Landing at Fort Nassau

NASSAU is named for the first-ever landing by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps on New Providence Island during the American Revolution.

Late in 1775, Captain Esek Hopkins set out to intercept British store ships. Heavy ice, foul weather and smallpox kept the American squadron from getting to sea until February 1776. Finding no worthwhile prizes at sea, Hopkins decided to sail for the Bahamas to capture "a large quantity of powder" reported to be on the Island of New Providence.

Hopkin's squadron arrived off the Bahamas on 1 March 1776. On 3 March, Hopkins ordered a landing designed to outflank the English defenses. Two hundred-thirty Marines and fifty seamen landed on the beach and captured nearby Fort Montague.

The Force advanced on Fort Nassau, which surrendered the following morning. Although most of the powder supply was no longer there, some powder, along with 103 cannon and mortars, still remained, enough to make the operation entirely worthwhile.

Thus, for the first time, American Sailors and Marines responded to the equivalent modern command to "Land the Landing Force."

Historical Notes:

USS NASSAU (LHA 4) is the fourth of the Navy's TARAWA-class general purpose assault ships. Like her sister ships, NASSAU integrates complex weapons systems, automated cargo handling, and state-of-the-art propulsion into a huge hull, forming a ship with a wide range of mission capabilities, including amphibious warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare, and power projection ashore, utilizing helicopters and Very Short Take-Off and Landing (VSTOL) Aircraft. NASSAU was commissioned at Pascagoula, Mississippi on 28 July 1979.

In October 1979, NASSAU deployed to reinforce the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation just 70 days after commissioning.

In April 1981, NASSAU departed for a short-notice Mediterranean deployment, and was underway for 68 consecutive days, standing ready to effect the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Lebanon. In January 1982, NASSAU deployed to the Mediterranean Sea/Indian Ocean and participated in four amphibious operations. Returning to Norfolk in June, NASSAU departed in August to take part in NATO Exercises BOLD GUARD and NORTHERN WEDDING in Northern Europe.

In 1983, NASSAU participated in the annual amphibious Exercise SOLID SHIELD. Marine Corps OV-10 "Bronco" aircraft landed for the first time on the flight deck of a ship from the Atlantic Fleet. In August, NASSAU embarked Army personnel for transport to Central America for Exercise AHUAS TARA II (the "Big Pine"). The transit marked the first time the ship had transported Army units for military exercises.

In January 1984, NASSAU deployed to Northern Europe for TEAMWORK 84, before steaming to the Mediterranean for duties off the coast of Lebanon. NASSAU returned to Norfolk in August 1984, and completed an extensive ship repair availability.

In the spring of 1985, NASSAU served as flagship for Exercise UNIVERSAL TREK, highlighted by an amphibious landing in Honduras. NASSAU participated in her second SOLID SHIELD amphibious exercise that same year. NASSAU closed a busy year with participation in NATO Exercise OCEAN SAFARI 85 in the North Atlantic.

In February 1986, NASSAU entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where she began a 10-month complex overhaul. During spring and summer, the ship and crew began an intensive series of repair availabilities and training periods, including flight deck qualifications for the AV-8B "Harrier" VSTOL jet aircraft. NASSAU then finished Refresher Training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, three days ahead of schedule.

On 29 September 1987, NASSAU departed Norfolk as flagship of Marine Amphibious Readiness Group (MARG) 4-87. In the ensuing six months, NASSAU participated in five amphibious assaults, including Exercise AFRICAN EAGLE with U.S. Air Force and Royal Moroccan Forces.

NASSAU crew members also participated in numerous goodwill projects, including the repainting of nursing homes in Israel and France, replanting 7,000 trees on a fire-ravaged hillside in France, blood donations in Spain, and hosting orphan visits throughout the Mediterranean. NASSAU crew members appeared twice on the NBC "Today Show," featuring their goodwill efforts. NASSAU returned to home port after this highly-successful deployment on 29 March 1988.

NASSAU passed a vigorous INSURV inspection in June and, in August, she departed for TEAMWORK 88, acting as flagship for Commander, Amphibious Strike Force/Commander, Amphibious Group Two and Commander, Marine Striking Force Atlantic/4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Returning from TEAMWORK in mid-October, NASSAU departed Norfolk in early November en route to Kingston, Jamaica, with 81,000 lbs. of relief supplies for victims of Hurricane Gilbert. During the transit, NASSAU rescued 172 Haitian nationals from an unseaworthy craft, and delivered them over to the Coast Guard for medical treatment.

As flagship of Marine Amphibious Ready Group 2-89 with Commander, Amphibious Squadron Eight embarked, NASSAU departed Norfolk on 30 May 1989, and arrived at Naval Base Rota, Spain on 12 June, and "assumed the watch" for the amphibious forces of the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

NASSAU departed Haifa, Israel in late July, only days after the Israeli abduction of Sheik Abdul Obeid from Lebanon, which would prove a catalyst for NASSAU and her crew. For the next 30 days, NASSAU and most of the U.S. Sixth Fleet stood ready for almost any contingency.

Early in the deployment, NASSAU became a focal point as Vice Admiral J. D. Williams, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, frequently chose the amphibious assault ship as a meeting place for his afloat commanders in the battle force. NASSAU was also a clearing house for passengers, mail and cargo transiting to or from ships in the Eastern Mediterranean, at times more than tripling her normal workload in this vital support role.

As tensions in the Middle East resumed their status-quo, NASSAU became the host ship for Admiral J. T. Howe, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Europe.

NASSAU then participated in Exercise DISPLAY DETERMINATION 89. After conducting amphibious training operations in the country of Turkey, NASSAU headed west and out of the Mediterranean. She arrived at Lisbon, Portugal for a brief repair period before taking part in the Portuguese Marine and Naval Exercise GALERA 89.

As a result of their successes throughout 1989, NASSAU was selected by Commander, Naval Surface Force, Atlantic as the top LHA for the Battle Efficiency competitive cycle, earning the ship her second Battle "E" in her ten years of commissioned service.

NASSAU was underway again in early February for operations in the Caribbean; operations which ultimately resulted in supporting a drug summit meeting between President Bush and the leaders of three South American countries to discuss the worldwide peril of international drug trafficking. For almost a month, NASSAU's Sailors and Marines supported elements of the White House staff. In a brief radio address, President Bush thanked NASSAU's crew for their untiring efforts, and commended them on a job well done.

"Thank you for what you're doing," he said. "Not just for this special mission that brought great comfort to all of us here, but what you do every single day in defense of the greatest country on the face of the earth. God bless you all!" Fitting testimony to the enduring professionalism of the ship that is "First From the Sea."

In support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, NASSAU deployed for eight-and-a-half months to the Middle East on only eight days of notice. After mobilizing and onloading the 4th Marine Expeditionary Battalion in record time, NASSAU left the United States as flagship for the Commander of the Amphibious Task Force and the 4th MEB's Commanding General.

NASSAU was recognized for excellence when President George Bush selected the ship for a Thanksgiving Day service. With General Norman Schwarzkopf and several influential members of Congress, the President and Mrs. Bush celebrated Thanksgiving with NASSAU Sailors and Marines thousands of miles away from home.

NASSAU provided massive logistical and operational support during the Gulf War. As a logistics hub for incoming and outgoing mail, cargo and other supplies that were essential to the effort, NASSAU helped ensure that everyone in the amphibious task force received everything from needed parts and equipment to do their jobs, to morale-boosting letters from home.

NASSAU again demonstrated its capabilities during the NATO Exercise "TEAMWORK" in March 1992. NASSAU embarked more than 1000 Sailors and Marines and acted as the flagship for both COMPHIBGRU TWO and the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

NASSAU completed a twelve month $115 million Complex Overhaul in September 1993, which included the installation of the RAM missile system and major communication improvements.

During Operation SUPPORT DEMOCRACY, NASSAU served as flagship for Commander Joint Task Force-120. Within hours of notification, Marine troops, helicopters and landing craft from Marine Forces Caribbean embarked aboard NASSAU in order to support U.S. and U.N. policy toward Haiti.

In April 1994, NASSAU played a pivotal role in the largest joint exercise ever conducted by the Commander, U.S. Atlantic Command - Agile Provider '94.

While deployed to the Mediterranean from November 1994 to April 1995, NASSAU operated in the Adriatic Sea five times in support of Operation SHARP GUARD, DENY FLIGHT, and PROVIDE PROMISE as the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) element. NASSAU also conducted bilateral and multilateral exercises with Spain, Morocco, Italy, France, Greece, and Israel in support of U.S. Foreign policy. Following the deployment as part of Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG 95-1), NASSAU provided exceptional support to U.S. Navy public relations objectives.

In February 1996, NASSAU arrived in New Orleans to participate in the Mardi Gras celebration. While returning to Norfolk, NASSAU was diverted to waters off the Cuban coast in support of Operation SENTINAL LIFEGUARD to aid in search and rescue efforts for a civilian plane that was shot down in international waters.

In May 1996, NASSAU was a key player in the execution of the largest amphibious warfare exercise since World War II - - Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) Exercise PURPLE STAR. NASSAU participated in this exercise with units from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as British ships and Marines.

In November 1996, NASSAU departed on Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG 97-1) deployment. While deployed, NASSAU participated in Operation SILVER WAKE, the non-combatant evacuation of Albania. The NASSAU team evacuated over 800 personnel from 22 different countries. While off the coast of Albania, NASSAU rescued 85 refugees from two vessels in distress. While off station in Albania, NASSAU was ordered to redeploy to the coast of Zaire in support of Operation GUARDIAN RETRIEVAL, steaming the 5123 nm at a continuous 20 knots. NASSAU remained on station for approximately one month in support of this operation, returning to Norfolk in May 1997.

In July 1997, NASSAU was one of the four ships in Norfolk that hosted the fourth annual Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID) '97. JWID '97 was conducted at specific U.S. military, NATO and Allied nation sites throughout the world. It was an opportunity not only to test and display information technology demonstrations, but also proved the Navy and its ships as unique and effective players in the fast-growing world of Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) interoperability in a joint and coalition environment. The experience gained by NASSAU's crew provided the ability and knowledge to flex the C4I demonstrations to their full potential.

In June 1998, NASSAU was part of one the largest combined military exercises of this year. As a visiting force of Allied countries, Canada and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces, NASSAU conducted exercises focused on multi-national peace enforcement operations during Maritime Commanders Operational Training (MARCOT)/Unified Spirit '98.

In November 1998, NASSAU departed on Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG 99-1) deployment.

Ship's Crest:

Description of Coat of Arms: The eagle and fouled anchor design in the center of the insignia is a reproduction of the design first used by the seagoing Sailors and marines during the American Revolution, This design is credited with being one of the oldest military insignias of the United States Armed Forces. The date "1776" has been added to the design on the anchor stock as further historical link to the first ever American amphibious landing on Nassau, Bahamas in 1776. The crimson banner above the eagle contains five gold stars which commemorate the five battle stars awarded to the original USS NASSAU (CVE 16) for its World War II service. The banner also contains the Latin phrase "Prima Ab Mare" which translates, "First from the Sea". This motto accurately reflects the historic significance of the 1776 landing at Fort Nassau as well as the modern capabilities and mission of the LHA class of General Purpose Amphibious Assault Ship. The sea and sky background represent the ship's ability to conduct surface and airborne amphibious assault operations. Finally, the insignia is in circled by a nautical anchor chain with the name plate and hull number symbolizing the unification of the Navy and Marine Corps team.


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