USS America’s First Change of Command Emphasizes Ship’s Role in 21st Century Seapower

By Capt. Michael W. Baze

Change of Command
150507-N-AC979-061 SAN DIEGO (May 7, 2015) Capt. Michael W. Baze passes through the ceremonial side boys during USS America’s (LHA 6) first change of command ceremony. Baze relieved Capt. Robert A. Hall Jr. as the commanding officer during the ceremony. America is the first ship of its class and is optimized for Marine Corps aviation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael McNabb/Released)

SAN DIEGO - As the new commanding officer of USS America (LHA 6), I am honored to continue the proud tradition and legacy of this ship. USS America is unlike any other amphibious assault ship in the fleet because we are specifically built for the future of U.S. Marine Corps aviation and sustainability. Although America is still a newly commissioned warship, we have already had several opportunities to work closely with our Marine Corps counterparts, especially during our maiden deployment around South America, “America Visits the Americas.” During my tour as America’s executive officer, I learned even more that amphibious ships truly do carry the most versatile and lethal weapon in the world– the United States Marine.

When I think about how America is going to continue serving the fleet and our Navy’s 21st Century Seapower strategy, I foresee this ship providing a strong, dependable and forward-leaning naval presence in all mission sets—with an emphasis on aviation. This ship will be going through several flight deck modifications over the next several months to more fully support current and future Marine Corps aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. The Joint Strike Fighter combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully-fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. America’s first deployment will likely employ this aircraft, which makes us the optimal platform of the future for complex and diverse operations.

I know the crew of America will continue to effectively and compassionately engage with our allies and partners during all tasking from our maritime commanders. During the ship’s two-month maiden voyage, America participated in several cooperative training evolutions with host nations such as Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Peru. These nations proved to be valued friends and partners through team sporting events, field training exercises, cross-deck training opportunities and various at-sea tactical maneuvering drills. Many of our Sailors and Marines even volunteered for enhancement projects at local schools, orphanages and other facilities while inport. Even so early in the ship’s life, America’s crew truly demonstrated the meaning behind goodwill ambassadors.

America is above all a warfighting platform and represents the readiness, innovation and efficiency critical to maintaining our modern and capable military forces. The concepts built into the design of the America-class are simply unmatched. America, without a doubt, will be the ship Marines want to embark for aviation-centric missions well into the future. Whether it is a humanitarian mission, embassy evacuation, or air assault, America will be waiting and ready to answer the call.

Building upon the historic partnership of our Navy and Marine Corps team, America’s Sailors and Marines illustrate an unparalleled, sustained effort in executing our maritime strategy. I am confident these fine Americans will continue serving together with honor, courage and commitment to protect our country, and demonstrate only the finest qualities of our great nation.

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