Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship

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The Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ships of the United States Navy were the first amphibious assault ships designed and built as dedicated helicopter carriers, capable of operating up to 20 helicopters to carry up to 1,800 marines ashore.[1] They were named for battles featuring the United States Marine Corps, starting with the Battle of Iwo Jima. The first ship of the class was commissioned in 1961, and the last was decommissioned in 2002. The hull classification of "LPH" stands for "Landing Platform Helicopter".

USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2)
USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2)
Class overview
Operators United States Navy
Preceded by Essex class (some ships converted)
Succeeded by Tarawa class
In commission1961–2002
Laid up0
General characteristics
TypeAmphibious assault ship (LPH)
Length592 ft (180 m)
Beam84 ft (26 m)
Draft27 ft (8.2 m)
  • 2 × 600 psi (4.1 MPa) boilers,
  • one geared steam turbine,
  • one shaft,
  • 22,000 shaft horsepower (16 MW)
Speed22 knots (41 km/h)
Aviation facilities
  • 25 helicopters or AV-8 Harriers
  • Flight deck width: 105 ft (32 m)

Operational historyEdit

Ships of this class participated in several conflicts and peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations:

One ship of this class, USS Guam (LPH-9), was used in a 1970-1974 Sea Control Ship experiment to test the concept of a smaller aircraft carrier using V/STOL aircraft.

Another ship, USS Inchon (LPH-12), was converted to a mine countermeasures ship which hosted mine sweeping helicopters.

The hull design of the Iwo Jima-class also became the basis of the slightly larger Blue Ridge class of amphibious command ships.[2]

Ships in classEdit

Name Hull number Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
Iwo Jima LPH-2 Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton 2 April 1959 17 September 1960 26 August 1961 Broken up at Brownsville, 1996
Okinawa LPH-3 Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia 1 April 1960 19 August 1961 14 April 1962 Sunk as target, 6 June 2002
Guadalcanal LPH-7 1 September 1961 16 March 1963 20 July 1963 Sunk as target, 19 May 2005
Guam LPH-9 15 November 1962 22 August 1964 16 January 1965 Sunk as target, 16 October 2001
Tripoli LPH-10 Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula 15 June 1964 31 July 1965 6 August 1966 Broken up at Brownsville, 2018
New Orleans LPH-11 Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia 1 March 1966 3 February 1968 16 November 1968 Sunk as target, 10 July 2010
Inchon LPH-12 Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascasgoula 8 April 1968 24 May 1969 20 June 1970 Sunk as target, 5 December 2004

Five non-Iwo Jima-class ships were converted from various, already active escort carriers, given LPH hull codes and numbered in with the class;

Name Hull number Class
Block Island
Commencement Bay
Thetis Bay
Valley Forge

Popular cultureEdit

One of the Iwo Jima-class ships served as the fieldsite in Edwin Hutchins's classic cognitive science study Cognition in the Wild.[3] Although Hutchins does not mention the ship class by name, on p. 7 he characterizes it as a 603-foot-long (184 m) amphibious helicopter carrier.


  1. ^ Friedman, Norman (2002). U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft: An Illustrated Design History. Illustrated Design Histories. Naval Institute Press. pp. 351–362. ISBN 1-55750-250-1. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  2. ^ Friedman, Norman (2002). U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft: An Illustrated Design History. Illustrated Design Histories. Naval Institute Press. pp. 428–429. ISBN 1-55750-250-1. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  3. ^ Hutchins, Edwin (1995). Cognition in the Wild. MIT Press.