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USS Tripoli (LPH-10)

USS Tripoli (LPH-10)

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USS Tripoli (LPH-10), an , was laid down on 15 June 1964 at Pascagoula
Pascagoula, Mississippi
Pascagoula is a city in Jackson County, Mississippi, United States. It is the principal city of the Pascagoula, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area, as a part of the Gulfport–Biloxi–Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area. The population was 26,200 at the 2000 census...

, Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation
Ingalls Shipbuilding
Ingalls Shipbuilding is a shipyard located in Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA, originally established in 1938, and is now part of Huntington Ingalls Industries...

; launched on 31 July 1965; sponsored by Mrs. Jane Cates, the wife of General Clifton B. Cates
Clifton B. Cates
General Clifton Bledsoe Cates , USMC, was the 19th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps...

, former Commandant of the Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps
The Commandant of the Marine Corps is normally the highest ranking officer in the United States Marine Corps and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...

; and commissioned on 6 August 1966 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
The Philadelphia Naval Business Center, formerly known as the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and Philadelphia Navy Yard, was the first naval shipyard of the United States. The U.S. Navy reduced its activities there in the 1990s, and ended most of them on September 30, 1995...

, Capt. Henry Suerstedt, Jr., in command. She was named for the Battle of Tripoli Harbor
Battle of Tripoli Harbor
The Second Battle of Tripoli Harbor, was a naval action during a naval blockade which took place in Tripoli Harbor in 1804. The battle is part of the First Barbary War between forces of the United States and the forces of Tripoli.-Background:...


Following three months fitting out at Philadelphia, the amphibious assault ship put to sea on 6 November 1966, bound for the west coast. She transited the Panama Canal
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

 at mid-month and arrived at her home port, San Diego, on 22 November 1966. Final acceptance trials, shakedown training, and post-shakedown availability at Long Beach occupied the warship until she embarked Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 463, elements of Marine Observation Squadron (VMO) 6, and some members of the staff of the Commander, Amphibious Squadron (ComPhibRon) B on 1 May 1967 and departed San Diego, bound for the western Pacific.

Vietnam Service, 1967-1973

She served on three deployments to Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

ese waters during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, participating in numerous operations.

First tour

Except for a round-trip voyage to Okinawa early in September, the ship operated out of Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 for the remainder of her deployment. Main propulsion plant problems, however, continued to plague her for, on the return trip, she went dead in the water not far to the northwest of Subic Bay. went out and towed her into port. After repairs, Tripoli, occupied her remaining time in the Far East with amphibious exercises in the Philippines. On 11 October 1967, USS Okinawa relieved her as flagship of TG 76.4, and Tripoli headed for home. She arrived in San Diego on 27 October 1966, and remained there through the end of the year.

On 22 May 1967, USS Tripoli (LPH-10) arrived in the combat zone off the coast of Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and disembarked HMH-463
Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 is a United States Marine Corps helicopter squadron consisting of CH-53D Sea Stallion transport helicopters. The squadron, also known as "Pegasus", is based at Marine Corps Air Facility Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group...

 and VMO-6
Marine Observation Squadron 6 was an observation squadron of the United States Marine Corps which saw extensive action during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II and the Korean War and Vietnam War. The squadron would become the first Marine Corps helicopter squadron to participate in combat...

 at Danang on the 23rd and 24th before joining TG 76.5, just then finishing up amphibious landing Operation "Belt Tight" in the I Corps zone just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam. She headed for the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 on 25 May, arrived in Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay
U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay was a major ship-repair, supply, and rest and recreation facility of the United States Navy located in Zambales, Philippines. It was the largest U.S...

 on the 27th, and relieved as flagship of Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) "Bravo'VTG 76.5. In that capacity, she embarked not only the task group commander's staff but also the staff of the Commander, Special Landing Force (SLF) "Bravo" CTG 79.5, the 2d Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment (Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/3), the men and aircraft of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron HMM-164, Surgical Evacuation Team "Bravo," and Detachment "Bravo" of Tactical Squadron (TacRon) 11. On 8 June, she departed Subic Bay for an extended tour of duty in Vietnamese waters.

During her 1967 deployment, Tripoli participated in eight amphibious operations, all conducted along the coast of the I Corps tactical zone located in the northernmost part of South Vietnam. Her first operation, codenamed "Beacon Torch," began on 18 June when US Marines of SLF "Bravo" were flown into the vicinity of Hoi An
Hoi An
Hội An , or rarely Faifo, is a city of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea in the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It is located in Quang Nam province and is home to approximately 120,000 inhabitants...

, located on the coast midway between the DMZ and the southern limit of I Corps tactical zone. Between 18 June and 2 July, the Marines operated ashore, initially engaging an enemy force of about 100 men. After an air strike broke the enemy resistance, the Marines concluded their mission with a search and destroy sweep to wipe out the remnants of that force. All the while, Tripoli remained offshore providing logistic support, medical evacuation services for casualties, and a platform from which to launch air support missions by the embarked Marine attack squadron. On 2 July, she received the special landing force back on board and immediately headed north to the coast of Quang Tri
Quang Tri
Quảng Trị is a town district of Quang Tri province in the North Central Coastal region of Vietnam. Significantly, it was the only South Vietnamese provincial capital to be captured by the North Vietnamese forces for a limited period in the 1972 offensive....

 province to answer a call for assistance from Marine Corps units near Con Thien which had suffered heavily from bombardments by North Vietnamese regulars. The ensuing Operation "Beaver Track" pitted SLF "Bravo" against the North Vietnamese troops to relieve the pressure on Marine Corps units based ashore with the III Marine Amphibious Force (MAF). Simultaneously with Operation "Beaver Track," SLF "Alfa", embarked in , went ashore to engage the same enemy force in Operation "Bear Claw." The two battalion landing teams joined III MAF Marines based ashore in a week-long struggle, followed by an eight-battalion search and destroy sweep. Throughout the 12 days of "Beaver Track/Bear Claw," Tripoli steamed offshore within easy helicopter range to provide logistical, medical, and ground support. The two landing forces were later credited with a third of the 1,100 enemy casualties and with no small part in breaking up the enemy attack.

"Beaver Track/Bear Claw" ended on 14 July, and both battalion landing teams returned to their ships on the 7th. The respite from combat, however, proved brief. At dawn three days later, Tripolis Marines stormed ashore in a combined waterborne-airborne amphibious assault on the exposed seaward flank of the Viet Cong 806th Battalion near Quang Tri City. The enemy forces avoided contact with the Marines by retiring hastily to the west, where they were badly mauled by South Vietnamese troops. BLT 2/3 re-embarked in Tripoli on the 27th for another brief rest before the equally brief amphibious Operation "Kangaroo Kick" which commenced on 1 August. Tripolis Marines landed in Quang Tri
Quang Tri
Quảng Trị is a town district of Quang Tri province in the North Central Coastal region of Vietnam. Significantly, it was the only South Vietnamese provincial capital to be captured by the North Vietnamese forces for a limited period in the 1972 offensive....

 province, north of Hue. Though the operation ended only three days later, the Marines did not re-embark for the voyage to Subic Bay. Instead, they changed operational control to III MAF, while Tripoli and the rest of TG 76.5 spent two weeks at the Philippine naval base for upkeep.

Tripoli returned to the Vietnamese coast near Hue on the 20th and backloaded SLF "Bravo" in time for the Marines to participate in Operation "Belt Drive." On 27 August, the battalion landing team once more went ashore, via both helicopter and landing craft, in Quang Tri province. Viet Cong and North Vietnamese resistance proved slight; and, after a three-day sweep of the Hai Lang
Hai Lang
Hải Lăng is a rural district of Quang Tri province in the North Central Coastal region of Vietnam. As of 2003 the district had a population of 100,854. The district covers an area of 491 km². The district capital lies at Hai Lang....

 forest, the Marines reembarked in Tripoli on 5 September. That same day, suffered a hit from enemy guns on Cape Lay, North Vietnam. Tripoli,located not far away, went to her assistance and evacuated 12 casualties by helicopter for treatment on board the amphibious assault ship. On the 17th, because her entire complement of CH-46A Sea Knight helicopters had been grounded, Tripoli launched the first all-boat landing from an LPH. In spite of swells eight to twelve feet high, a rain squall, 30- to 40 kn (49 mph; 78 km/h) winds, and visibility frequently less than one-half mile, the boat landings for Operation "Fortress Sentry" came off almost without a hitch. Ashore near the Cua Viet river some seven miles (11 km) south of the DMZ, the Marines moved inland, but encountered no enemy resistance until the 23d. Then, artillery and air support quickly extinguished the enemy's will to fight, and the operation was terminated on the 25th. The Marines reembarked between 25 September and 27 September, and the task group headed back to Subic Bay for six days in port.

Tripoli returned to Vietnam at Danang early in October and loaded 39 defective CH-46A helicopters for transportation to Okinawa, where their tail pylons were to be replaced. Shortly after she departed Danang on 7 October, her lookout spied an Air Force F-105 Thunderchief which crashed into the sea about two miles (3 km) ahead. One of her helicopters flew to the scene, rescued the pilot, and returned him to the ship for medical treatment. Not long thereafter, her lookouts caught sight of a second survivor of the crash. By the time her helicopter arrived on the scene, an Air Force chopper had already picked up the man. Tripolis helicopter assisted in the operation by taking on board the Air Force crewman who had jumped in to assist the survivor into the lift harness.

The amphibious assault ship returned from the Ryukyus Islands (Japan) to Vietnamese waters at mid-month. On the 17th, CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters carried the battalion landing team to a point 10 miles (16 km) south of Phu Bai in Thua Thien province. The following day, the Marines changed operational control to III MAF ashore for a search and destroy sweep along Route 1. Meanwhile, Tripoli supplied logistic support until she cleared Vietnamese waters on 1 November, bound for Okinawa with another 18 defective CH-46A helicopters. After brief stops at Okinawa and Subic Bay, the amphibious assault ship returned to Danang on 10 November. After re-embarking SLF "Bravo," she prepared for her last amphibious operation of the deployment, Operation "Badger Hunt." On the 14th, the landing force was lifted some 25 miles (40 km) inland to the area near An Hoa in Quang Nam province. After silencing sporadic enemy resistance near the landing site, Tripolis Marines joined elements of the shore-based 7th Marines in a successful search-and-destroy operation. Tripoli supported the landing force through the end of the operation on the 27th, when the Marines returned to the ship. She entered Danang on the 29th and began transferring the Marines of the battalion landing team and their supporting elements to . The next day, 30 November, Valley Forge relieved Tripoli as flagship, TG 76.5; and Tripoli got underway to return to the United States via Okinawa and Yokosuka, Japan. She arrived in San Diego on 23 December 1967, and began post-deployment standdown.

Tripoli completed a restricted availability at Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

 between late January and the end of March 1968. During the first three weeks of April, she conducted a series of individual ship exercises and then rounded out the month with amphibious training. From 6 May to 17 May, the ship conducted refresher training and then returned to San Diego to prepare for her second WestPac deployment. On 12 June 1968, the amphibious assault ship stood out of San Diego on her way to the Far East. She stopped briefly at Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

, Hawaii and at Okinawa before arriving at Subic Bay on 1 July. Between the 2nd and the 5th, she embarked the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, HMM-265, Detachment "Bravo" of TacRon 13 and other supporting units of the ARG "Bravo." On the 6th, she departed Subic Bay and arrived the following day in the Vietnam combat zone.

Second tour

Tripolis second tour of duty in the Orient closely followed the pattern of her first. During the next seven months, she patrolled the coast of Vietnam near the I Corps tactical zone just below the DMZ in a position to launch her landing contingent quickly whenever they were needed by Marine Corps, Army, and South Vietnamese forces operating ashore. The first of her eight amphibious operations came the day after she arrived in the combat zone. Following preliminary naval bombardment, Operation "Eager Yankee" opened with a combined airborne and waterborne assault. The Marines of SLF "Bravo" charged ashore about 10 miles (16 km) east of Phu Bai on the coast of the Thua Thien province. They then wheeled right and pressed north toward a known Viet Cong haven. The enemy avoided contact; and, on the 16th, the Marines joined shore-based forces in Operation "Houston IV." That operation ended on 22 July, and the battalion landing team returned to the ship the same day.

However, the Marines enjoyed precious little respite. While Tripoli proceeded to the scene of a new operation, feverish preparations allowed her to send SLF "Bravo" ashore again just 17 hours after the completion of reembarkation. For Operation "Swift Play," the Marines rode helicopters ashore to an area about 10 miles (16 km) southwest of An Hoa, deep inland in Quang Nam province. The assault forces spotted several enemy formations, but no engagements resulted. The following day, BLT 2/7 transferred to the control of III MAF to conclude an operation designed to parry a major enemy thrust toward Danang. The landing force remained ashore operating under the commanding general, 1st Marine Division, in defense of Danang through the months of August, September, and November. Meanwhile, Tripoli steamed on station offshore providing logistics and medical support, departing Vietnamese waters twice between 22 July and 5 November. In mid-August, she steamed to Subic Bay for repairs; and, in early October, she voyaged via Subic Bay to Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is a city located in southwestern Taiwan, facing the Taiwan Strait on the west. Kaohsiung, officially named Kaohsiung City, is divided into thirty-eight districts. The city is one of five special municipalities of the Republic of China...

, Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, for a liberty call. During all other periods, she remained off the Vietnamese coast providing support services to the Marines of BLT 2/7 operating ashore.

On 5 November, the special landing force ended more than three months of combat duty ashore and re-embarked in Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

. Five days later, HMM-165
Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 165 is a United States Marine Corps Tilt-rotor squadron consisting of MV-22B Osprey transport aircraft...

's helicopters and Tripolis landing craft carried the Marines ashore once again. In Operation "Daring Endeavor," the Marines located, closed with and destroyed enemy fortifications and captured large quantities of rice. They concluded the action on the 17th and returned to the ship that same day. Three days later, the amphibious assault ship launched her fourth landing, another combined waterborne and airborne operation directed at an area in Quang Nam province, just south of Danang. During Operation "Swift Move," initial opposition proved very light; and the landing force quickly transferred to the control of the 1st Marine Division for further action ashore in the continued defense of Danang against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese units. Tripoli continued support activities for the battalion landing team until 3 December when she offloaded what remained aboard of the Marines' equipment at Danang, in preparation for departing Vietnam for a liberty call in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

. After a five-day visit to the British Crown Colony, she continued on to Subic Bay for a two-week availability. On 27 December 1968, she headed back to Danang. On 1 January 1969, she embarked BLT 3/26 and HMM-164 to reconstitute SLF "Bravo."

During the remainder of her second tour of duty in the Far East, Tripoli participated in two more amphibious operations. The first of these, Operation "Bold Mariner," was hailed as the largest such maneuver since the Allied landings during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Aimed at the Batangan Peninsula
Batangan Peninsula
Batangan Peninsula is a peninsula in Vietnam. It is located in Quảng Ngãi Province, northeast of Quảng Ngãi and 32 km south of Chu Lai. The Peninsula was, for years, a rich and productive agricultural region encompassing approximately 48 square km of flat, fertile farmland and rolling...

 of Quang Ngai province, where the entire population was considered hostile, the operation sought to cordon off the peninsula and trap the 300 or so guerillas operating there. Both special landing forces "Alfa" and "Bravo," joined South Vietnamese troops and soldiers of the US Army's Americal Division in forming the cordon. Following a feint near Mo Due, the amphibious force headed for the real landing area. Navy guns softened the objective beaches, and the Marines went ashore on 13 January, all by helicopter. While the operation continued, Tripoli remained offshore providing her Marines with the ever-needed logistical support and medical facilities. By 6 February, the soldiers and Marines ashore had thoroughly combed the peninsula for Viet Cong troops, so BLT 3/26 turned the mop-up operation over to the American and South Vietnamese soldiers and returned to the ship.

The re-embarkation of the Marines was completed by 9 February, just in time for Tripoli to launch her last amphibious operation of the deployment. The expected enemy Tet II offensive required South Vietnamese troops to be withdrawn from Operation Taylor Common
Operation Taylor Common
Operation Taylor Common was a search and destroy operation conducted by Task Force Yankee, a task organized force of the 1st Marine Division, during the Vietnam War from 6 December 1968 to 9 March 1969...

, then in progress near An Hoa in Quang Nam province. SLF "Bravo" was to replace those troops in Operation "Defiant Measure." The landings began at 0800 on the morning of 10 February, and the offloading of men and equipment continued for several days. Tripoli remained in the area until the 16th. Operation "Defiant Measure" was concluded on that day, though the Marines remained ashore to continue Operation Taylor Common
Operation Taylor Common
Operation Taylor Common was a search and destroy operation conducted by Task Force Yankee, a task organized force of the 1st Marine Division, during the Vietnam War from 6 December 1968 to 9 March 1969...

. HMM-164 was disembarked before Tripoli began her voyage home. She departed Vietnam that same day, and arrived in Subic Bay on the 18th. There, she turned over her duties to USS Valley Forge. On the 22d, she got underway for badly needed repairs in Yokosuka, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and before continuing on to the United States. She finally arrived back in San Diego on 19 March and began post-deployment standdown.

Tripoli remained on the west coast until November. After leave and upkeep, she began an availability period at the San Diego yard of the National Steel Company, which continued until 11 August. Following refresher training in September and amphibious training in October, she stood out of San Diego on 1 November to return to the Far East. After a brief stop at Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 on the 15th for fuel, she continued on to Danang, South Vietnam, where she arrived five days later.

Third tour

During Tripolis third deployment to the western Pacific, the combat operations along the Vietnamese coast which had characterized her first two deployments were totally absent. Instead, she busied herself with a series of amphibious training exercises and a series of "Keystone" operations redeploying Marine Corps units. Her first mission, Operation "Keystone Cardinal," began on 20 November when she loaded the Marines and equipment of BLT 3/4 for transportation to Okinawa. At Okinawa between 24 November and 2 December, she disembarked BLT 3/4 and embarked BLT 2/9, HMM-165
Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 165 is a United States Marine Corps Tilt-rotor squadron consisting of MV-22B Osprey transport aircraft...

, and supporting units to constitute SLP "Alfa." On 2 December, she departed Okinawa bound for the Philippines. She conducted upkeep at Subic Bay between 5 December and 12 December and two amphibious exercises at Zambales
Zambales is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. Its capital is Iba. Zambales borders Pangasinan to the north, Tarlac and Pampanga to the east, and Bataan to the south. The province lies between the South China Sea and the Zambales Mountains. With a land area of...

 on the 13th and 14th.

She returned to Vietnamese waters on the 17th and cruised the area without incident until the 25th when she headed back to Subic Bay. In the Philippines, minor repairs and more amphibious exercises occupied her until 6 January 1970. She made a six-day cruise to Vietnam and then returned to the Philippines on the 12th for more training. On the 25th, she disembarked SLF "Alfa" at Subic Bay in preparation for a voyage to Vietnam to pick up homeward-bound marines. She entered Danang on 31 January and began embarking personnel from HQ, III MAP, 1st Marine Air Wing, 1st Marine Division, and III MAF Logistics Command.

Later that evening, she got underway for home. After a non-stop voyage of 17 days, she arrived in San Diego on 16 February]. She moved to Long Beach on the 23d to replace a cracked screw and departed that port on the 27th to return to the western Pacific. She reached Subic Bay on 15 March.

Tripoli operated in the Philippines and at Okinawa conducting amphibious exercises in preparation for an exercise with units of South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

n forces. She arrived in Korean waters on 18 April and, two days later, began Operation "Golden Dragon." The combined American-South Korean amphibious exercise lasted until the 25th. Tripoli returned to Okinawa on the 27th. She briefly operated off Danang at the end of the first week in May and then visited Hong Kong for a week in mid-month. Late in May, she returned via Subic Bay to Okinawa to disembark SLF "Alfa" and then moved to Danang where she disembarked ComPhibRon 9 and his staff and took on cargo for the voyage home. Tripoli got underway on 7 June and reached San Diego on the 24th.

Tripoli spent the next 15 months on the west coast. Following post-deployment' upkeep and local operations, she conducted carrier qualifications in the southern California operation area in August and an amphibious exercise off Camp Pendleton. For the remainder of 1970, the ship occupied herself with individual ship's exercises and upkeep in preparation for an overhaul which began on 1 February 1971. She left Hunters Point on 1 June, fully revitalized, and returned to San Diego on the 3d to prepare for refresher training which took place in late June and early July. Amphibious refresher training filled the latter half of July. She made two brief training cruises during the first week in August: one with NROTC midshipmen embarked and the other with Marine Corps reservists on board. Local operations and preparations for her fourth WestPac deployment occupied the rest of August and the entire month of September. On 1 October, Tripoli stood out of San Diego bound for the Far East. After stops at Pearl Harbor and Okinawa, she arrived in Subic Bay on the 28th.

The ship conducted amphibious training operations in the Philippines and made port visits to such places as Keelung
Keelung City is a major port city situated in the northeastern part of Taiwan. It borders New Taipei and forms the Taipei–Keelung metropolitan area, along with the Taipei and New Taipei. Nicknamed the Rainy Port for its frequent rain and maritime role, the city is Taiwan's second largest seaport...

 and Kaohsiung
Kaohsiung is a city located in southwestern Taiwan, facing the Taiwan Strait on the west. Kaohsiung, officially named Kaohsiung City, is divided into thirty-eight districts. The city is one of five special municipalities of the Republic of China...

 in Taiwan and Sasebo, Japan. During her return from Sasebo to Subic Bay, she received orders to deploy to the Indian Ocean with TF-74
Task Force 74
The US Task Force 74 was a US Navy task force of the United States Seventh Fleet that was deployed to the Bay of Bengal by Nixon administration in December 1971, at the height of the 1971 Indo-Pak War...

, a special contingency task force built around in response to the Indo-Pakistani War which erupted on 3 December. The amphibious assault ship remained in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 for the duration of the brief war. The fighting ended on 15 December; and, two days later, Pakistan officially accepted the loss of its eastern provinces which became the independent nation, Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

. Tripoli remained with TF 74 in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

 until early 1972. Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

is to this day feel that the United States, which was bound to help protect Pakistan as a fellow member state of SEATO (South East Asian Treaty Organization) did not live up to its commitments, and merely watched from the sidelines. Nearly 40 years later that resentment is still felt among some Pakistanis.

She returned to Subic Bay on 14 January and resumed training operations punctuated by visits to Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, Hong Kong, and Kobe
, pronounced , is the fifth-largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, approximately west of Osaka...

, Japan. She began operations in Vietnamese waters at the beginning of April, operating on Yankee Station
Yankee Station
Yankee Station was a point in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam used by the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers of Task Force 77 to launch strikes in the Vietnam War. While its official designation was "Point Yankee," it was universally referred to as Yankee Station...

 to provide search-and-rescue and medical evacuation services. She departed the combat zone twice, once for upkeep at Subic Bay and later to exchange battalion landing teams at Okinawa. At the end of June, she resumed flight operations in connection with troop movements. However, instead of carrying embarked Marines inland for amphibious landings, her helicopters moved Vietnamese troops from point to point ashore. On 29 June, Tripoli-assigned helicopters helped to transport 1,400 Vietnamese Marines from Tam My to the vicinity of Quang Tri City during the allied counteroffensive to recapture areas of the I Corps tactical zone which had been overrun by North Vietnamese troops. As this operation, codenamed "Lam Son 72" progressed, Tripoli remained off shore, evacuating casualties and waiting should the reserves be required. That necessity came shortly before noon on 11 July, when her helicopters helped to insert the reserve Vietnamese Marines battalion, picking them up near Route 553 and landing them behind enemy lines, about a mile and one-half north-northwest of Quang Tri City. On the 20th, Tripoli departed Vietnamese waters bound for the Philippines where heavy monsoons had caused extensive flooding. She reached Subic Bay on 23 July and conducted relief operations until 4 August, at which time she set course for the United States.

Tripoli arrived at San Diego on 20 August and, remained there until 10 October. After a six-day amphibious exercise near Hunter Liggett Point, the amphibious assault ship returned to home port, where she stayed through the end of the year. During the first two months of 1973, she operated out of San Diego and prepared to deploy to the Far East once more. She stood out of San Diego on 6 March for her fifth deployment to the western Pacific. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, where she made a three-week stop for repairs to her high pressure turbine, she arrived in Subic Bay on 17 April. There she remained and, when not plagued by material casualties to her main propulsion plant, conducted training preparatory to Operation "Endsweep," the removal of American mines from North Vietnamese waters. Though scheduled to sail for Haiphong on 16 June, she was delayed by more problems in her propulsion plant. Nevertheless, early the next morning, Tripoli headed for North Vietnam and arrived at Haiphong on the 19th. The clearing of US Mines in RVN waters, particularly Haiphong, was the last remaining precondition to the release of the US Prisoners of War. That morning, the Commander, TF 78, Rear Admiral Brian McCauley, embarked in the amphibious assault ship and began negotiations with North Vietnamese representatives over the conduct of Operation "Endsweep." Adm McCauley, USNA 1942, spent his childhood in China and spoke fluent Chinese as the son of Commodore Cleaveland McCauley, USNA 1908, who was military Attache to China in the 1920s, and the negotiations were conducted in Chinese. Meanwhile, Tripolis embarked air group began providing logistics support and inter-ship transportation services.

Major issues in the negotiations were resolved by 28 June, and minesweeping operations began early that morning. Throughout the operation, the ship provided a platform for helicopters engaged both in minesweeping operations and for those providing logistics and transport services. Periodically, she retired from the area to replenish and to evade typhoons. Otherwise, she remained in the minesweeping area until 18 July when she departed North Vietnamese waters in company with and , bound for Luzon
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. It is located in the northernmost region of the archipelago, and is also the name for one of the three primary island groups in the country centered on the Island of Luzon...

. Four days after her arrival back in Subic Bay, the last American operation in Vietnamese territory ended, and the "Endsweep" task force was dissolved. Operations reverted to CTG 76.5/ARG "Bravo." That organization lasted only two days because on the 27th, the Commander, PhibRon 1, broke his flag in Tripoli, and she became flagship for TG 76.4/ ARC "Alfa."

Operational readiness, 1974-1990

Between January 1974 and the end of 1976, Tripoli made two relatively routine deployments to the western Pacific. The first lasted from late July 1974 until late January 1975. During that time period, she operated out of Subic Bay and engaged primarily in amphibious training exercises in the Philippines. The second deployment, from mid-February to late October 1976, saw a repetition of this routine, but also included a voyage to Guam for disaster relief duty as a result of Super Typhoon Pamela. She also participated in two joint American-Korean amphibious exercises conducted near Pohang
Pohang is a city in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea, and a main seaport in the Daegu-Gyeongbuk region. The built-up area of Pohang is located on the alluvium of the mouth of the Hyeongsan River...

, Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, in March and June, respectively. The second deployment ended on 25 October, when she arrived in San Diego, remaining there into 1977.

The first six months of 1977 were spent in a Planned Restricted Availability (PRAV) at the Naval Station, San Diego, for the purpose of increasing propulsion reliability during the next deployment. While the PRAV concluded on 28 June, it was necessary to tow Tripoli to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard to use the yard's extensive facilities for the reinstallation of Tripolis low pressure turbine. The work was completed on 26 July; and, following successful sea trials, Tripoli returned to San Diego on 28 July. Succeeding months were spent in refresher training and workup for the ship's forthcoming deployment to the western Pacific. On 3 November, Tripoli departed San Diego. Chopping to control by the Commander, 7th Fleet, on 25 November, she spent the next seven months in WestPac, returning to San Diego on 22 July 1978. Following post-deployment standdown, Tripoli received an inspection by the Naval Board of Inspection and Survey in September. On 16 October, the ship commenced a three-month PRAV in preparation for a scheduled deployment to the western Pacific in 1979.

With the Vietnam War over, Tripoli was kept operationally ready through countless drills, exercises and maritime deployments. The Pacific Fleet introduction of the AV-8A Harrier occurred between 17 June and 13 August 1974. Also in 1974, after proving that she could handle Harrier flight operations, she became the first amphibious warfare ship to carry a full squadron of AV-8's (VMA-513
Marine Attack Squadron 513 is a United States Marine Corps attack squadron consisting of AV-8B Harrier jets. Known as the "Flying Nightmares", the squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 13 and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing...

). In 1982, she was the test platform for the XV-15
Bell XV-15
The Bell XV-15 was an American tiltrotor VTOL aircraft. It was the second successful experimental tiltrotor aircraft and the first to demonstrate the concept's high speed performance relative to conventional helicopters.-Early VTOL rotor aircraft:...

 experimental tilt-rotor aircraft, the precursor of the V-22 Osprey.

Stationed in the Arabian Sea, 1990-1995

In 1990, Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i President Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 became the focal point of international interest when, on 2 August his troops invaded Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

. Over 100 U.S. Naval ships were sent in response, and on 1 December 1990, Tripoli was sent into action once again. Tripoli proceeded into the northern Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 and assumed duties as flagship for Airborne Mine Countermeasures operations there with HM-14
Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron FOURTEEN is a United States Navy helicopter squadron based at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. Nicknamed the "Vanguard" and flying the MH-53E Sea Dragon, it comprises both active duty and reserve personnel...

 deployed aboard. On the morning of 17 February,at 0437 ( 4:37 a.m.) Tripoli was rocked by a mine explosion on her starboard bow. The explosion ripped a 16 by 20 ft hole in the ship's hull and injured four sailors. The Tripoli was towed off of three other unexploded mines by two MCM ships. After 20 hours of damage control, the ship was stabilized and was actually ready to resume operations. Tripoli remained on station for seven days before finally setting course for Jubail to allow HM-14 to crossdeck to the and then to Bahrain
' , officially the Kingdom of Bahrain , is a small island state near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. The population in 2010 stood at 1,214,705, including 235,108 non-nationals. Formerly an emirate, Bahrain was declared a kingdom in 2002.Bahrain is...

's Arabian Ship Repair Yard. After 30 days and almost five million dollars in repairs, Tripoli was able to return to her assigned tasks. HM-14 was redeployed aboard the USS Tripoli after the repairs.

Three crewmen received Bronze Stars
Bronze Star Medal
The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. As a medal it is awarded for merit, and with the "V" for valor device it is awarded for heroism. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the...

, three others received Silver Star
Silver Star
The Silver Star is the third-highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the United States armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy....

s and the ship was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon for exceptional performance during the incident.

When Somali "Warlords" terrorized the city of Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

, Tripoli was ordered to respond. On 3 December 1992, Tripoli arrived off the coast of Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 and conducted the first landing of forces in support of Operation Restore Hope. During the night landing, Tripolis Marines were able to secure the airport and seaports in Mogadishu.

When Iraqi President Saddam Hussein began to redeploy his forces along the border of Kuwait in late 1994, Tripoli was sent as the initial show of force. Assuming duties with other ships in the Northern Persian Gulf, Tripoli prepared to conduct amphibious operations in response to any further Southward movement by Iraqi forces. Operation Vigilant Warrior
Operation Vigilant Warrior
Operation Vigilant Warrior was a military operation from 8 October 1994 to 15 December 1994 by the United States in response to two divisions of Iraqi Republican Guard troops moving toward the Kuwaiti border...

 resulted in the withdrawal of Hussein's forces away from Kuwait's border.


She was decommissioned in 1995 and as of 2004, she was on loan to the Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, but remained laid up at Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Mare Island Naval Shipyard
The Mare Island Naval Shipyard was the first United States Navy base established on the Pacific Ocean. It is located 25 miles northeast of San Francisco in Vallejo, California. The Napa River goes through the Mare Island Strait and separates the peninsula shipyard from the main portion of the...

. In December 2006, the ship was towed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where it now has a high-tech role as a launch platform with the nation's developing ballistic missile defense program. Three times the ship was towed some 100 miles off shore and used to launch small ballistic missiles, which are then intercepted by Terminal High Altitude Area Defense
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense , formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is a United States Army system to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach. The missile carries no warhead but relies on the kinetic energy...

 Missiles, test-fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility. The last test in the series was performed 26 October, when the ship fired a "Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

-like" missile, which was successfully intercepted. The ship will be towed back to the San Francisco Bay Area for the winter. Kaua'i lacks a suitable land-based launch site, and the costs of building one would far exceed the approximately $600,000 per year it costs to use the old warship, so the vessel returned to Pearl Harbor for a second series of tests in late spring 2008. As of September 10, 2011 she is at port at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, HI.