LHA 3 | USS BELLEAU WOOD
Battle of Belleau Wood
USS BELLEAU WOOD was commissioned on September 23, 1978 in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Homeported in San Diego in October 1978, BELLEAU WOOD participated in her first full-scale operation in 1979 off the coast of Hawaii.
BELLEAU WOOD began her first major deployment in January 1981. The ship rescued 150 Vietnamese refugees, earning the crew the Humanitarian Service Medal. The deployment included three major exercises and eight port visits.
In August 1982, the ship began its second deployment and participated in four major amphibious exercises. BELLEAU WOOD's third successful SEVENTH Fleet deployment ran from January to July 1984. The ship then completed an 11-month complex overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington.
In January 1987, BELLEAU WOOD began a deployment which included the first winter amphibious exercises off Alaska since WWII, and introduced the ship to the AV-8B Harrier jump jet. The ship also received the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award for Aviation Safety. On October 4, 1989, the ship hosted the Minister of Defense of the Soviet Union, during his historic visit to the United States.
BELLEAU WOOD entered her second complex overhaul in Long Beach California in 1990. Major work included an upgrade to CIWS and installation of the Rolling Airframe Missile System.
On August 31, 1992, BELLEAU WOOD sailed out of San Diego for the last time, bound for its new homeport in Sasebo, Japan. During this transit, the ship provided disaster relief to the people of Kauai, Hawaii after Hurricane Iniki ravaged the island. For this, the crew was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal.
On November 24, 1992, BELLEAU WOOD became the last ship to sail out of the Philippines while conducting the final withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Naval Station Subic Bay and Naval Air Station Cubi Point.
Since her move to Japan, BELLEAU WOOD has become a familiar sight at joint-military exercises such as VALIANT USHER in Australia, TEAM SPIRIT in Korea, COBRA GOLD in Thailand and TANDEM THRUST near Guam. BELLEAU WOOD also became the first large- deck Navy ship to undergo pierside maintenance by COMLOGWESTPAC, Singapore. BELLEAU WOOD participated in the World War II 50th anniversary commemoration ceremonies in Guam and the Philippines and served off the coast of Somalia as the command platform for Operation UNITED SHIELD.
In July 2000, BELLEAU WOOD took part in the largest crew swap to date when she was relieved as forward deployed amphibious assault ship. The procedure started when USS ESSEX (LHD 2) arrived in Sasebo on July 13, 2000. The swap was part of a planned rotation of forward deployed naval forces in Japan, and was the third crew-swap exchange. The ships’ crews simply switched ships, minimizing the impact of moving families from homeport to homeport. Sailors in Sasebo assigned to USS BELLEAU WOOD, moved on to ESSEX, while Sailors from San Diego assigned to ESSEX moved aboard BELLEAU WOOD. BELLEAU WOOD and the San Diego-based crew then returned to San Diego in mid-August to begin overhaul and maintenance cycles. BELLEAU WOOD was forward deployed to Sasebo since the fall of 1992.
of Coat of Arms:
The official seal of BELLEAU WOOD is a blend of symbols. An image of a
fighting U.S. Marine is at the center of the plaque. The leatherneck is
in World War I battle dress. He carries a rifle with bayonet, and seems
to beckon us to follow him. Surrounding the figure are the gold cross,
shield and swords of the Croix de Guerre, the French medal awarded to
the Marines who distinguished themselves at Belleau Wood. In that
tradition, Marines of the Fourth Brigade are permitted to wear the
French fourragere to this day.