USS Mesa Verde Returns from Operating at the ‘Tip of the Spear’

“Of all the ships I have served on since joining the Navy in 1985, this is by far the most capable of sustained operations in austere environments. She has performed beyond expectations, both operationally and materially, during both deployments. These are the greatest amphibious warships ever to put to sea. They are destroyers in amphib clothing, capable of operating in multiple tactical arenas.CDR John Reilly, USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) Commanding Officer

Team MESA VERDE (LPD 19) returned home to Norfolk today after 321 days away from its homeport.

The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) returned home, following a historic 10½ month deployment to the 5th and 6th fleet areas of responsibility. The ARG includes amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde, commanded by CDR John Reilly. He writes the following post on the deployment and the team that made it a success.

 

Early last year, Mesa Verde deployed after having just returned from its maiden deployment only seven months earlier. Called upon to execute the CNO’s sailing directions to focus on WARFIGHTING FIRST, we headed to the Mediterranean and 5th Fleet to OPERATE FORWARD, taking advantage of the unique capabilities of the LPD-17 class ship to consolidate large, effective, groups of Marines, disaggregated from the main Amphibious Ready Group but still mission-ready.

LPD-19 carries 60 days of sustainment aboard and has excellent fuel economy, which enabled us to go long periods of time without replenishment. With its modern combat systems platform making it capable of rigorous self-defense, Mesa Verde was chosen to operate alone in an active war zone. LPD-19 Sailors exercised their warfighting skills as they maintained Air Defense Commander and Mine Warfare Commander roles while embarked by the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander. Our team was responsible for executing countless contingency missions, including the re-opening of the United States embassy in Libya.

Working together with elements from 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit was awesome. The teamwork displayed helped build lifelong, professional relationships that will make future embarkations even more successful for the Navy-Marine Corps team.

This deployment provided great opportunities for us all. In addition to standing watch and maintaining our equipment, we trained for any possibility. We stayed busy completing correspondence courses and Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualifications. We worked out in our gym, ran the ramps or around our flight deck.  We enjoyed swim calls in many of the seven seas, and port visits to several historic ports-of-call.

Through it all, since commissioning, the Mesa Verde team has been deployed more than it has been in and round its homeport. What makes this so impressive is the performance of this ship and this outstanding team.

A special ship demands a special crew and we have just that on LPD-19. They have come together to excel, to take on the difficult, to make “sustained, superior performance” a standard at the “tip of the spear,” time after time.

And now we are home, after another job well done.

Sailors and Marines form a Navy "N" aboard San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) during the making of a spirit video for the Navy versus Army game.

Sailors prepare for mooring operations as the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) arrives for a routine port visit to Crete.

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) participates in a VBSS exercise.

Sailors and Marines from the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU 22) provide medical care and assistance to Moroccan mariners.

Sailors stand watch on the bridge aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) in preparation for pulling into in Rota, Spain.

A CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter assigned to the Thunder Chickens of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 launches from the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19).