The U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Team will commission its newest amphibious assault ship Bataan (LHD 5) at 11 a.m. (CST) on Saturday, September 20, 1997, in ceremonies at Litton's Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss.
Bataan is the fifth of seven Wasp class amphibious assault ships authorized by Congress to be completed by Ingalls Shipbuilding division of Litton Industries.
Bataan's mission will be to serve as a primary landing ship for assaults from the sea to defend positions ashore.
Amphibious assault ships are specifically designed to remain offshore near troubled areas of the world, ready to send forces ashore quickly by helicopters and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hover craft.
As the centerpiece of a Navy Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG), an LHD is fully capable of both conducting and supporting amphibious assaults, advance force and special purpose operations, and non-combatant evacuation and other humanitarian missions.
LHDs embark, transport, deploy, command and fully support a Marine Expeditionary Unit of 2,000 Marines.
For operational support, Bataan is also capable of carrying a squadron of AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, as well as a full range of Navy/Marine Corps helicopters and amphibious vehicles to perform sea control and limited power projection missions.
Additionally, the ship is equipped with a robust medical capability second only to the Navy's hospital ships, in afloat capability.
The ship's armament includes a NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System for anti-air warfare protection, two Rolling Airframe Missile Systems and two Phalanx Close-In-Weapons System mounts to counter threats from low flying aircraft and close-in small craft.
Six missile decoy launchers augment the anti-ship missile defenses.
Miscellaneous armament include anti-ship missiles, four 50 caliber machine guns, and three 25 mm machine guns.
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will be the ceremony's principal speaker.
Serving as ship's sponsor is Mrs. Linda S. Mundy, wife of General Carl E. Mundy, USMC (Ret.), former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
In the time-honored Navy tradition, Mrs. Mundy will give the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!" A large contingent of Bataan veterans, including survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March, and crewmembers from the first Bataan, will be in attendance for the commissioning.
Bataan will be the second U.S. Navy ship to bear this name, and will be commissioned to commemorate the heroic defense of the Bataan Peninsula on the western side of Manila Bay in the Philippines by U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Filipino forces during the early days of World War II.
The first Bataan (CVL 29), an aircraft carrier, was commissioned in 1943, and earned six battle stars for her World War II service, and seven for her service during the Korean Conflict, before being decommissioned in 1954.
Bataan will join the U.S. Atlantic Fleet with Capt. Craig Wilson, USN, of Virginia Beach, Va., a 1973 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, as the commanding officer.
Bataan will be homeported in Norfolk, Va., as an element of Amphibious Group TWO.
The crew consists of a ships company of 1,200 and a Marine Detachment of 2,000.
The ship is 844 feet in length, with a 106 foot beam.
Two steam propulsion plants, developing a combined 70,000 horsepower, will drive the 40,500 ton ship to speeds in excess of 20 knots.