SAN DIEGO - Amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) hosted 125 Sailors assigned to pre-commissioning unit USS America (LHA 6) for a five-day underway, July 15-19.
Members of America, the Navy's latest amphibious assault ship and the first of the America class, practiced essential "big deck" amphibious skills aboard Peleliu, placing an emphasis on post-deployment activity.
"The overall goal was to observe an amphibious assault ship during an ammo off-load," said Lt. Matthew Eaton, America's Gun Boss. "We can use the experience we gained for when LHA 6 pursues its ammo off-load and on loads in the future."
More than thirty years America's senior, the second-oldest amphibious ship, Tarawa-class Peleliu features a similar-sized flight deck allowing America crew members the opportunity to experience real-life on-the-job training. The MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter, used for the ammunition off-load, will be a type of aircraft America Sailors can expect to see.
"We are here working on our landing signalman enlisted qualifications and our 'blue shirt' qualifications," said Airman Apprentice Cody Clemans from Knoxville, Tenn. "Chocking and chaining, operating the flight deck elevators, tow tractors; we're here to become familiar with the ship."
Known as "cross-deck" training, Sailors from a pre-commissioned vessel join an active ship in a similar class to develop in-rate skills as well as a broader understanding of the ship's role in the fleet.
"Cross-deck training is important to the sustainment of the Navy," said Cmdr. Matthew Niedzwiecki, Air Boss for Peleliu. "Departments aboard Peleliu gain valuable experience by leading training sessions and mentoring some of the newest Sailors to the fleet while our shipmates from USS America will walk away with a deeper appreciation of flight operations, and the confidence to continue the high level of pride and professionalism in the amphibious fleet."
Service members from both platforms participated in the off-load of more than 960 tons of ammunition and ordnance in just four days, demonstrating teamwork and dedication to mission accomplishment.
"These Sailors have definitely worked together throughout this entire underway," added Eaton. "I am just totally inspired by the way LHA 5 Sailors have opened their arms to LHA 6 Sailors and really shown us how they conduct business with a real professional effort."
America Sailors were impressed with the mentorship they received aboard Peleliu, and understood how the training would benefit them in the future.
"It's important that we learn here," said Clemans. "Our group here will be the first group on the America, and we have to be able to train the people who follow us."
The fourth ship in Navy history to be named America, LHA 6 is expected to be delivered to the Navy later this year and, like Peleliu, will be homeported in San Diego.