USS AUSTIN LPD 4
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LPD 4 is the lead ship of the Austin-class of amphibious transport docks and the third ship in the Navy to bear the name "Austin" and the second ship named for Steven F. Austin, a Texas patriot.
USS Austin keel was laid down on February 4, 1963 at Brooklyn, N.Y., by the New York Naval Shipyard; launched on June 27, 1964, sponsored by Miss Lynda Bird Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and commissioned on February 6, 1965, Capt. William H. Shaw in command.
The amphibious transport dock remained at Brooklyn through May, then sailed to Norfolk, Va., on May 26 to complete its outfitting. During September and October, the ship was engaged in shakedown training in the vicinity of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After a port call at Corpus Christi, Texas., the Austin returned to Norfolk in November.
From November 1965 through April 1966, USS Austin operated in the Norfolk area before entering the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on May 5 for repairs and alterations. When this work was completed, she headed for the Caribbean to conduct two weeks of trials off Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. The ship next sailed to the Dominican Republic to assist in the withdrawal of units of the Inter-American Peace Force which had helped restore stability during a political crisis. These units were disembarked at Sunny Point, N.C., on August 9, and she then returned, via Norfolk, to Philadelphia on Aug. 21 for adjustments to her main propulsion plant. LPD 4 returned to Norfolk Nov. 3.
USS Austin spent the next four and one-half months in preparation for an extended deployment as a unit of the Caribbean Amphibious Ready Group. On April 15, 1967, she touched at Morehead City, N.C., to embark Marine Corps units and then proceeded to the Caribbean Sea. While there, she participated in numerous amphibious training exercises and made port visits at Ponce and San Juan, Puerto Rico; Willemstad, Curacao; St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Colon, Panama and Guantanamo Bay. The amphibious transport dock ship returned to Norfolk on August 19 for a leave and upkeep period. It departed again on Nov. 4 to become a part of the recovery force for the Apollo IV space mission. From November 13-16, she held amphibious training exercises, then returned to homeport for the holidays.
USS Austin sailed on January 8, 1968, to carry naval personnel and equipment to Key West, Fla. After continuing on to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, the ship arrived back in Norfolk on Jan. 25. During February, March, and April, she took part in several training exercises along the east coast. On May 13, another cruise to the Caribbean began which included visits to Bermuda, Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Key West. LPD 4 returned to Norfolk on June 3 and then retraced its route to take part in Operation "Race Run," at Vieques Island. USS Austin was back in homeport on June 30 and entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on July 19 for an overhaul.
Refresher training at Guantanamo Bay in late January 1969 was followed by two weeks of amphibious warfare training in the Virginia capes area. In April, the Austin took part in special amphibious exercises before beginning another deployment to the Caribbean on May 18. During the four-month cruise, she was involved in Operation "Exotic Dancer II," held off Puerto Rico and visits included San Juan and Roosevelt Roads; La Guaira, Venezuela; Colon, Panama; Guantanamo Bay; Bridgetown, Barbados; and St. Thomas. This deployment ended on Sept. 10, and the ship began a period of leave and upkeep at Norfolk. She sailed again on Nov. 4 as a recovery ship in support of the Apollo Xll spaceshot and remained on station until 24th when she began the voyage back to homeport. USS Austin made a brief stop at Port of Spain, Trinidad, Nov. 29-30 and arrived at Norfolk on Dec. 6.
The Austin spent the first two and one-half months of 1970 in port, before sailing on March 17 with Amphibious Squadron (PhibRon) 2 for the Mediterranean. The deployment included amphibious landing exercises and stops at Rota and Malaga, Spain; Genua and Naples, Italy; Cannes, France and Valletta, Malta. She lost her stern gate on June 6, and temporary repairs were made at Malta from June 16-30. The amphibious transport dock ship arrived back in Norfolk on July 13 to begin a yard period for permanent repairs. She emerged from the shipyard on Sept. 22 and began refresher training.
USS Austin again deployed with PhibRon 2 on Nov. 16. During the cruise, she held numerous amphibious and antisubmarine warfare exercises. She also visited Genoa, Livorno, and Naples Italy; Barcelona and Rota, Spain; Mersin, Turkey and Athens, Greece, before returning to Norfolk May 7, 1971.
USS Astin got underway again on July 14 for operations in conjunction with the recovery of the Apollo XV space capsule. The first two weeks in August were spent in mine countermeasures exercises held in the area of Charleston, S.C. The Austin then entered a period of type training and amphibious exercises followed by more mine warfare exercises in early November. She returned to Norfolk Nov. 12 for the holidays.
USS Austin began 1972 with Exercise Snowy Beach, a large-scale landing exercise held off the coast of Maine. From Feb. 15 to March 20, she participated in Operation Springboard, in the Caribbean Sea. The ship visited the Naval Academy from April 17-20 to hold indoctrination tours for midshipmen. During the next two months, she conducted type training and took part in Exercises Exotic Dancer and Escort Tiger. On July 5, the amphibious transport dock unloaded all ammunition in preparation for overhaul. It entered the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Baltimore, Md., on July 11. Work continued there until Oct. 11, when the ship was towed to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for completion of the yard work.
On March 15, 1973, USS Austin began post-repair trials. She sailed to Guantanamo Bay on March 22 and, after refresher training, returned to Norfolk April 24. After another two months of preparation, the vessel sailed on June 7 for another Mediterranean Sea deployment. Her ports of call included Alicante, Barcelona, and Rota, Spain; Trieste and Venice, Italy; Corfu, Athens, and Rhodes, Greece. LPD 4 took part in several exercises, including NATO Exercise Deep Furrow from Sept. 18 to Oct. 4. On 10th, the Austin got underway for Souda Bay, Crete, as a part of the 6th Fleet response to the Arab-Israeli War. In early December, the ship began the trip back to homeport. After pausing briefly at Morehead City Dec. 19, USS Austin returned to Norfolk on Dec. 20 for post-deployment standdown.
USS Austin got underway on February 8, 1974, for Guantanamo Bay as a unit of the Caribbean Amphibious Ready Group. She operated from various points in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands through August. In early September, the amphibious transport dock ship visited Caracas, Venezuela, and Willemstad, Curacao. While in Curacao, 154 Dutch marines were embarked for Exercise Doria Salute VII. The marines disembarked at Vieques Island; then she returned via San Juan, Aruba, and Curacao to Naval Station Norfolk on March 19. However, she headed back toward the Caribbean on April 24. The first country visited was Panama, where marines disembarked for jungle warfare training. Her subsequent ports of call included Cartagena, Colombia; Vieques, Puerto Rico and St. Johns, Antigua. From May 25 to June 2, the Austin was back in homeport for upkeep. It resumed duty on Oct. 30 by sailing to the Canal Zone. The ship continued its routine of shuttling marines and their equipment between various Caribbean ports through Dec. 16, when returned to Norfolk.
February 25, 1975 USS Austin deployed once more to the Mediterranean Sea and carried out amphibious training exercises and midshipmen training cruises in that area, visiting ports in Spain, Italy, and France before returning to Norfolk on Aug. 20. She then began an extended period of availability.
LPD 4 Got underway on January 14, 1976, to load ammunition and sailed a week later for the Caribbean. After a brief training period at Guantanamo Bay, the ship continued on to Curacao. From February 4-16, it took part in Exercise Rum Punch 76, and then returned to homeport Feb. 21 for upkeep.
For the next four months, the amphibious transport dock was involved in a series of inspections, training exercises, and Naval Reserve training cruises. On June 9, USS Astin returned briefly to the Caribbean and then made a short visit to New York City in early July. She was back in Norfolk on July 10 and began preparations for overseas movement. She sailed on Aug. 20 for northern Europe and visited ports of Orland, Norway; Edinburgh, Scotland; Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands; Esbjerg, Denmark; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Bremerhaven, Germany, and Portsmouth, England. After a stop at Morehead City to disembark marines she returned to Naval Station Norfolk on November 11.
The Austin went to Yorktown, Va., on January 17, 1977, to unload ammunition prior to her scheduled overhaul. She proceeded to Baltimore on Feb. 2 and commenced overhaul at the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. The work was finished on Feb. 16, 1978, and the ship returned the next day to Norfolk. After a brief stay, she sailed to Guantanamo Bay for refresher training, but was back in homeport on April 25. After several months of training, LPD 4 got underway on Aug. 22 for the north Atlantic. There it took part in Operation Northern Wedding, in conjunction with other NATO naval units, and made stops in Norway, Denmark, and England, before returning Oct. 31.
USS Austin sailed on January 30, 1980, for another Mediterranean Sea deployment. During this trip, she visited Lisbon, Portugal; Cartagena, Spain; Athens, Greece; and Naples, Genoa, and Venice, Italy. LPD 4 returned to homeport on July 11. After a brief respite, it sailed for South America on Oct. 15 and participated in Operations Unites and Allied Caribe 80, held in the Antilles in conjunction with units from Great Britain, Canada and the Netherlands. The Austin later provided hurricane relief assistance to the inhabitants of Dominica. She returned to Norfolk Dec. 7.
On February 3, 1981, USS Austin departed Norfolk and headed for the Arctic Circle near Norway where she participated in cold weather training. The amphibious transport dock returned to homeport April 17. Late in June, it voyaged south and west to the gulf coast of Florida to perform a special project for the Chief of Naval Operations. During the transit home, it visited Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Nassau, Bahamas. After returning to homeport July 8, the ship resumed a normal schedule of operations until the beginning of September when it entered the yard at the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. to begin an 11-month overhaul.
LPD 4 completed the repair period on August 2, 1982, and spent most of the remainder of the year undergoing post- overhaul inspections and examinations at Norfolk. USS Austin began 1983 with a cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to conduct post-overhaul refresher training. During the early part of February, she took an extended break from training to make a 12-day port visit to New Orleans, La., for the Mardi Gras festival. She resumed refresher training on Feb. 19. In March and early April, the Austin operated out of Norfolk and then spent the last three weeks of April in port preparing to deploy to the troubled eastern Mediterranean. On May 5 USS Austin set sail for Morehead City where she embarked the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines (BLT 1/8), and the 24th MEU before heading out across the Atlantic.
USS Austin arrived in the Mediterranean late in May and disembarked the Marine Corps units at Beirut, Lebanon, where a guerilla-style civil war among a virtual rainbow of factions complicated by military incursions on the parts of Syria and Israel, had been in progress at varying levels of intensity for some time. In September 1982, the assassination of president-elect Bashir Gemayel touched off atrocities that brought a multinational peacekeeping force into the country soon thereafter. In May 1983, the U.S. Marines replaced the part of that force protecting Beirut International Airport. On Oct. 23, a terrorists drove an explosives-laden truck into the lobby of the headquarters of the Marine Corps units stationed ashore. The detonation destroyed the headquarters, killed 241 men and injured over 100 others. USS Austin responded to the emergency quickly by providing men to stand security watches and help in the search for survivors. In November, the amphibious transport dock departed the eastern Mediterranean and returned to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek Dec 8.
On February 13, 1984, LPD 4 departed homeport for a minesweeping exercise off the coast of North Carolina before heading for Scandanavian waters. During the Atlantic transit and during its time in the Arctic waters near Norway, the Austin and other U.S. Navy warships joined elements of the navies of Canada Denmark, Norway, and the United Kingdom in conducting the two-part NATO Exercise United Effort Teamwork '84. Following the conclusion of the exercise, the ship made visits to Norway, Netherlands, and United Kingdom. It returned to Little Creek on April 28.
July 2, 1985 USS Austin departed homeprot for another tour of duty in the 6th Fleet AoR. She pulled to Rota, Spain, on July 13 and entered the Mediterranean Sea the following day.The amhibious transport dock returned to Little Creek Dec. 20.
In January 1986, the Austin began a restricted availability at pierside in Norfolk. She departed Norfolk on Aug. 12 and set sail for northern Europe and another series of exercises with forces of other NATO nations. She visited Norway, Denmark, Germany, and England until the first week in October. On Oct. 8, LPD 4 departed Dover, England, and returned to homeport on 21st. On Nov. 3, it moved from Little Creek to the Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. for a regular overhaul.
August 26, 2002 USS Austin departed Naval Station Norfolk for a scheduled deployment, with the USS Nassau (LHA 4) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Nassau ARG and the 24 MEU have trained more than eight months in preparation for this deployment through a series of increasingly demanding exercises and operations culminating in their being certified as ready to deploy.
May 29, 2003 LPD 4 returned to homeport after for more than nine-month underway period in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
May 5, 2005 USS Austin departed Norfolk to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in support of exercise New Horizons (NH) in Haiti, as part of USS Nassau ARG.
August 17, USS Austin is currently conducting an Expeditionary Strike Group Exercise, in Atlantic Ocean, one of its final underway-training exercises where Sailors and Marines train together in preparation for an upcoming deployment.
November 4, USS Austin departed Naval Station Norfolk for a regularly scheduled deployment, with the USS Nassau ESG 8, in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
November 21, The amphibious transport dock ship departed Cartegena, Spain, after a scheduled port visit.
December 24, USS Austin, commanded by Cmdr. Kevin Flanagan, pulled to Manama, Bahrain, for a Christmas Day celebration.
March 12, 2006 LPD 4 is currently in the Persian Gulf conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO). Austin's mission denies international terrorists the use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
April 9, ESG 8 transited through the Suez Canal, marking the end of more than four months of maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. Nassau, Austin and the 22nd MEU conducted a final exercise with Djibouti prior to heading out of 5th Fleet.
May 4, USS Austin returned to Norfolk after a six-month deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
September 27, USS Austin (LPD 4) was decommissioned after 41 years of naval service, during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. She was than taken in tow by USNS Grasp for a voyage to the Philadelphia Naval Storage facility.