SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) arrived at its homeport of San Diego for the first time Sept. 15 after completing its two-month maiden transit from Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
The America crew trained for nearly two years to take possession of the ship, pushing through the countless amounts of training, working parties, food onloads, inspections, assessments and certifications required to bring the ship and crew home.
"All the hard work, training and preparations for this deployment have been built up for this moment," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Rico Alonzo. "We didn't just build the ship, we built a family and accomplished our mission."
During the transit, the ship and crew traveled 15,300 miles, made port visits to Colombia, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Brazil, and Peru, engaging in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability and build enduring partnerships that foster regional security.
"I never thought in my life that I would be going to any other country besides the U.S. and to see the different cultures, food and languages was unique," said Aviation Ordanceman Airman Julian Northern. "I am just very grateful that on my first deployment ever, I got to go around South America, which a lot of people don't get to do."
"It's been an incredible journey for the America crew," said Capt. Robert A. Hall Jr., commanding officer. "I am so proud of the entire Navy and Marine Corps team and the spectacular work they have done. No one could have accomplished the mission better. We are thrilled to be reuniting with our friends and family today. They have sacrificed equally and we could not do this without their support. I would like to thank the America Sailors, Marines and their families for their unwavering commitment and dedication to our Navy and nation. They have earned a heroes welcome home."
America is the first ship of its class, replacing the Tawara-class of amphibious assault ships. As the next generation "big-deck" amphibious ship, America is optimized for aviation, capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.
America will be in homeport for a few weeks to give the crew some well deserved time off before the ship begins its voyage toward San Francisco for the ship's commissioning. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned Oct. 11.