USS NASSAU, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors from the pre-commissioning crew of the amphibious transport dock ship Mesa Verde (LPD 19) got underway with USS Nassau (LHA 4) March 28 for a six-week deployment in support of Exercise Phoenix Express 2007.
The 71 Sailors from Mesa Verde, a ship of the San Antonio class, joined Nassau to become familiar with underway routines and qualifications.
Sailors from 12 different rates will receive training in their respective fields and be able to qualify on many watch stations and procedures that can be taken back to the Mesa Verde.
"Since we are precom (precommissioning) we rely on the fleet to get our people qualified in damage control and other watch stations," said Senior Chief Storekeeper William Bunker. "SURFLANT (Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet) tells us about these training opportunities."
A majority of the Sailors are between the ranks of E-1 and E-4. For many of the junior personnel this is the first time getting underway on a ship. The junior Sailors must qualify in their respective areas of work to ensure that the Mesa Verde has a fully qualified crew upon commissioning.
"This is the first time we brought seaman with us," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Teddy Garmon. "We must make sure everyone is qualified when the ship is commissioned."
"I'm able to get my Master Helmsman qualification and work on my ESWS (enlisted surface warfare) pin too," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Summer Levert.
Mesa Verde is the third LPD in her class to be built and will replace older LPDs. The new class is designed to be a versatile platform for a variety of missions that involves putting Marines on the beach. The ship is designed with cutting edge self-defense capabilities and reduced radar cross section signature to make it a highly reliable and survivable vessel. The ship is also designed to be easily upgraded to support new technologies throughout its' projected 40 years of service.
Phoenix Express 2007 is a multi-national exercise that includes participants from Algeria, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States.
The exercise is focused on developing the individual and collective maritime proficiencies of participating nations. The exercise promotes friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation with regional partners.
For more news from USS Nassau (LHA 4) visit www.news.navy.mil/local/lha4/.