SASEBO, Japan - San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) joined the U.S. 7th Fleet amphibious force in Sasebo, Dec. 1, after transiting the Pacific Ocean from its former homeport of San Diego.
“The crew has worked diligently for the last year to prepare New Orleans for forward deployment, and I could not be more proud of their accomplishments,” said Capt. P. Scott Miller, commanding officer of New Orleans. “This is my second tour as part of the forward-deployed U.S. Naval Forces, and I am excited to be back. I look forward to getting to know the city and people of Sasebo and continuing all that is great about our strong relationship with Japan.”
New Orleans will be the second amphibious transport dock ship assigned to Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 joining USS Green Bay (LPD 20) which was deployed to the 7th Fleet in 2015.
Amphibious Squadron 11 integrates regularly with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to ensure the services are trained and ready to operate together to provide the most efficient amphibious fighting force in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We welcome the USS New Orleans crew and families who will be an incredible addition to our forward-deployed team in the Seventh Fleet theater,” said Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7. “The increase in capacity to our amphibious forces this great ship represents will allow us to operate more regularly with our allies and partners in this vital region and support even stronger naval integration with our number one warfighting partner, the United States Marine Corps.”
New Orleans brings a host of warfighting capabilities to the 7th Fleet. The ship is equipped with an advanced command and control suite; extensive lift capacity with substantial vehicle and cargo carrying capability; and advanced ship survivability features. The ship supports the rapid transfer of personnel and equipment via the landing craft and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, making the ship a critical element for amphibious ready group and expeditionary strike group operations.
This year, Amphibious Squadron 11, part of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, is also scheduled to gain USS America (LHA 6) as a replacement to USS Wasp (LHD 1) which departed the 7th Fleet in September.
The U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations spans 48 million square miles from the International Date Line to the Western Indian Ocean.