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Families and friends wait for their loved ones aboard the USS San Diego (LPD22) at Naval Base San Diego, April 6. The ship arrived after a maiden voyage that took it to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Cartagena, Colombia.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Heidi E. Agostini

USS San Diego arrives at its namesake home port

6 Apr 2012 | Lance Cpl. Joshua Young

The USS San Diego arrived at its home port at Naval Base San Diego, Calif., April 6.

The ship was constructed over a period of five years in Pascagoula, Miss. The San Diego traveled on its maiden voyage through the Panama Canal and made stops in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Cartagena, Colombia.

The San Diego is the first ship in U.S. history to settle at its home port in the city it is named after and is the fourth ship to bear its name. The ship left Mississippi last month to begin its journey to its namesake port at Naval Base San Diego, Calif.

“It’s been a fantastic couple of weeks,” said Cmdr. Kevin Meyers, the commanding officer of the USS San Diego. “We made a brief stop in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, then through the Panama Canal and we pulled in this morning. There’s nothing but great ships in San Diego, but the ship named ‘San Diego’ should be the town’s favorite.”

The ship is a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, which is designed to carry cargo, amphibious vehicles and military aircraft.

“It’s a pretty robust ship when you load it with all the cargo, the Marines and with all the different weapon systems whether it is for humanitarian assistance or combat operations,” said Meyers

The San Diego is more than 650-feet long and can carry up to approximately 800 service members.

“It can carry a platoon of amphibious assault vehicles,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ricardo Rivera, the combat cargo officer of the USS San Diego. “We can take tanks and almost any other vehicle that the Marine Corps has in its inventory.”

The well deck can raise and lower. The ship lowers the deck to allow water in to ease the passage of amphibious vehicles.

“Our main thing is that we are a transport dock,” said Seaman Andrew D’lessio, a yeoman aboard the USS San Diego. “We can carry all types of different vehicles that get stored in the vehicle decks.”

The flight deck is large enough to land two MV-22 Ospreys, four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, two CH-53 Sea Stallions, four UH-1Y Venoms, or four AH-1Z Vipers simultaneously.
The ship will be commissioned, May 19, at the Navy pier, across from the USS Midway museum in San Diego, Calif.