USS Denver
Decommissioned August 14, 2014
Third Oldest Ship Is Still Up To Speed
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Jordan
SASEBO, Japan – The USS Denver (LPD 9) has officially passed their Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) inspection August 3, 2012, qualifying the ship to continue to perform normal amphibious operations and showing that the ship meets at least the minimum requirements as per the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).

The Denver is the Navy’s third oldest commissioned ship, and still can maintain the ability to conduct maritime operations in a fleet with much newer model versions of landing patrol dock ships.

“Every crew member performed at exactly the peak level at exactly the right time,” said Captain Mike Wettlaufer, Commanding Officer of the USS Denver. “The way we planned it, the way we practiced it, was exactly how we executed it and that is what you want to have happen. Everybody knew where they were supposed to be, what they had to do and when they had to do it and they knew how to interact with the inspectors because we have done this over and over again and those things are really key.”

The INSURV inspectors expressed their gratitude for the crew professionalism and organization, which played an essential role in the timeliness and efficiency of the inspection.

“Easy inspection well ran,” said Navy Captain Timothy Trampenau, the lead inspector for the Denver’s INSURV inspection. “When crew is organized and has a well-thought of schedule and never allows an inspector to rest, a very successful inspection occurs.”

The Denver crew, such as Hospital Corpsman Petty Officer Second Class Charles McKinney, is relieved that inspections are over and is proud of what they accomplished.

“From what I saw the inspection ran smoothly,” said McKinney. “We practiced hard and we were prepared. Whenever you go into one of these things planned and ready good things happen and the job gets carried out efficiently, and that’s exactly what happened.

The cycle for INSURV is normally every five years. Much planning and preparation has to be put into effect early, and the Denver has words of advice for ships that are getting close to their inspection cycle.

“Plan early and practice, practice, practice,” said Wettlaufer. “Make sure that the people that are doing every single evolution know their doing it well ahead of time, even if you can’t do the entire INSURV practice make sure that you start early to try to practice each of those events a number of times. That’s what we did last spring during patrol and that allowed us to go into the availability of five weeks and still come out knowing what we were supposed to do without having to start from the beginning.”

Now Wettlaufer and the Denver crew can now head into their fall patrol knowing that they have achieved what they knew they could, and are prepared to carry out whatever mission they are tasked.

“Even on a 43 year old ship we’ve proven during this inspection that ship age is not as important as the crews understanding of their job and their motivation to do their job right the first time every time.”

Denver is part of the forward-deployed Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) which reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.
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