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. Ashland was laid down on 4 April 1988, by the Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans, La.; launched and christened on 11 November 1989 and commissioned on 9 May 1992, at New Orleans with Cmdr. Douglas W. Keith as the commanding officer.
In July 1992 LSD 48 arrived in Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and participated in the Haitian refugee relief operation. In August, The dock landing ship arrived in the vicinity of Eleuthera Island, Bahamas, in support of Hurricane Andrew relief ops. In September USS Ashland returned to Little Creek after an eight-week underway period.
Ashland was underway for amphibious operations from in March 1993. In May USS Ashland participated in Operation Ocean Venture, as part of the USS Guadalcanal (LPH 7) ARG, in the Puerto Rican OPAREA. In August USS Ashland departed Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek for its maiden deployment, with the USS Guadalcanal ARG and 22nd MEU. Ashland Participated in Spanish PHIBEX off Sierra de Retin, Supported Operations Deny Flight in September as well as NATO exercise Dynamic Guard in Saros Bay, Turkey. In October USS Ashland departed Black Sea after being diverted to Somalia and supported Operation Restore Hope. In November Ashland participated in exercise Bright Star in the Mediterranean and exercise Mayflower in the Gulf of Aigues-Mortes in December.
In January 1994, the Ashland operated in the Adriatic Sea, supporting United Nations sanctions against the former Yugoslavian Republics of Bosnia and Serbia. In February USS Ashland returned to homeport after a six-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AoR). LSD 48 was underway in support of exercise Agile Provider in Onslow Bay in April-May 6. On July 5, Lt. Lynn T. Chow, the first female crewmember, reported aboard Ashland as Gunnery Officer and was aboard as LSD 48 support of UNITAS 35-94 Phase 0/1. Onload in Onslow Bay. In August USS Ashland departed homeport in support of Operation Able Vigil in which she rescued or received from other units over 5,100 Cuban migrants and transferred them to processing centers at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In September dock landing ship supported Operation Uphold Democracy off Haiti as part of CTF-188.
In February 1995 USS Ashland got underway for routine training and local operations. In June USS Ashland departed NAB Little Creek for a scheduled deployment to South America and West Africa in support of UNITAS 36-95 and West African Training Cruise (WATC) '95. In December USS Ashland returned to homeport after her underway periods.
In January 1996 Ashland departed Little Creek to conduct routine training as part of the USS Nassau (LHA 4) ARG and spent the remainder of the year in scheduled training and maintenance.
In January 1997 The dock landing ship departed homeport for Refresher Training (REFTRA). Ashland did COMTUEX in June and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) in August. In October USS Ashland departed Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek for a scheduled deployment as part of the USS Guam (LPH 9) ARG where she participated in exercise Bright Star off the coast of Egypt.
In January 1998, the Ashland participated in INVITEX in Golfo di Teulada and Spanish PIBLEX off the coast of Ensenda de Barbate. In April USS Ashland returned to Little Creek after a six-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet AoR.
In February 1999 the dock landing ship participated in Capabilities Exercise (CAPEX) in Onslow Bay. In September Ashland emergency sortied from NAB Little Creek to avoid Hurricane Floyd. Ashland was underway for TCAT 3-99, CAPEX and other training opportunities the remainder of the year.
In July 2000 USS Ashland departed homeport for a six-month Mediterranean deployment, as part of the USS Saipan (LHA 2) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
In March 2001 USS Ashland arrived in Gulfport, Miss., for a six-day port visit and then returned to Little Creek after evading storms off the East Coast. She got underway for Midshipmen cruise in June.
In March 2002 USS Ashland departed Little Creek for Group Sail operations, as part of the USS Nassau ARG, in the Puerto Rican OPAREA.
In January 2003 USS Ashland departed Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, with the Amphibious Task Force (ATF) East, for service in the Central Command AoO in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In June Ashland returned to homeport after five-and-a-half month Middle East deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
In June 2004 Ashland participated in Combined Joint Task Force Exercise (CJTFEX).
In March 2005 USS Ashland departed NAB Little Creek for a scheduled deployment, with the USS Kearsarge ESG and the 26th MEU, in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In August USS Ashland moored at Aqaba Naval Base in support of training exercise with the Jordanian armed forces. On August 25, the dock landing ship departed Aqaba, Jordan, as a pre-planned security measure in response to terrorist rockets being fired – a warehouse in the port was struck. One Jordanian soldier was killed and another injured. In September USS Ashland returned to Little Creek after a six-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet AoR.
November 2006 LSD 48 departed Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Little Creek to relieve USS Saipan (LHA 2) in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.
In January 2007 The dock landing ship was underway off the coast of Somalia, conducting maritime security operations in an effort to capture al Qaeda terrorists attempting to flee the country. In May USS Ashland returned to homeport after a six-month deployment.
In February 2008 USS Ashland departed NAB Little Creek for a scheduled deployment. In June LSD 48 completed operations in the North Arabian Gulf (NAG) as part of Combined Task Force (CTF) 158 serving as the Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) for security of Al Basra and the Khawr Al Amaya oil terminals and returned to Little Creek after a nearly five-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
In April 2009 LSD 48 participated in the 50th annual multi-national UNITAS exercise off the coast of Florida. In October Ashland went underway for a COMPTUEX 10-2 with the USS Nassau ARG and 24th MEU.
In January 2010 USS Ashland departed Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story for a scheduled Middle East deployment. First up was support of Operation Unified Response off the coast of Haiti. In April the Ashland captured six pirates after being attacked by small-arms fire in the Gulf of Aden, at 5 a.m. local time, about 330 n.m. off the coast of Djibouti. In August USS Ashland returned to homeport after a seven-month deployment.
2011 LSD 48 went into an extended dry dock period for repair and refurbishment, as well as major alterations to several ship systems including the replacement of high-maintenance steam systems with all-electric functionality.
In June 27, 2013 USS Ashland departed Little Creek, Va., for a homeport change to Sasebo, Japan, where she will conduct a "hull swap" with the USS Tortuga (LSD 46) in September.