PACIFIC OCEAN – A group of 30 “tigers” and their sponsors snaked their way through narrow passageways, climbed more than 80 steps and trekked up and down vehicle ramps to see the heart and soul of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5).
Tigers are embarked guests and family members of Sailors and Marines who are stationed aboard Peleliu and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Lt. Nicole Schwegman, public affairs officer aboard Peleliu, led the group in an adventure to see many of the spaces that embarked Sailors and Marines call home.
“Tours are a great opportunity for our tigers [embarked guests] to see the ship,” said Schwegman. “It gives me the chance to showcase the ship, her capabilities and the Sailors and Marines who work so hard on a day-to-day basis to keep her going strong. It also gives our tigers a chance to see some of what the average Sailor or Marine does to serve their country.”
The tour included spaces such as the well deck, Hall of Heroes, main medical, flag bridge, bridge, “Vultures Row” and the foc’sle.
The group started with a trek down a steep vehicle ramp from the hangar bay to the well deck, where amphibious operations take place on Peleliu. The well deck was filled to the brim with Humvees, jeeps and other support equipment. The “tigers” were also able to see a utility landing craft.
Next, the tour group trekked back up the ramp to the Hall of Heroes. The Hall of Heroes is a passageway that honorably displays Peleliu’s history and the history of its namesake, Peleliu Island, where the U.S. Navy and Marines won a hard-fought battle against the Japanese during World War II. It also displays the biographies of the eight servicemembers who received the Medal of Honor for their bravery during the battle.
Following the Hall of Heroes, the tigers and their sponsors walked up one flight of stairs to main medical, where hospital corpsmen, doctors and dentists take care of Peleliu’s Sailors and Marines. Schwegman spoke about the medical capabilities of the ship, including four operating rooms, three dental chairs and Fleet Surgical Team One.
Then the group climbed up five ladderwells to the flag bridge, where embarked staff from Amphibious Squadron Three, work and after a brief stop, the group went up one more ladderwell to the bridge, where the tour learned about how operations are conducted in that space.
“I was very impressed at the bridge,” said Katherine Perdue, an embarked tiger on the tour and mother of Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Bridgett Perdue. “It seems like it is the nerve center of the ship and it was neat to see how everyone works together up there.”
“Seeing the bridge was my favorite part of the tour,” said Mariana Ramirez, an embarked tiger on the tour and aunt of Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Jamie Jordan. “I liked it because you’re able to see where and how everything works together, like navigating the ship.”
The tour concluded with trips to “Vultures Row,” which is a narrow walkway outside the skin of the ship and with a visit to the foc’sle to learn more about the ship’s anchors.
Tours of Peleliu were just one of the many events that took place during “Tiger Cruise 2013” aboard Peleliu.
The Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, consisting of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked throughout, is returning from an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.