USS Germantown (LSD 42) is the second Whidbey Island class dock landing ship, and the first ship in the class to serve in the Pacific. She’s also the second navy ship named after the Revolutionary War Battle of Germantown.
The amphibious assault ship's mission is to project power ashore by transporting and launching amphibious craft and vehicles loaded with embarked Marines in support of an amphibious assault. The ship was designed specifically to operate with Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercrafts. These ships are designed to transport up to four LCACs which can travel at speeds of 40 knots, or about 46 miles per hour.
LSD 42 can reduce limited docking and repair services to small ships and crafts. She has a large storage space for weapons and equipment, improved facilities for embarked troops, and greater range of operations. Her flight deck can support the landing, refueling, and launching of any type of Navy- Marine Corps aircraft. During amphibious operations, she has the ability to serve as primary control ship. She is an extremely versatile, capable platform, ready to handle a myriad of tasks and secondary missions. She can carry and deliver hundreds of tons of relief materials to victims within hours of arrival on the scene. She has been fitted with state of the art medical and dental facilities. This capability enables Germantown to serve not only as a ship of war, but also as a ship of peace.
On March 26, 1982, the Navy ordered USS Germantown and later on Feb. 8, 1986 she was commissioned. She played a significant role during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She participated in mock amphibious assaults in the United Arab Emirates after the start of the air war in preparation for a possible amphibious assault.
On August 16, 2002, USS Harpers Ferry relieved LSD 42 as a forward deployed naval unit in Sasebo, Japan. The docking ship returned to San Diego where she underwent a $25 million overhaul. One year later, the she deployed to the Arabian Gulf as part of Expeditionary Strike Group One. She also supported Operation Iraqi Freedom by landing Marines and equipment from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
USS Germantown is the second ship to bear the name of the historical Pennsylvania District of Germantown, famously known for being the site of the American Revolutionary War. On October 4, 1777, the Battle of Germantown took place in Germantown, Pennsylvania where General George Washington led the Continental Army to attack British General William Howe, General Charles Cornwallis, and the British Army. While having numerical superiority, the attempt to repeat the earlier success of the Trenton campaign would fail despite a close battle General Washington was forced to retreat. Despite losing the battle, the Army’s attempt to remove the British forces was evidence of the colonists’ persistence and courage in the battle against the British troops. In which helped Americans gain the French support for the final battle at Yorktown.
On February 8, 1986, USS Germantown was commissioned is the second ship of the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships, and the first to be assigned to the Pacific Fleet. The Whidbey Island-class LSD was specifically designed to operate with the Navy’s new Landing Craft Air Cushion assault craft and can carry more LCAC’s than any other naval ship. She was the first LSD to deploy with this new weapon system in 1987.
On December 1, 1990, she departed from San Diego for 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 conducting mock amphibious assaults in the United Arab Emirates.
Shortly after returning from Desert Storm, the dock landing ship 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). She then returned to San Diego where she underwent a $25 million overhaul.
In 2004, LSD 49 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. She also assisted in the rescue of eight Iraqi merchant sailors after their ship sank in the Arabian Gulf.
The dock landing ship deployed again in February 2006 to the Arabian Gulf in support of operation Enduring Freedom where she was carried 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. She constantly contributed to coalition objectives by conducting presence Operations throughout the Arabian Gulf before returning back to her homeport in August 2006.
After intensive Unit Level and Integrated Training Cycles dock landing ship 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, she conducted Maritime Security Operations throughout the Gulf. Fifth Fleet reached out to LSD 49 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.
On June 3, 2008, she returned home to San Diego where she began preparations for an extended mid-life overhaul period commencing in the winter of 2008. Upon her return, preparations began for an extended mid-life overhaul period. On January 8, 2008, she moved to CMSD where she remained until October 2009 later returning to 32nd Street Naval Station. It was there when she began to prepare for INSURV and a hull swap with the Harpers Ferry in Japan.
Focused in the center of the insignia is a black eagle symbolizing the country of Germany. Early immigrants from Germany settled outside Philadelphia to form the community of Germantown. The keystone on the eagle refers to the State of Pennsylvania. The wavy form encompassed in the keystone is symbolic of a spring at the site of the Battle of Germantown. Water from the spring was used to christen the first ship named for Germantown. The eagle is armed in red and gold, referring to the Marine Corps in support of the ship's amphibious assault missions.
The scarlet and gold castle tower represents the German town of Krefeld, where the founders of Germantown originated. The two colonial-style bayonets recall the Revolutionary War Battle of Germantown. The stars in the bayonets stand for the two ships named for this historical location.
GERMANTOWN adopted its motto from a quote by Francis Daniel Pastorius, German scholar and original settler of the Germantown community. "FOLGEN SIE UNSEREN FUSSPUREN!" translates as "Follow in our footsteps!" The motto illustrates the prosperity and success Pastorius found so characteristic in Germantown. The ship USS GERMANTOWN takes pride in sustaining a high degree of professionalism and challenges all to "follow in our footsteps."