From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs
Best, most advanced capabilities – forward. That paradigm is why USS Wasp (LHD 1), an amphibious assault ship that has undergone significant overhaul and systems upgrades over the last few years, is being positioned in Sasebo, Japan, postured to respond to a myriad of potential contingencies in a vital region. Wasp’s ability to land and launch the Marine Corp’s most advanced aircraft, the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), is what separates it from the pack – yet the Big Deck Amphib can still conduct core amphib ops as demonstrated during disaster relief efforts following hurricanes in the Caribbean. Wasp stands ready to answer the call in whatever way it may be needed.
1. Why is the Navy moving USS Wasp to Sasebo, Japan?
The U.S. military is committed to ensuring we have the right mix of aircraft and people to sustain security and stability in the Pacific. Putting cutting-edge platforms and technologies forward enhances that end. USS Wasp comes to Japan as an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter-capable warship, providing a critical mobile capability to land and launch the JSF throughout the region.
2. What were some of the renovations made to Wasp in order to accommodate the F-35 JSF capacity?
Wasp has undergone significant renovations that make it possible to land, maintain and fully utilize this fifth generation aircraft. From changes to her flight deck to hangar bay to secure spaces for processing data from the aircraft. The pairing of Wasp and the F-35B will increase the ability to conduct her primary mission of amphibious operations that includes humanitarian assistance and stability operations in a crisis.
3. Is Wasp adding or replacing a current capability?
Wasp will replace the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), which has been forward-deployed in Sasebo since April 2012. Bonhomme Richard will relocate to San Diego and will undergo modernization upon return to the United States.
4. What will Wasp’s role in the Pacific be?
Wasp will partner with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), the Marine Corps’ only forward-deployed MEU to provide capability across a wide spectrum of missions. Besides the F-35B, the MEU can embark a variety of aircraft aboard Wasp to rapidly move people and equipment ashore in a contingency.
5. What did Wasp do for relief efforts?
As the first responders in both the Virgin Islands and Dominca, Wasp’s crew and embarked helicopter squadron provided humanitarian relief including the transport of nearly 5,000 pounds of relief supplies and equipment, evacuating 80 locals to functional medical facilities and evacuating 126 American citizens and 160 Department of State and Department of Defense support personnel.
After being redirected to Puerto Rico, Wasp’s embarked MH-53s participated in aerial reconnaissance and worked successfully in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers to stabilize the damaged Guajataca Dam, which had sustained severe degradation and posed a threat to nearly 70,000 Puerto Ricans living in the vicinity. In all, Wasp aircraft flew 108 missions on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico totaling 385 hours of flight time moving 1,129 total passengers along with 26,720 pounds of equipment and 1,718,200 pounds of various logistical support items (including 328,100 pounds of food and water).