Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Orleans Gets Underway

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Gabriel Owens, USS New Orleans Public Affairs

USS NEW ORLEANS, At Sea (NNS) -- USS New Orleans (LPD 18) completed a three-day underway on Dec. 3, its first since returning from deployment in August.

While underway, New Orleans knocked out two major evolutions, including qualifying many of its Sailors for well deck operations and an aviation readiness (AR) qualification.

Additionally, the ship used the underway to do many other smaller certifications, as well as a chance to do work on its propulsion systems, particularly the main machinery and electrical plants.

"It's good to get underway after four months in port," said Cmdr. Darren McClurg, New Orleans executive officer. "It's a great opportunity to shake the kinks out."

The AR qualification was completed ahead of schedule due to the ship's superior ability to maintain material, personnel, and management readiness requirements, according to Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Aircraft Handling) (AW/SW) James Edmond, New Orleans' Air Department leading chief petty officer.

"When [Afloat Training Group] came on board for this underway, they saw how well we performed all our tasks, such as landing, refueling, 'chock and chain' and how we ran fuel samples," said Edmond. "We performed 84 landings and four refuelings.

"We were one of three out of 74 ships on the waterfront, and the only LPD class to get our certification done early."

Additionally, the ship performed many well deck evolutions to certify and recertify the ship's crew in amphibious warfare operations.

"You're not an amphib unless you're taking things in and out of the well deck," said McClurg. "So it was very gratifying to get the amphibious warfare qualification done, for the crew and for the battle-readiness of the ship."

While the ship's evolutions were not without its hiccups, McClurg was impressed with the crew's ability to shake off the "ring rust" and accomplish the overall mission of recertification and the start of preparing the ship to once again become an active warfighting vessel.

"Overall it was an impressive effort by the ship's crew, and I'm very proud of their accomplishments," said McClurg.

The ship will continue to perform workups after the holidays to get ready for its next deployment in 2010.

New Orleans is a San Antonio-class ship designed and built to fight. Its warfighting capabilities include a state-of-the-art command and control suite, substantially increased vehicle lift capacity, a large flight deck, and advanced ship survivability features that enhance its ability to operate in the unforgiving littoral environment.

New Orleans provides each naval expeditionary force with greatly enhanced operational flexibility. The ship normally operates as part of an Amphibious Task Force - the "workhorse" of a three-ship Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) - organized to accomplish a broad range of military objectives; or as an element of a "Split-ARG" that has the ship detached and operating as a single ship, supporting lower-risk operations. This ship's mission flexibility fully expands the ARGs area of influence by providing an improved capability to cover multiple areas of responsibility, while responding to several crises simultaneously.