On December 7th, 1941, a striking force of Japanese fighters and bombers flew into Pearl Harbor and began an assault on the naval base and nearby airfields. The devastation of that day became a part of American history. Over the years, the attack on Pearl Harbor has inspired multiple memorials across the United States, and each year on December 7th, a ceremony is held at the site of the attack to remember the sailors who were killed on that infamous Sunday morning in 1941.
One of the greatest honors bestowed on Pearl Harbor, however, came in 1996 when the US Navy launched a brand-new Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship. Not long after the 54th anniversary of the attack, the new ship took to the waters and was given the name USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52).
On May 8th, 1998, the vessel was commissioned at its home port of San Diego and was fittingly given the motto of “Nation’s Battle Cry,” an homage to the phrase uttered by Americans across the country, “Remember Pearl Harbor!”
The relatively young career of the USS Pearl Harbor has seen much less armed conflict and battle than the Oahu naval base did. On May 4th, 2008, the Pearl Harbor began her long journey across the Pacific to the Persian Gulf, where she joined the Peleliu amphibious assault group. Two months later, she saw her first bit of excitement when she was accidentally run aground in Kuwait. The incident, though it resulted in no damage to the ship, resulted in a change in command. By order of Rear Admiral Kendall Card, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, Commander Xavier F. Valverde was replaced by Captain Mike Slotsky.
In 2010, the Pearl Harbor joined the Peleliu Amphibious Readiness Group in relief efforts in Pakistan, which had suffered damaging floods in September. Things started to heat up for the USS Pearl Harbor and military action appeared to be on the horizon when she was moved to south to Somalia, where she took part in anti-piracy operations. Aid from the vessel was given to over 60 Somali refugees before she returned home to San Diego.
Though the Pearl Harbor hasn’t seen much action—unlike the naval base she was named for—the landing ship and her crew continue to serve their nation. However, should she be forced into military action, the Pearl Harbor is more than up to the task, equipped with 25mm Mk 38 cannons, .50 caliber M2HB machine gun, 20 mm Phalanx CIWS, and Rolling Airframe Missile launchers.
The USS Pearl Harbor recalls the devastation of the attack and honors the men lost, and is another stirring remembrance of the events that unfolded on December 7th, 1941.