9 July Okinawa began her first formal Caribbean deployment, returning to Norfolk 1 October and spending the remainder of that year and the first part of the next in that area. During June 1964 she sailed to Newport, Rhode Island and New York for the World's Fair. On 7 October she left on her first trip to European waters, for operation “Steel Pike I,” an amphibious exercise off the coast of Spain. After a stop in France and a goodwill visit to Plymouth, England, Okinawa arrived back in Norfolk at the end of November.

In April 1965, while participating in an exercise off Puerto Rico, Okinawa was alerted and sent to an area off the Dominican Republic to act as medical evacuation ship with her marines as a floating reserve during the crisis in that troubled country. Then, following the end of her deployment, she proceeded via Norfolk to Philadelphia for overhaul. The following April she returned to Norfolk and began her third Caribbean deployment on 13 June. Okinawa transferred to the Pacific Fleet sailing 24 January 1967, for the West Coast, and arriving San Diego, her new home port, 8 February.

Okinawa left on 10 March for her first deployment off Vietnam. On 13 April, while sailing from Okinawa to Taiwan, the ship was diverted by a distress call, and the next day rescued all 38 persons from the grounded Panamanian vessel Silver Peak near the Sento Shosho Islands. While off Vietnam, Okinawa was a mobile base from which a well-equipped force of marines could quickly strike via helicopters at the Communist insurgents. She returned to San Diego 5 December.

On 4 April 1968, after an intensive period of special training, Okinawa recovered the unmanned Apollo 6 space capsule 380 miles north of Kauai, Hawaii. With further exercises and upkeep, she conducted her second Westpac deployment from 2 November to 26 June 1969, when she arrived in San Diego for leave and upkeep.

USS Okinawa Awards, Citations & Campaign Ribbons

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  • Top Row - Combat Action Ribbon (2) - Navy Unit Commendation (5)
  • Second Row - Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (3) - Navy Battle "E" Ribbon - Navy Expeditionary Medal (1-Cuba, 2 Iran/Indian Ocean)
  • Third Row - National Defense Service Medal - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (1-Cuba, 1-Dominican Republic, 1-Op. Eagle Pull, 1-Op. Frequent Wind, 2-Persian Gulf) - Vietnam Service Medal (7)
  • Fourth Row - Southwest Asia Service Medal - Humanitarian Service Medal (1-Eagle Pull, 1-Frequent Wind) - Philippines Presidential Unit Citation
  • Fifth Row - Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (5) - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbons - Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

See USS Okinawa for other US Navy ships of this name.

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.


Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship
Iwo Jima | Okinawa | Guadalcanal | Guam | Tripoli | New Orleans | Inchon

List of amphibious assault ships of the United States Navy
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