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    Manhattan Beach Native Serves aboard Future USS Fort Lauderdale



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Knight 

    USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28)

    A native of Manhattan Beach, CA, is serving aboard one of the nation’s newest, most-versatile warships, the future USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28).

    Ensign Kaleo Kinimaka-Ahkoi is a 2015 Mira Costa High School and 2019 George Washington University graduate. According to Kinimaka-Ahkoi, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Manhattan Beach.

    “I am incredibly fortunate to have received a great education from my home town and from my university, and that baseline education endowed me with a questioning attitude that is incredibly important to have in the Navy,” said Kinimaka-Ahkoi. “Specifically, my high school’s Model United Nations program greatly sharpened my public speaking, research, leadership, and interpersonal skills. These skills have allowed me to hit the ground running from Officer Candidate School through my arrival aboard USS Fort Lauderdale.”

    LPDs are used to transport and land Marines, their equipment, and supplies by embarked Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft (MV 22). These ships support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions and serve as secondary aviation platforms for amphibious operations.

    The future USS Fort Lauderdale is the 12th LPD 17 San Antonio Class ship and the first to be named for Fort Lauderdale.

    The ship sponsors is The Honorable Meredith A. Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment), will give the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life.”

    Kinimaka-Ahkoi serves as the Combat Electronics Division Officer (CE DIVO). He works with Interior Communication Electricians (ICs) and Electronics Technicians (ETs) on various equipment all over the ship. Their equipment includes the ship’s RADAR systems, ship’s general announcing system, office phones, and hand-held radios. Combat Electronics Division (CE) maintains equipment from the top of the ship’s mast to underneath the hull. The wide range of equipment covered by CE leads to the ETs lightheartedly being referred to as “everything technicians.”

    “I love that the equipment that our division works with touches nearly every part of the ship,” Kinimaka-Ahkoi said. “Walking around the ship with the CE technicians reinforces the understanding that—despite every division of the ship operating independently—all of the divisions work in tandem to keep the ship operating. I also love the incredible depth of knowledge all of the technicians I work with possess. I never expected to learn so much about advanced electronic systems in such a short amount of time. “

    The Surface Force is focused on providing lethal, ready, well-trained, and logistically supported surface forces to fight today and in the future. The highly professional men and women serving aboard USS Fort Lauderdale are some of our nation’s best and brightest and are typical of the talented Sailors on duty in our Navy around the world today. They are prepared to go into harm’s way, properly trained, and ready to carry out orders in defense of our nation’s freedom.

    “I am incredibly proud of our crew for their exceptional performance and commitment to excellence as we worked toward the commissioning of USS Fort Lauderdale, Commanding Officer, Capt. James Quaresimo. “We are honored to carry the name Fort Lauderdale into the fleet."

    According to Navy officials, maintaining maritime superiority is a vital part of a Navy that is present today and prepared for tomorrow. The impact affects Americans and their interests around the world, as more than 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water and 90 percent of all trade travels by sea.

    The foundation of the Navy the nation needs includes a focus on warfighting, warfighters and the future of the fighting force.

    “I am confident that we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “We will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”

    Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction within their command, community and career, Kinimaka-Ahkoi is most proud of seeing the Sailors I work with being recognized for their incredible devotion to their work in getting USS Fort Lauderdale ready to sail away from the shipyard.

    “Seeing my sailors succeed in preparing to get underway is my proudest accomplishment because I believe that creating favorable conditions for their success is the most important function of a Division Officer,” said Kinimaka-Ahkoi. “CE Division maintains vital equipment for the safe navigation of our ship, and seeing our systems come online throughout the process of getting ready to sail away through the work of CE sailors is incredible. Leading CE is both an accomplishment and a privilege to me because I have the ability to work for my sailors to ensure their success and I get to see USS Fort Lauderdale safely get underway from Mississippi utilizing the navigational equipment that CE maintains.”

    Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Kinimaka-Ahkoi, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Kinimaka-Ahkoi is honored to carry on the family tradition.

    “My grandfather, Thomas Brown, served in the Army during the Vietnam conflict,” Kinimaka-Ahkoi said proudly. “He was awarded a Purple Heart during his time there. Also, my great-grandfather, Burr Zachary, served as an officer in the Navy’s Medical Corps during the Second World War.”

    As a member of one of the U.S. Navy, Kinimaka-Ahkoi, as well as other Sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

    “To me, serving in the Navy means giving back to the country that has afforded me many luxuries and opportunities,” said Kinimaka-Ahkoi. Serving is a great opportunity to meet different people from various walks of life and to grow closer with them through our shared experiences, while also learning new skills and contributing to our nation’s collective well-being. Whenever I am thanked for my service, I always thank the person telling me for their support because—without their support—I would not have the privilege to serve and experience so many unique opportunities.”

    The ceremony will be livestreamed to allow viewing by the public at

    For more news on PCU Fort Lauderdale (LPD 28) visit



    Date Taken: 08.01.2022
    Date Posted: 08.03.2022 21:20
    Story ID: 426475
    Location: MANHATTAN BEACH, CA, US 

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