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USS Denver (LPD-9)

The Austin-class amphibious transport dock USS Denver is the sixth ship in her series of 12 vessels and the third ship of the US Navy’s fleet to be named for the capital city of Colorado. Often referred to by one of her nicknames, “D9” or “Liberty D9ed,” the USS Denver bears the motto “America’s 911 LPD.”


Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company (Seattle, Washington) laid the keel of the USS Denver on July 7, 1964. Mrs. John A. Love, wife of Colorado’s Governor (1963-1973), served as Denver’s sponsor and christened the vessel at a launching ceremony held on January 23, 1965. Commissioned on October 26, 1968, Denver employs a complement of 24 officers and 396 enlisted men and has the capacity to transport as many as 900 marines.

Measuring 570 feet in length, the USS Denver is armed with two 25 mm MK 38 chain guns, two Phalanx CIWS (radar-guided Gatling guns mounted on swiveling bases), and eight .50 caliber machine guns and is capable of having up to six CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters on board. Her propulsion system is comprised of two Foster-Wheeler boilers, two DeLaval steam turbines, and twin propellers. Denver’s displacement is 17,425 tons with her top rate of speed calculated at 21 knots.

Naval History

The Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, located in Bremerton, Washington, was the site of a three-month outfitting period for the USS Denver immediately following her commissioning. She then proceeded to her homeport in Long Beach, California in January of 1969. The following month marked the initiation of a series of training cycles—underway training, amphibious training, and refresher training—which endured through the end of the year.

By February of the following year—1970—Denver was en route to Okinawa, Japan. Under the authority of Commander, Seventh Fleet, Denver delivered cargo, debarked US Marine Corps personnel, and replenished her fuel at the US Naval Station in this location.

The following month—March of 1970—Denver was en route to the Republic of Vietnam. Over the next two years, she conducted several operations in this vicinity that earned her the Vietnam Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, and the Navy Unit Commendation.

Serving as a “Flagship,” Denver made port visits to Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan during an eight-month deployment cited as WestPac ’73-’74.

Denver provided further support to US efforts in Vietnam in April of 1975 by means of her participation in Operation Frequent Wind. During the final two days (April 29th and 30th) of the war in Vietnam, Denver assisted in the evacuation of South Vietnamese refugees. Approximately 7,500 refugees were processed, assisted, and fed aboard Denver before being relocated.

As Denver’s career progressed, her efforts remained concentrated in the Western Pacific with periods of active service in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. During the span of time ranging from 1975 through 2009, Denver conducted as many as ten deployments to Western Pacific waters. In 1990, she served in support of Operation Desert Storm (codename for the Persian Gulf War) as the primary control ship for all amphibious vessels. In 1993, she transited to the southern coast of Somalia to assist with Operation Restore Hope, a quest to provide a safe environment in the southern half of Somalia that was conducive to humanitarian efforts.

June 26, 2008 marked the USS Denver’s arrival at her new homeport in Sasebo, Japan. Less than a year later—March 23, 2009—she underwent a selected restricted availability (SRA) period. Denver’s most recent documented activity includes a departure from Sasebo in September of 2011 en route to the Western Pacific to patrol the waters in conjunction with the USS Germantown (LSD-42) and the USS Essex (LHD-2).

At the present time (2012), the USS Denver remains in active service. She is currently scheduled to be decommissioned in the year 2013.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Denver (LPD-9)

Constructed prior to the time of any limitations on asbestos use, the USS Denver most likely has asbestos and asbestos products incorporated into her structure. Praised for its extreme resistance to heat and fire, asbestos was employed in many areas of navy ships from operating areas (e.g., navigation rooms, boiler rooms, engine rooms) to living quarters (e.g., mess halls, sleeping areas). Once heralded as a substance to help maximize safety for the ship’s occupants, asbestos is today more widely recognized as a known human carcinogen.

When asbestos and/or asbestos products deteriorate due to age or when they are disturbed during maintenance or demolition procedures, friable asbestos fibers become airborne and enter the body when they are breathed in. Once inside the human body, asbestos fibers wreak havoc over time by causing scarring, inflammation, and sometimes even cell mutations within the linings of the heart, lungs, and abdominal cavity.

If you believe you are a victim of asbestos exposure as a result of your service in the US Navy and your connection to a ship such as the USS Denver, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of mesothelioma. The earlier that an asbestos-related disease is diagnosed, the greater the chances are for an optimal course of treatment and an extended duration of quality of life.

Please contact us today to obtain a free information packet that can help guide you through the many medical and legal challenges that accompany the onset of an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma.

Author: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari


Wikipedia–USS Denver (LPD-9)

NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive


US Carriers—United States Ships (USS) History and Deployments