USNS Puller Christened at NASSCO

 

April 2015

 

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New jobs for SIU Government Services Division members are on the horizon following the Feb. 7 christening of the USNS Lewis B. Puller in San Diego.

 

SIU Assistant Vice President Government Services Chet Wheeler and Port Agent Jeff Turkus attended the ceremony at General Dynamics NASSCO, a union shipyard. Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., delivered the principal address, along with fellow speakers Rear Adm. Thomas Shannon, commander of the Military Sealift Command (MSC); Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems; and Allison Stiller, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for ships.

 

The Puller is a mobile landing platform (MLP) expected to be used as an afloat forward staging base.

 

Martha Puller Downs, daughter of ship’s namesake, the late Lewis B. Puller, served as the vessel’s sponsor and broke the ceremonial champagne bottle against the hull. Downs said that her father would have wanted her to specifically thank the thousands of welders, electricians, painters and other workers who built the ship. And she said it will serve as a fitting remembrance of Puller, who enjoys a legendary status in the Marine Corps.

 

“This ceremony not only honors a true Marine hero and legend, but also the men and women who have worked so diligently to bring this ship from concept to reality,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus the day before the event. “It is because of their efforts that the future USNS Lewis B. Puller will enable our maritime forces to accomplish myriad missions while operating forward just as Chesty did throughout his nearly 40-year career.”

 

The future USNS Lewis B. Puller (MLP 3) will honor Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Burwell Puller, one of the most decorated Marines in the Corps, and the only Marine ever to receive the Navy Cross five times for heroism and gallantry in action. A Marine officer and enlisted man for 37 years, Lt. Gen. Puller served at sea or overseas for all but 10 of those years. Excluding medals from foreign governments, he earned a total of 14 personal decorations in combat, plus a long list of campaign medals, unit citation ribbons, and other awards. In addition to his Navy Crosses (the next-highest decoration to the Medal of Honor for Naval personnel), he holds its Army equivalent, the Distinguished Service Cross.

 

Slated for delivery in September, the Puller is 785 feet long and has a maximum speed of 15 knots. It features a flight deck and what the Navy described as a “reconfigurable mission deck (that) will serve as an important flexible and transformational asset to the Navy as it can be reconfigured to support a wide variety of future operations.”

 

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