PASCAGOULA, Miss. – Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter visited precommissioning unit (PCU) Makin Island (LHD 8) May 29 as part of a scheduled Gulf Coast visit.
Winter toured the Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB) facility and spaces on board LHD 8. His primary goal for the tour was to review updates on the overall shipbuilding activities at NGSB and for a status assessment of what’s happening with Makin Island.
“The overall integration of combat systems in particular was most helpful, and I think it helped gauge not only where we are right now but where we’ll be in the future,” Winter said.
He added that he felt that “from an informational perspective, just getting a better understanding of where we are in terms of the test activities and testing of that progress” was critical.
Winter also spoke about the importance of getting Makin Island through waterfront trials and work-ups so that LHD 8 could join the operational fleet.
“We need our amphibious lift capability,” Winter said. “It’s an integral part of how we are able to project power around the world, and this [Makin Island] is one of the major parts of that future amphibious fleet.”
PCU Makin Island’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Robert Kopas, accompanied Winter on the tour, which focused on many of the specifics that make LHD 8 the next generation of amphibious assault ship.
“We showed our hybrid gas turbine/diesel-electric propulsion system, our state of the art combat systems capabilities and our machinery control system, which automates and integrates most of our engineering and auxiliary systems,” Kopas said.
Kopas added that he and his crew are working diligently in cooperation with the LHD Class Squadron and Washington, D.C. Program Office to ensure Makin Island is ready to fill its role as the Navy’s latest and greatest amphibious vessel.
“We are laser-focused on preparing our 1,100 person crew to take custody of Makin Island,” Kopas said. “When the shipyard completes its efforts, I have total confidence that the crew will have all the tools to make Makin Island a deployable ship within six months after our arrival in San Diego.”
Currently, more than 100 of Makin Island’s 581 onboard crewmembers are embarked on ships in both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. These Sailors are actively involved in operations in order to keep their skills current and to prepare themselves for the road ahead.
Following delivery to the Navy, Makin Island will be commissioned and homeported in San Diego.
Sailors, who are in their nine to 12-month negotiating window for orders and want to be part of the pre-commissioning command, can contact their rating detailer and ask to be released to the pre-commissioning detailer for further assignment to Makin Island.