LHD 3 | USS KEARSARGE
Kearsarge Mountain, NH
USS KEARSARGE's principal mission is the embarkation, deployment, landing and support of a Marine landing force anywhere in the world. Serving as an Expeditionary Strike Group flagship, KEARSARGE commands and supports elements of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, in an assault by air and sea as well as command and support of all ships and submarines of the Expeditionary Strike Group.
KEARSARGE can also provide command and control and aircraft facilities for sea control missions while operating with a Carrier Strike Group. The ship's extensive medical facilities and berthing capabilities enable it to provide effective care to returning troops under battle conditions, or disaster relief in support of humanitarian missions during peacetime.
KEARSARGE can support up to 600 patients while still providing routine care to crewmembers and embarked troops. The LHD Class is second only to the Navy's ready-reserve hospital ships USNS COMFORT and USNS MERCY in medical support capability. Major medical facilities include four main and two emergency operating rooms, four dental operating rooms, x-ray facilities, a blood bank, laboratories and intensive care ward facilities. Elevators rapidly transfer patients from casualty collection areas on the flight deck and in the hangar bay.
For the comfort of her crew and embarked troops, all manned spaces and berthing areas are individually heated and air-conditioned. Crew and troop berthing are on the same deck with messing, lounge, ship's store and library facilities nearby. In addition to the library, on board recreation is supported by a fully equipped gym, lounges and closed circuit TV for the broadcast of movies, news and television programming. Each Sailor and Marine is also afforded personal email addresses and most have access to the internet.
In carrying out its primary mission, the 844 foot long, 40,500 ton KEARSARGE will transport and land ashore not only troops, but also the tanks, trucks, other vehicles, artillery, ammunition and other supplies necessary to fully support the assault. The assault support system aboard ship coordinates horizontal and vertical movement of troops, cargo and vehicles.
Monorail trains, moving at speeds up to 600 feet-per-minute, transport cargo and supplies from storage and staging areas throughout the ship to a 13,600-square foot well deck, which opens to the sea through the huge gates in the ship's stern. There, the cargo, as well as troops and vehicles, are loaded aboard landing craft for transport to the beach. Air Cushioned Landing Craft (LCAC) can "fly" out of the dry well deck, or the well deck can be ballasted down with as much as 10 feet of water inside the well, allowing conventional landing craft such as the LCU, LARC or Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) to enter or depart the well.
Simultaneously, the ship's air traffic control capability supports helicopter flights to the beach to transfer troops, cargo and vehicles brought to the flight deck by two deck-edge e;evators and three cargo elevators, while directing close air tactical support provided by embarked jet aircraft and a full range of helicopters, as well as the Harrier Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing (V/STOL) jets can conduct simultaneous operations from the ship's 819 foot flight deck. The ship has also received upgrades to support the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft used for troop and supply movement. KEARSARGE also has a full maintenance and support capability for aircraft, amphibious vehicles and ships in company.
The ship's assault package also includes a wide variety of weapon and electronic systems. The integration of intelligence systems, tactical data links and various onboard computer Local Area Networks ensures the most up-to-date and comprehensive tactical picture yet available to embarked units in support of the missions of the embarked Marine components.
KEARSARGE's armament suite includes the NATO Sea Sparrow point defense missile systems, the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) defense system, the PHALANX close-in weapon system, 25mm chain guns and Electronic Warfare (EW) protection systems for defense against anti-ship cruise missiles, aircraft and surface vessels. The embarked aircraft also pose a strong deterrent to threats against KEARSARGE and embarked Marine elements.
Two steam propulsion plants - the largest currently in use in the U.S. Navy, delivering a combined 70,000 horsepower, propel the ship through the water at speeds in excess of 24 knots. Electrical generators aboard provide more than 16,000 kilowats of power to shipboard systems - enough power to light 13,500 homes.
Two pumping stations give KEARSARGE a 450,000 gallon fueling capacity for embarked aircraft, other vehicles and ships in company. Onboard distilling plants provide up to 200,000 gallons of fresh water each day. Her 1,500 tons of air conditioning equipment is sufficient to environmentally control a 32-story office building. KEARSARGE also carries state-of-the-art environmental protection equipment including a plastic refuse processing system.
LHDs are the first U.S. Navy ships designed specifically to accommodate Air Cushioned Landing Craft (LCACs), Harriers and V-22 Ospreys. The over-the-horizon ability of the LCAC to provide high-speed ship-to-shore and over-the-beach amphibious support in transporting personnel, weapons systems and equipment offers the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team a new dimension in projecting combat strength ashore. LCACs enable KEARSARGE to support combat forces ashore at increased stand-off distances to hard landing points beyond the beach. The LCACs high speed, greater than 40 knots, provides reduced exposure time and multi-beach attack capability.
The AV/8B Harrier's ability to take off and land vertically on virtually any firm surface makes the aircraft a perfect addition to the KEARSARGE assault package. The primary role of the ship's embarded jets is to provide close air support for ground units. The can also be used for sea control and prtection of the Expeditionary Strike Group.
Like the AV/8B Harrier, the V-22 Osprey's tilt-rotor design gives it the ability to take off and land vertically on virtually any relatively flat surface. It performs vertical take-off and landing missions as effectively as a conventional helicopter while also having the long-range cruise abilities of a twin turboprop aircraft.
Launched on March 26, 1992, she was christened KEARSARGE on Saturday, May 16, 1992, at Ingalls Shipbuilding by Mrs. Alma Powell, wife of General Colin L. Powell, USA former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. USS KEARSARGE joined the fleet October 16, 1993 during commissioning ceremonies in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and is home ported in Norfolk, Virginia.
KEARSARGE departed for her maiden deployment on March 22, 1995. KEARSARGE served as the primary platform for the rescue of Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady after he was shot down over Bosnia.
After the deployment, KEARSARGE served as the primary Navy unit participating in the 1995 New York City Veteran's Day activities, which marked our nation's final tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II.
KEARSARGE began her second deployment on April 15, 1997. She relieved USS Nassau (LHA 4) on station off the coast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in support of Operation Guardian Retrieval on May 2, 1997. KEARSARGE was later directed to Freetown, Sierra Leone to conduct Noncombatant Evacuation Operations in support of Operation Noble Obelisk. On May 31, she began evacuating American citizens and foreign nationals from Sierra Leone. During the four-day operation, KEARSARGE evacuated more than 2,500 Americans and foreign nationals from more than 40 countries.
On April 17, 1999, KEARSARGE embarked on its third deployment. Performing a turnover with the NASSAU ARG while underway, KEARSARGE made best speed to the Adriatic Sea where she performed various operations off the coast of Kosovo, including Operation Noble Anvil/Allied Force and establishment of Camp Hope in Fier, Albania. On June 7, Operation Joint Guardian began. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable (SOC), was offloaded June 10 across Litokhoron Beach, Greece, for movement to Skopje, Macedonia. These U.S. Marines were the first peacekeeping force to enter Kosovo. Immediately following, KEARSARGE was ordered to Izmit, Turkey to provide support after the nation experienced a devastating earthquake that killed 12,000 people.
On April 25, 2001, KEARSARGE began its fourth deployment, where the ship hosted the annual USO Gala in Naples, Italy, participated in several large amphibious operations (Trident D'Or, Alexander the Great and Albanian PHIBLIEX), and provided support to the President of the United States during the G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy. On September 11, 2001, KEARSARGE was underway in the Mediterranean Sea as the World Trade Centers and Pentagon were attacked by terrorists. During this deployment, KEARSARGE visited 12 ports in seven different countries. KEARSARGE returned home on October 15, 2001.
On January 8, 2002, KEARSARGE entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for a four-month Planned Maintenance Availability that ended on April 25th that year. In July, KEARSARGE made a port visit to Boston to participate in the annual Harborfest celebration over the 4th of July. On October 10th, KEARSARGE participated in a unique exercise in the Gulf of Mexico to prove a new capability of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship - to support mine sweeping capabilities.
On January 12, 2003, with only 72 hours notice, KEARSARGE was deployed, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was the ship's fifth deployment. Serving as the Flagship for Rear Admiral Nowakowski, Commander, Amphibious Task Force East, and Brigadier General Richard Natonski, Commanding General Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2D MEB) and Landing Force East, KEARSARGE carried more than 1,700 Marines from the 2D MEB to the Northern Arabian Gulf. KEARSARGE later became the Flagship for Commodore Gregg Jackson, Commander Amphibious Squadron Eight.
On February 14th, KEARSARGE began off-loading the 2D MEB at Kuwait Naval Base. They joined up with Marines from the 1 MEB to become Task Force Tarawa. On March 20th hostilities commenced, the name of the engagement was changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Task Force Tarawa crossed in Iraq and went to war. KEARSARGE remained off the coast of Iraq flying combat re-supply missions employing the CH-53E helicopters attached to the Condors of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron Four Sixty-Four (HMH 464).
On the way home from that history combat deployment, KEARSARGE also provided support to the President of the United States during his visits to Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt and Aqaba, Jordan during his summits with Arab leaders. Additionally, KEARSARGE was diverted from its homecoming track to the western coast of Africa to support Operation Shinning Express. KEARSARGE returned home on June 30, 2003.
In June 2004, following a four-month shipyard avalability, KEARSARGE surge deployed to the Arabian Gulf to transport elements of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. KEARSARGE returned home in August 2004.
KEARSARGE embarked on its seventh deployment on March 25, 2005 as the flagship for the KEARSARGE Expeditionary Strike Group, consisting of KEARSARGE, the guided missile cruiser USS NORMANDY (CG 60), the amphibious transport ship USS PONCE (LPD 15), the guided missile destroyer USS GONZALEZ (DDG 66), the guided missile frigate USS KAUFFMAN (FFG 59), the attack submarine USS SCRANTON (SSN 756) and the dock landing ship USS ASHLAND (LSD 48), and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Following a four-month shipyard availability, KEARSARGE participated in New York City’s Fleet Week, Boston Harborfest and PANAMAX 2006.
On July 30, 2007, KEARSARGE embarked on its eighth deployment as the flagship for the KEARSARGE Strike Group with the Marines and Sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). KEARSARGE enjoyed a successful sea-based operation in support of Operation Sea Angel II in Bangladesh. KEARSARGE and the embarkd 22nd MEU arrived on station in the Bay of Bengal for Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief efforts Thanksgiving Day after steaming over 3,000 miles in just under six days from off the coast of Africa. The ship and her crew returned from deployment February 1, 2008.
KEARSARGE participated in New York City’s Fleet Week in May of 2008.
On August 6, 2008, KEARSARGE deployed in support of Operation Continuing Promise. The ship's crew, along with augment from The United States Marine Corps, The United States Air Force, The United States Army, The United States Coast Guard, The United States Public Health Service, The Canadian Forces, and other multi-national forces and NGO's provided medical, construction and humanitarian services to seven Central, South, and Caribbean American countries (Panama, Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Trinidad). The ship also provided Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations in Haiti following four Atlantic hurricanes.
In January 2009, KEARSARGE entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) for its first Dry Dock Planned Maintenance Availability (DPMA) since the ship’s commissioning in 1993.
USS KEARSARGE has been awarded the Golden Anchor for Retention Excellence, The 2008 Battenberg Cup Award, The Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Service Award, the CNO Environmental Safety Award, the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award, Department of Energy / Department of the Navy Energy Efficient Awards, the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award, Commander, the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) Community Service Award for Personal Excellence Partnership (PEP), and the Commander Naval Surface Force Atlantic Safety Award.
Additionally, KEARSARGE has qualified for the following medals and unit awards: Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation (two awards), Battle Efficiency "E" Award (six awards), National Defense Service Medal (two awards), Kosovo campaign Medal (with bronze star), Armed Forces Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (five awards), the NATO Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon.
The swords are crossed to denote cooperation and teamwork as well as
the combined combat mission of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.