Gone from Sasebo, Essex set to arrive in San Diego
Published: May 16, 2012
After 12 years as the Navy’s only permanently forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, the USS Essex will return to San Diego on Thursday.
“The Iron Gator” will be assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group 3, part of U.S. 3rd Fleet. It was replaced in Sasebo, Japan, by the USS Bonhomme Richard.
The Essex will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise in and around Hawaii this summer, and will undergo extensive maintenance in San Diego when it returns.
While stationed in Japan, the Essex provided humanitarian aid to Indonesian victims of the 2004 tsunami, survivors of a mudslide in the Philippines in 2006 and survivors of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year.
Capt. Chuck Litchfield, now the commanding officer of the Essex, and the crew of the USS Bonhomme Richard took over the Essex on April 23 in Japan.
“John Paul Jones, the captain of the original Bonhomme Richard, said, ‘Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.’” Litchfield said in a news release. “In the last two years, I have been humbled to witness that truth in my crew. It wasn’t easy to turn over a ship we had poured so much blood, sweat, toil and tears into. However, the crew never looked back. They took immediate ownership of the Essex.”