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Nashville Returns After Six-Month Deployment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS061208-11
Release Date: 12/8/2006 11:45:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kelly E. Barnes, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors manned the rails Dec. 6 as the amphibious transport dock USS Nashville (LPD 13) returned to her homeport of Naval Station Norfolk.

Nashville, which deployed in June with a crew of 800 Sailors and Marines, participated in the evacuation of more than 2,000 American citizens as a member of Joint Task Force (JTF) Lebanon.

“It was the most evacuees from one place since probably the Vietnam era; our ship looked like a refugee camp,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bradley T. Borden, Nashville’s executive officer.

Borden said the crew was professional during the four-day operation, which lasted from July 20-24.

“I served with the best Americans, the best Sailors and the best Marines,” said Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, Nashville’s commanding officer.

The crew made three trips to Lebanon over the four-day period.

“We’d clean the ship, get some rest and get ready to do it all over again,” said Borden.

In August, the crew faced another significant challenge, said Mewbourne. In the middle of the night, a fire broke out in the laundry room and the ship was called to general quarters for the crew to combat it.

“The crew fought courageously for more than five hours against an intense blaze within the smoke-filled ship, minimizing damage to one space,” said Mewbourne. “Their actions can only be described as heroic.”

The fire began when a bag of clothing came into contact with a hot piece of metal that was left exposed, said Mewbourne. Seven berthing areas surrounded the laundry room making the situation potentially deadly.

Over a span of 42 days the laundry room was restored to full-capacity service with the help of contractors from Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates.

The last leg of Nashville’s deployment was a tiger cruise where friends and family embarked the ship at Morehead City, N.C., to ride Nashville back to Norfolk.

During the Tiger Cruise, the ship hosted weapons demonstrations, helicopter fly-bys and demonstrated a “leap frog” with the guided-missile destroyer, USS Cole (DDG 67), where the ships circle each other on both port and starboard sides.

“I wanted friends and family of the Sailors to see firsthand the great pride and service of the crew that I enjoy seeing every day,” said Mewbourne.

“We left with three goals. Goal number one was to make America proud by achieving excellence in every undertaking. Goal number two was to bring everybody back safely. Goal number three was to bring Nashville and her crew home in better shape than when we left,” said Mewbourne.

“As we return today, I’m very proud to say all three goals were met,” Mewborne.

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