The USS NEW ORLEANS (LPH-11), an Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault helicopter carrier, was laid down on March 01, 1966 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was launched on February 03, 1968 and sponsored by Mrs. Arthur A. De la Houssaye. She was commissioned on November 16, 1968 with Captain G.M. Even in command.
Two interesting assignments were given to the USS NEW ORLEANS in 1970. In August of 1970, she became flagship for Commander First Fleet and provided support for President Richard Nixon's visit to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and made a port call to Acapulco. Then, in late 1970, she prepared for the recovery of Apollo 14. On February 09, 1971, she picked up astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Ed Mitchell some 900 miles south of American Samoa.
USS NEW ORLEANS next participated in recovery operations for the Skylab II and Skylab III missions in 1973 and 1974. She was also present for the recovery of astronauts Stafford, Slayton, and Brand during the joint American-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz mission of July 05, 1975.