A new floating sea base named after the most decorated Marine in history is being commissioned Thursday in Bahrain.
The USS Lewis B. Puller is an expeditionary sea base with a large deck that will be used to launch helicopters, amphibious assault vehicles and other smaller vessels to support regional maritime operations.
It will replace the USS Ponce, an amphibious transport dock that supported missions in the Persian Gulf and other areas in the 5th Fleet theater. It is scheduled to be decommissioned next year.
The new vessel is the second ship named after Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller, a World War II and Korean War combat veteran who earned five Navy Crosses and the Distinguished Service Cross. Those awards are second only to the Medal of Honor in recognizing valor.
“His example lives not just in every Marine but in every service member who faithfully serves our nation,” Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said in a statement. “Today’s commissioning of USS Lewis B. Puller continues that legacy.”
Capt. Adan G. Cruz will command the new vessel, whose crew will consist of both sailors and civilian mariners.
It will have two helicopter hangars, storage for four mine-sweeping hydrofoil sleds and cranes that lower vessels into the water instead of lowering the deck until it’s submerged.
Puller earned his first two Navy Crosses during combat in Nicaragua in the early 1930s; he earned his third and fourth in fierce battles against the Japanese in the in World War II. He was awarded his fifth Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross for leading a regiment that fended off enemy forces in Korea, despite being heavily outnumbered.
The first ship named for Fuller was a guided-missile frigate used from 1982 to 1998. It was transferred to the Egyptian navy and renamed the Toushka.
The Puller will work with the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams, a sea base under construction, to handle less-intensive missions so warships can focus on more demanding operations in the Middle East and Pacific, the Navy said.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A U.S. F/A-18 fighter jet suffering an engine problem crash landed Saturday at Bahrain International Airport and its pilot ejected from the aircraft after it ran off the runway, authorities said. The pilot escaped unharmed.
The crash disrupted flights to and from the island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia that’s home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Images on social media showed the grey fighter jet’s nose tipped into the air but largely intact after what the Navy described as an “uncontrollable” landing.
The F/A-18 took off from the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier now in the Persian Gulf, said Cmdr. Bill Urban, a fleet spokesman. While in flight, the plane suffered an engine malfunction, forcing the pilot to divert, Urban said.
The pilot initially tried to land at Sheikh Isa Air Base in Bahrain, but instead ended up at the island’s commercial airport, Urban said.
“Due to the malfunction, the aircraft could not be stopped on the runway and the pilot ejected from the aircraft as it departed the runway,” the commander said in a statement.
Naval officials began an investigation into the crash and were trying to help the airport resume operations, Urban said. Bahrain’s Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry called the crash landing a “minor incident” in a statement and said flights resumed at the airport several hours later.
Bahrain hosts 8,000 U.S. troops, mostly sailors attached to a sprawling base called the Naval Support Activity. Officials at that facility oversee some 20 U.S. and coalition naval vessels in the Gulf providing security and others running anti-piracy patrols.
Bahrain is also home to an under-construction British naval base.