Sen. Lott to Speak at Christening of Makin Island

Monday, August 14, 2006
In what will be the first major event at Northrop Grumman's Pascagoula, Miss. shipyard since Hurricane Katrina, Sen. Trent Lott, Miss. (R-Miss.) will deliver the principal address at the Saturday August 19, 2006 christening of Makin Island (LHD 8). A multipurpose amphibious assault ship uniquely designed to support assaults from the sea against defended positions ashore, the ship is 844 feet long, will displace 40,500 tons fully loaded and will travel at speeds up to 20+ knots. It will carry a crew of approximately 1,000 sailors and 1,900 Marines.

Silke B. Hagee, wife of USMC Gen. Michael Hagee, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, is the ship's sponsor and will smash a bottle of champagne across its bow at the ceremony to signify LHD 8's official name as Makin Island. The name Makin Island honors the daring raid carried out by Marine Corps Companies A and B, Second Raider Battalion, on the Japanese-held island on Aug. 17-18, 1942. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, the raid's leader, was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions, while Marine Corps Sgt. Clyde Thomason was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first enlisted Marine to be so honored during World War II. Original members of the Raider Battalion will attend the ceremony. Makin Island (LHD 8) is the eighth and final ship in the USS Wasp (LHD 1) Class, but is the first of the class to be built with gas turbine engines and electric drive, a first for large deck amphibious assault ships. Over the life of the ship, this design will provide significant savings in manpower and maintenance costs associated with traditional steam-powered amphibious ships.

Construction is taking place at Northrop Grumman's Pascagoula shipyard with fabrication and additional support from three other company facilities: New Orleans, Gulfport, Miss. and Tallulah, La. LHD 8 will be a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship designed to transport and land a Marine Expeditionary Unit, a force of almost 2,000 Marines, ashore by helicopter, landing craft and amphibious assault vehicle. LHD 8 will also have secondary missions of sea control and power projection using helicopter and fixed-wing vertical short take-off and landing aircraft; command and control; and mission support, including a hospital with six operating rooms.

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