Mesa Verde (LPD 19) Commissioned

Monday, December 17, 2007
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-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 Saturday's ceremony.

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 maritime force.

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 Navy personnel. 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.

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