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USS Tarawa (LHA-1) - United States, 1976

Detailing the development and operational history of the USS Tarawa (LHA-1) Amphibious Assault Ships (LHA).

 Entry last updated on 7/19/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  USS Tarawa (LHA-1)  
Picture of USS Tarawa (LHA-1)

The USS Tarawa fights under the banner of Eagle of the Sea and is currently in service with the USN.

The USS Tarawa is an amphibious assault ship charged with supporting amphibious operations for the United States Navy and Marine branches. She is the lead ship of the Tarawa-class that includes the USS Saipan, the USS Belleau Wood, the USS Nassau and the USS Peleliu. She is classified as a "general purpose" assault ship though she is - in actuality - a "multi-purpose" amphibious assault ship - capable of supporting naval, air and land elements with combination of systems, armaments, storage capacity and her onboard aircraft arm.

The USS Tarawa's profile is dominated by her superstructure which is positioned to the starboard side and features two masts. The flight deck makes up a major portion of the surface and can field a variety of naval helicopters (up to 35 of various makes and types) and the AV-8B Harrier II VSTOL jump jet combat aircraft (up to 8). In support of Amphibious assaults, the USS Tarawa can call upon her 4 x 25mm Bushmaster cannons. This is supplemented in the defensive role by 2 x 20mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System(s)), 2 x Mk 49 Rolling Airframe Missile launchers (homing surface-to-air function) and 5 x 12.7mm (.50 caliber) M2HB heavy caliber anti-aircraft machine guns.

In service, the USS Tarawa saw her first active deployment in 1979 when assisting in a search & rescue operation in the South China Sea and later was called to support UN operations in and around Beirut, Lebanon. She participated actively in 1990 Operation Desert Storm and the next year was offering humanitarian assistance for Bangladesh. The USS Tarawa then was part of enforcing the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq and offered security in the Gulf after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole. Since then, she has made several more deployments that included assisting in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom among other global stops.

The USS Tarawa was ordered in 1969 and laid down in 1971 by Ingalls Shipbuilding. She was launched in 1973 and commissioned in 1976. The vessel is named in honor of the Tarawa Atoll, the site of US Marine landings in the Second World War. As of this writing, the USS Tarawa is in active service with the United States Navy. She operates under the motto of "Eagle of the Sea" and is known affectionately as the "Big T".

USS Tarawa (LHA-1)

Service Year: 1976
Type: Amphibious Assault Ships (LHA)
National Origin: United States
Ship Class: Tarawa-class
Number-in-Class: 5

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Complement (Crew): 2,961
Length: 820 feet (249.94 meters)
Beam (Width): 106 feet (32.31 meters)
Draught (Height): 26 feet (7.92 meters)

Surface Displacement: 38,900 tons

Installed Power and Base Performance

Engine(s): 2 x shafts; Westinghouse geared steam turbines to 2 x shafts delivering 77,000shp.

Surface Speed: 24 knots (28 mph)
Operational Range: 9,999 nautical miles (11,507 miles, 18,519 km)

Armament / Air Wing

4 x 25mm Mk 38 Mod 1 Bushmaster cannons
2 x 20mm Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS)
2 x Mk 49 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) missile launchers
5 x 12.7mm M2HB anti-aircraft machine guns

Aircraft: 35 x CH-46, CH-53 and UH-1N Hue helicopters
8 x AV-8B Harrier II VSTOL aircraft

Global Operators

United States

Ships-in-Class / Group (5)

USS Tarawa (LHA 1); USS Saipan (LHA 2); USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3); USS Nassau (LHA 4); USS Peleliu (LHA 5)

USS Tarawa (LHA-1) Images