Sailors aboard the U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) celebrated the ship’s 25th anniversary of its commissioning Feb. 11 in the ship’s hangar bay.
The celebration included remarks from the ship’s commanding officer, guest speaker Rear Admiral John Gumbleton, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, group tours, and a cake cutting.
“Boxer has a long and storied history dating back to the war of 1812,” said Capt. Dale Heinken, commanding officer of Boxer. “Today we’re celebrating a quarter-century of service and success.”
The current Boxer is the sixth iteration in the ship’s expansive history, with the keel laid on April 8, 1991, in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship was launched Aug. 13, 1993, and commissioned on February 11, 1995, with Capt. Robert E. Annis in command.
The ship name Boxer has an extensive history in British seafaring lore with ten ships sharing the name. The US Navy started its own history of the ship name when HMS Boxer, commanded by Captain Samuel Blyth, encountered and was captured by USS Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant William Burrows, off the coast of Maine on 5 September 1813, during the war of 1812.
The name Boxer has since belonged to a wide variety of ships through the centuries. The first official USS Boxer was a brig constructed and commissioned in 1815, the second, a 10-gun schooner, was launched in 1831. The third was an iron “side-wheeled” steamer originally known as the Tristam Shanty which was used by the Confederate military during the Civil War, but was captured and commissioned into service as the USS Boxer in 1864.
The fourth was an unarmed training ship launched in 1904 and was used as a training ship for Naval Academy midshipmen for some time. The fifth was CV 21, launch in December of 1944, too late to participate in World War II. She saw extensive action in the Korean War however and received eight battle stars for her service there. After the Korean conflict, she was converted to an anti-submarine warfare carrier, became one of the first “helicopter carriers,” and was used to test many other amphibious warfare concepts as well.
The current USS Boxer has served in many exercises, deployments, operations and actions over its 25-year history, notably playing a key role in the rescue of the captain of MV Maersk Alabama, who was held hostage by Somali pirates. Most recently she successfully completed a 7-month deployment to the Western Pacific.
“The men and women that have served and continue to serve aboard are directly responsible for the legacy of success Boxer has enjoyed”, said Heinken. “Today, together, we celebrate our history and look forward to many more years of serving with Honor, Courage and Strength.”