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Makin Island Delivered to Navy

By Ensign Lauryn K. Dempsey, Makin Island (LHD 8) Public Affairs Officer

PASCAGOULA, Miss. – Sailors attached to Pre-Commissioning Unit Makin Island (LHD 8) marched aboard their ship April 16 in a historic delivery ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB), Gulf Coast.

The crew marched in a two-company formation, the Argonaut and Nautilus, to symbolize the two submarines that delivered the Marine Raiders to Makin Island during World War II.

After almost four years as Prospective Commanding Officer of Makin Island, Capt. Robert G. Kopas officially signed the DD-form 250, granting custody of the ship to the U.S. Navy.

“It was a great event that means a lot to our shipbuilders, and the Gulf Coast community,” said Irwin Edenzon, sector vice president and general manager for NGSB Gulf Coast.

Conceived in the year 2000, the ceremony was a culmination of many years of hard work.

“Makin Island has seen three different Presidents of the United States, four Secretaries of the Navy, four Chiefs of Naval Operations and four presidents of NGSB, along with hurdles during the process,” said Capt. Jeffrey Riedel, program manager, Amphibious Warfare Program.

“It’s a great sense of accomplishment to finally deliver the ship,” said Jeff Davis, Makin Island’s ship director. “It’s a great ship, and the last two years have been very trying and very difficult. We have had to work through a lot of issues: materials, manpower and natural disasters. The men and women of NGSB have done a great job completing this quality ship.”

The ship’s crew, and their families, began reporting to Pascagoula in late 2005 and began helping NGSB get past the obstacles of building a revolutionary new ship.

After two years of preparing and working toward Makin Island’s delivery, Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Nicholas Ayres brought his family to the ceremony—a way to thank them for their patience in the process.

“As I told all my junior Sailors, you know that lump you get in your throat?” said Ayres, “That’s called pride, and I’ve got a lot of pride in Makin Island. My wife and son have seen all the long hours we’ve worked and all the hard work we’ve put in, and I wanted them to be a part of history.”

The crew is now working and living aboard the ship, while preparing to transit around South America to its future homeport of San Diego, where it is scheduled to be commissioned on October 24, 2009.

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