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USS Saipan (LHA-2)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

USS Saipan (LHA-2) is a Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship, the second United States Navy ship named in honor of the World War II Battle of Saipan.


Saipan was laid down on July 21, 1972 by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Industries, Pascagoula, Mississippi; launched on July 20, 1974; sponsored by Mrs. J. William Middendorf II, wife of Secretary of the Navy Middendorf.

Saipan’s operational career began in July 1979 when she was diverted from Fleet Refresher Training to Special Contingency Operations for possible non-combatant evacuation of American personnel from Nicaragua during that country’s civil war.

From February to April 1980 the Saipan was involved in 'Anorak Express 80'. The Navy crew of around 800 and an entire Marine battalion of over 2000 sailed from Norfolk to Norway.

In May 1980, Saipan was underway to augment U.S. Coast Guard efforts to assist Cuban refugees crossing the Straits of Florida to the United States. On August 25, 1980, Saipan departed Norfolk for the first Mediterranean deployment by an LHA.

On September 3, 1981, Saipan deployed for her second tour in the Mediterranean Sea. During that deployment, Saipan visited or operated in seven different countries on three continents.

From August 1982 through July 1983, Saipan was in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for her first scheduled complex overhaul. In September 1983, while undergoing Refresher Training at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Saipan was diverted to participate in Operation Urgent Fury off Grenada.

In January 1985, Saipan departed for her third Mediterranean deployment. She steamed more than 32,000 miles (60,000 km), logged over 6,700 safe aircraft landings and visited ports in three countries.

Following a four-month restricted availability in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Saipan sailed to Guantanamo Bay to complete various training evolutions.

On August 17, 1986, Saipan departed on its fourth Mediterranean deployment. Extended briefly in the Eastern Mediterranean for contingency operations, Saipan returned to Norfolk on February 24, 1987.

Starting at the end of October 1987 , Saipan was in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for major refitting.

From March 1990 through September 1990, was deployed for the fifth time to the Mediterranean. However, in late May 1990 it was diverted into the Eastern Atlantic, to what would become known as Mamba Station. While there, Saipan conducted a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO), evacuating 1,600 civilians from war-torn Liberia in support of Operation Sharp Edge.

From September 1991 to March 1992, Saipan deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Storm.

Saipan again deployed to the Mediterranean in March 1993 in support of Operation Deny Flight and Operation Provide Promise. The ship returned in September 1993 and began her third scheduled complex overhaul in April 1994.

In June 1996, Saipan deployed to the Mediterranean and participated in Operation Decisive Endeavor and various multi-national training exercises. She returned to Norfolk in December 1996.

Saipan departed on her seventh deployment to the Mediterranean in July 1998. The ship spent substantial operating time in the Adriatic Sea due to turmoil in Albania.

In 1999, Saipan became the developmental and operational test platform for the V-22 Osprey aircraft.

In July 2000, Saipan began her eighth Mediterranean deployment. The ship commenced Adriatic presence operations during the Fall of 2000 federal elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

On February 12, 2001 Saipan entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard for its fourth scheduled complex overhaul.

On January 10, 2003 Saipan was deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terrorism.

From late January 2005 until early March 2005 Saipan was on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. Southern Command (NAVSO) area of responsibility in support of New Horizons, the humanitarian civic assistance efforts in Haiti.

In early June 2005, she made an official visit to Oslo on the occasion of Norway's independence centennial.

During the week of June 26, 2005 Saipan was one of two American military vessels (the other being the USCGC Eagle) to participate in the Royal Navy International Fleet Review in the waters off of Portsmouth, England. This review, conducted by Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family, consisted of a parade of more than 166 ships from around the world. This event also coincided with the 2005 International Festival of the Sea and Trafalgar 200 celebration.

On May 2006, Saipan sailed for the Mediterranean to take part in multi-national training exercises (Operation Phoenix Express) involving the countries of Spain, Morocco, and Algeria. She returned to Norfolk in July 2006.

From August 16, 2006, Saipan deployed to the Persian Gulf region in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for her final operational deployment. She returned to Norfolk on December 22, 2006.

Saipan was decommissioned on April 20, 2007 at its home port in Naval Station Norfolk with Captain Richard Fitzpatrick in command. She was used for weapons effect testing, providing vital information on structural integrity and survivability which will assist in the designing and planning of future ships. She was transferred to the inactive fleet, and was tied up at Pier 4 of the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia, where she was joined by Ex-John F. Kennedy on 22 March 2008.


USS Saipan awards

Saipan’s awards include the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal (two awards), Humanitarian Service Medal, Battle Efficiency "E" (four awards), the Admiral Flatley Safety Award (two awards), the Sledge Award, the Atlantic Fleet Surface Force "Admiral’s Cup" in 1985, COMPHIBRON Twelve’s "Bronze Anchor" for retention excellence, and the 1993 COMNAVSURFLANT Command Excellence Award for Command and Control, Maritime Warfare and Logistics Management.


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