August 22nd, 2008
AVONDALE, La. (AP) – The fourth in a series of amphibious warships is about to be turned over to the Navy and for everyone associated with the LPD-20, there’s a sense of awe.
The Green Bay – it officially becomes the USS Green Bay when commissioned Jan. 24 at Long Beach, Calif. – is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy on Aug. 29 by the Northrop Grumman Corp. shipyard in this New Orleans suburb.Like its three sisters already in service – USS San Antonio, USS New Orleans and USS Mesa Verde – the 25,000-ton Green Bay is 684 feet long and 105 feet wide, suitable for a naval crew of 360 and 800 Marines. It can carry landing vessels and helicopters to deliver the Marines to shore.
The vessel, which cost more than $1 billion, recently completed sea trials successfully.”I love it,” said Northrop Grumman electrician Susie Davis, one of the company workers who went on the sailing trials. “To actually see it all come to a conclusion is breathtaking. It makes me want to join the military.”The Green Bay is the final project for electrician Gerald Dufrene, who will retire in September.”I’m going out with a bang,” he said.The vessel will be around Avondale a while after the Navy takes delivery.
Naval inspectors must certify the crew as ready to handle the vessel and will put them through a series of drills. If all goes well, the process should wrap up by November and the Green Bay will head to California.Cmdr. Joe Olson, the Green Bay’s prospective captain, will have his first command after 17 years in the Navy.”Every ship I’ve served on has been great,” said Olson, a native of Madison, Wis. “But this is a fantastic opportunity. I’m very excited.”The Green Bay is the second Navy vessel to carry the name. The first was a patrol gunboat commissioned in the 1960s.The fifth ship in the LPD series – the New York – was christened on March 1 at Avondale and is in the final stages of construction.
The San Diego is being built at Northrop Grumman’s yard in Pascagoula, Miss., while the seventh ship, the Anchorage, also is being built at Avondale.Initial work is under way on the eighth and ninth ships – the Arlington at Pascagoula and the Somerset at Avondale.Funding for a 10th LPD is pending before Congress. A House committee has earmarked $1.8 billion in full funding, while a Senate committee has signed off on $170 million, which when combined with other funds, would provide $323 million in pre-construction expenses. A conference committee will decide on funding for the next federal budget later this year.The Pascagoula yard has 11,500 employees, while 5,500 work at Avondale. Northrop Grumman also has 200 workers at its Gulfport, Miss., yard and 120 at a yard in Tallulah, La.
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08/22/08 12:50 EDTTags: alan sayre, avondale la, Cmdr. Joe Olson, delivery, fifth ship, first command, Gerald Dufrene, Green Bay, grumman, Gulfport, gunboat, Long Beach, LPD, madison wis, mesa verde, Navy, navy vessel, New Orleans, News, northrop, northrop grumman corp, Pascagoula, Press, process, San Diego, sea trials, shipyard, Susie Davis, tribute, uss san antonio, warships