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Homeland Security

San Antonio's Crew Responds to Hurricane Impact

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050916-05
Release Date: 9/16/2005 8:55:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class Anthony C. Tornetta, USS San Antonio Public Affairs

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- USS San Antonio (LPD 17) Sailors, undeterred by 140 mile-per-hour winds, provided vital support during and after Hurricane Katrina's impact here.

“This was a bad storm, and our Sailors responded immediately to every challenge faced during and after the storm,” said Command Master Chief Willie Desantiago. “This says a lot about the San Antonio crew, especially during a storm of this magnitude.”

Hurricane Katrina’s Category 4 winds and associated storm-surge caused tremendous damage to the local area. San Antonio, while pierside at the shipyard, took the full force of the storm, but stood strong.

“This is one tough ship,” said Cmdr. Jon Padfield, San Antonio’s commanding officer. “It sustained over 140 mile-per-hour winds and a 25-foot storm surge. This is one tough crew, as well. They, like their ship, withstood this catastrophic disaster magnificently.”

“We were ready to act fast and did exactly what we were trained to do,” said Fireman Brandon Plunkett, a hull technician in San Antonio’s Engineering Department. “It was a total team effort. We put our Navy training to work without even thinking about it.”

Prior to the storm, the only way off and on the ship was via a brow attached to the flight deck on the ship's port side. However, that brow blew off during the storm. The ship’s crew was immediate in its response, and the deck department opened the port sideport and re-established another brow.

The following morning, the crew ventured outside to assess the storm’s damage. San Antonio had suffered no significant damage.

San Antonio’s crew began relief efforts by cleaning up the pier alongside the ship. They cleared debris that had gathered pierside and tangled in the mooring lines.

“The crew is doing an outstanding job, and they’re not finished yet,” said Desantiago.

After cleaning the pier and ensuring the ship was steadied, the crew began to assist with local Pascagoula relief efforts. Sailors helped clear the shipyard and teamed with shipyard security forces to stand guard duties.

The ship’s crew coordinated the port arrival of USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), and 23 crew members performed as linehandlers when the hospital ship arrived in Pascagoula, Miss. Sept. 9, to lend relief effort support and humanitarian assistance.

In addition, San Antonio Command Chaplain Lt. David L. Mowbray led teams of Sailors into the community to help those in need, including assisting the Alabama National Guard with distributing water and ice.

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