Thursday, November 26, 2009

USNS San Jose Makes Last Visit to Guam

By Jesse Leon Guerrero, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Combat stores ship USNS San Jose (T-ASF 7) made its last port visit to U.S. Naval Base Guam Nov. 10 before it heads to Pearl Harbor for deactivation.

A crew of about 140 civilian mariners and 40 military personnel operate the 581-foot San Jose under Military Sealift Command's (MSC) Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force.

San Jose is the last of the T-AFS vessels, which supplied the Navy with everything from food, fuel, equipment, spare parts and other supplies.

Capt. Keith Walzak, the ship's master, said San Jose has been a key player in missions for the Navy's 7th and 5th Fleets as well as U.S. African Command.

In previous years, San Jose also provided humanitarian assistance to foreign nations. It transported food, blankets and other items to American Samoa after it was hit by a tsunami and to the Republic of the Philippines after a typhoon in September. Walzak added those missions have helped promote the maritime strategy by strengthening America's relationship with its allies.

From Bahrain to Djibouti and Singapore to Japan, San Jose and its crew have performed their services with excellence, Walzak said.

"We talk about the Navy and the tip of the spear," Walzak said. "San Jose feeds the tip of the spear."

San Jose is scheduled for its official deactivation Jan. 27, 2010. MSC will continue to support the fleet with the Navy's newest Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class of dry cargo/ammunition ships.

"It was a good ship that was good to us," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Emerald McNeal, who has worked aboard San Jose for two years. "We all looked out for each other."

"For 40 years, she did a great job and now she's heading to her final resting place," she added.

MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.