25 Jul

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Briana Taylor, USS Boxer Public Affairs

USS BOXER (LHD 4) – He looks out of place on a warship. His signature long hair and overall look are clearly not military. Despite the personal protective equipment he’s been issued, his clean shirt and jeans don’t fit in with the dust and paint covered coveralls most contractors are wearing, and then there’s that massive gold Super Bowl ring.

                Rob Ryan, Defensive Coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, is an unexpected sight on Boxer’s flight deck.

                Ryan toured Boxer Friday, July 10, during Boxer’s planned maintenance availability period (PMA).

                Not many people get to see a warship while it is in a shipyard environment like the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) is currently in. Contractors and Sailors alike are covered head to toe in hard hats, safety goggles, ear plugs and gloves. Everyone is moving about the ship with a purpose, barely maintaining the pristine condition of their uniforms amid the wet paint and various types of tape spreading steadily through the spaces.

                Boxer is buzzing with maintenance work during PMA. It’s is one of the longest and most work intensive periods that prepare ships for sea, and it is unusual for ships to host distinguished visitors during that time.

                Ryan’s brother-in-law, Paul Ralph, is the Director of Production for YYK Ship Repair and the one who requested the visit to the ship. YYK is one of the many companies that are working aboard Boxer during the maintenance availability as the ship completes repairs and upgrades after its recent deployment.

                “He took time out of the tour to go talk to people,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Breeden, Boxer’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems and Intelligence Department Head. “He didn’t wait for them to come to him.”

                “We’re going to do just that this year, Ma’am,” said Ryan, taking a moment in the fo’c’sle to talk about ‘kicking butt’ during the upcoming season while on the phone with the mother of Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Deron Hill. Hill mentioned to Ryan about his mother being a native of New Orleans and a Saints fan and was able to make a phone call during the tour so she could speak with him.

                Breeden’s son, Camden, who talks about nothing but football, said Breeden, asked his father to deliver a handwritten letter to Ryan, after looking him up online and discovering Ryan’s impressive career. He took it out of his pocket prior to the start of the tour, making a point to remember his ‘mission’ for the day.

                “It was a lot of fun,” said Breeden. “It’s always nice to show off the ship.”

                Breeden escorted Ryan through the more unique features of an LHD class vessel; a well deck to support the use of amphibious craft, medical facilities capable of providing treatment to 600 patients, and others. Ryan was focused during the tour, his eyes growing wide when Breeden showed him what the Combat Information Center looks like, underway, in blue light.

                “You guys are the best team there is,” said Ryan. “It’s awesome to be able to come out. It’s the first time I’ve ever been on a big ship like this and it’s amazing. I just wanted to say thanks.”

                During his brief tenure as Defensive Coordinator for the Saints, Ryan has already been accredited with one of the greatest turnarounds in NFL history from the 2012 season to 2013, according to Will Osgood, contributor to online sports news publication Cover32 NFL.

                Boxer returned from deployment in April and is now undergoing a maintenance availability at Naval Base San Diego. For more information about USS Boxer, please visit: or


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