US Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) arrived in Sasebo, Japan, on January 14, to become the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in 7th Fleet.
USS Wasp, which has undergone significant upgrades to be able to land and launch the US Marine Corp’s F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, completed the 28,400-mile journey after getting underway from Norfolk, Va. in late August.
Wasp departed Norfolk Aug. 30 and was diverted a few days later to the Caribbean to assist the US Virgin Islands and Dominica in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The amphibious assault ship then provided assistance to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm regarded as the worst natural disaster in the history of the American commonwealth island.
“The arrival of USS Wasp represents an increase in military capability and a commitment to our partners and allies for security and stability in the region,” said Capt. Colby Howard, Wasp commanding officer. “Paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, we remain ready to execute the full range of military operations from crisis response to disaster relief.”
Once USS Wasp becomes part of the US 7th Fleet, it is scheduled to deploy as part of a new, improved, Expeditionary Strike Group that will combine a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with a three ship guided-missile destroyer surface action group (SAG).
The F-35B is scheduled to embark on Wasp when the amphibious assault ship and MEU deploy in 2018 for regularly scheduled regional patrol.
In addition to being modernized to accommodate the Marine Corps variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35B), USS Wasp recently also received upgrades to the combat systems suite to include upgrades to MK 2 Ship Self Defense System, SPQ-9B horizon search radar, MK 57 NATO Sea Sparrow missile system, and upgrades to the shipboard local area network (LAN) and data link capability.
Commissioned in July 1989, Wasp has served on numerous deployments throughout the world, including a 6-month deployment to the Middle East in 2016.
Wasp’s predecessor, the USS Bonhomme Richard, has been forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan since April 2012 and will relocate to San Diego following a regularly scheduled patrol.