USS ASHLAND (LSD 48) is the eighth and last of the Whidbey Island class ships to be commissioned and the second U.S. Navy ship to bear that name. The first was LSD 1 and was commissioned June 16 1943.
ASHLAND's keel was laid on April 4, 1989 by Avondale Industries Incorporated in New Orleans, Louisiana. Launching and christening took place on November 11, 1989 with Mrs. Kathleen Foley, wife of ADM S. R. Foley, Jr. (Ret.), as ship's sponsor. She was commissioned on May 9, 1992 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Since her commissioning, the dock landing ship has distinguished herself in a variety of missions and operations. During her maiden overseas deployment to the Mediterranean from August 1993 to February 1994, she participated in a number of significant operations including Operation Deny Flight and Operation Restore Hope.
September 1994, USS ASHLAND sailed in support of Operation Able Vigil, the Cuban Migration Interdiction effort. This was immediately followed by operations in both the Haitian and Port Au Prince theaters during Operation Uphold Democracy, the military intervention in Haiti.
After her return from these operations in October 1994, LSD 48 became the first amphibious ship to embark females as permanent members of the crew.
May 1996, USS ASHLAND became the test platform for the Ship's Self Defense System (SSDS). SSDS integrates sensor and weapon systems to provide an automated, quick response, multi-target engagement capability against closing targets. SSDS utilizes both the Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) and the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system, which is a multi-target engagement, "fire-and forget" missile system used to intercept hostile and anti-ship missiles.
From October 1997 to April 1998, LSD 48 completed her third deployment, operating in the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf, participating in numerous exercises and operations including Operations Desert Thunder and Southern Watch.
January 12, 2003 USS ASHLAND departed as part of Amphibious Task Force (ATF) East, for service in the Central Command area of operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
March 25, 2005 USS ASHLAND departed with the USS Kearsarge ESG and the 26th MEU, in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
November 16 2006 , USS ASHLAND departed Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Little Creek to relieve USS Saipan (LHA 2) in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).