Amphibious Transport Dock Ship USS Mesa Verde Visits Barcelona, Spain

Amphibious Transport Dock Ship USS Mesa Verde Visits Barcelona, Spain

After 314 days deployed from their homeport of Norfolk, Va., the Sailors and Marines aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) enjoyed a final liberty port visit in Barcelona, Spain, Jan. 20-23.

The visit marked the crew’s seventh foreign port call of the deployment.

“It feels good to end with this as our last port visit,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Emanuel Hills, from Conway, S.C. “The city was very beautiful and had great sights, but I think we’re all ready to go home.”

The crew took part in several tours sponsored by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department. The tours offered included a wine tasting, a city tour of Barcelona and a trip to an aquarium. The city tour took Sailors and Marines to visit the Olympic Stadium and Sacred Familia, Barcelona’s iconic church designed by Gaudi, while the wine tasting allowed the crew to sample many different varieties of local wine.

“This was easily our best port,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF/SW/CAC) Winfield Lattibeauder, from Miami. “The wine tasting tour was better than in any of the other ports.”

The MWR committee also provided buses to the town to allow Sailors and Marines to explore Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain and the country’s largest port city. The service members were dropped off near Las Ramblas, one of the most extensive city centers from medieval Europe.

“The city was beautiful,” said Quartermaster 1st Class (SW) Natalie Jackson. “The shopping and the nightlife were incredible here. I’m glad we’re on our way home, but this is definitely the best port I’ve been to.”

“As a plank owner it definitely means something for this to be my last port with Mesa Verde,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class (AW/SW) Cory General, from Augusta, Ga. “It was a great port to end with.”

Although this was the last port visit of the deployment, many Sailors and Marines who had established firm friendships over the past 10 months resolved that it would not be their last experience enjoying each others’ company.

“I made some great friends on this deployment, so for me it’s not really goodbye, and I plan on seeing these guys sometime after we get back,” said Lance Cpl. Aaron McGrudder, from Raleigh, N.C. “After working with the blue side all these months, I can definitely say I have made some great friends.

“In the past staying in touch was more difficult, I think, with just talking over the phone, but especially the younger guys that are really into Facebook and all the social networking will be able to stay in touch and see what each other are doing.”

The Mesa Verde is deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and deployed from her homeport of Norfolk, Va., March 23. The Mesa Verde has spent the past 10 months supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, and is returning home after having been relieved by the Makin Island ARG.

Naval Today Staff , January 26, 2012; Image: navy