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USS Guam (LPH-9)
USS Guam (LPH-9)
Career (US)
Ordered: 21 December 1959
Builder: Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
Laid down: 15 November 1962
Launched: 22 August 1964
Commissioned: 16 January 1965
Decommissioned: 25 August 1998
Struck: 25 August 1998
Motto: Swift and bold.[citation needed]
Fate: Expended as a target
16 October 2001
General characteristics
Class & type: Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship
Displacement: 19,217 tons
Length: 598 ft (182 m)
Beam: 84 ft (26 m)
Draught: 30 ft (9.1 m)
Propulsion: 2 × 600 psi (4 MPa) boilers, one geared steam turbines, one shaft, 22,000 shaft horse power
Speed: 23 knots
Complement: 718 (80 officer, 638 enlisted)
Armament: 2 × 3"/50 Caliber
2 × Basic Point Defense Missile Systems (BPDMS)
2 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS
Aircraft carried: 20 × CH-46 Sea Knights, 10 × MH-53E Sea Stallion, 3 × AH-1 Cobra

USS Guam (LPH-9), an Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship, was laid down by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 15 November 1962; launched on 22 August 1964, sponsored by Mrs. Vaughn H. Emory Green, and commissioned on 16 January 1965, Captain N. E. Thurmon in command. She was the third US Navy ship to carry the name, after the Battle of Guam.

Decommissioned in 1998, she was the last of the Iwo Jima class in service.[1]


After fitting out and builder's trials, the new amphibious assault ship joined the U.S. Atlantic Fleet on 21 April 1965 and sailed for Norfolk, her homeport. Arriving Hampton Roads the next day for training off the Virginia Capes, she departed Hampton Roads for underway training out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Guam in the Caribbean, 1965.

Guam returned to Norfolk on 5 July 1965 for intensive amphibious training. She sailed from Hampton Roads on 29 November 1965 to participate in amphibious and anti-submarine warfare exercises en route to the Caribbean. On 10 December 1965, Guam joined the Amphibious Ready Squadron in the Caribbean as flagship for Amphibious Squadron 12. There she operated at peak readiness to protect the peace and security of the Caribbean and Central America.

Deck of Guam, while in port in Halifax Harbour in 1969.

From 16 February to 28 February 1966, Guam patrolled south of the Dominican Republic ready to land forces on the volatile island of Hispanola if necessary. She conducted amphibious exercises until entering Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on 1 June 1966 for post shakedown availability.

She departed Philadelphia on 2 August 1966 and prepared for service as the primary recovery ship for the Gemini 11 space flight. On 18 September, at 0959 EDT, Guam recovered Astronauts Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon 710 miles east of Cape Kennedy. From 28 November to 12 December, Guam participated in Exercise "Lantflex 66", and on the latter date became flagship of Amphibious Squadron 8 and Caribbean Amphibious Ready Group.


USS Guam visiting Southampton, United Kingdom, in 1974. Visible are a CH-46F Sea Knight and AV-8A Harriers of VMA-513, US Marine Corps.

In the summer of 1971, Guam was chosen as a test vessel for Admiral Elmo Zumwalts Sea Control Ship concept. This ship was to operate a few VSTOL fighters and some ASW helicopters in order to free up supercarriers from convoy duty during a conflict with the Soviet Union. On 18 January 1972, she began extensive testing and in 1974 deployed in the Atlantic as a sea control ship with Marine Corps AV-8A Harrier VSTOL fighters and Sea King ASW helicopters. Guam completed the SCS tests and reassumed her role as an Amphibious Assault Ship on 1 July 1974.[2] In October 1974 her aircraft complement, operated by the US Marine Corps, comprised six AV-8A, eight CH-46F Sea Knights, five CH-53D Sea Stallions and two Bell UH-1N Iroquis utility helicopters.

Memorial to those who died in 1977 (Port of Barcelona)

On 17 January 1977, in Barcelona, Spain, a landing craft being used as a liberty boat by USS Trenton and USS Guam, was run over by a freighter. The Mike8 boat capsized and came to rest against the fleet landing pier. Crewmembers from both vessels were on hand to assist with rescue operations. There were over one hundred sailors and marines on board the landing craft. 49 sailors and marines were killed. A memorial is erected at the landing pier in memory.


Crewmen fighting a fire after the crash of a Sea Stallion helo in 1981

While operating 50 km southeast of Morehead City, North Carolina (USA), on 19 July 1981, a Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter crashed into another CH-53 and a Bell UH-1N Twin Huey on landing. 4 crewmen died and 10 were injured.

Guam deployed to Beirut in 1982 for the Lebanese civil war as part of a multi-national peacekeeping force.

In October 1983, as the lead ship of Amphibious Squadron Four, she participated in the invasion of Grenada.

In early 1985, the ship was drydocked at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and given a massive overhaul lasting several months. Two Phalanx CIWS were added to the ship at this time.

On the subsequent cruise to the Mediterranean Sea, the ship was damaged while sailing through a tropical storm. At least two helicopters were washed overboard and the ship stayed at port in Marseille, France for almost 3 weeks for repairs.

1990s and fate

She departed from Norfolk in August 1990, under the command of Captain Chuck Saffell, to deploy to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, with less than a month's notice. When her crew received notice of the deployment the boilers and electrical generators were torn down for a long term overhaul. Many in the engineering department worked a full day to return two hours later for a following day.

In January 1991, Guam was sent to the coast of Somalia for Operation Eastern Exit. She was originally set to take the rescued personnel from the Embassy to Kenya, but Kenya refused the Russian Ambassador. Instead, Guam took them to Muscat, Oman before returning to the Persian Gulf.

In 1993, she won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the Atlantic Fleet.

In 1996, the USS Guam supported the 22nd MEU in Operation Assured Response off the coast of Liberia.

Guam normally carried 4 AV-8B Harriers and conducted Harrier operations while operating in the Atlantic coast of the United States. She also conducted Harrier ops on a regular basis while on deployment with the exception of the final voyage from September 1997 through April 1998. The last operation conducted was in May 1998 before the final ammunition offload at Naval Weapon Station Yorktown.[3]

She was decommissioned on 25 August 1998 and spent several months at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard while the Navy decided what to do with the ship. Guam was disposed of as a target off the US east coast on 16 October 2001. The SINKEX was conducted by the John F. Kennedy Battle Group. USNS Mohawk towed her out to sea and a fighter wing attached to the JFK conducted SINKEX. True to her name she took over 12 hours to sink most likely due to all watertight compartments sealed by the decommissioning crew.[1] The exact location was 031° 14' 22.0" North, 071° 16' 35.0" West.[4]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

External links

Coordinates: 31°14′22″N 71°16′35″W / 31.23944°N 71.27639°W / 31.23944; -71.27639

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