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Panetta’s Visit To San Diego Ship To Show Importance Of Amphibious Skills

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is scheduled to visit Camp Pendleton this morning. His visit demonstrates the Pentagon’s commitment to the traditional “ship to shore” skills of the Marine Corps.

Panetta will take a hovercraft this morning out to the USS Peleliu, a big deck amphibious assault ship. He’ll talk with members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the ship, and have lunch with junior enlisted Sailors and Marines.

The Department of Defense said in a statement that ships like the Peleliu represent a naval priority because of the flexibility they provide commanders to move Marines and supplies ashore.

The Peleliu was commissioned 32 years ago, but NASSCO shipyards gave the ship an $18 million upgrade last year to improve her military and technical capabilities.

This spring the vessel engaged in training exercises off the coast of San Diego in which 900 Marines joined more than 1,000 Sailors aboard.

A general at a similar training last year said the Marines are getting back to their roots of specializing in amphibious landings.

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