Friday, December 14, 2007

Navy to Commission Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Mesa Verde

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy will commission the newest San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Mesa Verde Dec. 15 in Panama City.

The ship is named to honor the Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. In 1906, Congress established Mesa Verde as the first cultural park in the National Park Systems. This is the first U.S. Navy ship to be named Mesa Verde.

Former U.S. Senator from Colorado, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Campbell's wife, Linda Price Campbell, will serve as ship's sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted as she gives the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

PCU Mesa Verde is the third amphibious transport dock ship in the San Antonio class. As a critical element in future expeditionary strike groups, the ship will support the Marine Corps "mobility triad," which consists of the landing craft air cushion vehicle, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22).

PCU Mesa Verde will support amphibious, special operations, and expeditionary warfare missions in keeping with "A Cooperative Strategy of 21st Century Seapower," the new maritime strategy that postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.

Cmdr. Shawn W. Lobree of Miami, Fla., will become the first commanding officer of the ship and will lead a crew of approximately 360 officers and enlisted personnel and three Marines.

Built by Northrop Grumman Ships Systems, Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, Miss., PCU Mesa Verde is 684-feet long, has an overall beam of 105 feet, a navigational draft of 23 feet, displaces approximately 24,900 tons and is capable of embarking a landing force of up to 800 Marines. Four turbo-charged diesel engines power the ship to sustained speeds of 22 knots. PCU Mesa Verde will be homeported in Norfolk.