SAN FRANCISCO (NNS) -- A group of 36 Sailors and Marines serving aboard amphibious assault Ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) helped to restore the California coast during a community relations project at the Golden Gate National Park Conservatory Oct. 5 as part of the 31st annual San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW) celebration.
During the daylong project Sailors and Marines helped to remove Iceplant, an invasive species of plant on the coast that is detrimental to other plant life in the park.
"All the work done here is by volunteers, and the work that these Sailors and Marines did today will make a huge difference in habitat restoration in the future," said Alex Hooker, the project manager for the park's stewardship program.
Hooker said the removal of the Iceplant will allow the native plants of the coast to return and recreate the natural habitat.
"On behalf of everybody at the conservatory, we really appreciate the Sailors and Marines coming out and volunteering their time for such a great cause," said Hooker.
Service members also helped to repair the Ft. Funston hiking trail by removing debris and replacing a section of stairs, creating a safer route to nearby beach areas.
"The trail has been here a long time and the salt air from the ocean has taken its toll on it," said Hooker. "The service members saw the problem and right away knew exactly what to do to make it safe. The repairs they made will last for many years and hopefully attract more visitors to the park."
Ship's Serviceman 1st Class Wilson Brown, a Makin Island Sailor from Savannah, Ga., who took part in the project, said he feels the work he did was for a worthwhile cause.
"We are not out here just pulling weeds, we are actually restoring life to Mother Earth," said Brown. "Working together with my fellow service members gives me a great feeling of pride and satisfaction, knowing what we did here today was for a very good reason."
SSFW 2012 took place Oct. 3-8 and drew more than 2,500 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from four ships to the city of San Francisco to highlight the personnel, technology and capabilities of the sea services.
In addition to Makin Island, other ships taking part in SSFW 2012 include guided missile destroyers USS Preble (DDG 88) and USS Spruance (DDG 111) and the U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutter Sherman (WHEC 720).
Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the ship saved over $15 million in fuel costs and the Navy expects to see fuel cost savings of more than $250 million, over the course of the ship's lifecycle. Lessons learned during Makin Island's maiden deployment prove the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation and will positively influence future ship designs for several decades.
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.
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For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.