Xaverian grad getting Navy vessel into ship shape
Seaman James P. Mallon, a 1997 graduate of Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a hand-selected crew charged with bringing the Navy’s newest and most advanced amphibious assault ship into service.
Currently stationed in San Diego, Mallon is an interior communication technician serving aboard the amphibious assault ship America. When construction and sea trials are complete and the Navy officially accepts the ship from the builder, the ship will be placed into commission and will become USS America.
Mallon and the rest of the 900-person crew are slowly bringing the ship to life, overseeing construction, testing new equipment, training on new systems and executing trials at sea.
The crew will eventually grow to more than 1,200 sailors and nearly 1,900 embarked marines when the ship is at sea.
When complete, the USS America will be 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and will weigh nearly 45,000 tons. Twin gas turbine engines will push the ship through the water at more than 22 knots.
As one of the sailors who will commission the ship, Mallon is getting a firsthand look at the improvements the Navy has incorporated into the design of the ship: a more fuel-efficient gas turbine propulsion plant, increased capacity for aviation operations, advanced weapons systems, and sophisticated electronics and communications suites.
The ship is expected to join the fleet before the end of this year.
Mallon volunteered to be on the America. The 34-year-old sailor said he realizes the significance of not only being selected to be part of a commissioning crew, but helping commission a ship named after the nation.
“You can’t go wrong with a ship called the America,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, it’s hard, but rewarding and every day is a learning experience.”
Mallon said he is happy he decided to serve his country.
“I’m a little older joining the Navy but I knew this was something I wanted to do,” said Mallon. “Even though we are not commissioned yet we have already hosted dignitaries from several countries, gone through the Straits of Magellan and around Cape Horn. I’m proud to be a part of this.”
Capt. Robert A. Hall, Jr., who will serve as the commanding officer of the USS America, said he wants to recognize sailors who are setting the foundation for the newest warship.
“As the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name America, we have the opportunity to build this command with the ideals of our namesake,” said Hall. “America’s sailors and marines demonstrate the Navy’s core values everyday through their training and initiative, and I am proud to have a crew of this caliber.”
The new ship will be able to support a wide spectrum of military operations and missions, including putting Marines ashore for combat operations, launching air strikes, keeping sea lanes free and open for the movement of global commerce, and delivering humanitarian aid following a disaster.
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