USS Peleliu Visits Madang

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This FROM: MadDog

As a relief from choking on the daily news of the hideous, unending war in Iraq, the visit of the USS Peleliu to Madang on a humanitarian mission was like a long, deep breath of fresh highlands air. The giant ship was here for about ten days. According to reports, they did a lot of good work.

Here are some links:
USS Peleliu LINK
Pacific Partnership 2007 LINK
Local News from The National LINK
For pet lovers LINK (got a security certificate warning – didn’t hurt my computer)
Beats getting shot at or having to shoot somebody LINK

The ship is huge. She is the final example of the Tarawa class Amphibious Assault Ship. She carries helicopters, Harrier jets, hovercraft, big landing craft, and great mobs of Marines, if needed.

She cruised off Madang a few miles because our harbor is too small for her. (Probably some security reasons, also.). We got on a big landing craft at the main wharf in Madang, chugged out to sea for about a half-hour, and sneaked up behind her. Here we are sneaking up behind:

Meeting the USS Peleliu at sea

The ship squats down in back to accommodate the comings and goings of the various boats that fit inside. The whole back end fills up with water and floods the lower deck until it is a few feet under the water. It takes about twenty minutes to do this. It is a startling experience to float up behind and be literally swallowed up. Here’s the ship getting ready to gobble us: (I wondered if Jonah was as amazed?)

Being swallowed up by the USS Peleliu

Once inside, it is an astounding maze of beams, pipes, sailors, and what-have-you. It is all so big, it takes a few minutes (while waiting for the boat to ‘unsquat’ so that the landing craft can sit securely on the deck) to get a sense of the scale. Here we are, being mesmerized:

Inside the ‘garage’ of the USS Peleliu

Once off the landing craft, we were herded along through a maze of corridors to our meeting room for some classy refreshments (including the biggest, juiciest black cherries I have ever seen) and a welcome by the Executive officer, Peter J. Sciabarra. Here we are being herded: (That’s Eunice in the white top and Val in the African print.)

Down a passageway inside the USS Peleliu on our way to our ‘briefing”

After our ‘briefing’, we went out on deck just in time to see the arrival of one of their big helicopters (a Sikorsky Sea Stallion, I think.) Here she is coming in for a landing:

Huge helicopter landing on the USS Peleliu

Our last stop was the bridge. I was surprised at how small the area was. It was not much bigger than a generous two-car garage. It was, however, Eunice’s favorite spot. Observe her, gazing raptly at Captain Ed Rhoades, as he graciously, and with good humor, answered any question we might ask. I was mightily impressed by all the crew with which we were privileged to come into contact. I have to say, though, that the Captain seemed to me to be spot-on the kind of guy needed to handle such a gargantuan job. Here’s Eunice paying particular attention to Captain Rhoades:

Captain Ed Rhoades with Eunice Messersmith

I say thanks to the Captain, the crew of the USS Peleliu, and the US Embassy for making it possible for many local people (including some of us very few Americans in Madang) to enjoy this amazing opportunity. This is not to mention all the good work they did in Madang (visit the links above) and many other places on this deployment.

Good fortune to the USS Peleliu and all who sail upon her. My personal wish for you is that you never get shot at by anybody and you never have to fire a shot in anger. That’s my idea of the meaning of the ship’s motto, Pax per potens (“Peace by means of [being] powerful”, if I remember my high-school Latin correctly). At least that’s the concept, given that you’re big-and-bad enough (the USS Peleliu is) and your country has sane leadership. One can only wish . . .

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4 Responses to “USS Peleliu Visits Madang”

  1. Henry konaka Says:

    A sigh of relief to know that we have an online news and information about home sweet home, MADANG

  2. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Henry. I hope we get more people sending us news. In fact, why don’t you send something to us? You are the first person to record a comment, so you may as well send some news also.

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