PANAMA CANAL, Panama - The future USS Portland (LPD 27) made its way through the Panama Canal Jan. 9 for the first time in the ship’s history.
The 50-mile journey took the amphibious dock landing ship 11 hours to complete. The canal serves as passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and saves ships the 8,000-mile journey around South America.
The Panama Canal is made up of 12 locks, six of which are used by transiting ships. The flood and drain system allows ships to be raised over mountainous terrain over 85 feet when crossing from one ocean to the other. Ships are assisted by locomotives called “mules” that hold the ship centered in the locks.
In order to commute safely through the passageway, Portland carefully adjusted speeds and utilized precise rudder control to maintain safe positioning in the canal and connecting lake. A diligent bridge watch team carefully and successfully navigated the ship through the narrow transit.
During the evolution, a brief reenlistment ceremony took place on Portland’s flight deck for Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Aircraft Handler 1st Class Petty Officer William C. Clark. The Panama Canal transit is an experience not many Sailors ever get the opportunity to see in their career, making the ability for Clark to raise his right hand in devotion to the U.S. Navy during this time that much more special.
Portland is currently transiting to her future homeport in San Diego. The ship departed the Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Shipbuilding site in Pascagoula, Miss. Dec. 14, 2017.
Portland is the 11th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. She will be commissioned in April in her namesake city of Portland, Ore. and is the third ship to bear this name.