SAN DIEGO (NNS) - Canadian Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence toured USS Makin Island (LHD 8) during a visit to Naval Base San Diego Jan. 6.

While aboard Makin Island, the Honourable Laurie Hawn toured a number of the ship's operational spaces, including the hangar bay, medical facilities, command information center, flight deck and upper vehicle stowage.

The visit to Makin Island was Hawn's first tour of an amphibious assault ship. Hawn said he was impressed with the multioperational capabilities of Makin Island, and called the crew very "focused and professional."

"Canada is looking at similar types of ships, so the tour and visit to San Diego's naval base helps Canada better understand what the U.S. Navy is doing," Hawn said.

Hawn also emphasized the importance for both Canadian and American militaries to maintain close relationships. "Wherever we are, Americans are," he said. "So it's critical to both countries that we maintain close ties as allies."

As a retired lieutenant colonel who served more than 30 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Hawn is a strong supporter of military members worldwide. Hawn currently serves as a member of the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan and the Standing Committee of National Defence.

Makin Island, the Navy's first hybrid-electric amphibious assault ship, is currently undergoing a maintenance availability period in preparation for its maiden deployment later this year.

For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.