Monday, November 10, 2008

USS Bataan in New York for Veteran's Day, Intrepid Grand Reopening

In this November 3 file photo, the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) steams through the Atlantic Ocean. The Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group is conducting group sail training for their upcoming 2009 deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeremy L. Grisham.)

On the Home Front:

NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2008 -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) arrived in New York City Nov. 5 for a week of community outreach events, public tours and support of the grand reopening of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

The port call is a chance for nearly 1,500 Sailors and Marines to enjoy the sights, shops and food of the Big Apple and to celebrate their service by participating in the city's 89th Veterans Day Parade. They will also join New Yorkers in welcoming the Intrepid Museum back to Pier 86 in Manhattan after a two-year renovation.

"While the main purpose of our visit is to celebrate Veterans Day with the people of New York, we certainly take great pride in being included in the festivities surrounding the Intrepid Museum's reopening," said Capt. San Howard, commanding officer of the Bataan. "The Intrepid has one of the most distinguished service records of any Navy ship, seeing active service in World War II's Pacific theater, including the Marshall Islands, Truk, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa.

"It's important for today's Sailors and Marines to understand their heritage, and Intrepid provides a link to do that."

Launched April 26, 1943, the aircraft carrier Intrepid (CV 11) survived a torpedo and five kamikaze attacks during the war. Later missions included NATO's Operation Strikeback in 1957, recovery of astronaut Scott Carpenter and his Mercury space capsule in 1962, and combat operations off the coast of Vietnam in 1966. Intrepid opened as a floating museum in 1982 and, four years later, was established as a historical landmark.

In addition to supporting Intrepid's reopening, Bataan's Sailors and Marines will visit the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx to thank veterans for their service to the United States. Crew members will eat lunch with veterans, and the ship's gospel choir will perform.

Bataan will be open for public tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9. Navy Band Northeast will perform on Pier 86 at 3 p.m. Nov. 9.

"I'm so excited to be home and to show off my ship to family and friends," said Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Alicia Mendoza of West New York, N.J. "This is an opportunity to show off the Navy, too. The crew is excited to see the city."

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ingrid Cortez of Yonkers, N.Y., grew up attending New York City's many Fleet Week festivities and is glad to be back for a visit – this time in uniform.

"I always wanted to be on a ship that comes home for a port call," Cortez said. "And New Yorkers love Sailors. This is going to be fun. I've even been able to reach out to some friends from high school I haven't seen in 14 years."

Bataan is the fifth of Navy's Wasp-class ships. She was commissioned Sept. 20, 1997, and is the second U.S. Navy warship to bear the name. Bataan carries Navy and Marine Corps aircraft and LCAC Hovercraft to support the ship's primary mission of accomplishing a seamless transition from sea to land battle.

In July, Bataan's crew participated in the 27th annual Boston Harborfest, a six-day Independence Day festival showcasing the colonial and maritime heritage of the birthplace of the American Revolution. And in September, the ship took part in the U.S. Second Fleet-directed HURREX 08-002, testing its ability to respond to humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief needs by exercising search-and-rescue capabilities, conducting evacuations and providing medical assistance during hurricane season. Following HURREX, Bataan participated in Sea-Based Dragon, in which the ship's Navy and Marine Corps team demonstrated the capabilities of the Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) and sea basing, which bring together numerous assets to rapidly deploy, assemble and show command projection, reconstruction and re-employment of joint combat power at sea.

Bataan departed its homeport of Norfolk, Va., Oct. 27 and will also participate in an at-sea group exercise with members of the 22nd Marine Corps Expeditionary Unit and the other ships of the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group before returning to Norfolk later this month.

(Report by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Matt Grills, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic.)

Related: Photo Essay: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Transits to Manhattan Homeport

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