USS NEW ORLEANS, At sea - Sailors and Marines aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) celebrated the fifth anniversary of the ship's commissioning March 10 while on deployment in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
The anniversary fell on a rare day of relaxation for the "Big Easy" that included a "steel beach" picnic on the flight deck.
The day ended on the mess decks with the ship's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Dennis Jacko, along with the last three of the ship's "plankowners" attached to New Orleans since the ship's commissioning, cutting an anniversary cake made by the ship's food services division.
"We had a wonderful day today," said Jacko. "Not only did the crew really enjoy a full holiday routine with a fantastic 'steel beach,' but we were able to celebrate the fifth birthday of the ship with the last three plank owners still on board.
Jacko also spoke about the future of the ship.
"She is a young ship, and with the proper care we are giving her, she will see many more change-outs of the crew over the next 40 years," said Jacko.
New Orleans was built in its namesake city from 2004 - 2007 before being homeported in San Diego. The ship received its first Battle "E" Efficiency ribbon for superior performance in 2011.
Commissioned in 2007, New Orleans is the second of the San Antonio-class transport dock ships. 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 littoral environment.
New Orleans and embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.