LPD 19's Marine contingent prepare to board the U.S. Navy amphibious transport dock ship Saturday morning during the commissioning ceremony in Panama City.
Northrop Grumman (NOC)
-built Mesa Verde was commissioned into the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet on the Florida Gulf Coast
. Speaking to a crowd of more than 4,000, former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
of Colorado congratulated
the shipbuilding team and future crew of the amphibious transport dock ship.
Mesa Verde is one of the most technologically advanced and
sailor-friendly ships ever built. The ship's sponsor, Linda Campbell
wife of Senator Campbell, ordered the officers, enlisted crew and
Marines to "man our ship and bring her to life" at the culmination of
Vice Admiral Paul Sullivan
, Commander, Naval Sea Systems
Command, placed the ship in commission. During his speech, Sullivan
remarked, "By her very nature and design, Mesa Verde will uphold a
tradition of teaming courageous sailors and Marines to maintain a
forward presence from the sea. The integration of Navy and Marine Corps
capabilities is essential to our remaining the world's preeminent
Mesa Verde is the third Northrop Grumman-built ship in the USS
San Antonio (LPD 17) class. This new class of ship affords the U.S.
Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group with the technology and flexibility
to launch and recover two amphibious Landing Craft; Air Cushion and
operate an array of rotary-wing aircraft; as well as the ability to
carry and launch 14 Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles.
Navy Cmdr. Shawn Lobree, of Miami, Fla., is the ship's first
commanding officer and will lead a crew of 360 officers and enlisted
The ship is 684 feet long and 105 feet wide and is capable of
embarking a landing force of up to 800 Marines. The LPD 17 class has a
navigational draft of 23 feet and displaces approximately 25,000 tons.
Four turbo-charged diesels power the ship to sustained speeds of 24
knots. Mesa Verde will be homeported in Norfolk, Va.
LPD 19 is named for the Mesa Verde National park in
Southwestern Colorado. Congress established Mesa Verde, meaning "green
plateau," as the first cultural park in the national parks system in
1906 to preserve the notable cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo
culture dating back 13 centuries ago.