USNS Choctaw County sails for Star-Spangled Spectacular in Baltimore

  capt delfausUSNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2) departed Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia, today, sailing for Baltimore to celebrate the Star-Spangled Spectacular. The following blog is by Choctaw County’s civil service master, Capt. Jose Delfaus.

Welcome aboard Choctaw County, the second of 10 planned joint high-speed vessels for our Navy. This great ship officially became a part of the Navy’s non-combatant fleet last summer, and our time in Baltimore marks our first official port visit.

We are particularly pleased to join other Navy ships and partner navy vessels to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner, the poem penned by Francis Scott Key that later became our national anthem. The city of Baltimore also has a proud maritime history, with significant contributions from merchant mariners during the War of 1812.

My civil service mariner crew and I are proud to participate in the Star Spangled Spectacular, and are honored to host Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus as Choctaw County sails into the Inner Harbor.

We have a full schedule while in Baltimore. I invite everyone who comes aboard to take advantage of a visit and get a sense of the ship’s broad potential for supporting warfighters. We’re delighted to host members of the public, the media and our Navy colleagues. And we are very excited to host more than 180 service members and their families, courtesy of the USO, to watch Saturday night’s concert and fireworks from the very best seats in the house – Choctaw County’s flight deck.

For this visit, Choctaw County’s 20,000-square foot mission bay holds a Riverine Patrol Boat, land-based vehicles, a diving chamber and a variety of other displays from Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard. These exhibits demonstrate just a fraction of the capabilities that Choctaw County and its sister ships can provide to operations worldwide.

(U.S. Navy photo/Released)

(U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Joint high-speed vessels are fast, flexible and maneuverable, enabling rapid intra-theater transport. Mission bay spaces can quickly be reconfigured for multiple mission types, everything from humanitarian aid and disaster relief to safely delivering tanks and personnel. Although we don’t have any aboard right now, our flight deck is certified for aircraft up to and including a CH-53 Super Stallion.

No two ways about it, this ship is really well designed for moving a significant amount of people and equipment quickly – 1,200 nautical miles at about 35 knots. But the first ship in the JHSV class – USNS Spearhead – explored other possible capabilities and missions during its maiden deployment, including theater security cooperation, non-combatant evacuations and counter-illicit trafficking detection and monitoring.

GULF OF GUINEA (March 27, 2014) A Sailor throws a UAV from USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1)during flight operations as part of a U.S. and Ghana navy combined maritime law enforcement operation.  (U.S. Navy photo by MCSN Justin R. DiNiro/Released)

GULF OF GUINEA (March 27, 2014) A Sailor throws a UAV from USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1)during flight operations as part of a U.S. and Ghana navy combined maritime law enforcement operation. (U.S. Navy photo by MCSN Justin R. DiNiro/Released)

We’re proud of this ship, and we look forward to showcasing it while we’re at Pier 5 in Baltimore’s beautiful Inner Harbor. Please take a look at Military Sealift Command’s Facebook page and Twitter handle (@MSCsealift) for updates on public visits and other information.

Again, welcome aboard Choctaw County.

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