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Coat of Arms

The Meaning Behind the Crest

Dark blue and gold are traditional Navy colors and symbolize the sea and excellence. In honor of Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer who discovered the Dry Tortugas in 1513, the colors red and yellow are adopted from the national flag of Spain. Red is also the color of valor and is symbolic of the proud history of amphibious warfare. The angular configuration simulating Fort Jefferson appears as a spearhead and represents the ship’s primary mission of amphibious assault. The gold wings below the spearhead reflect the ship’s capability of amphibious airlift. The crossed officer’s sword and enlisted cutlass honor the spirit of leadership and teamwork between the ship’s wardroom and crew. The supporters are rifled Parrott guns of the mid-19th century and are of the same design as those first installed at Fort Jefferson. They symbolize toughness and tenacity in battle.

Motto: Tough, Tall, Tenacious!


USS TORTUGA (LSD-46) is the sixth of the Whidbey Island (LSD-41) class ships to be commissioned and the second U.S. Navy ship to bear that name.

Two Dock Landing ships of the United States Navy have been named USS TORTUGA, after the Dry Tortugas islands off the coast of Florida. The first TORTUGA (LSD-26) was commissioned in 1945, in action during the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and decommissioned in 1970.

The current USS TORTUGA (LSD-46) is a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship of the U.S. Navy. She was the second Navy ship to be named for the Dry Tortugas, a group of desert coral islets 60 miles west of Key West, Fla., which were discovered in 1513 by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon.

TORTUGA was laid down on 23 March 1987 by Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans, La. The threat of Hurricane Gilbert in the Gulf of Mexico forced an early launching of the ship, as a precautionary measure, on 15 September 1988. On 19 November 1988, Mrs. Rosemary Parker Schoultz, the ship’s sponsor, presided over the christening ceremony, breaking the traditional bottle of champagne over the bow of the ship. TORTUGA was commissioned on 17 November 1990.

On 14 October 2005, The U.S. Navy officially announced that the dock landing ship USS TORTUGA (LSD-46), originally homeported in Little Creek, Va., would be forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan to replace the dock landing ship USS FORT MCHENRY. USS TORTUGA arrived in Sasebo 31 March 2006 for turnover and assignment as part of the U.S. Navy’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF). USS FORT MCHENRY departed Sasebo 13 April 2006 to return to Little Creek, Virginia. USS Tortuga (LSD-46) and USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) completed an exchange-of-command process April 12 in Sasebo, Japan, which officially welcomed Tortuga to the Forward-Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF). The Hull Swap between the Fort McHenry and the Tortuga was the quickest in the history of the U.S. Navy. The Hull Swap was conducted in 12 days.

While in the 7th Fleet Operating Area, USS TORTUGA participated in various multi-national exercises with countires in East Asia and Southeast Asia, to include the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises.

On 3 July 2013, USS TORTUGA returned to Sasebo, Japan after a two month underway period.  The crew then welcomed the USS ASHLAND (LSD 48), originally homeported in Little Creek, VA for a Hull Swap process.  On 23 August 2014, upon the exchange=of-command ceremony, USS ASHLAND replaced USS TORTUGA as the Forward Deployed ship within the 7th Fleet Operating Area.  USS TORTUGA departed Sasebo, Japan for its last time on 9 September 2013.  After traveling over 10,000 nautical miles and transiting through the Panama Canal, USS TORTUGA returned to its original homeport in Little Creek, Va.