The US Navy converted USNS Lewis B. Puller to USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) during a ceremony at Khalifa bin Salman Port in Al Hidd, Bahrain.
Puller is the first US ship to be commissioned outside the United States. With its commissioning, the US Navy adds another warship towards its goal of having a larger, more capable force.
The US Navy say the ship’s reclassification provides US Central Command and US 5th Fleet ‘greater flexibility to better meet regional challenges’.
Vice Adm. Donegan, commander of Naval Forces Central Command said:
“The Puller isn’t just another ship, but a revolutionary concept; a ship that provides us a key platform that will provide continuity to a variety of operations,” he continued saying, “Named after the most decorated Marine in American history, the USS Lewis B. Puller will provide greater operational flexibility to 5th Fleet, forward-deployed as the first ship built specifically for the purpose of serving as an expeditionary sea base. As such, it will augment our amphibious forces, not replace them, mine countermeasure forces and provide an expeditionary sea base for maritime security operations throughout the region.”
“As the security environment becomes faster paced, more complex and increasingly competitive, with the ever-growing and evolving challenge of asymmetric threats from state and non-state actors alike, the Navy has a growing need to station more diverse and capable warships around the globe. Commissioning this expeditionary sea base, the USS Lewis B. Puller, will allow the Navy and Marine Corps team to meet the threats in the region head on,” said Donegan.
Capt. Adan G. Cruz is the USS Puller’s first commanding officer said:
“It is really an honor to be part of a team and part of a crew with great Sailors and great civilian mariners.”
According to a release:
“Puller’s crew of nearly 150 Sailors and civilian mariners work in concert with one another as did those on the ship’s predecessor, USS Ponce to extend U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s maritime reach in 5th Fleet by supporting a wide variety of missions including counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and crisis response operations.”