The Prospective Commander of LPD-24 Discuss the Future
An Interview with Commander Darren W. Nelson
04/19 /2011 – At the christening of the LPD-24, the USS Arlington, the SLD team had a chance to talk about the new ship and its impact on the ARG. prospective commander of LPD-24, Commander Darren W. Nelson.
SLD: Let’s just talk to this whole evolution of the ARG and the ship. What excites you about it?
Commander Nelson: Well, some of the things that excite me on this ship is just the way she looks. It’s a very sweet design. It reduces a radar cross-section. We took the concept off of the DDG, and applied it here. So that provides more protection for us; it’s harder for us to be seen by the bad guys, which makes it very nice.
We have enhanced cargo space. On previous amphibious ships USMC space was limited. On this ship they have more space for men and equipment. The Marines do not want to be told “you can’t bring that howitzer or the HUMVEE. There is not room enough.”
SLD: When we interviewed the 15th MEU Commander, “Ozzie” Osborn, he made the point “I had to leave a lot of stuff home, because I can’t take it on the ship”.
Commander Nelson: With the LPD 17, we have a dramatic increase in our capabilities to carry more cargo, more vehicle space, and our flight deck is huge. We’re able to launch and recover two MV-22 Ospreys at the same time. Of course, the Osprey’s a whole different animal, with significant capabilities to expand what we can do.
The size of the footprint for the flight deck is significant. And, of course, we can handle the CH-53Es or Ks. We can land four CH-46s at one time.
Also, the LPD 17 represents a significant increase in the C2 capability available to the ARG. I have the communications capabilities of an LHD with this ship.
SLD: In many ways, this ship is not in any way a linear replacement for earlier amphibious ships.
Commander Nelson: You are right. It is truly the next generation. Even if you look at the amount of Marines we can carry aboard this ship it is a qualitative shift. I was an Executive Officer on an LSD, we carried 350 Marines; we had 300 sailors.
And we were packed. This ship is set up for 700 Marines, and it has a surge berthing of up to 800 That’s on top of the 365-person crew.
In effect, you are giving the new commander much more mission flexibility. You are giving him the capability to “say yeah, we need to take a few extra mission guys, or something like that, and we will be able to put them aboard our ship.
SLD: How will you work with the new Littoral Combat Ship?
Commander Nelson: We can easily work with the LCS, especially with her different mission capabilities. And if she needs to change out mission capabilities, we have the cargo space to fulfill her mission.