USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea –- The more than 2,000 Sailors and Marines deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) took a break from normal operations for a special Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) day, Dec. 11.
The day consisted of a “Steel Beach” picnic for the crew and a number of MWR sponsored events to help the crew and embarked Marines gets into the holiday spirit.
Unexpected rain showers cancelled a planned “Jingle Bell” 5K run and forced the Steel Beach picnic to be moved from the ship’s flightdeck into the hangar bay, but a variety of MWR events continued throughout the day.
“I apologize that the weather man did not get the memo we were having our Jingle Bell 5K,” joked Kristen Venoy, MWR’s Fun Boss, who coordinated the day’s events. “The Jingle Bell 5k run will definitely happen in the near future.”
Venoy said she hoped all the Sailors and Marines enjoyed the event.
“It looked like everyone was having a good time,” said Venoy. “I look forward to many more MWR days in the future.”
The Steel Beach picnic in the hangar bay lasted most of the day, including both lunch and dinner, and gave crew members a much needed chance to relax.
“It was nice to get out and enjoy myself after working so hard these past few weeks,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Jordan Cunningham, assigned to Makin Island’s air department.
Dodge ball and arm wrestling competitions also took place during the MWR Day. Santa Claus, along with a couple of elves, even made a special guest appearance.
“We got away from the daily routine of work and had fun with the music, food and activities,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Patrick Henry, assigned to Makin Island’s executive department. “My favorite part was the arm wrestling.”
Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) said they also enjoyed the break in the daily routine.
“They played good music and I did not expect to have this much fun,” said Marine Sgt. Shon Jessup, assigned to the 11th MEU.
Makin Island and the 11th MEU departed San Diego Nov. 14 and are currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), supporting the Navy’s maritime strategy.
Makin Island, the Navy’s newest Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island."
The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.
More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.