A Pleasanton woman and Amador Valley High School graduate has been serving aboard USS New Orleans (LPD 18), one of the Navy's newest and most advanced amphibious ships, designed to deliver Marines and their equipment to and from war zones.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Dariel Jade Colcol is an engineman aboard the San Diego-based San Antonio class transport dock ship, which is longer than two football fields at 684 feet.
Colcol, 21, said she is learning about herself as a leader, sailor and a person -- adding that it is an exciting time to be in the Navy, and serving aboard a ship has truly made her a better person.
"The Navy has taught me life lessons and given me experiences that I didn't get in the civilian world," Colcol said.
She noted how proud she is of the work she has been doing as part of the New Orleans' 427-member crew, protecting and defending America on the world's oceans.
"The Navy doesn't only defend our country but it is important in protecting and giving aid to the world," Colcol added.
According to mass communication specialist Seaman Jamal McNeill, sailors' jobs are highly varied aboard USS New Orleans. There are approximately 46 officers and 381 enlisted men and women making up the ship's company. Their duties include washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the engines.
In addition, around 700 people form the deployable Marine Corps battalion. McNeill said the ship is capable of transporting the battalion and landing them in hostile territory via helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and air-cushioned landing craft.
"New Orleans is truly a fine warship and it is our duty to bring her to life," said Capt. Doug Verissimo, the ship's commanding officer. "Our sailors have been working very hard bringing her from a post-deployment repair period to our upcoming tactical integration with our Marine teammates. I feel an unparalleled sense of pride working alongside our nation's finest."
The San Antonio-class ships will functionally replace more than 41 ships providing the Navy and Marine Corps with modern sea-based platforms, said McNeill.
Amphibious transport dock ships are warships that embark, transport, and land elements of a landing force for a variety of expeditionary warfare missions. These ships support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions, and can serve as secondary aviation platforms for amphibious ready groups.
"Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to also support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice," said McNeill.
As a member of one of the United States Navy's high-tech amphibious assault ships, Colcol and other sailors said they are proud to be part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.
"I enjoy the opportunity the Navy gives me to travel and to experience different cultures from around the world," said Colcol.