USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam with not just the crew, but also a large group of friends and family members of Sailors and embarked Marines aboard for a scheduled, "Tiger Cruise," June 14.
A total of 265 people were brought aboard to conclude the last leg of the ship's seven-month maiden deployment. The Tiger Cruise allows family members and friends the opportunity to experience what life is like for their shipboard Sailor or Marine.
"We came up with a PQS (personnel qualification standard) for them to fill out so they can travel around the ship and see the different workspaces with their sponsor," said Maj. Joseph Troyan, Makin Island's air operations officer and lead organizer for the ship's Tiger Cruise. "Once they have everything signed off they'll earn a, 'Tiger Pin.' We also have other activities lined up to highlight the different aspects of an amphibious ship like this."
Activities scheduled for the cruise include a sea and air power demonstration, live fire hose and pipe patching drills, as well as live-fire exercises with the .50-caliber machine gun, M-240, M-203 and the close-in weapon system.
"Some of our current enlisted people and officers did Tiger Cruises when they were younger," said Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Mario Albright, assistant planner for the cruise. "They saw what the Navy and Marines were about when they were kids and now here they are in the military and some of them brought Tigers with them."
For some of the Tigers aboard, this wasn't their first cruise. Danny Colcleaser, father of Senior Chief Yeoman (SW/AW) Mark Colcleaser, described the trip as a special experience because his first Tiger Cruise was in 1988 at the beginning of his son's career.
"I saw him go from an 18-year old boy to a mature man," said the elder Colcleaser. "It's really been a pleasure for me as a father to watch that growth and see how he's changed. It makes me feel proud."
In addition to his father, Colcleaser also brought along his 13-year old son, Andrew, for the tour.
Andrew said the Tiger Cruise has already influenced him to follow in his father's footsteps and join the military.
"I think I want to be in the military, not only just because of the Tiger Cruise but because of my dad," said Andrew. "I think this Tiger Cruise will make me want to specifically join the Navy."
Colcleaser said having his father and son aboard has been an unbelievable experience and one he will cherish.
"It means the world to me," said Colcleaser. "I got to show my dad a long time ago when I didn't even know if I was going to stay in. It means the world to me to bring my dad back after 25 years, at the end of my career, and to bring my son in here also. He's never really had the opportunity to see what dad does."
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group that is currently deployed to the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of operations.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.