PANAMA CITY, Fla., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A new amphibious transport dock ship was commissioned into the U.S. Navy Saturday in Florida.
Northrop Grumman said in a statement that the USS "Mesa Verde was commissioned into the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet ... on the Florida Gulf Coast. Speaking to a crowd of more than 4,000, former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado congratulated the shipbuilding team and future crew of the amphibious transport dock ship."
"Mesa Verde is one of the most technologically advanced and sailor-friendly ships ever built. The ship's sponsor, Linda Campbell, wife of Senator Campbell, ordered the officers, enlisted crew and Marines to 'man our ship and bring her to life' at the culmination of Saturday's ceremony," Northrop Grumman said.
"Mesa Verde is the third Northrop Grumman-built ship in the USS San Antonio -- LPD 17 -- class. This new class of ship affords the U.S. Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group with the technology and flexibility to launch and recover two amphibious Landing Craft; Air Cushion and operate an array of rotary-wing aircraft; as well as the ability to carry and launch 14 Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles," the company said.
"Navy Cmdr. Shawn Lobree, of Miami, Fla., is the ship's first commanding officer and will lead a crew of 360 officers and enlisted Navy personnel," Northrop Grumman said.
The company said the ship was "684 feet long and 105 feet wide and is capable of embarking a landing force of up to 800 Marines. The LPD 17 class has a navigational draft of 23 feet and displaces approximately 25,000 tons. Four turbo-charged diesels power the ship to sustained speeds of 24 knots. Mesa Verde will be home-ported in Norfolk, Va."
"LPD 19 is named for the Mesa Verde National park in southwestern Colorado," the company said.