View Full Version : Uss San Antonio Playing Vital Role

01-16-06, 05:49 AM

INGLESIDE, Texas (AP) - With a loud "aye, aye" from its crew and praises from President George H.W. Bush, the first warship named after San Antonio went into service.

"Everyone who helped design and build this ship, everyone who will serve aboard this ship, is playing a vital role in protecting America's interests around the globe," Bush said at a commissioning ceremony for the USS San Antonio.

More than 6,000 people attended Saturday's ceremony at Naval Station Ingleside and watched as U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, ordered the crew of officers to "man our ship and bring her to life."

The vessel has the same "Never surrender, never retreat" motto linked with William Travis and Texas's most famous military battle.

"When Travis was demanded to surrender, he answered with a cannon shot," Hutchison said.

The USS San Antonio, the first of the Navy's new class of amphibious landing ships, has stitched the Alamo's distinctive facade into its ship crest.

It has a crew of 360 sailors and can haul up to 800 Marines and their equipment. Its flight deck and hangar area can accommodate up to three heavy-lift helicopters, such as the Marine Corps' CH-53 Sea Stallion, or five smaller aircraft. The cargo bay has room for two watercraft, each capable of carrying 60 tons of gear at a time.

The San Antonio also has two surgical theaters, a 24-bed infirmary and other medical facilities. Its sleeping berths have more headroom and slide-out platforms for laptop computers, and its food service options include the King Ranch Cafe - a Western-themed dining area with faux hardwood floors and framed photos of horses and cattle drives.

Built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, the vessel cost $1.76 billion, about three times the projected cost. It endured years of delays, withstood Hurricane Katrina and must still go through training before it's deployed in 2008.