Sunday, April 08, 2012

San Diego Arrives in Namesake City

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS San Diego (LPD 22) arrived in her homeport and namesake city to the cheers of family and friends April 6.

During her maiden voyage from Mississippi to San Diego, the ship stopped in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Cartagena, Colombia; and transited the Panama Canal.

"I am proud of my crew - they sailed this ship for the first time as a team and handled it like seasoned professionals," said Cmdr. Kevin Meyers, commanding officer, San Diego. "They have worked very hard to reach this point. Now we are eager to share San Diego with her hometown."

The arrival of San Diego represents years of work, time and dedication. Construction of the ship began May 23, 2007 at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., and finished when the Navy accepted delivery Dec. 19, 2011. After months of training and certification, they departed the shipyard for California March 15.

The precommissioning crew began reporting to the ship as early as 2009 to train and oversee everything from the loading of equipment to policy creation.

"It is unreal to finally be back in San Diego," said Electrician's Mate 1st Class Manuel Aponte, one of many crew members who have been away from family for as long as two years. "I've been in Mississippi since August 2010 and I can't believe we're finally here. I'm so glad to be back."

San Diego is the sixth ship in the San Antonio class, the fourth ship named for the city and the first "San Diego" to be homeported here. San Diego will also be the only ship in the fleet currently homeported in her namesake city. The ship will be commissioned in San Diego in May 2012.