USS New Orleans, At Sea
– USS New Orleans (LPD 18) returned to its homeport in San Diego Aug. 22, following a two week pre-deployment exercise off the coast of Southern California.
USS New Orleans, along with embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), completed Amphibious Squadron -MEU Integrated Training (PMINT) as part of Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group for their upcoming deployment later this year. Cmdr. Dennis Jacko, commanding officer of USS New Orleans, said the exercise enhanced interoperability between the Sailors and Marines by helping form a blue-green team.
“PMINT is the first step of operational integrated training with the Navy and Marine assets that will compose the Amphibious Readiness Group,” he said. “Although this is the first step, I think that the detailed planning and extensive coordination that was completed previously enabled the Makin Island ARG to perform at an advanced level from the start.”
During the exercise USS New Orleans hosted daily deck landing qualifications for helicopters assigned to the 11th MEU’s Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 268, launched landing craft, air cushion and amphibious assault vehicles with embarked Marines from its well deck and performed an underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202).
“I’m really looking forward to this deployment,” said Cpl. Kurtis Fuchser, who last deployed to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. “The food’s going to better and I’m looking forward to seeing different countries. It’s also going to be a different experience working with Navy personnel, not just Corpsmen.”
In addition to performing its scheduled tasks, USS New Orleans also responded to a distress call leading to the recovery of more than 1,800 lbs. of alleged contraband and the capture of three suspected drug runners.
“The crew of USS New Orleans did a fantastic job of changing missions quickly, arriving on scene, and rapidly getting our boats in the water to render assistance,” Jacko said. “Coordinating our efforts with the US Coast Guard was seamless, and resulted not only in the rescue of stranded personnel at sea, but the recovery of a substantial amount of dangerous drugs headed to the United States. ”
PMINT is the first stage of training where more than 1,800 Sailors comprised of USS Makin Island (LHD 8), USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) integrated with more than 1,600 Marines from 11th MEU, in preparation for their upcoming deployment.
USS New Orleans is a San Antonio-class transport dock ship designed and built to fight. Its war-fighting 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.