USNS Lewis B. Puller Begins First Operational Deployment
NORFOLK, Va. — The U.S. Navy’s first purpose-built expeditionary sea base, USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3), departed from Naval Station Norfolk to begin its first operational deployment July 10, the service said in a July 11 release.
Puller is deploying to the U.S. Fifth Fleet to provide operational support for U.S. Navy and allied forces operating in the region.
“We call ourselves ‘Team Puller,’” said Cmdr. Arlen Rose, the military detachment’s officer in charge. “The Puller is a brand-new ship, so we had a lot to learn. The military crew has been training with the ship’s civil service mariners for a year to prepare for this deployment.
“We are ready to get Puller out there to takes its rightful place in the fleet,” Rose added. “Everyone is really excited to get to work and see what the Puller can do.”
USNS Lewis B. Puller was delivered to the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Comman in June 2015. The ship has a hybrid-manned crew with a combination of military personnel and civilian mariners (CIVMARs).
“The CIVMARs aboard Puller primarily focus on the operation of the ship,” said Capt. George McCarthy, the ship’s master. “The CIVMARs perform a variety of critical tasks including navigation, propulsion and ventilation services.”
The 784-foot-long vessel features a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, repair spaces, magazines and mission-planning spaces. Able to accommodate up to 250 personnel, USNS Lewis B. Puller will support multiple missions, such as air mine counter measures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions, and crisis response operations.
According to McCarthy, Puller is going to be permanently deployed overseas, which saves a tremendous amount of time in terms of operations. So, the ship’s maintenance, repairs and crew swaps will take place in theater.
USNS Lewis B. Puller is named after Lt. Gen, Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, one of the most decorated members of the Marine Corps. The ship is the expeditionary sea base-variant of the expeditionary transfer dock (ESD) class that includes USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1) and USNS John Glenn (T-ESD 2). The second expeditionary sea base, USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams (T-ESB 4), currently is under construction by General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego.