USS Mount Whitney becomes first amphibious command ship to land an MV-22B Osprey

U.S. Navy’s amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) made history May 23 as she became the first ship of her kind to have an MV-22B Osprey land on her flight deck.

The MV-22B and crew are part of “The Thunder Chickens” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM-263), based out of Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

The aircraft, “Thunder 00,” successfully executed four starboard and three port landings, and hot refueling before returning to Morn Air Base, Spain where they are deployed as the Air Combat Element of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa.

“VMM-263 and the USS Mount Whitney are working together to exercise shipboard flight deck familiarization. This consists of practicing landings and deck procedures, such as fueling and deck-heat mitigation. This will allow for successful operations between Ospreys and amphibious command ships, like the Mount Whitney, in the future. This is especially important with recent planned acquisitions by the Navy to make the Osprey their new Carrier on Delivery platform,” Captain K.C. “Rooster” O’Malley, pilot training officer/assistant operations officer, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM-263), said.

Designed for expeditionary assault support, raid operations, cargo lift and special warfare, the MV-22B Osprey has vertical takeoff and landing, and short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) capabilities.

The Navy has only two amphibious command ships, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). In 2011 the Chief of Naval Operations extended their service lives to 2039.