NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif., --
The sailors of Naval Surface Forces joined the Marines of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and I Marine Expeditionary Force to welcome the newest amphibious assault ship to the fleet during a commissioning ceremony here Oct. 24.
The USS Makin Island will serve the Marine Corps by providing Marine expeditionary units with a home at sea, a launching platform for 3rd MAW aircraft and ship to shore movement.
This ship is on the cutting edge of Marine technology with its new energy-efficient systems, explained 1st Lt. Russell Myers, a pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd MAW, I MEF. With the new aircraft entering the fleet, the ship is keeping pace with the dynamic transitions of Marine aviation and is reflective of the Marine Air Ground Task Force as a whole.
The Navy commissioned her as the last of the Wasp-class amphibious ships, the largest amphibious assault ships in the world which are designed to carry more aircraft, equipment and personnel than their predecessors. However, it is the first of the class built with gas turbine engines and electric drive. These hybrid engines are more efficient and ecologically friendly than there predecessors. Navy officials estimate this advance will save nearly $250 million in fuel costs during the ship’s lifetime. Weighing more than 42,000 tons and with a length of 844 feet, the ship can carry more than 3,000 personnel, more than 40 aircraft and three Landing Craft, Air Cushioned.
The ceremony honored a few of the attendees whose sacrifices, more than 60 years ago, characterized the name of the ship. Navy personnel named the ship in honor of the Marines with 2nd Raider Battalion, known as “Carlson’s Raiders,” who destroyed enemy installations, gathered intelligence and diverted the attention and reinforcements of Japanese Forces from Guadalcanal during World War II. It is the second ship to bear the name. The first USS Makin Island (CVE-93) was an escort aircraft carrier, serving during WWII from 1944 to 1946.
“Commissioning the ship is very near and dear to our hearts,” said Julius Cottem, a Marine corporal who served with 2nd Raider Bn. on Makin Island during WWII. “The ship is a way of honoring the boys we left on the island.”
After sailors hoisted the colors and ship’s pennant, Silke B. Hagee, the ship’s sponsor and wife of retired Gen. Michael W. Hagee, 33rd commandant of the Marine Corps, shouted over a bullhorn for sailors to man the ship and for Marines to bring her to life. They ran aboard, fulfilling part of the long-held tradition for a ship’s commissioning.
“Today, this fine ship takes its place in the fleet, and for roughly the next 40 years, it will be asked to carry numerous Marines to places we’ve never heard of,” said Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps. “It might be to deliver supplies from its flight deck or its well deck to help a country stricken by a natural disaster. It might be to exercise and train with foreign troops or navies so they can better defend their own lands. It might be to muster with the fleet to deliver a blow to an enemy that threatens our people.”
Generations of 3rd MAW Marines will soon call this ship home as she sets sail in support of the Nation and her allies.