Amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA 7) is nearing the end of their Selected Restricted Availability (SRA) period and got underway for the first time in more than a year, Mar. 6.

Tripoli returned to its homeport of San Diego in December 2022 after a successful maiden deployment and shifted into an SRA in March 2023.
“This ship was built to be underway and I’m really proud of the crew for keeping us on track to complete this SRA on time,” said Capt. Gary Harrington, Tripoli’s commanding officer. “Tripoli is the first large-deck amphibious assault carrier to come out of a major maintenance period on time in 21 years and that speaks to the hard work and dedication of this crew.”

During the SRA period, Tripoli experienced a lot of crew turnover. Many of the experienced Sailors who were present for deployment transferred or were replaced with new Sailors – some whom have never been underway.
“I am really excited to go underway for the first time,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Aircraft Handling) Airman Leslie Cortez. “It is a little nerve-wracking because I have no idea what to expect.”

Being assigned to a ship for sea duty and going underway for the first time can be a daunting experience for Sailors, like Cortez.
Experienced Sailors easily make the transition from the in-port routine – where they work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then get to go home to enjoy well-deserved leisure time. However, the underway routine is more demanding. Out to sea, Sailors can have totally different work schedules. Most Sailors work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. while others work nights or swing shifts.

“The long hours make being underway hard because it is physically exhausting, but it’s important to have a routine,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Apiffany Caldwell. “I like to hit the gym and maybe study on the mess decks with my friends before turning in for the night. I also made my rack my safe space; I put up some pictures of my family and brought my favorite pillow.”

Due to the construction conditions of SRA, the crew moved out of the berthing spaces on the ship. A Sailor’s rack is one of the few places they can store their personal items such as everyday hygiene products, uniforms, clothing and electronics. Knowing what to bring for an underway period is very important.

“My first underway was pretty stressful,” said Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Jesse Martinez. “I didn’t know that I would need extra uniform items so I didn’t have enough. My advice to Sailors who are new to the ship would be if you think you have enough of something, bring more, especially skivvies.”

Some essentials for the ship include day-to-day hygiene items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush, body wash, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, deodorant, razors, shaving cream and laundry detergent. The ship’s store does carry many of these items, but supplies are sometimes limited and always in high demand.

Many Sailors bring additional workout clothes and specialized gear like gloves and sweatbands so they can maintain fitness standards while underway. Physical training is also a great way to decompress and clear the mind after a long day.

Tripoli has three gyms as well as a chapel, library and recreational room with a projector and computers. These amenities are available to the entire crew during designated times so Sailors have a place to go and decompress. The library offers a variety of books ranging from fiction to study materials. The recreation room gives Sailors a place to watch movies and a way to communicate with friends and family off ship if they don’t have access to a computer in their work space. Additionally, Chaplains offer complete confidentiality to any Sailor who needs to talk.

“You don’t really get a lot of free time on the ship and you’re not really in control of your time,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Daquan Vereen. “Finding time to exercise and decompress is really important because it’s hard to be away from family and this can be a high stress environment.”