USS NEW ORLEANS, At Sea - 90 Midshipmen from all over the country got a chance to see what life is like onboard an amphibious warship when they spent three days onboard USS New Orleans (LPD 18) June 20 - 23.
Representing over 30 colleges including The Citadel and Notre Dame, the "middies" ranged in age from 18 to 20 and represent the future leadership of the Navy and Marine Corps. For many, this was the first time they had set foot on a surface ship.
"I hadn't expected it to be so big on the outside and so cramped on the inside," said Midshipman William Leigh from the University of Notre Dame.
"The crew was so gracious to us and answered all our questions with enthusiasm," said Leigh. "I really saw how much pride they take in what they do."
The middies got to observe a plethora of different shipboard operations, starting with a tour of different stations around the ship while she pulled out of Naval Base San Diego.
"I was scared that I would get seasick when we got underway, but it really doesn't move as much as I feared," said Midshipman Lewis Lindsay from Old Dominion University.
Throughout the three days, the group observed flight operations, an underway replenishment and got a chance to fire two of the ship's .50- caliber crew served weapons.
"That was by far my favorite part," said Leigh.
Overall, the Midshipmen expressed a positive experience with their three day tour.
"As a future Marine, this was the best part of our Navy tour," said Midshipman Christopher Leahy from the University of San Diego. "If I become part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, this is the kind of ship I'll deploy on."
"I love having Midshipmen onboard because their enthusiasm and energy is boundless," said Cmdr. Jeff Oakey, New Orleans commanding officer. "New Orleans' crew enjoyed showing them damage control, weapons, deck equipment, flight operations and, of course, the gym and ship's store.
"As an officer, seeing them brought back memories of my first time aboard a ship and made me feel optimistic that these high-caliber young men and women will soon be young leaders in the fleet and fleet Marine forces."
The middies got to cap off the tour with a ride on a landing craft air cushion back to shore.
New Orleans is a San Antonio-class ship designed and built to fight. Its warfighting capabilities include a state-of-the-art command and control suite, substantially increased vehicle lift capacity, a large flight deck, and advanced ship survivability features that enhance its ability to operate in the unforgiving littoral environment.
New Orleans provides each naval expeditionary force with greatly enhanced operational flexibility. The ship normally operates as part of an Amphibious Task Force - the "workhorse" of a three-ship Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) - organized to accomplish a broad range of military objectives; or as an element of a "Split-ARG" that has the ship detached and operating as a single ship, supporting lower-risk operations. This ship's mission flexibility fully expands the ARGs area of influence by providing an improved capability to cover multiple areas of responsibility, while responding to several crises simultaneously.