Two warships of the United States Navy's South Atlantic Fleet have been making a five-day goodwill visit to the Ivory Coast.
Two warships of the United States Navy's South Atlantic Fleet have been making a five-day goodwill visit to the Ivory Coast. The larger vessel, the amphibious assault ship INCHON, which is 183 metres (almost 600 feet) long, was the largest American warship ever to anchor at the port of Abidjan, the Ivory Coast capital.
Among the almost two thousand Marines INCHON can carry is a reinforced Marine Helicopter Squadron, used to carry ground troops to landing zones ashore. During the visit, they demonstrated their techniques at the Ivory Coast National Marine base of Locodjo to local troops and government officials.
The INCHON, and six other ships in the Iwo Jima class, can carry up to 32 helicopters, including four heavy Sea Stallion choppers like this one. While with the Seventh Fleet, they served in the Gulf Tonkin off Vietnam, and twice won the Amphibious Assault Award, as well as a Battle Efficiency Award. They have taken part in eight amphibious assault exercises in the Mediterranean, including major NATO fleet exercises, 'Dawn Patrol' and 'Display Determination'.
Helicopter carriers like INCHON are among the newest of naval craft, having been in service for less than 20 years. Fully loaded, INCHON displaces just over 17,500 tons and has a crew of 650 personnel. During her visit to Abidjan, she had just under 400 Marines on board.
These marines are a famous fighting force. They belong to the Second Battalion of the Eight Regiment of Marine riflemen, which saw action during the battle for Gaudalcanal in World War II.