MAYPORT, Fla. -- Sailors aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) continued readying the ship for the upcoming NCAA Navy-Marine Corps Classic as construction work continued on the flight deck basketball court Nov. 3.
The Classic will be played aboard Bataan, currently in port at Naval Station Mayport, Nov. 9. It will see the University of Florida Gators and the Georgetown Hoyas meet up in an event hosted by the city of Jacksonville and the Florida Blue corporation. In order to prepare for the game, the ship's crew has been deeply involved in both construction and preparing for their guests.
"We have been providing support for the contractors, running the elevators to bring up equipment and drivers, and standing by in case they need heavy equipment moved," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Jaime Valencia, leading petty officer for V1 Division. "I want my ship to look good during the event, so that's what I have been focusing on."
The focus on the ship's appearance includes painting and preservation, and also looking for any ways to improve visitors' experience while they are aboard.
"This is a way for us to show off our ship to everyone," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Ryan Moreau, flight deck leading petty officer and a native of Salem, Ill. "It is important that everything looks sharp."
The pride and professionalism of the Bataan's crew can be seen in all the hard work Sailors are putting in over the weekend as they get ready for the big game. As air department Sailors were assisting in setting up the court, they were also helping out in other areas.
"We have also been helping the navigation department prepare the hangar bay with pennants and the American flag," Moreau said. "We want to be at our best for any visits that may happen."
Sailors in the deck department were also working hard to prepare the ship. Although the ship is always maintained at a high standard of readiness, time at sea and all the construction efforts do make a little extra beautification a good idea, and the deck department owns the largest portion of the ship's surface.
"We are repainting the stern gate, and the bulkheads in the upper vehicle stowage area," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Steven Dow, a native of Belleville, Ill. "We are helping make everything looks its best. I am very proud of the accomplishments from my Sailors, and their hard work and dedication to making the ship shine."
Bataan, which recently completed a planned maintenance availability following a record-setting ten-and-a-half month deployment ending in February of this year, sailed down from her homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, arriving in Mayport Nov. 2.
The ship will be present throughout Jacksonville's Week of Valor celebrations, which conclude with a Veteran's Day parade on Nov. 12. During their time in Jacksonville, the Bataan Sailors will also be enjoying the city's hospitality at a number of other events.
"We are honored to be able to host the NCAA Classic on our flight deck," said Capt. Erik Ross, commanding officer, USS Bataan. "I hope everyone who gets a chance to interact with my crew will be able to see what hardworking and professional young men and women are serving in the world's finest Navy."