News: USS San Antonio sailors work with Marines
Story by Lance Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels
ABOARD USS SAN ANTONIO, At Sea – Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 has allowed sailors aboard the USS San Antonio an opportunity to once again work with Marines and Marine Corps equipment, something the ship’s crew has not handled in more than three years.
“The last time we had Marines aboard was when we deployed Oct. 2008,” said Cmdr. Neil Koprowski, commanding officer of the USS San Antonio, “but since then we had very limited amounts of Marines.”
According to the USS San Antonio mission statement, the ship is the first amphibious transport dock of the 12-ship San Antonio class. This ship class was designed to transport and land Marines and their equipment by embarked landing craft, air cushion; conventional landing craft; and amphibious assault vehicles. It is expected to support amphibious assaults, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st century.
“For us it’s been very exciting and rewarding to bring on the Marines and actually have those troop berthings used,” said Koprowski. “I have been here for 20 months, and this is the first time I have seen Marines aboard. It’s so exciting to have the gear loaded in the well decks that have been empty for so long.”
Seaman Shydia Azeez, an interior communications electrician aboard the ship, said she was excited about having Marines aboard the ship and doing what the USS San Antonio was built for. The New York native said she was worried about the ship being too crowded, but the Marines onboard have given no problems.
“The shear space and the shear amenities that we provide makes it a win for the Marine Corps and Navy team,” said Koprowski. “It’s about the cooperation and the teamwork and them coming together and working as a team.”
“In the end we get the job done,” said Sgt. Nicholas Bright, a HMLA-167 flight line mechanic. “The Navy is really easy to work with because we get along well. Even though we are different branches, we are all people working together to achieve the same mission.”
During Bold Alligator, the landing dock platform carried out many exercises including ship retrievals, loading and unloading equipment, and working with coalition forces.
Through its successful training events during Exercise Bold Alligator, the San Antonio showed what it’s truly capable of.
“I think what it is saying is the San Antonio is back, and she is back with a vengeance to do what she has to do,” said Koprowski.