By Arif Patani, Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division
USS Bataan (LHD 5), the U.S. Navy’s 5th Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, is named in honor of the U.S/Philippine defense of the Bataan Peninsula during World War II.
History of the Name
Don’t know much about the defense of the Bataan Peninsula? The first thing to know is the Bataan Peninsula is in the Philippines – and the Philippine Islands, during the beginning of World War II, were one of the last obstacles in the path of the Japanese onslaught to the Southwest Pacific.
Despite rampant disease, malnutrition, and insufficient supplies and ammunition, the American and Filipino forces held off the Japanese for 3 months at Bataan and Corregidor. During combat, some units absorbed as high as 80 percent casualties. Tens of thousands of American service members died either in battle or during the “Bataan Death March.” The 65-mile “Death March” alone claimed the lives of more than 21,000 allies in less than a week and is marked as one of the greatest tragedies of World War II. Two of every three Americans who defended Bataan and Corregidor never returned home.
The battle of Bataan and ensuing “Death March” are widely regarded as one of the greatest examples of allied courage, endurance and sacrifice in the history of military conflict.
Major Moments in USS Bataan’s History
Joined the Fleet in 1997
Support of Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Enduring Freedom
In the aftermath of the al-Qaeda attacks on the United States the morning of Sept. 11 2001, USS Bataanrecalled personnel from leave, and even though the ship was in the midst of maintenance, the ship was underway in support of Operation Noble Eagle within 11 hours of receipt of sortie orders. The ship was recalled back to homeport four days later, but on Sept. 19, 2011 Bataan, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, began its support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Humanitarian Assistance After Hurricane Katrina
In 2005, Bataan was called upon to support Joint Task Force Katrina search, rescue and relief efforts in the New Orleans, La., and Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss., areas. Bataan was the first Navy ship on scene Aug. 30, after Katrina, a category-4 hurricane, made landfall the previous day. Bataan spent 19 days supporting the relief efforts by moving more than 1,600 people to safety and delivering more than 160,000 pounds of supplies to the Gulf Coast states.
Humanitarian Assistance after the Earthquake in Haiti
On Jan. 12, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Haiti in the Caribbean. In response, the U.S. Navy dispatched ships as part of Operation Unified Response. Bataan and the dock landing ships Fort McHenry (LSD 43), Carter Hall (LSD 50), and Gunston Hall (LSD 44), along with embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit provided assistance to the island nation. Bataan’s Navy/Marine Corps Team established nine landing zones to facilitate aid distribution, ultimately moving more than 1,000 pallets of relief supplies ashore and treating close to 1,000 Haitians both aboard Bataan in the ship’s medical facility and working side-by-side local and volunteer physicians at clinics throughout Haiti.
Since 2010 Bataan has completed two major deployments – one of which lasted ten-and-a-half-months to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility (the longest deployment by a U.S. Navy ship since 1973).
Today, Sailors and Marines from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) continue to conduct maritime security operations, crisis response, theater security cooperation, and provide a forward naval presence.
Other Ships to Carry the Honored Name – USS Bataan (CVL-29) (1943-1954)
USS Bataan (CVL 29) was commissioned on Nov. 17, 1943. The ship served in both World War II and the Korean War.
To learn more about what USS Bataan is up to day to day, visit their command webpage here: http://www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/
For more information on U.S. Navy History, visit our homepage: http://www.history.navy.mil/