USS BELLEAU WOOD LHA 3
USS Belleau wood began her first deployment in January 1981. The ship rescued 150 Vietnamese refugees, earning the crew the Humanitarian Service Medal. The underway period included three major exercises and eight port visits.
In August 1982 LHA 3 began its second deployment and participated in four major amphibious exercises.
The Belleau Wood's third underway period began in Jan. 1984 and ended in July of that year. Following the deployment, the ship began an 11-month complex overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
In January 1987 the Belleau Wood began another deployment in which it took part in the first winter amphibious exercises off Alaska since WW II. This was also her first deployment with the AV-8B Harrier.
On October 4, 1989, the amphibious assult ship hosted the Minister of Defense of the Soviet Union, during his historic visit to the United States.
In 1990 USS Belleau Wood began its second complex overhaul in Long Beach, Calif. This overhaul included upgrades to the CIWS and installation of the Rolling Airframe Missile System.
August 31, 1992 USS Belleau Wood departed San Diego for the last time, for its new homeport of Sasebo, Japan. During this transit, the ship provided disaster relief to the people of Kauai, Hawaii, after Hurricane Iniki ravaged the island.
On November 24, LHA 3 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.
The flexibility of the Belleau Wood ARG was demonstrated with the Nov. 1998 crisis with Iraq. All four ships had just completed Exercise Foal Eagle off the coast of Korea, and were heading to various port visits for some liberty, when each ship received the call on Nov. 6, to sail immediately to Okinawa to offload Marine Air Ground Task Force 4 personnel, and onload the 31st MEU. The Belleau Wood was scheduled for a five-day port visit to Hong Kong and to return to Sasebo later in the month. The amphibious assault ship arrived at White Beach on the morning of the Nov. 7. The entire offload was completed in approximately 15 hours. Usually it takes anywhere from 36 to 48 hours.
USS Belleau Wood Amphibious Ready Group left the Persian Gulf on January 27, 1999, and was replaced by USS Boxer ARG, arriving on station Jan. 24.
In October 2000 USS Belleau Wood completed the Navy's largest ever crew exchange and hull swap in Sasebo, Japan, with the USS Essex (LHD 2). LHA 3 returned to San Diego Oct. 13 after more than eight years forward-deployed to Sasebo.
June 15, 2002 USS Belleau Wood Amphibious Ready Group departed San Diego with the 11th MEU aboard, for its western Pacific deployment. Three ships departed Pearl Harbor June 25, after a four-day port call, and then headed towards Singapore for a scheduled port visit July 19- 23.
From Singapore it headed for the 5th Fleet AoR, transited the Suez Canal, and the 11th MEU participated in the Exercise Infinite Moonlight '02, in Jordan, which began on Aug. 12 and was completed in early September. Three ships then transited the Suez and Operated in the Arabian Gulf region. The Belleau Wood continued to operate in the Arabian Gulf in support of operations near or in Yemen and as of late September is expected to join the rest of the ARG off of the coast of Kuwait.
March 27, 2003 LHA 3 is currently in dry dock for a scheduled maintance, after returning from a six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
May 27, 2004 USS Belleau Wood departed Naval Station San Diego for a western Pacific and Central Command Area of Responsibility, in support of the Global War on Terorism.
July 6, Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit started with off-loading on Kuwait beaches.
July 21, USS Belleau Wood Expeditionary Strike Group commenced its first missions in support of the Global War on Terrorism when assault ship launched two AV-8B Harriers from HMM-166 (Reinforced), for a close-air support into Iraq July 5.
October 24, LHA 3 returned to homeport after completing a surge deployment as the flagship for Expeditionary Strike Group Three (ESG 3).
February 7, 2005 The amphibious assault ship is currently offloading amminition off the West Coast.
March 4, Rear Adm. Terry Etnyre relieved Vice Adm. Tim LaFleur as Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in a ceremony held aboard the Belleau Wood at Naval Station San Diego.
July 11, USS Belleau Wood pulled to San Diego Harbor, for the last time, completing her final voyage as a U.S. Navy ship. She will be the first Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship to be decommissioned to make way for the LHA(R) amphibious class ship, expected in 2013.
October 13, USS Belleau Wood was decommissioned, at a ceremony on board Naval Station San Diego, after a 27 years of service. She became the first ship to deploy with the AV-8B Harrier and the CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter and the first amphibious assault ship to receive a Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) into her welldeck. The decommissioning was held in conjunction with the Navy’s 230th birthday.
July 10, 2006 Military Sealift Command fleet ocean tug USNS Navajo (T-ATF 169) towed out the decommissioned LHA 3 from Pearl Harbor to open waters for an upcoming sinking exercise (SINKEX) as part of exercise Rim of the Pacific 2006 (RIMPAC). The Belleau Wood will become an artificial reef near Hawaii.