Adm. Vern Clark says the LPD 18 "will take American sovereignty
to the far corners of the Earth"
In celebratory tradition, Carolyn
Shelton, ship's sponsor, smashed a champagne bottle across the hull of
the amphibious transport dock ship LPD 18, officially christening the
ship New Orleans on Saturday at Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC)
’s New Orleans shipyard.
Mrs. Shelton, wife of U.S. Army Gen. Henry Hugh Shelton (Ret.),
the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, exclaimed, "bless
this ship and all who sail in her," prior to her christening in the
presence of approximately 1,000 guests.
Principal speaker, U.S. Navy Adm. Vern Clark, chief of Naval
Operations said the ship "will be ready to take American sovereignty to
the far corners of the earth, for the capability designed within this
ship and for our Navy-Marine Corps team, is truly a bridge to the
"As we plan for the security of our nation …," Clark continued,
"we are searching for the most advanced capabilities we can deliver to
the sons and daughters of America wearing the uniforms of this nation,
who are representing our nation in this global war against those using
the tactics of terror. We want them to have every advantage that we
can deliver to them."
The name New Orleans recognizes the largest city in Louisiana
and honors one of the world's largest ports. Navy Cmdr
. Brad Skillman,
a native of Muncie, Ind., is New Orleans' prospective commanding
officer. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in 2005 and will be
homeported in San Diego.
"We are all here together sharing in a special pride," said
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.
Blanco read a congratulatory letter from U.S. Sen. Mary
Landrieu (D-La) that included the following comments: "A pride that
workers from Louisiana
, welders and pipefitters here in this shipyard
at Avondale, together with the executives of the Navy, produced this
magnificent product. As an American, I'm proud knowing this ship will
soon head out to protect this nation and the freedoms that we hold so
New Orleans (LPD 18) is the second ship in the San Antonio (LPD
17)-class of amphibious transport dock ships being built by Northrop
Grumman for the Navy/U.S. Marine Corps team.. Construction is taking
place at the company's New Orleans shipyard with fabrication and
additional support from three other company facilities in Pascagoula
and Gulfport, Miss., and Tallulah, La.
Displacing nearly 25,000 tons, these ships will be the
second-largest ships in the Navy's 21st Century Expeditionary Strike
Groups. New Orleans 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.
"Like the people of New Orleans, with their diversity of
culture and history, this ship represents a rich mix of systems, a
tapestry of capabilities without peer," said Philip A. Dur, president,
Northrop Grumman Ship Systems sector. "The San Antonio class will
transform assault from the sea and bring new technologies into the
fleet at a time when the fleet needs them most. This ship is built to
operate and survive in hostile waters – to go into harm's way, even as
she delivers lethal and precise blows in a contested littoral. New
Orleans will be tough enough to meet the challenges of the next 35
years, wherever they arise."
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock 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
vehicles 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 Vehicle.