USS Raleigh (LPD-1), the lead ship of her class of amphibious transport docks, was the fourth ship of the United States Navy named for the capital of North Carolina, which in turn honors the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, the first to attempt the establishment of an English settlement in North America.
After fitting out through mid-December, Raleigh steamed to Norfolk, Virginia, for the holiday season. In January 1963 she steamed for shakedown to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but returned to the building yard in late February for correction of design deficiencies in her aviation gasoline system. Returning to Guantánamo in April, she completed shakedown, then assisted Commander, Amphibious Force, Atlantic in hosting the Navy League national convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Returning to Norfolk 1 June, Raleigh completed a week's amphibious training at Little Creek, Virginia, and then deployed to the Caribbean Sea in July with Amphibious Squadron 8. Raleigh proved herself during this deployment by simultaneously landing troops and equipment by means of boats and amphibious vehicles from her well and by helicopters from her flight deck. During this cruise she made one trip to Haiti as tension there rose.
Raleigh returned to Norfolk 1 October and then underwent post-shakedown availability at New York City from 7 January 1964 through 13 March. During the spring she conducted amphibious training operations off Onslow Beach, North Carolina. Steaming for Europe on 12 October, Raleigh arrived off the coast of Spain and took part in Operation Steel Pike. She then called at Porto, Portugal, and Vigo, Spain, before returning to Norfolk on 27 November. After a yard period at the U.S. Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Virginia, she deployed to the Caribbean on 1 April 1965 with the Amphibious Ready Squadron. From 25 April through 6 June, she operated off the Dominican Republic, evacuating 558 refugees who were later transferred to Yancey (LKA-93) for transit to San Juan. For her part in the endeavor Raleigh and her crew received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. She returned to Norfolk 29 June.
After upkeep and coastal training operations, Raleigh steamed for northern Europe 27 August to participate in "Bar Frost 65," a NATO amphibious exercise featuring a landing in Norway's fjords north of the Arctic Circle. Returning to Norfolk 23 October, she underwent a yard period through 4 April 1966 and then steamed for refresher training at Guantánamo Bay.
In April 1966, the Marines operated a Hawker Siddeley Kestrel off the commando assault ship and were impressed with the aircraft. This then led to the Marines obtaining the Harrier AV-8A jump jet for use from their assault ships.
Raleigh's deployments to the Caribbean from Norfolk as a unit of the Amphibious Ready Squadron averaged two per year up until 1970. In July of that year, she began the first of a series of Mediterranean cruises averaging one a year.
The USS Raleigh cruise book (USN ships often produce one) for Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm has it that the ship completed the operation on 17 April 1991. She left North Carolina (Morehead City) in August 1990 (personal info: I was on her). The ship's CO was Capt Richard J McCarthy, the XO was Lt Cmdr Robert Baker, and the CMC was Ronald G Crittenden.
The assigned LCU was LCU-1663.
Embarked Marine units included the command staff of 1st Bn, 10th Marines, the command staff of 3rd Bn, 2d Marines, and significant combat elements that included combat engineers, LAADs, AAVs, TOWs, tanks of 2nd Tk Bn, and I Btry 10th Marines, among others.
The Raleigh transited the Suez Canal in late August or early September. The initial watch was to stay in the North Arabian Sea.
A number of exercises were held in Oman under the name Sea Soldier, that involved her.
Subsequently, she supported mine countermeasures missions operations off Kuwait City, and used six AH-1W Sea Cobra attack helicopters in CAP missions.