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Release No: 823-09
October 21, 2009

Navy to Commission Energy-Efficient Amphibious Assault Ship Makin Island

                The Navy will commission the amphibious assault ship Makin Island, Saturday, Oct. 24, during a 10 a.m. PDT ceremony at North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado, Calif.  


                Makin Island is named for the daring raid carried out by Marine Corps Companies Alpha and Bravo, Second Raider Battalion, on the Japanese-held Makin Island, in the Gilbert Islands, on Aug. 17-18, 1942.  The raid was launched from the submarines USS Nautilus and USS Argonaut and succeeded in routing the enemy forces based there, gaining valuable intelligence.  Twenty-three Navy Crosses were awarded for actions during the raid, including to the raid’s leader, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Evans Carlson, and executive officer, Marine Corps Maj. James Roosevelt (son of President Franklin Roosevelt).  Marine Corps Sgt. Clyde Thomason was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism during the raid and was the first enlisted Marine to be so honored during World War II.  One previous ship, a Casablanca-class escort aircraft carrier (1944-1946), has borne the name Makin Island, and received five battle stars for World War II service.


                Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, will deliver the ceremony's principal address.  Silke Hagee, wife of former commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee, will serve as ship's sponsor.  In the time honored Navy tradition, she will give the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"


                Makin Island is the eighth Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Second only to an aircraft carrier in size, LHDs embark, transport, deploy, command and fully support an expeditionary unit of 2,000 Marines.  Makin Island can accommodate three landing craft air cushion, a squadron of AV-8B Harrier II aircraft, and a full range of Navy/Marine Corps helicopters and amphibious vehicles to perform sea control and limited power projection missions.


                Makin Island is the first Navy amphibious assault ship to replace steam boilers with gas turbines, and the first Navy surface ship to be equipped with both gas turbines and an auxiliary propulsion system.  By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship’s lifecycle to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, further demonstrating the Navy’s commitment to energy awareness and conservation.


                Makin Island is fully equipped with command, control, communication, computers and intelligence systems for flagship command duty.  The afloat capability of Makin Island’s medical facility is second only to the Navy's hospital ships.  The ship is armed with two NATO Sea Sparrow surface missile systems for anti-air warfare protection, two rolling airframe missile systems and two Phalanx close-in-weapons systems mounts to counter threats from low flying aircraft.  Six missile decoy launchers augment the anti-ship missile defenses.


                Capt. Robert Kopas, born in Cleveland and raised in Phoenix, is the ship’s commanding officer.  Built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, Miss., the ship is 844 feet in length with a 106-foot beam, and has living areas for nearly 3,200 crewmembers and embarked forces.  


                Upon commissioning, the ship becomes a member of U.S. Pacific Fleet as part of Amphibious Group Three and will be home ported in San Diego. 


                Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.  For more information visit  the ship's Web site at http://www.makin-island.navy.mil/default.htm.


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