Last updated 11:32PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
USS Mesa Verde To Be Commissioned
(2007-12-14)
TOP: The USS Mesa Verde on a recent shakedown cruise.

BOTTOM: A depiction of a Mesa Verde structure is prominent in the ship's seal.
(Courtesy: www.mesa-verde.navy.mil)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: The U.S. Navy's newest warship, which bears the name of Mesa Verde National Park, will be commissioned tomorrow in Panama City, Florida.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

LOBREE: SHE'S A TERRIFIC SHIP. THIS ISN'T JUST A LITTLE TUGBOAT, THIS IS A REALLY LARGE SIGNIFICANT WARSHIP.
Commander Shawn Lobree is talking about the U.S.S. Mesa Verde, a 1-point-3 billion dollar, amphibious transport dock ship which will be officially pressed into service, or commissioned tomorrow.
The Mesa Verde, you may recall, was officially christened by ship sponsor, former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell's wife Linda Campbell, in January 2005.
The Mesa Verde is 684 feet long, weighs almost 25 thousand tons, is staffed by 360 sailors and 3 marines and can accomodate 14 assault vehicles and up to four helicopters or Osprey aircraft.
It can transport as many as 800 troops.
It's the third largest type of ship in the U.S. fleet, behind aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.
Commander Lobree says the Northrup Grumman built ship underwent two sea trials in August and September.
LOBREEE: WE OPERATED HELICOPTERS, LANDING CRAFT, FIRED OUR GUNS, COMMUNICATED ON ALL OF OUR RADIOS AND WITH OUR COMPUTERS, AND THINGS ARE JUST GOING REAL WELL.
The crew moved on board in October.
The ship will now undergo two years of shakeout exercises, before it's deployed officially in late 2009 or 2010.
Lobree says the Mesa Verde bears more than just the name of the national park here in Southwest Colorado.
He says it's a tribute to Native Americans.
LOBREE: THE GALLEY AND THE MESS DECKS ON THE SHIP WHERE THE CREW EATS, WE'VE NAMED THE CLIFF PALACE CAFE, AND WE'VE GOT IT APPROPRIATELY DECORATED SO THE CREW GETS A DAILY REMINDER OF WHAT OUR HERITAGE IS AND WHAT THE NAMESAKE'S ALL ABOUT. WE'VE ALSO CREATED A SMALL MUSEUM FOR THE SHIP THAT WE'RE BEGINNING TO POPULATE WITH MEMORABILIA AND ARTIFACTS TO HONOR OUR HERITAGE AND OUR NAMESAKE. SO THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF SPECIAL THINGS ALL OVER THE SHIP THAT HELP REMIND THE CREW OF WHAT OUR NAMESAKE IS ALL ABOUT. I ALSO THINK THAT NATIVE AMERICANS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY ARE REALLY PROUD OF THIS SHIP AND OUR NAMESAKE AND OUR TIES TO NATIVE AMERICANS.
Numerous artifacts from several four corners tribes, including the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni are on board the ship, donated for christening two years ago.
The ships newsletter is appropriately named, The Petroglyph.
It's seal includes a depiction of a structure at Mesa Verde.
Lobree says the crew is very familiar with the history of Mesa Verde and the region.
Several dozen crewmembers and their families have visited the park, mostly last year during Mesa Verde's Centennial celebration in June and July.
Lobree himself has been to Mesa Verde three times in the last two years.
The commissioning takes place Saturday morning, at ten a.m. Colorado Time and can be viewed life online by going to ccmesaverde.com.
Lobree says you can also read more about the ship at it's official website, mesa-verde.navy.mil.
LOBREE: IT'S A REALLY BIG, MAGNIFICENT, BEAUTIFUL SHIP.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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