USS ESSEX (LHD 2) is America’s second Wasp class multi-purpose amphibious assault ship. USS Essex' keel was laid on March 20, 1989, at Pascagoula, Miss. Two years later, the ship was christened and began a series of performance trials leading up to commissioning on October 17, 1992 in San Diego, California.
Departing October 1994, Essex set sail on her maiden deployment to the Western Pacific with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Special Operations Capable, (SOC) embarked.
Two years later in October 1996, Essex departed on her second Western Pacific deployment with the 11th MEU SOC and Amphibious Squadron Five.
After a maintenance period and a short workup cycle on June 1998, Essex departed on her third Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf deployment with the 15th MEU (SOC) and Amphibious Squadron Five.
Essex departed San Diego in July 2000 to replace USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) successfully completing the largest hull swap in U. S. Navy history. Essex then inherited the distinctive role as the Navy’s only forward-deployed multi-purpose amphibious assault ship in Sasebo, Japan.
In that role Essex provided Humanitarian Assistance and disaster relief operations to East Timor in October 2001.
After completing Exercises Foal Eagle and Cobra Gold, Essex departed in August 2004 for her fourth deployment with the 31st MEU (SOC). Essex served as Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Three (ESG 3) flagship.
While on deployment to the Arabian Gulf in January 2005, Essex received additional tasking to provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in Indonesia for the victims of the Tsunami.
Essex was again deployed for Humanitarian Assistance in February 2006 helping the survivors of the Leyte mudslide in the Philippines.
In March 2006 Essex arrived at Iwo Jima to participate in the 61st Anniversary of the historic World War II Battle. Essex was called upon in November 2006 to provide security, medical and communication support to the President of the United States during his visit to the Western Pacific.
Continuing to lead U.S. Navy’s strategic engagement initiative, in 2007 Essex successfully conducted combined operations with the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, and Australia.
Essex capped off her 2007 deployment schedule with a historic visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia. Essex’ visit to Cambodia marked the first time an amphibious assault ship has ever visited the country.
In 2008 Essex once again conducted annual training exercises with the partner nations of the Republic of the Philippines, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Republic of Korea.
Early in 2008 Essex was called upon to be in position to render aid to Burma in the wake of Cyclone Nargis. Essex remained on station for over three weeks, prepared to render aid but was rebuffed by the ruling government.
Early 2009, Essex completed a successful exercise Cobra Gold, which had been cut short the previous year. Essex followed this with exercise Balikatan with the Republic of the Philippines. Essex then got underway in support of exercise Talisman Saber 2009 and conducted various welldeck and flight deck evolutions in support of this joint bi-lateral exercise between the U.S. and Australian military forces.
Since her commissioning, Essex has received seven Battle Efficiency awards and numerous other awards, including all of the warfare excellence awards, numerous Golden Anchor awards for retention, and two Ney awards for food service excellence.