Amphibious Assault Ship

LHA 1  -  USS Tarawa

 

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa patch crest insignia

LHA-1 USS Tarawa amphibious assault ship

Type, Class:

 

Amphibious Assault Ship (General Purpose) - LHA; Tarawa - class

planned and built as LHA 1

Builder:

 

Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA

STATUS:

 

Awarded: May 1, 1969

Laid down: November 15, 1971

Launched: December 1, 1973

Commissioned: May 29, 1976

Decommissioned: March 31, 2009

Fate: in reserve / awaiting disposal

Homeport:

 

-

Namesake:

 

Named after and in honor of the Battle of Tarawa (Gilbert Islands - Pacific Ocean), 1943

Ship's Motto:

 

EAGLE OF THE SEA

Technical Data:

(Measures, Propulsion,

Armament, Aviation, etc.)

 

see: INFO > Tarawa class Amphibious Assault Ship - LHA

 

ship images

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa fires super rapid bloom-off countermeasures SRBOC

Super Rapid bloom off-board countermeasures (SRBOC) was fired aboard USS Tarawa (LHA-1)

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa well deck LCAC

Landing Craft Air-Cushion (LCAC) in the well deck of USS Tarawa (LHA-1)

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa helicopters of HMM-166 CH-46 Sea Knights

Helicopters of HMM-166 (REIN) aboard USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - March, 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa HMM-166 REIN CH-46 Sea Knight AV-8B Harrier

Aircraft of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (Reinforced) 166 / HMM-166 (REIN) aboard USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - March 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa HMM-166 REIN AV-8B Harrier CH-53 Super Stallions

Aircraft of HMM-166 aboard USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - March, 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa MH-60S Seahawk HSC-21

A MH-60S Seahawk helicopter assigned to HSC-21 lands on USS Tarawa (LHA-1)

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa AV-8B Harrier II HMM-166 REIN on the flight deck

An AV-8B Harrier II assigned to HMM-166 (REIN) aboard USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - March, 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa CH-53E Super Stallions HMM-166 REIN

CH-53E Super Stallions assigned to HMM-166 (REIN) aboard USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - March 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa landng craft air-cushion CH-53E Super Stallion

A Landing Craft air-cushioned (LCAC) leaves USS Tarawa (LHA-1) while a CH-53E Super Stallion prepares for take-off - March 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa HMM-166 REIN flight dck

aircraft assigned to HMM-166 (REIN) aboard USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - March 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Persian Gulf - March 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Aircraft of Marine Helicopter Squadron Reinforced 166 (HMM-166 (REIN)) aboard USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - Arabian Sea - February 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Off Kuwait - February 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa landing craft utility LCU-1630

Landing Craft Utility LCU-1630 leaves the well deck of USS Tarawa (LHA-1)

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Persian Gulf - January 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Middle East - January 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa middle east

Middle East - January 2008

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa indian ocean

Indian Ocean - December 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Indian Ocean - December 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Indian Ocean - December 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Indian Ocean - December 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Indian Ocean - December 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Indian Ocean - December 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Indian Ocean - December 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Bay of Bengal - December 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Pacific Ocean - November 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Pacific Ocean - November 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa fires Mk-15 CIWS

Pacific Ocean - November 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Pacific Ocean - September 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Pacific Ocean - September 2007

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Pearl Harbor Hawaii

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - February 2006

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa in the Persian Gulf

Persian Gulf - November 2005

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Suez Canal

Suez Canal - September 2005

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Suez Canal

Suez Canal - September 2005

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Red Sea - September 2005

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

San Diego, California - July 2005

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa LCAC

LCAC-43 approaches the well deck of USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - June 2005

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa RIMPAC 2004

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - July 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Rimpac 2004 operations

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - July 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - July 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - July 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa well deck

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - July 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Rimpac 2004

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - July 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa well deck LCU-1635

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - July 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa well deck operations RIMPAC 2004

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - July 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa flight deck operations exercise Rimpac 2004

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - June 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - June 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - June 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Rimpac 2004

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - June 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Exercise RIMPAC 2004 - June 2004

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa San Diego

San Diego, California - July 2003

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Arabian Gulf - April 2003

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Arabian Gulf

Arabian Gulf - April 2003

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Arabian Gulf - April 2003

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa well deck LCU

Arabian Gulf - February 2003

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa San Diego

San Diego, California - January 2003

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

San Diego, California - January 2003

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - June 2002

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - June 2002

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa exercise Kernel Blitz 01

Exercise KERNEL BLITZ 01 - April 2001

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa AV-8B Harrier II exercise Kernel Blitz 2001

Exercise KERNEL BLITZ 01 - March 2001

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa operation determined response Yemen 2000

Operation DETERMINED RESPONSE - off the coast of Yemen - October 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa off the coast of Yemen

Operation DETERMINED RESPONSE - off the coast of Yemen - October 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Operation DETERMINED RESPONSE - off the coast of Yemen - October 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa operation determined response 2000

Operation DETERMINED RESPONSE - off the coast of Yemen - October 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Western Pacific - September 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Western Pacific - September 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay - March 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa San Francisco LCAC

San Francisco Bay - March 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

San Francisco Bay - March 2000

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Bahrain

Bahrain - March 1998

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa exercise Kernel Blitz 1997

Exercise KERNEL BLITZ 97 - June 1997

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa Kernel Blitz 1997

Exercise KERNEL BLITZ 97 - June 1997

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa flight deck view

Exercise KERNEL BLITZ 97 - June 1997

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa well deck operations Kernel Blitz 1997

Exercise KERNEL BLITZ 97 - June 1997

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Exercise KERNEL BLITZ 97 - June 1997

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

Exercise KERNEL BLITZ 97 - June 1997

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa exercise Thalay Thai 1989

Exercise THALAY THAI 89 - Off Thailand - September 1989

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa off Thailand 1989

Exercise THALAY THAI 89 - Off Thailand - September 1989

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa San Diego 1986

San Diego, California - December 1986

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

San Diego, California - December 1986

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

San Diego, California - December 1986

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa

San Diego, California - December 1986

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa exercise Cobra Gold 1986 Thailand

Exercise COBRA GOLD 86 - Off Thailand - August 1986

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa cobra gold off thailand 1986

Exercise COBRA GOLD 86 - off Thailand - August 1986

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa exercise cobra gold 1986 AV-8A Harrier

Exercise COBRA GOLD 86 - Off Thailand - August 1986

 

 

Tarawa - Gilbert Islands (1° 25’ 37.00” N / 172° 58’ 32.00” E)

 

Tarawa Kiribati Gilbert islands  Tarawa Gilbert islands

 

 

Namesake & History:

The Battle of Tarawa - Gilbert Islands (November 19, 1943 – November 22, 1943):

 

The Central Pacific's Gilbert Islands were strategically important to the Allies in World War II. Tarawa, and atoll in those islands,was the scene of a major amphibious assault and on of the proudest testaments to valor in U.S. Marine Corps history.

Japan's Rear Admiral Shibasaki Meichi was quoted as saying before the assault that it would take the American forces "a million men and a hundred years" to capture the atoll. The Japanese had backed up this boast with an elite force of almost 5,000 men and heavily fortified the island of Betio in the southwestern corner of the atoll. Since capturing the islands three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese had spent two years positioning coastal defense guns, antiaircraft guns, anti-boat guns, light and heavy machine guns, and an airstrip they could use to strike at allied troops stationed in the area. The atoll was strategically vital to both sides, and the stage was set for one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific.

The Allies were faced with serious problems in capturing Tarawa. The big coastal guns would keep the Navy guns either under constant fire or at bay, and the Japanese had used sunken ships and other pieces of metal to create obstacles which blocked the avenues of approach from the sea. The approaching craft would have to slow down to maneuver, putting them in prearranged ambush sites where they would be subject to deadly, concentrated fire from fortified positions.

The next line of obstacles included a double apron of barbed wire, log barriers, and concrete obstacles which surrounded the island. After breaching these defenses, the Marines would still be faced with the beach itself, where the Japanese had fortified heavy machine guns which created a series of interlocking fields of fire in addition to antipersonnel mines and anti-vehicle mines in the fringing reefs where the boats would have to land. With the added benefit of antiaircraft guns and planes of their own, the defenders were well prepared for any assault.

The Allies had to take Tarawa, however, and on November 19, 1943 the assault began. Faced with the near-impossible odds and hounded from all sides, the Marines made it to the beach; by the last day of battle the Japanese had been forced into the east end of the the three-mile long island. They had prepared a series of fortified positions to fall back on in their retreat, and had defended each one almost to the last man. Those three miles may be some of the longest in Marine Corps history, as they slowly advanced at a terrible price. Organized resistance on Tarawa ceased by 1:30 PM on the third day.

The Battle of Tarawa took 76 hours and cost the lives of 1,020 Marines. The list of Americans wounded was listed as high as 2,296. The cost was much higher for the Japanese defenders - of the 4,386 elite troops on Betio, only 146 were left alive.

Four Marines received the Medal of Honor for their heroism, three of them posthumously. The fourth, Colonel David M. Shoup, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Marines and Betio Island Assault forces, later became the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

 

Tarawa today:

 

Tarawa is an atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, previously the capital of the former British colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. It is the location of the capital of the Republic of Kiribati, South Tarawa. The island is known by outsiders as being the site of the Battle of Tarawa during World War II.

Tarawa consists of around 24 larger islets, of which at least 8 are inhabited. The largest islet (South Tarawa) extends from Bonriki (southeast corner of the atoll) along the entire south side but Betio of the lagoon to Bairiki. A causeway now connects Bairiki to Betio (Japanese causeway). The largest town, Bikenibeu, and the only airport on Tarawa, Bonriki International Airport, are on South Tarawa.

Islets:
Abanuea (submerged since 1999 due to changing ocean currents and sea level rise), Abaokoro, Abatao, Bairiki, Betio,
Bikeman Island (now submerged due to changing ocean currents), Biketawa, Bonriki, Buariki, Buota, Kainaba, Marenanuka,
Na'a, Nabeina, Notoue (Eretibou), Nuatabu, Tabiang, Tabiteuea, Tabonibara, Taratai, Tearinibai
Tebua Tarawa (submerged since 1999 due to changing ocean currents and sea level rise), Temaiku.

Towns and villages:
Abatao - Bairiki - Bikenibeu - Bonriki - Buariki - Buota - Eita - Marenanuka - Taborio - Teaoraereke


Demographics:

The population (as of 1990) was 28,802. The population is mostly Gilbertese (Micronesian). This probably exceeds the carrying capacity of the islands and is maintained at its current level without starvation principly due to foreign aid, largely from New Zealand.

Government administration:

Tarawa atoll has three administrative subdivisions:

Teinainano Urban Council (or TUC), from Bairiki to Bonriki, known in English as South Tarawa, the capital of the Republic of Kiribati;
Betio Town Council (or BTC), on Betio Islet;
North Tarawa or Tarawa Ieta (all the islets on the east side north of Bonriki).

The main administrative centre for the Republic of Kiribati is located at Bairiki on South Tarawa. The Parliament meets on Ambo islet and some administration offices are on Betio Islet and in Bikenibeu; and one is located on Kiritimati.

Economy:

Betio Islet includes the main port through which copra and pearl shell are exported.
The currency of Kiribati is the Australian dollar.

 

USS Tarawa (LHA 1):

 

The second USS Tarawa (LHA 1) was built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of the Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi, and commissioned May 29, 1976. Tarawa was the first in a new generation of multipurpose amphibious assault ships, a vital member of the Navy/Marine Corps team in the Pacific Fleet and a major factor in U.S. power projection overseas.

Tarawa's first deployment to the Western Pacific began in March 1979. In addition to an embarked helicopter squadron, the ship operated with temporarily assigned AV-8A "Harrier" jets in a successful experiment to determine feasibility of operating vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) aircraft from an amphibious assault ship. During this deployment, Tarawa rescued 400 Vietnamese refugees who were adrift in the South China Sea. Upon returning, Tarawa won her first Admiral James H. Flatley Memorial Award for Naval Aviation Safety.

The "Eagle of the Sea" began her second deployment in October, 1980, with a composite squadron of 29 helicopters and six AV-8As. The squadron was the first in Marine Corps aviation history to conduct integrated helicopter/fighter operations aboard an LHA for an extended deployment of more than five months.

Tarawa completed her third deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean in November, 1983. During this deployment, Tarawa was diverted to the troubled waters of the Eastern Mediterranean by order of President Ronald Reagan to support the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon. After returning, Tarawa won her second Admiral Flatley Award.

Steaming out of San Diego in October, 1984, Tarawa began her fourth Western Pacific deployment during which the ship participated in joint military exercises with friends and allies in the region.

In June of 1986, Tarawa deployed for the fifth time to the Western Pacific, followed in May 1987 by a complex, one-year overhaul. During this time, Tarawa won the Admiral Flatley Award for the third time and by July of 1989 had rejoined the Pacific Fleet for her sixth operational deployment. She subsequently participated in joint military exercises with Thailand and Pacific Fleet Exercise (PACEX) '89, before returning to San Diego in December of 1989.

The following December brought the deployment to the Arabian Gulf as the flagship of a thirteen-ship amphibious task force in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation forces. It was the largest such deployment since the Vietnam conflict. Embarked were the Commander, Amphibious Group Three and the Fifth Marine Expeditionary Brigade.Tarawa participated in the amphibious assault exercise Sea Soldier IV in January, 1991, as a rehearsal for the proposed amphibious landing into Kuwait. The proposed operation was, in fact, a coalition force deception designed to keep the attention of the Iraqi military focused on potential assault from the sea instead of the real overland thrust. The deception was successful, playing a major role in keeping U.S. force casualties at an historic low for an engagement of that magnitude. On February 24th, Tarawa landed elements of the Fifth Marine Expeditionary Brigade into Saudi Arabia just south of the Kuwaiti border; these forces later joined with the First Marine Expeditionary Force which entered and liberated Kuwait.

After the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm, Tarawa departed the Arabian Gulf in May of 1991 and was diverted to Bangladesh to render two weeks of humanitarian assistance to typhoon victims in Operation Sea Angel. Water purification equipment, medical aid and 2,000 tons of rice delivered by Tarawa's helicopters and landing craft helped more than 1.5 million inhabitants of Southeast Bangladesh survive the ravages of the storm's aftermath. Tarawa returned home to San Diego in July of 1991.

In May, 1992, Tarawa deployed for the eighth time to the Western Pacific, participating in Eager Mace '92-'93, a joint U.S./Kuwait exercise. The ship also supported the insertion of Pakistani troops into Somalia in support of U.N. humanitarian relief, and returned to San Diego in November of 1992. Tarawa was awarded her fourth Admiral Flatley Award and her first Commander, Seventh Fleet, Amphibious Warfare Excellence Award for the '92 deployment.

This deployment was followed by another complex overhaul at Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Tarawa departed San Diego in April 1996 for her ninth deployment to the Western Pacific/Arabian Gulf. Enroute to the Arabian Gulf, Tarawa participated in a joint U.S./Thailand amphibious training exercise in the Gulf of Thailand. Tarawa then proceeded to the Red Sea to participate in exercise Indigo Serpent with the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy and exercise Infinite Moonlight with the Royal Jordanian Navy, the first such exercise with the nation of Jordan. Upon the conclusion of the Red Sea exercises, Tarawa entered the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch, the enforcement of the "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq. Tarawa also participated in Operation Desert Strike to curb Iraqi aggression. Returning to San Diego in October 1996, Tarawa was awarded both the Federal Energy Conservation Award and the Secretary of the Navy Energy Conservation Award.

In January 1997, Tarawa entered an extensive overhaul. Four weeks after leaving the shipyard, Tarawa was the centerpiece for Kernel Blitz, the largest amphibious exercise in the Pacific Fleet in nearly 25 years and involving over 25 ships and 20,000 Sailors and Marines.

Tarawa departed on her tenth deployment in February, 1998. While participating in joint exercises with Jordanian armed forces, Tarawa was diverted to the Red Sea African nation of Eritrea to evacuate American citizens from the U.S. embassy there. During the Eritrean-Ethiopian hostilities, more than 200 Americans were safely rescued. Tarawa returned to San Diego in August, 1998 and was awarded her second Secretary of the Navy Energy Conservation Award.

Tarawa completed an extensive drydock overhaul period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington in June 1999. Tarawa returned to San Diego in August, 1998 and was awarded her second Secretary of the Navy Energy Conservation Award. Tarawa completed an extensive drydock overhaul period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington in June 1999.

In August 2000, following an extensive dry dock overhaul period in Bremerton, Wash., Tarawa deployed for the eleventh time to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. This deployment included wreath-laying ceremonies at the World War II battle sites of Tarawa Atoll, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima. While deployed, Tarawa provided humanitarian relief supplies to the war-ravaged country of East Timor, and in October 2000, participated in Operation Determined Response, steaming to the Gulf of Aden in Yemen to provide USS Cole and United States Government agencies on-site logistics, force protection, and evacuation support following the horrific terrorist attack on the Cole.

After returning to San Diego in February 2001, Tarawa entered a planned maintenance period in early September that lasted until April the following year. In June, Tarawa participated in Rim of the Pacific 2002 exercises with a multinational force off the coast of Hawaii. Tarawa departed San Diego for her twelfth Western Pacific deployment on Jan. 6, 2003 and returned July 16.

Tarawa's latest deployment from mid 2005 to early 2006 took her to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She transported the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. During this deployment, she visited Darwin, Australia, Dubai, UAE, Bahrain, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

She was deployed in Bangladesh once again as part of the Cyclone Sidr relief efforts with the Kearsarge. Code name for the mission was "Operations Sea Angel II" in recognition of the Tarawa's previous support to Bangladesh in 1991. These humanitarian assistance efforts were instrumental in the ship being awarded the 2007 Battle Efficiency Award.

Her latest deployment was from 7 November 2007 to 8 June 2008, with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, in the Middle East in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. She returned to her home port, San Diego, CA, finishing a seven month deployment. She visited Singapore, Bahrain,U.A.E., Perth and Hobart, Australia and Hawaii.


Post Decommission Status

Tarawa was transferred by the USNS Salvor to Middle Loch, Pearl Harbor, where she sits today. It is possible she will serve as a future target in a sink-exercise or in some other role. Her sister ship, Belleau Wood, was used as a target in SINKEX'06. However, the NVR lists her as Maintenance Category "B" implying possible future use for Ex-Tarawa in some official capacity. Examples of this maintenance category are the USS Tripoli (LPH-10) which is now a US Army trials ship, USS Wisconsin (BB-64) and USS Iowa (BB-61), both of which are museum pieces but required to be in a state of readiness.

 

patches

 

LHA-1 USS Tarawa patch crest insigniaLHA-1 USS Tarawa crest insignia patchLHA-1 USS Tarawa cruise patch

 

 

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