Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship

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), the lead ship of the class, off the coast of South Vietnam in 1965.
Class overview
Operators United States Navy
Preceded byEssex class (some ships converted)
Succeeded byTarawa 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 history


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 class

Name Hull number Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
Iwo Jima LPH-2 Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton 2 April 1959 17 September 1960 26 August 1961 14 July 1993 Broken up at Brownsville, 1996
Okinawa LPH-3 Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia 1 April 1960 19 August 1961 14 April 1962 17 December 1992 Sunk as target, 6 June 2002
Guadalcanal LPH-7 1 September 1961 16 March 1963 20 July 1963 31 August 1994 Sunk as target, 19 May 2005
Guam LPH-9 15 November 1962 22 August 1964 16 January 1965 25 August 1998 Sunk as target, 16 October 2001
Tripoli LPH-10 Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula 15 June 1964 31 July 1965 6 August 1966 15 September 1995 Broken up at Brownsville, 2018
New Orleans LPH-11 Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia 1 March 1966 3 February 1968 16 November 1968 31 October 1997 Sunk as target, 10 July 2010
Inchon LPH-12 Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascasgoula 8 April 1968 24 May 1969 20 June 1970 20 June 2002 Sunk as target, 5 December 2004

The seven ships of the Iwo Jima-class were given non-sequential hull numbers, as, at the time of their construction, five existing aircraft carriers were being converted to serve in the Landing Platform Helicopter role - these five ships were renumbered, with the new ships slotted into a single sequence. The five existing ships were:

Name Previous hull number New hull number
Block Island
Thetis Bay
Valley Forge
  • ^a Block Island was redesignated from CVE-106 to LPH-1 in anticipation of the ship being converted into the LPH role under project SCB 159. However, before the work could begin, the ship's conversion was cancelled, and it reverted back to its original number.[3]

One of the Iwo Jima-class ships served as the fieldsite in Edwin Hutchins's classic cognitive science study Cognition in the Wild.[4] 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. ^ Friedman, Norman (1983). U.S. Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. p. 356. ISBN 0-87021-739-9.
  4. ^ Hutchins, Edwin (1995). Cognition in the Wild. MIT Press.