In a traditional naval ceremony blended with Native American traditions and
symbolism, the amphibious transport dock ship LPD 19 was christened
Mesa Verde in front of more than 1,000 guests. LPD 19 is the
third San Antonio (LPD 17)-class ship being built by Northrop Grumman
Corporation (NYSE:NOC) for the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps team.
"Christening this ship symbolizes our hopes and our dreams for
the capabilities of our Navy's future," said Dionel Aviles,
undersecretary of the Navy, the ceremony's principal speaker. "To the
Northrop Grumman team -- you are building the most advanced
expeditionary assault ships ever to sail the seas. There is a
deep-rooted passion for shipbuilding in this region, and the skilled
hands and the patriotic hearts of generations of ship-crafters in this
area have been making our Navy the best in the world since 1938.
"Mesa Verde, like the ships that she will join, will be ready
to take American sovereignty to the far corners of the earth," he
continued. "Mesa Verde's sailors and Marines will represent our nation,
whether conducting humanitarian operations or prosecuting the global
war on terrorism."
The name Mesa Verde honors Mesa Verde National Park in
southwestern Colorado. The park was established in 1906 to preserve
sites built by Native Americans on mesa tops and in canyon alcoves.
Peter Pino, Zia Pueblo tribal administrator, offered a traditional
Pueblo prayer and blessed the ship with sacred waters carried from Mesa
Verde. Ship's sponsor Linda Campbell, wife of U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse
Campbell (Ret.) of Colorado, followed the blessing by officially
christening the ship Mesa Verde, exclaiming, "Bless this ship and all
who sail in her."
"This ship will in fact bring sea basing to reality," said Lt.
Gen. Pete Osman, Marine Corps deputy commandant, "and allow us to
project power ashore like we've not seen before -- a powerful punch
deep into the heart of an enemy. This ship will become an integral part
of our expeditionary strike groups ... but most importantly, this ship
allows us to project ashore the most important weapon we have -- the
marines that it is able to embark."
. Shawn Lobree, a native of Miami, is Mesa Verde's
prospective commanding officer. The ship is scheduled for commissioning
in 2006 and will be homeported in Norfolk, Va.
"These ships will be an integral component of Sea Power 21 --
the concepts and doctrine that describe how the Navy-Marine Corps team
will operate as an integrated force," said Philip A. Dur, president,
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. "A major tenet in Sea Power 21, sea
basing, calls for uniting joint forces with the ability to project and
sustain power while maintaining a forcible entry capability from the
sea. And when Mesa Verde takes to the seas alongside her sister ships,
it is for one purpose, and one purpose only -- to preserve American
freedom, be it in peace or war, or times of great destruction and
Displacing nearly 25,000 tons, the San Antonio-class amphibious
transport dock ships will be the second-largest ships in the Navy's
21st-Century Expeditionary Strike Groups. Mesa Verde will have a crew
of 360 sailors and 3 Marines and can carry up to 699 troops with a
surge capability of up to 800.
These ships are 684 feet (208.5 meters) long and 105 feet (31.9
meters) wide and will replace the functions of four classes of older
amphibious ships. This new class of ship affords the Navy's
Expeditionary Strike Group with the technology and flexibility to
launch and recover amphibious landing craft such as the Landing Craft,
Air Cushion, operate an array of rotary-wing aircraft, as well as the
ability to carry and launch the Marine Corp's Expeditionary Fighting