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USS Pearl Harbor Celebrates 10 Years of Active Service in the Fleet

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080602-06
Release Date: 6/2/2008 5:23:00 AM

By Ensign Frank Golbeck, USS Pearl Harbor Public Affairs

USS PEARL HARBOR, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) observed the 10th anniversary of the ship's commissioning May 30, with a day of special activities.

"The ship continues today what she started 10 years ago - good work through the efforts of her crew," said Cmdr. Xavier Valverde, Pearl Harbor's commanding officer.

"Pearl Harbor has aged gracefully," said Valverde, who has special ties to Pearl Harbor because he was the ship's first lieutenant when it was commissioned in 1998.

To commemorate the 10th birthday, the ship's crew, embarked Marines, and the Sailors of the embarked Assault Craft Unit 5 assembled on the flight deck in their dress whites and desert camouflage uniforms, spelling out "Happy 10th" for an aerial photograph.

The formation took up half of the ship's flight deck that was already loaded down with gear of the embarked Combat Logistics Battalion of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Following the aerial photo, everyone on board enjoyed an outstanding meal of beef chateaubriand and lobster. A cake-cutting ceremony on the mess decks followed the meal.

Pearl Harbor was commissioned May 30, 1998 as the last LSD-class ship in the U.S. Navy. More than 10,000 guests attend the commissioning ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., including numerous survivors from the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today, Pearl Harbor is operating as part of the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group (PELESG) that left its homeport of San Diego May 4, on a regularly scheduled deployment.

The day had special significance to the crew, as earlier in the day it was a lookout from Pearl Harbor who first spotted a sinking vessel in the Baalbek Strait near the Republic of the Philippines. Six mariners were later rescued by another ship in the PELESG.

"It was an awesome day on board the mighty warship Pearl Harbor," said Seaman Jonathan Dirst, the lookout that spotted the sinking vessel.

The PELESG is led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3 and includes the flag ship, USS Peleliu (LHA 5), amphibious ships Pearl Harbor and USS Dubuque (LPD 8), the guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Halsey (DDG 97) and USS Benfold (DDG 65).

For more news from USS Peleliu - Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5/.

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