USS Germantown (LSD 42), is the second Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship in the United States Navy, was ordered in March 26, 1982. Four years later, on Feb. 8, 1986, the ship was commissioned.
The USS Germantown mission is power projection and she was designed for transporting and launching Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vessels loaded with embarked Marines in support of an amphibious assault. Germantown has the largest capacity for these landing craft (four) of any US Navy amphibious platform. Germantown was the first LSD to deploy with this new weapon system in 1987.
In December 1990, GERMANTOWN departed San Diego en route to the Arabian Gulf as part of the largest West Coast amphibious task force since 1965.
The ship played a significant role during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The ship conducted mock amphibious assaults in the United Arab Emirates after the start of the air war in preparation for a possible amphibious assault as part of Desert Storm.
Shortly after returning from Desert Storm, Germantown shifted her homeport to Sasebo, Japan. There she operated as a forward deployed asset in the Navy’s Seventh Fleet until she was relieved on August 16, 2002 by USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). Germantown returned to San Diego, CA, where she underwent a $25 million overhaul. One year later, the ship deployed to the Arabian Gulf as part of Expeditionary Strike Group One. Germantown supported Operation Iraqi Freedom by landing Marines and equipment from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
In 2004, GERMANTOWN offloaded Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) at Kuwait Naval Base as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the deployment, the ship also offloaded Marines for bilateral training in the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, and Kenya and assisted in the rescue of eight Iraqi merchant sailors after their ship sank in the Arabian Gulf.
Germantown deployed again in February 2006 to the Arabian Gulf in support of operation Enduring Freedom carrying Marines of the 11th MEU to Kuwait. She assisted Iraq in the North Arabian Gulf by responding to an oil fire on the Khwar Al Amaya Oil Terminal and by querying vessels before they entered Iraqi waters. Germantown constantly contributed to coalition objectives by conducting presence Operations throughout the Arabian Gulf before returning to her homeport in August 2006.
After intensive Unit Level and Integrated Training Cycles Germantown departed for the Arabian Gulf on November 5, 2007 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After offloading Battalion Landing Team 1/5 of the 11th MEU in Kuwait for field exercises, Germantown conducted Maritime Security Operations throughout the Gulf. Fifth Fleet reached out to Germantown to operate in non-traditional roles for a ship of her class; tasking her with conducting oil platform defense in the narrow Shatt-Al-Arab waterway on the Iraq-Iran border. She returned home to San Diego, CA, on June 3rd, 2008 and began preparations for an extended mid-life overhaul period commencing in the winter of 2008.
In October 2009 USS Germantown prepared a hull swap with the Harpers Ferry in Japan. In 2011 Germantown participated in PHIBLEX 2011 and Talisman Saber 2011. In 2012 she participated in CARAT 2012 and Cobra Gold 2012.
1st USS Germantown
The first USS Germantown, a sloop-of-war, was launched at the Philadelphia Navy Yard 22 August 1846. However, because of damaging ice, the Germantown was transferred on 18 December to Norfolk Navy Yard for fitting out. She was commissioned 9 March 1847 with Comdr. Franklin Buchanan as the commanding officer.
USS Germantown departed Norfolk 15 March 1847 for service in the Mexican War with Commodore M. C. Perry's Home Squadron. The sloop Germantown took the town of Alvarado on Sacriflcios Island 1 April "without firing a gun." She then sailed with the squadron to Tuxpan which landed a force of seamen and marines on 18 April and successfully stormed the Mexican fortifications. As "a point of honor as well as duty," they reclaimed the guns and ordnance stores that had been seized by the Mexican forces from the wrecked US Brig Truxtun.
Between 13 and 16 June Germantown crew participated the force under Commodore Perry that razed the defenses at Tobasco and occupied the town. During the next 6 months she cruised the Mexican coast from Vera Cruz to Tuxpan, blockading Mexican ports on the Gulf Coast. USS Germantown arrived in Norfolk on 16 February 1848 and decommissioned for repairs.
Germantown recommissioned 8 April 1848 with Comdr. Charles Lowndes as the commanding officer. She departed soon after to serve again with Commodore Perry's Home Squadron. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed and she sailed to Pensacola, Fla., where she arrived 12 September 1848.
In October 1848 Germantown sailed to the West Indies and cruised off the Virgin Islands until 30 June 1849. She then resumed her station off St. Thomas in February 1850 and protected American commerce until 8 August. She sailed to New York in September and was decommissioned 21 September 1850.
After being recommissioned 23 December 1850 with Comdr. J. D. Knight as the commanding officer, Germantown was assigned as flagship of Commodore E. A. F. Lavallette's African Squadron on 10 January 1851. She arrived in Porto Praya 14 May to relieve sloop-of-war Plymouth. USS Germantown spent about 2 years cruising the South Atlantic to St. Helena Island and along the African coast from Cape Mesurado to Loando, Portuguese West Africa. During this time the squadron "rendered aid to our countrymen, gave protection to our commerce 'and security to the emigrants and missionaries located on the coast, and as far as practicable," reported Commodore Lavallette, "checked the slave traders in their abominable traffic."
On 8 February 1853 she seized the American schooner Rachel P. Brown and sent the suspected slave ship to Norfolk. Relieved on station by the frigate USS Constitution, she departed Porto Praya on 4 March and was decommissioned in Boston on 9 April 1853.
USS Germantown was recommissioned on 23 November 1853 with Comdr. W. F. Lynch as the commanding officer. She then sailed in December 1853 in Commodore W. D. Salter's Brazil Squadron. IN 1854 she cruised the South Atlantic from Bahia, Brazil, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. During much of 1855 she maintained station off Montevideo, Uruguay, where political disturbances and revolutionary activities threatened the lives and property of foreign nationals. After completing duty with the Brazil Squadron, Germantown departed in January 1857 and was decommissioned 12 February.
Germantown again recommissioned 15 July 1857 with Comdr. R. L. Page as the commanding officer. She departed Norfolk 4 August for duty in the Far East and joined Flag Officer Josiah Tattnall's East India Squadron off Point de Gala. For 2 years she cruised Far Eastern waters and visited the principal ports of China and Japan as the squadron guarded American interests in the Orient. She returned to Norfolk in April 1860 and decommissioned the 18th.
Completely equipped for sea and awaiting a crew, Germantown was scuttled at Gosport Navy Yard 20 April 1861 as Union forces evacuated Norfolk. The Confederates raised her in June; fitted her out as a floating battery to serve near Craney Island for the protection of Norfolk; then sank her as an obstruction in the Elizabeth River shortly before evacuating Norfolk 10 May 1862. Raised by Union forces 22 April 1863, Germantown saw no further service. Her hulk was sold by auction at Norfolk 8 February 1864.
For more details of the history of the first USS Germantown, sloop-of-war, see the Navy History site http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/g5/germantown.htm.