In her final months, the Nashville refines smart-power strategy for Africa.
The crew and mission staff on board the USS Nashville (LPD-13) were in for a surprise when the 570-foot vessel approached the tiny port in Libreville, the bustling capital of Gabon, West Africa. Despite earlier assurances from Navy planners and local officials, it turned out that waters around Libreville's Port Mole were not deep enough for the 17,000-ton-displacement Nashville. The ship draws only 23 feet fully loaded, but she needs extra clearance for her pumps to draw in the seawater required by her old-fashioned steam power plant. This Austin-class amphibious ship, commissioned in 1970, simply would not fit at Libreville.