SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The command ship USS Coronado (AGF 11) returned to its San Diego homeport Nov. 3 following a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific.
While deployed, Coronado served in Yokosuka, Japan, as a temporary replacement for USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) while it underwent an extensive dry dock maintenance period. During that time, Coronado was the command platform for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet (COMSEVENTHFLT) staff.
The Navy tested an innovative manning concept aboard Coronado, combining the skills of Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command (MSC) civilian mariners (CIVMARS). Prior to deployment, Coronado completed a two-month yard period during which its basic engineering, navigation and hotel services were converted to civilian specifications. In February, Capt. Chris Noble resumed command of Coronado, and the ship began operating with a hybrid crew where less than half of the ship's company are Sailors and the majority are CIVMARs. The combined crew is an innovative experiment aimed at operating Navy ships at a reduced cost while maintaining or improving capability.
In the past, Coronado was typically manned with 481 Sailors. Now, Coronado has a military crew of 117 Sailors along with 146 CIVMARs, for a total crew of 263.
This was the first time the Navy and MSC transitioned only a portion of the crew while the ship maintained its commissioned status. MSC CIVMARs perform the duties of navigation, propulsion and auxiliary machinery operation, maintenance and repair, food service and other utility type responsibilities. Navy personnel retain operation of the C4I suites (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence equipment), the Sea Based Battle Lab (SBBL), helicopter detachment, weapons systems and other command/mission capabilities.
In April, Coronado made its first port visit to Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines, and held a reception aboard for members of the Philippine military, U.S. embassy and other dignitaries, including the chief of naval operations for the Philippine navy. Coronado Sailors also participated in numerous community relations projects. On the way home, Coronado made a port visit to Pearl Harbor.
Coronado was commissioned in 1970 as an Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD), built to transport Marines and their equipment to the scene of an amphibious assault, and land them ashore via landing craft and helicopters. In 1980, the ship was re-designated as an auxiliary command ship (AGF), designed to provide fleet commanders with a forward presence during fleet operations. During its time in this role, Coronado served as command ship for Commander, Middle East Force and Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. In 1986, Coronado became the command ship of Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, home-ported in Hawaii. The ship remained there until 1991, when it changed its homeport to San Diego.
In 1998, a large ship modification was completed. Incorporating the latest network technology, Coronado became the most advanced command ship in the world. Coronado is homeported at Naval Submarine Base Point Loma, Calif.
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