By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin Schoenberger
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) departed Souda Bay, Greece, after a scheduled port visit for San Diego’s mid-deployment voyage repair maintenance visit Oct. 21, 2017.
San Diego’s port visit allowed the crew and contractors to conduct vital repairs, maintenance and ensure the ship remained in operational condition for its deployment.
“We had contractors come out to our ship to help us understand the technical side of some of the maintenance we needed to get done,” said Engineman 2nd Class Tyler Foster, assigned to San Diego’s engineering department.
San Diego also had the chance to complete paint and preservation projects to reduce corrosion on the outside of the ship.
“We were able to paint most of the side of the ship during our stay in Souda Bay,” said Seaman Andrew Picard, assigned to San Diego’s deck department. “We busted rust with our needle guns, primed that area, then painted the side with the glorious haze grey.”
It wasn’t “all work and no play” for the Sailors and Marines aboard San Diego. After preservation and maintenance was completed, they were able to go out and experience the local culture.
“After the work day, we had the opportunity to take a bus to Chania,” said Operations Specialist Seaman Bernard Rolfes, assigned to the operations department aboard San Diego. “I had such a great time immersing myself into the culture and shopping.”
The Sailors and Marines also participated in recreational activities through Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) including a shopping tour of the city’s leather district, a tour inside the 100-year-old cellars of a traditional winery, visiting the cave where the Greek god Zeus was born, and a hiking trip through many of the beautiful villages and gorges.
“Taking one of the MWR tours was one of the best decisions I made,” said Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Seaman Matthew Poliks, assigned to the operations department aboard San Diego. “There’s so much I saw that I would have never thought of looking at when coming to Crete.”
During the port visit, a softball game took place with teams made up of Sailors and Marines. The Naval Support Activity Souda Bay base also put together a team to play against the ship.
“I had such a great time playing softball,” said Seaman Daniel Roberts, assigned to the deck department. “It had been such a long time since I had played a sport and it felt good.”
San Diego is deployed with the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to support maritime security and theater security cooperation in efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
Commissioned in 2012, San Diego is the sixth ship in the San Antonio-class of amphibious landing transport dock ships. Designed as a multi-mission amphibious warship, these ships are able to support a broad range of expeditionary operations. The ship’s namesake comes from the city of San Diego which has a long mutual history with the U.S. Navy and is the fourth U.S. vessel to bear the name.
The America ARG and 15th MEU provide senior U.S. military leadership and partners with a flexible force which can rapidly respond to contingencies and crises within a region. With ships, aircraft, troops, and logistical equipment, the ARG/MEU is a self-contained and self-sustained task force capable of conducting a wide range of military operations including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The America ARG, led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3, consists of San Diego, the America-class amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), and the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52). They will operate with embarked forces of the 15th MEU, the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, and detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Naval Beach Group 1, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 1 and Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 11.
The 15th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 (Reinforced); a combat logistics element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15.