USS NEW ORLEANS, At Sea
-- Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) observed a moment of silence Dec. 7 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which resulted in America's entrance into World War II.
The ship's commanding officer ordered a pause in all shipboard activities at 7:56 a.m., the time of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks, and came over the ship's 1MC to address to the crew.
Cmdr. Dennis Jacko, commanding officer of New Orleans, asked the crew to take a moment in remembrance of the sacrifice of that day.
"I am reminded as always of the brave heroism and sacrifice of the Sailors at Pearl Harbor who battled valiantly against the onslaught of the Japanese sneak attack that day," said Jacko. "Among the ships in port that day was the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans (CA 32), whose crew doggedly returned fire despite a loss of power throughout the ship; the crew demonstrated the resolve and warrior ethos that lives today in the hearts of every New Orleans Sailor."
The heavy cruiser New Orleans went on to earn 17 battle stars and participate in almost every battle in the Pacific on the road to victory over Japan.
Jacko also told the crew that some of the biggest contributions to the subsequent war effort came from the ship's namesake, the city of New Orleans.
Higgins Industry, a boat company owned by Andrew Higgins and based out of the city, built torpedo craft known as "PT boats," as well as developed and manufactured a landing craft capable of carrying troops, equipment and supplies safely from ship to shore.
These landing craft were formally known as Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP) but were commonly referred to as "Higgins Boats" throughout WWII. The Higgins Boat was used in every major amphibious operation, from the Pacific atolls all the way to the French coastline.
"More than 20,000 of these game-changing boats were constructed by the hard working people of New Orleans," said Jacko. "Without them, the Allies would have never won the war."
New Orleans currently has two landing craft, air cushioned (LCAC) vehicles, assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, embarked aboard the ship. While LCACs are a different type of amphibious vehicle than the obsolete LCVP, they still carry out the same basic functions of amphibious operations.
"Our main goal is still to carry Marine personnel from the ship to the beach," said Gas Turbine Mechanic 2nd Class Jacob Peterson, an LCAC engineer for ACU 5. "The electronic age has come and we are built to go fast, we're more efficient."
Peterson also said amphibious operations are vital to humanitarian relief efforts.
"It's important because we can carry a lot of supplies to a certain place in a short amount of time," he said. "It helps establish ties with whoever asks for our help."
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 is assigned to Amphibious Squadron 5, commanded by Capt. Humberto L. Quintanilla II, and along with embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the ship is deployed as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group.
The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the nation's maritime strategy when forward deployed.