USS John Murtha calls on Barbados
Barbados today served as the first port of call for the USS John Murtha when it set out on its maiden voyage, after four years of being under construction.
The impressive, 25,000-ton vessel, named after United States Congressman John Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, docked in the Bridgetown Port this morning.
Commanding Officer Captain Kevin Parker said the ship is in the island to expand partnerships.
“We are representing the United States in interacting with the Regional Security System,” he explained, adding that while the USS John Murtha is a multi-mission vessel its tour of duty can involve humanitarian relief missions, enforcing and protecting maritime security and responding to military crisis.
While it is docked here, sailors will carry out some projects in Bridgetown, but Parker said they would also take in the island and interact with locals.
“It doesn’t make sense to visit an island like Barbados and not get out there and meet people and see what the whole island has to offer, so the crew is really looking forward to it,” he said.
The USS John Murtha has 389 crew members of various nationalities, but it can accommodate as many as 800.
It moves at a speed of 22 knots (25 mph) and is armed with two 30 mm Bushmaster II cannons for surface threat defence, and two Rolling Airframe Missile launchers for air defence. The ship also had an on-board hospital which is fully functional for complex operations. The deck can land up to four small helicopters simultaneously.
The vessel will be commissioned on its return to the US in October to become an official part of the US fleet.