Ship: Mesa Verde LPD 19 is the third of a new class of amphibious transport dock ships.
Name: Then Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig announced the decision to name the third amphibious transport dock ship of the San Antonio Class, "Mesa Verde" (LPD 19). The ship is named in recognition of the Mesa Verde National Park in Southwestern Colorado. This will be the first U. S. Navy ship named Mesa Verde.
Congress established Mesa Verde, meaning "green table" in Spanish, as the first cultural park in the National Park System in 1906 to preserve the notable cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan culture. The park received greater recognition in 1978 when it was designated a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations. Occupying part of a large sandstone plateau rising above the Montezuma and Mancos valleys, Mesa Verde National Park is 81 square miles, consisting of 52,122 acres and rising more than 8,500 feet above sea level. Mesa Verde National Park serves as a spectacular reminder of the 13 centuries-old Ancestral Puebloan culture by preserving hundreds of dwellings and artifacts.
"Mesa Verde is a jewel of our National Park system that celebrates the extraordinary beauty and diversity of that region and our nation," said Secretary Danzig. "The real richness of Mesa Verde and that of our country's naval service, however, lies in the people -- the remarkable legacy of their past and a future with great promise. The naming of the USS Mesa Verde establishes a strong and fundamental link between this nation and those who serve and truly value that bond."
Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt expressed his support. "Congratulations to Secretary Danzig and the Department of the Navy. “The Department of Interior is especially appreciative that the Navy named the third amphibious transport dock ship after Mesa Verde," said Babbitt. "Naturally, we find the name choice excellent because it honors early American culture as well as the first national park created to preserve cultural history. It seems somehow fitting to name a state-of-the-art ship with a name connoting timeless cultural values in Colorado."
The archeological sites found in Mesa Verde are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. Mesa Verde National Park offers visitors a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Scientists study the ancient dwellings of Mesa Verde, in part, by making comparisons between the Ancestral Pueblo people and their contemporary indigenous descendants who still live in the Southwest today. Twenty-four Native American tribes in the southwest have an ancestral affiliation with the sites at Mesa Verde.
Ship Yard: In July 2001, Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine cut the first pieces of steel that would become USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19). After the Memorandum of Understanding between Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, responsibility for construction of Mesa Verde was transferred to Northrop Grumman Ships Systems, Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, MS in 2002.
Keel Laying: The keel was laid for LPD 19 on February 25, 2003 at Northrop Grumman Ships Systems, Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, MS.
Christening Ceremony: Mrs Linda Campbell, wife of Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, is LPD 19’s sponsor and christened the ship Mesa Verde on January 15, 2005 in Pascagoula, MS. The ceremony also included a Native American blessing provided by Peter Pino, tribal administrator of Pueblo Zia.
Mast Installation: Mesa Verde is the third LPD 17 class ship to receive two Advanced Enclosed Mast/Sensor systems. The ship’s mast stepping ceremony was held prior to christening on 14 January 2005.
Commissioning Ceremony: USS Mesa Verde was be commissioned in December 2007. The ceremony was held in Panama City, Florida.
Ship’s Crew: 360 Sailors and 3 Marines form Mesa Verde’s crew. Captain Shawn W. Lobree became the first Commanding Officer.
Homeport: LPD 19 is a Norfolk, VA based ship.