USS NEW ORLEANS, At Sea (NNS) -- The crew of USS New Orleans (LPD 18) welcomed aboard more than 200 family and friends for a day at sea April 9 to experience how their loved ones work and live on one of the Navy's newest ships.
The ship boarded guests, ranging from ages two to 77, to spend a day off the coast of San Diego.
"I've heard my husband talk about being on the ship, but this is my first time seeing it," said one spouse. "It's a lot more cramped than I imagined."
The day consisted of many attractions including; a guided 1MC tour of the harbor, tours of the ship, a demonstration by the ship's security protection force, a "steel beach" picnic on the flight deck, and a chance to witness the ship's gun mounts in action.
"I never thought I'd be driving the ship standing next to my girlfriend," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Chris Abair. "It's a bit surreal."
Some of the younger guests seem to really enjoy the ship's simulated gun range, noting how close it was to the video games they play at home. The younger guests also were entertained by several games set up in the well deck area, including sumo suit matches and miniature basketball hoops.
New Orleans returned late afternoon safely and debarked their guests, who are now more cognizant of their loved ones day-to-day life at sea.
"I'm really glad I got a chance to do this," said one crew's family member. "It's just amazing how much work goes into making [a naval ship] run."
"New Orleans' Sailors and Marines have been working very hard as the ship prepares for deployment and completes the training cycle," said Cmdr. Jeff Oakey, commanding officer of New Orleans. "I was very happy to offer our families a chance to come aboard and spend time with us. I think it helps our loved ones better appreciate our work and support us while we're working long hours in port or are deployed."
New Orleans is a San Antonio-class ship designed and built to fight. Its war fighting capabilities include a state-of-the-art command and control suite, substantially increased vehicle lift capacity, a large flight deck, and advanced ship survivability features that enhance its ability to operate in the unforgiving littoral environment. New Orleans provides each naval expeditionary force with greatly enhanced operational flexibility. The ship normally operates as part of an Amphibious Task Force - the "workhorse" of a three-ship ARG - organized to accomplish a broad range of military objectives; or as an element of a "Split-ARG" that has the ship detached and operating as a single ship, supporting lower-risk operations. This ship's mission flexibility fully expands the ARGs area of influence by providing an improved capability to cover multiple areas of responsibility, while responding to several crises simultaneously.
For more new from USS New Orleans visit www.navy.mil/local/lpd18.