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USS Essex (LHD 2) is the second ship to be commissioned in the WASP-class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships. The principle mission of Essex is to conduct prompt, sustained operations at sea, primarily as the centerpiece and flagship of the Amphibious Ready Group. LHDs provide the means to transport, deploy, command and support all elements of a Marine landing force of over 2,000 troops during an assault by air and amphibious craft.

Designed to be versatile, Essex has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations. LHDs missions, while operating with an aircraft carrier battle group. The ship's extensive medical facilities consist of six medical operating rooms, four dental operating rooms, medical laboratories and hospital facilities capable of caring for 600 patients.

In carrying out its primary mission, the 844-foot long, 44,000-ton Essex will transport and land ashore troops, tanks, trucks, artillery, and other supplies necessary to support an assault.
Keel Laid : March 20,1989
Christening: March 16, 1991
Commissioning: October 17, 1992 in San Diego, CA

  View additional ship specifications and other ships in the class.

November 1798, the frigate's builder, Enoch Briggs, advertised for shipbuilding materials in a ringing appeal: "Take notice! Ye sons of freedom! Step forth and give your assistance in building the frigate to oppose French insolence and piracy! Let every man in possession of a white oak tree feel ambitious to be foremost in hurrying down the timber to Salem ... Where noble structure is to be fabricated to maintain your rights upon the seas and make the name of America respected among the nations of the world! Your largest and longest trees are wanted ... Four trees are wanted for the keel, which altogether will measure 146 feet in length, and hew 16 inches square. Please call on the subscriber, who ... Will pay the ready cash."

- Crest meaning and symbolism


The gold line joining the blue of the Navy and the scarlet of the Marine Corps shows the unity of the two services. The gold border demonstrates the unity required of amphibious operations. The number 2 stands for LHD 2.

The bald eagle with a shield on its breast is representative of the eagle used in the coat of arms on the fourth ship to bear the name USS ESSEX. The Marine officer’s sword grasped in the eagle’s talons shows that the embarked Marine units are ESSEX’s main battery. The red banner stands for the sacrifice and valor required to win the thirteen battle stars in World War II and four in the Korean War. The black color for the motto is meant to stand out for all to read and heed. The white border on the banner and the white stars symbolize the purity to cause for which the
ship serves and the stars were won.

The amphibious insignia over the Pacific Ocean symbolizes amphibious operations from the oceans of the world.

The gold chain surrounded by the five-sided coat of arms represents the five naval ships to bear the name USS ESSEX.

- Namesake / History
As the seventh frigate of a young United States Navy, the ESSEX vision began in 1798 when the ship’s builder Enos Briggs advertised for shipbuilding materials in the Salem Gazette:

“Take Notice! Ye sons of freedom! Step forth and give your assistance in building the frigate to oppose French insolence and piracy! Let every man in possession of a white oak tree feel ambitious to be foremost in hurrying down the timber to Salem…where noble structure is to be fabricated and maintain your rights upon the seas and make the name of America respected among the nations of the world!”

The 32-gun frigate was launched on September 30, 1799, before a crowd of 12,000 people. By the close of 1813, she was noted in Navy registers as the only vessel of worth to be operating - all others had been damaged, captured or sunk. On March 28, 1814, ESSEX was captured by the British at the Battle of Valparaiso. She served the British navy until she was sold at public auction in 1837.

The second ship to bear the name ESSEX was an ironclad steamer built in 1856 for use as a ferry. Originally named “New Era,” she was renamed ESSEX following purchase by the War Department on September 20, 1861. She participated in action against the confederate forces on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers and was decommissioned on July 20, 1865.

The third ESSEX, a wooden-screw steamer, was commissioned on October 3, 1876, and saw action with the North and South Atlantic Squadrons and on the Pacific and Asian stations. She returned to New York via the Suez Canal and was placed out of commission in May 1889.

The fourth ESSEX (CV 9) was commissioned in December 1942. Built as the lead ship in the ‘ESSEX’ class of 24 World War II aircraft carriers, these aircraft carriers were the backbone of the Pacific Fleet and pivotal in the defeat of Japan. In the closing days of WWII, ESSEX took part in raids against the Japanese home islands.

ESSEX deployed twice in the Korean War between 1951 and 1953. During this time, future Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong served aboard her as a pilot. On October 22, 1968, she recovered the Apollo 7 astronauts following a splashdown north of Puerto Rico. She was decommissioned June 30, 1969.

Twenty years later on March 20, 1989, the fifth ship to bear the name ESSEX (LHD 2) became the second Wasp-class amphibious assault ship in the U.S. Naval fleet, and was commissioned October 17, 1992, in San Diego, Calif.

ESSEX completed three successful Western Pacific deployments over the next eight years and in July 2000, left San Diego to replace USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) in Sasebo, Japan, successfully completing the largest hull swap in U.S. Navy history. During her 12-year forward deployment, ESSEX completed deployments to the Middle East, humanitarian missions to East Timor and Indonesia, exercises Foal Eagle and Cobra Gold and in March 2011, deployed in support of Operation Tomadachi providing assistance to victims of the Japanese tsunami.

In April 2012, ESSEX completed a historic hull swap with USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and returned to her original homeport of San Diego in May 2012. In June 2012, she participated in a two-month Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise. This 24-nation naval exercise assembled the largest multi- nation armada in modern history.

In September 2012, ESSEX began a $200 million, 18-month Extended Dry-dock Planned Maintenance Availability (DPMA) - the largest non-carrier maintenance package in surface Navy history. Improvements included upgrades to support the U.S. Marine Corp MV-22 Osprey, IT and computer networks, modernized the fuel oil stability compensation system and conducted a five-year Strength and Integrity Inspection on both boilers. ESSEX successfully completed sea trials in April 2014 and was certified for flight operations in May 2014. In December 2015, ESSEX completed a 7-month deployment to the 5th and 7th fleet areas of operation in support of Global Maritime Security.

ESSEX embarked on an eight-month deployment to the 3rd, 5th and 7th fleet areas of operation in July 2018, focusing on maintaining and strengthening foreign relationships with allies across the globe. While underway, ESSEX conducted joint operations with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and showed global presence during TACR-18 and CARAT Malaysia. ESSEX was the first to deploy to the 5th fleet area of operation and conduct combat operations with the F-35B Lightning II fighter jet. The aircraft was used in support of Operations Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve. Following her successful deployment, ESSEX began a ten-month Planned Maintenance Availability (PMA) to ensure ESSEX remains at the forefront in war-fighting capabilities.

In 2021, USS Essex and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) executed a seven-month deployment to U.S. 3rd, 5th, and 7th Fleet areas of operation. They provided numbered fleet and combatant commanders with a responsive, flexible and forward-deployed asset capable of maritime power projection, contingency operations, and crisis response. Their capabilities enabled shaping of the operational environment to protect the United States and allied interests in any threat environment. During deployment, Sailors and Marines supported Operation Inherent Resolve, Large Scale Exercise 21, Marine Exercise Philippines 22, and Noble Fusion 22.

While operating in U.S. 7th Fleet supporting U.S. Indo-Pacific Command from January to February 2022, USS Essex conducted expeditionary strike force operations with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in the South China Sea. ESF operations demonstrate U.S. capability to quickly aggregate an integrated naval force to operate all-domain warfare anywhere international law allows.

The ARG-MEU team participated in dual-carrier and dual-ARG training, with units from Essex ARG, Carl Vinson CSG, Abraham Lincoln CSG, America ARG, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force working alongside one another in the Philippine Sea.

USS Essex returned to its homeport of San Diego in March 2022. In May 2022 USS Essex participated in Los Angeles Fleet Week along with USS Portland. This event is an opportunity for the American public to interact with their Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard teams and experience America’s sea services. Following Los Angeles Fleet Week, ESSEX departed for Hawaii in order to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise. This is the world’s largest international maritime exercise and is a unique opportunity to train with and sustain relationships amongst participants. During the exercise, ESSEX served as CTF-176 Amphibious Force Commander’s flagship embarking a Republic of Korea Navy 2 star Admiral, a first for RIMPAC.

After the completion of RIMPAC, ESSEX returned to San Diego and transitioned to BAE Systems in September 2022. At BAE, ESSEX began a Docking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA). While in the drydock, ESSEX will undergo repairs and refurbishment to numerous key systems across the ship.



USS Essex (LHD 2)

San Diego, CA


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