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
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.