SAN DIEGO - The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) celebrated her 6th commissioning anniversary on Oct 24.
The ship was formally commissioned on this date in 2009 at 10:00 a.m. at Naval Air Station North Island.
Although, Makin Island is the eighth and last Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, she is the first built with gas turbines and electric drive Auxiliary Propulsion System (APS).
By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, a testament to the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
Makin Island embarks, transports, deploys, more than 3,500 Sailors and Marines. Makin Island accommodates three landing craft air cushion, a squadron of AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, and a full range of Navy/Marine Corps helicopters and amphibious vehicles to perform sea control and limited power-projection missions.
During her first two deployments, the ship saved more than six million gallons of fuel resulting in an estimated cost savings in excess of $22 million. She served as the platform for the first operational deployment of the four-blade AH-1Z Viper helicopter; and she will be Joint Strike Fighter capable in 2017.
The ship’s recent deployment included transiting nearly 35,000 nautical miles for 115 straight days at sea conducting air strikes in Fifth FLEET. The ship participated in Exercise Red Reef 15 with Saudi Arabian forces and performed Marine sustainment exercises in Kuwait and Djibouti.
Makin Island is named for the daring raid carried out by Marine Corps Companies Alpha and Bravo, Second Raider Battalion, on the Japanese-held Makin Island, in the Gilbert Islands, on Aug. 17-18, 1942.
The raid was launched from the submarines USS Nautilus and USS Argonaut and succeeded in routing the enemy forces based there, gaining valuable intelligence.
Twenty-three Navy Crosses were awarded for actions during the raid, including to the raid's leader, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, and Executive Officer, Marine Corps Maj. James Roosevelt (son of President Franklin Roosevelt). Marine Corps Sgt. Clyde Thomason was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism during the raid and was the first enlisted Marine to be so honored during World War II.
One previous ship, a Casablanca-class escort aircraft carrier (1944-1946), has borne the name Makin Island, and received five battle stars for World War II service.
Makin Island is in the home stretch of a phased maintenance availability at Naval Base San Diego and will soon commence basic phase training in preparation for the ship’s third deployment in late 2016.