By MC1(SW/AW) Joseph M. Buliavac, USS San Diego Public Affairs
As USS San Diego (LPD 22) sits off the coast of Camp Pendleton offloading Marines and their equipment today, the crew is getting excited about tomorrow’s homecoming. Deployment homecomings are one of the most anticipated events for Sailors, Marines and their families. In the case of San Diego it’s even more important and monumental, because the ship is returning from her 26,000-nautical-mile maiden deployment.
The deployment included some noteworthy events and milestones. The ship responded to a Pacific Fleet humanitarian assistance request to recover three National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sponsored scientists from the Pearl and Hermes Atoll, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, threatened by Hurricane Iselle. Two small boats containing Navy and Marine Corps recovery teams transited the challenging seas for six nautical miles before reaching the opening to the island chain where the three NOAA scientists awaited help. At only 12 feet above sea level at the highest point, the small islet was in danger of being flooded by the hurricane storm surge.
San Diego’s Engineering Department was able to conduct any and all major maintenance and repair evolutions while at sea, ensuring the ship’s mission and operational tempo was uninterrupted. This resulted in a 26-day, over 13,000nm, full-power run from the northern Red Sea to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii—a feat never before accomplished by a San Antonio-class LPD.
San Diego pushed Information Dominance Warfare by aligning the ship’s Information Dominance Corps ratings. The crew’s intelligence, electronic warfare, cryptologic, and communications teams innovated by re-scoping their mission sets and operated as an Information Dominance Operations Cell (IDOC). This unique alignment concept resulted in San Diego establishing benchmarks with record-breaking results leading to the ship being recognized as the U.S. 7th Fleet Cryptologic Ship of the Quarter, 4th quarter 2014.
Having spent 200 out of a 216-day deployment out to sea, San Diego did manage to make a few port calls. The crew enjoyed some well deserved time off in Aqaba, Jordan; Hong Kong, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During some of these visits they took part in a variety of community relations activities. These events included spending time with underprivileged children in Hong Kong, a friendly soccer match with a Royal Jordanian Navy team, and a familiarization visit to a mosque.
Of course, no deployment would be complete without Sailors receiving recognition for their hard work. Five officers earned their Surface Warfare Officer qualification; three earned the Command Duty Officer qualification; and 14 officers, one Senior Chief Petty Officer and one Chief Petty Officer completed the Officer of the Deck qualification. Four officers were also promoted to the next rank, while 204 Sailors were awarded the Enlisted Surface Warfare qualification, and 57 enlisted Sailors were advanced to the next pay grade.
Over the last seven months, USS San Diego has:
• completed five full vehicle and equipment offloads in five countries,
• received 4.1 million gallons of fuel,
• produced 5 million gallons of water,
• conducted 40,000 man-hours in repairs,
• completed a full vehicle & equipment wash down in three days vice the normal seven,
• flew 1821.2 flight hours,
• completed 2,593 passenger movements,
• moved 12,146,725 lbs. of cargo,
• took on 908 tons of food,
• took on 507 tons in stores, parts and supplies,
• received 65 tons of mail,
• completed 20 Replenishments at Sea, and
• conducted 37 well deck operations.
The crew has done the work and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. With all of their hard work and accomplishments, San Diego’s maiden deployment is—without a doubt—one the crew and the city she was named after can be proud of!