SAN DIEGO (March 10, 2012) Former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter receive an ovation during a lunch hosted aboard amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5). (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Palovich)

SAN DIEGO - Former President Jimmy Carter, and the 70th Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton, visited amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) in port Saturday, March 10.

President and Mrs. Carter were in San Diego for the Carter Center annual Winter Weekend, this year held at the Hotel Del Coronado. The five-day event helps support the worldwide peace and health work of the not-for-profit Carter Center, founded in 1982 in partnership with Emory University.

"To have President Carter on board was an incredible opportunity for the crew," said Capt. James T. Cox, commanding officer of Peleliu. "He is a distinguished veteran of the Navy and a part of our American history."

President Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946. Although his seven years of service was spent as a submarine officer, he connected with Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship.

The group, which also included approximately 250 guests of the Carter Center, toured the ship and interacted with the crew. Tour stops featured Navy and Marine Corps aircraft on the flight deck, landing craft and vehicle displays in the well deck, as well as the ship's medical and dental units.

"As our 70th Secretary of the Navy, John Dalton helped to ensure our Navy and Marine Corps were positioned for success as we transitioned from a Cold War-oriented force to one that needed to be flexible and responsive to a much less predictable world," said Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, Commander, U.S. Third Fleet.

Crewmembers highlighted the unique capabilities of the amphibious ship in both combat and humanitarian operations around the world.

Dalton addressed the group from the Carter Center during lunch. At the beginning of the speech, more than half of the guests raised their hands when Dalton asked if any had not previously been aboard a U.S. Navy vessel.

"The Navy and Marine Corps, working together as a team, form the Department of the Navy," said Dalton. "They represent the most formidable expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known."