The future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) transited the Strait of Magellan Aug. 19-20 on her maiden transit, “America Visits the Americas.”
This journey of 365 nautical miles is very rarely transited by U.S. Navy ships because the majority go through the Panama Canal. The Strait, known for its panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, can be both breathtaking and dangerous. As the ship made its way through, the cold weather and rough seas that frequent this region kept the crew on their toes.
“America’s forecasting team used all available resources to ensure the safe navigation of the ship and to support sensitive shipboard tilt-rotor flight operations,” said Lt. Kyle Franklin, America Meteorology and Oceanic Center officer. “During the transit, we experienced near freezing temperatures combined with rain, sleet and mist.”
Officers of the deck and navigation team members on the bridge of America had to pay particular attention throughout the transit to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew. In some instances they collaborated with Chilean navy sailors embarked aboard who were more familiar with maneuvering in the area.
Prior to entering the strait, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Michael Hammer, U.S. ambassador to Chile, embarked on America for a portion of the evolution. The ship anchored off the coast of Punta Arenas for one night and during that time Mabus addressed the Sailors and Marines on board during an all-hands call in the ship’s hangar bay.
Capt Robert A. Hall, Jr., America’s commanding officer, said this was a very memorable evolution for him because of the professionalism his crew demonstrated and for the opportunity to host such significant dignitaries.