The US Navy has decommissioned its last general-purpose Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship, USS Peleliu (LHA 5), at Naval Base San Diego, after serving for more than 34 years.
Following its decommissioning, the 820ft-long vessel will be towed to Pearl Harbour to join the reserve fleet, where it will be placed in an inactive reserve status and moored alongside USS Tarawa (LHA 1).
Capable of launching a coordinated air and sea attack from one platform, the LHA 5 will be replaced by an America-class USS America (LHA 6) amphibious assault ship.
Named after the Battle of Peleliu which took place from 15 September to 27 November 1944, USS Peleliu’s career included multiple deployments to US 5th and 7th fleets, humanitarian efforts and peacekeeping missions.
US Fleet Forces command fleet and joint training director rear admiral Marcus A Hitchcock said: "From that first deployment onward, USS Peleliu and her crew demonstrated time and again that she always achieved the mission, to perfection, with style and in ways that had never been seen before.
"Except on rare occasions, USS Peleliu never did it alone. She always had a teammate by her side, the US Marine Corps."
Since its commissioning on 3 May 1980 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, it has conducted 17 deployments, 178,051 flight operations, served 57,983 personnel and steamed around 1,011,946nm.
The assault ship also played a critical role in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It was the first ship to deploy US Marines in support of operations in Afghanistan, launching a helicopter assault that covered 350 miles from the flight deck to the Afghan desert.
Peleliu last commanding officer captain Paul Spedero was quoted by The San Diego Union-Tribune as saying: "The legacy is not the mass of steel that we bid farewell to today.
"It’s in the resolve of those who built and maintained the ship through the years, and in the dedication and the tenacity of the sailors and marines that sailed her."
Image: The USS Peleliu (LHA 5) was decommissioned after being in operation for 34 years. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.