USS Makin Island
“Gung Ho”
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michael C. Barton, USS Makin Island Public Affairs

-- USS Makin Island's (LHD 8) deck and combat cargo departments completed their first well deck operation July 12 with the recovery and launch of two landing craft utility (LCU) boats.

The multi-purpose amphibious assault ship Makin Island is designed to transport and land Marine expeditionary strike groups ashore via helicopters, amphibious assault vehicles and landing craft.

Makin Island is carrying the LCUs to San Diego and will then turn over the landing craft to Assault Craft Unit 1.

"Ninety percent of my crew has never participated in well deck operations," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Mark Powers. "That's why it's so important we have these certifications, so we can gain the knowledge and trust within our crew to launch and recover [an] LCU successfully."

Makin Island's transit to San Diego is important to the ship becoming well deck certfied.

"[One thing that] makes Makin Island different is the Machinery Control System (MCS), a computer that controls all the ballasting from a central console, which is one less thing we have to worry about when conducting well deck operations," Powers added.

There are two different phases to the well deck certification. The first is the administration phase, which must be passed before continuing on to the second phase. During this first phase, publications were verified, and the personnel qualification standards program was inspected.

During the second phase, Naval Beach Group 1 assessors evaluated the ship performing real-time operations with LCUs.

"We always knew we were going to have to do this," said Boatswain's Mate Seaman Eric Flom. "Once we completed the evolution, the crew, as a whole, had a new level of confidence and was ready to do it again."

Makin Island performed well deck operations with LCUs four more times off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., before heading home.

Makin Island departed Pascagoula, Miss., July 10 and is sailing around South America to its new homeport of San Diego. During its transit, the ship is scheduled to make port calls in Brazil, Chile and Peru to support U.S. Southern Command's objectives for enhanced maritime security and to share training methods that will build strong relations between the United States and partner nations.

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