USS Portland shows off its muscle before commissioning
Excitement is building aboard the USS Portland about Saturday morning's commissioning ceremony for the first U.S. Navy ship named solely for the Rose City.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time. I'm ecstatic," Capt. Jeremy R. Hill told reporters during a Thursday morning press tour of the amphibious transport ship, also known as LPD (Landing Platform Dock) 27.
During the April 19 tour, reporters saw a variety of Navy and Marine Corps equipment the 25,000-ton ship can carry, including tanks, armored vehicles, trucks, bulldozers, fork lifts, a large hovercraft and even an Osprey, a tilt-engine aircraft that can take off vertically from the rear deck and fly like a plane.
The vessel also carries extensive medical facilities, including operating rooms, intensive care units and a 24-bed hospital ward that can be used during humanitarian missions.
Hill, from Star Prairie, Wisconsin, said there should be around 500 sailors and marines assigned to the USS Portland by the time the ceremony begins. He is expecting more than 5,000 people to attend it at the Port of Portland's Terminal 2, where the ship is docked. Even more people have already visited the ship during the afternoon tours being offered this week.
The San Antonio-class landing platform dock will be commissioned at 10 a.m. April 21. Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick M. Shanahan will deliver the commissioning ceremony's principal address. Bonnie Amos, wife of retired Gen. James F. Amos, 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, will serve as sponsor of the ship. The ceremony will be highlighted by a Navy tradition as Amos will give the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"
The Portland was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The vessel is 684 feet long, has a beam of 105 feet and a navigational draft of 23 feet. It is powered by four sequentially turbocharged marine Colt-Pielstick Diesels and two shafts to speeds up to 22 knots.
Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship built by Huntington Ingalls Industries. It is the third ship to bear the name USS Portland, however it is the first ship to be named solely for Oregon's largest city.
According to the Navy, the first was heavy cruiser USS Portland (CA 33), which was commissioned on Feb. 23, 1933. Serving throughout World War II, CA-33 saw battle action at Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf, Corregidor and Okinawa.
The second, dock landing ship USS Portland (LSD 37), was commissioned Oct. 3, 1970. The vessel participated in several important operations, including the 1976 evacuation of American citizens from Lebanon, the 1983 multi-national peacekeeping mission to Beirut, and deployment of Marines to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.