24 November 2010

'USS Peleliu' drops anchor in Subic

The “USS Peleliu” dropped anchor here (Monday), carrying some 1,000 sailors and around 1,300 Marines as part of its last tour of duty before returning to San Diego, California.

The 5th Fleet support ship, which is 254-meter long and has a 40-meter wide flight deck, was instrumental in the evacuation of hundreds of Filipinos inside this former United States (US) naval base during the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

Before the ship’s scheduled departure, some crew members will join local volunteers in renovating at least two schools in Olongapo City, and conduct a school touring at the PMMA.

According to Lt. JG Beth Gauck, the community relations project will be held at the Olongapo City National High School (OCNHS) and the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) in San Narciso, Zambales.

Parts of the projects were the repair and safety improvement of playgrounds, painting of classroom buildings, and planting of fruit trees.

Nicknamed as the “Iron Nickel,” the USS Peleliu was christened in honor of the 3rd Amphibious Force’s assault and capture of Peleliu Island in the fall of 1944.

In June, 1991, while coming back from the Persian Gulf after joining the Operation Desert Storm, Peleliu participated in the evacuation of US Naval Base Subic Bay personnel following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

Considered as among the world’s largest volcanic incident in the past 100 years, the eruption covered a large region in volcanic ash, and resulted in the destruction of many parts of the former US naval base.

The evacuation included several patients from the maternity ward, resulting in multiple births aboard the ship. (Jonas Reyes, Manila Bulletin)