PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- After three years in pre-commissioning status, the future USS Makin Island (LHD 8) departed in commission without ceremony from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast July 10 bound for its future homeport of San Diego.
Makin Island is scheduled to be formally commissioned Oct. 24 in a ceremony in San Diego and witnessed by the friends and family of the ship's 1,100 plankowners.
Makin Island earned commission (special) status June 26, after its successful completion of light-off assessment, anti-terrorism force protection certification and crew certification. These are the three major inspections the crew had to pass in order to get underway.
"Well done to you all," said Makin Island Commanding Officer, Capt. Bob Kopas to the crew. "It's the performance of the crew that got us where we are. This is just the beginning of a long road for us in commissioned status."
The next two months will take Makin Island on a transit around South America, during which the crew will continue training, obtaining underway certifications and preparing for its arrival in San Diego. During the transit, Makin Island is scheduled to conduct theater security cooperation (TSC) activities with Brazil, Chile and Peru, which will focus on working closely with partner nation civil and maritime forces - sharing methods and training to build on U.S. and partner nations' already strong relations and interoperability.
On Makin Island, the crew gathered to witness Kopas hoist the ship's commissioning pennant in a recent awards quarters. Several Sailors were awarded Navy Commendation Medals and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for their instrumental work in the certification process. Since moving aboard, upon the ship's April 16 delivery, the command has executed an intensive, all-encompassing training schedule. The ship's final certifications were a culmination of years of classroom training, observed evolutions and administrative checks.
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