USS Essex (LHD-2) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship commissioned on 17 October 1992.

USS Essex conducted an arduous and highly successful training program, during the spring and summer of 1993, and during September of that year, she was in dry dock in Long Beach harbor for about three months and her crew were at 4 section duty. Her maiden deployment was in October 1994. With the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) embarked, Essex showcased her abilities on numerous occasions. The highlight of the deployment came in January of 1995, when she left the Persian Gulf to prepare for the complex task of covering the withdrawal of UN multinational force from Somalia in Operation United Shield. Under fire from advancing Somalis, every member of the force was successfully extracted.

Since her commissioning, ESSEX has received numerous awards, including all of the warfare excellence awards, six Battle E awards, the Golden Anchor Award for retention, the Ney Award for food service excellence, the Thompson Award for public affairs excellence and the Ogden Award for firefighting excellence.