By Program Executive Officer Ships Communications
The future USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) successfully â€œsailed awayâ€ from Northrop Grumman Ship Systems
(NGSS) Ingalls Operations Dec. 3 on its maiden voyage manned for the first time by the shipâ€™s crew. Before transiting to its homeport of Norfolk, Va., the ship will sail to Panama City, Fla., for its commissioning ceremony.
This milestone marks the government/industry teamâ€™s production completion of LPD 19, the first of this class of amphibious transport dock constructed completely at the Pascagoula, Miss. shipyard.
The ceremonial commissioning of Mesa Verde is schedule to occur on Dec. 15 at 11:00 a.m. in Panama City, when the sponsor, Mrs. Linda Campbell
, will give the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!" Her husband, former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell
, will give the principal address. To honor the legacy of Mesa Verde, an exhibition celebrating North American history and culture will take place before and after the actual ceremony at the Gulf Coast Community College
. Mesa Verde is scheduled to arrive in its homeport prior to the holidays.
Early in 2008, the ship and crew will start a succession of seagoing trials to thoroughly test the shipâ€™s systems and to complete crucial certifications. Mesa Verde will
conduct missile and gun Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials during which the crew will fire Rolling Airframe Missiles and Mk 46 Mod 1 30mm guns as well as exercise the shipâ€™s comprehensive detect-to-engage capability. Well deck certification and underway replenishment qualification will also be part of the steady progression toward full mission readiness.
Mesa Verde will join two other commissioned ships of the class, USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and USS New Orleans (LPD 18), which are currently operating on the East and West coasts, respectively. The next major milestones for the ship class will be the christening of New York (LPD 21) and the commissioning of Green Bay (LPD 20) in 2008. San Diego (LPD 22), Anchorage (LPD 23) and Arlington (LPD 24) have started construction on the Gulf Coast.