Navy Commissions Littoral Combat Ship Indianapolis

BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (Oct. 26, 2019) Dick Thelen, a veteran seaman 2nd class and a survivor of the sinking of USS Indianapolis (CA 35), hands the long glass (telescope) to Lt. Julian Turner, navigator of the first watch, during the commissioning ceremony of USS Indianapolis (LCS 17). LCS 17 is the 19th littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the ninth of the Freedom variant. It will be the fourth ship named for Indianapolis, Indiana’s capital city. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Timothy Haggerty)

Original article appears courtesy of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

The Navy’s newest littoral combat ship, USS Indianapolis (LCS 17), was commissioned Oct. 26 at Burns Harbor.

Burns Harbor is known for producing steel and has a long, rich history of supporting U.S. defense capabilities.

“To the citizens of the great state of Indiana who have joined us here today, thank you so much for enduring the weather to show your support for the men and women of America’s military and this fantastic new addition to the fleet,” said Lisa W. Hershman, deputy chief management officer for the Department of Defense and the ceremony’s principle speaker. “It is always a thrill to see a Navy ship commissioned, but it is truly a historic moment to do so on the shores of Lake Michigan.”

The ceremony honored veterans of USS Indianapolis (CA 35), a cruiser which sunk in the final days of World War II after completing a secret mission to deliver components for an atomic bomb. Her crew spent several days in the water awaiting rescue.

As part of the ceremony, Dick Thelen, veteran seaman 2nd class and a survivor of that mission, handed the long glass (telescope) to Lt. Julian Turner, navigator of the first watch.

“Now, a combat-ready ship is necessary but not sufficient for our Navy to fight and win decisively in combat,” said Adm. Christopher W. Grady, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “To fight and win you, the Hoosier Sailors of Indianapolis must join as one and become a battle-minded crew. You must waste no time in preparing yourself to function as a team-of-teams, masterfully exercising your ship to the very extent of its limits. Only through the combination of this combat-ready ship and you, its battle-minded crew, both blue and gold, can Indianapolis carry on the proud legacy of your predecessors.”

The ship’s motto, “Legacy of War,” reflects that ships named Indianapolis have served in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. LCS 17 is the fourth ship to bear the name.

“I feel honored to represent the ship’s namesake and the history that goes with that. Our crew has put in a tremendous amount of work preparing the USS Indianapolis,” said Lt. j.g. Eric Wilkerson. “There is a lot of Navy pride here today. The support from earlier crews being here is a strong reminder of the commitment needed to defend our nation and maritime freedoms.”

Jill Donnelly, the ship’s sponsor, gave the first order, “Man our ship and bring her to life!”

More than 8,000 people attended the commissioning ceremony including Indiana residents and friends and family of the crew.

“It was all-hands effort. We work together to get the ship up and ready to go. There is a lot of teamwork and everyone really does pull their weight to accomplish the mission,” said Operations Specialist 1st Class Devin Morris. “It’s a brand new ship so everyone has to go through all the certifications to make sure we are mission ready.”

Littoral combat ships are outfitted with mission packages that deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, or surface warfare missions. The warship’s modular mission packages can be quickly and cost effectively updated with new weapons and weapon systems without taking the ship out of service for modifications and modernizations.

LCS class ships allow the Navy to strengthen its partnership with other countries’ navies and coast guards. LCSs perform maritime security operations, theater security cooperation engagements, and freedom of navigation patrols – keeping critical maritime commerce routes open. Littoral combat ships are able to patrol the littorals and access ports where other ships may be unable.

USS Indianapolis (LCS 17) will be homeported in Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

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USNS Miguel Keith Christened at General Dynamics NASSCO San Diego

Rear Adm. Thomas Wettlaufer, Commander, Military Sealift Command, addresses attendees of the christening ceremony for MSC’s newest ship, USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB 5), at the General Dynamics, NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. (Military Sealift Command Pacific)

This article appears courtesy of Military Sealift Command Pacific

Expeditionary sea base USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB 5), the Military Sealift Command’s newest ship, was christened during a ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, Calif.

The event was attended by the family of the ship’s namesake as well as dignitaries such as Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Thomas Savage, Deputy Commanding General 1st Marine Expeditionary Force; Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, Commander, Military Sealift Command; Vice Adm., Ricky Williamson, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics; Bilyana Anderson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Ship’s Programs; General Walter Boomer (USMC Retired), former Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps; Capt. Brian Mershon, the ship’s civil service master; Sailors from the ships pre-commissioning unit, and employees of NASSCO.

“This ceremony marks the office start of the relationship between the men and women who will crew and sail this great ship, and the family of its namesake, Miguel Keith,” said Anderson in her remarks.

The official christening moment happened when Keith’s mother, Mrs. Eliadora Delores Keith, who serves as the ship’s sponsor, broke a bottle over the ship’s bow with the words, “For the United States, I christen this ship the Miguel Keith. May God protect all who sail on her”

The ship honors U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith, and is the first ship to bear the name. Keith served as a machine gunner with Combined Action Platoon 132, III Marine Amphibious Force in Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam. He was severely wounded on the morning of May 8, 1970, when his platoon came under a heavy-ground attack. Despite being injured in the attack and open to hostile fire, he continued to engage the enemy with heavy machine gun fire, resulting in him killing three attackers and dispersing two remaining two enemy soldiers.

“As Marines, we try to live up to the example of those who came before us. In the case of Miguel Keith, that is impossible,” explained Savage. “This ship will be a war ship, and it is fitting that it is name after a Marine such as Miguel Keith.”

Miguel Keith is the fifth ship in the expeditionary mobile base platform build for MSC, and the third expeditionary staging base model. When activated, Miguel Keith will primarily support aviation mine countermeasure and special operations force missions. In addition to the flight deck, the ship has a hangar with two aviation operating spots capable of handling MH-53E Sea Dragon-equivalent helicopters; accommodations, work spaces, and ordnance storage for embarked force; enhanced command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence to support embarked force mission planning and execution; and reconfigurable mission deck area to store embarked force equipment to include mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats.

“The ESB platform will provide leadership with options on air, sea and land,” said Wettlaufer. “Miguel Keith gives us a competitive advantage in a highly competitive world.

Miguel Keith will be delivered to the MSC fleet later this year, where it will support a variety of maritime-based missions, including Special Operations Forces and Airborne Mine Counter Measures support operations, humanitarian and traditional military missions.

Closing his remarks, Boomer, ceremony’s principal speaker addressed the ship’s crew. “When the work gets tough and the days are long, let this be your battle cry. For Miguel…For Miguel!”

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Navy Commissions USS Cincinnati (LCS 20)

GULFPORT, Miss. (Oct. 5, 2019) – The crew of the Independence-variant littoral combat ship, USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) mans the ship during the commissioning ceremony in Gulfport, Miss. LCS 20, the fifth ship in naval history to be named Cincinnati, will be homeported at Naval Base San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Rosalie Chang)

Originally article appears courtesy of  Chief Mass Communication Specialist Rosalie Chang

The U.S. Navy commissioned the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Cincinnati (LCS 20) during a ceremony Saturday, Oct. 5, in Gulfport, Miss.

More than 1,400 guests attended the ceremony for the fifth ship in naval service named for Cincinnati, the third-largest city in Ohio.

“From acquisition to construction, to testing and certification, she is a marvel of engineering that will extend our capabilities for any mission, from the middle of the ocean, to the shallowest of waters, enhancing our ability to project power at shore and at sea,” said principle speaker U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio. “The USS Cincinnati will extend the maneuverability and lethality of our fleet to confront the many challenges of our complex world.”

Guest speakers for the event included U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, who discussed the dedication of the ship builders and the Sailors, and Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa, Adm. James G. Foggo III.

“Each and every day, our ships sail alongside those of our Allies and partners, defending freedom, deterring aggression, and ensuring adherence to the rules which underwrite the greatest signal to our allies and our partners and best warning to our adversaries” said Foggo. “Naval presence is essential to our National Defense Strategy and to a peaceful, connected, and prosperous world.”

Cincinnati Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jedediah Kloppel, reported to Foggo that the ship was ready and in his command. In addition, Penny Pritzker, the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the ship’s sponsor, gave the traditional order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

“This is the first crew in naval history to commission two ships in less than two years. This is the best crew I’ve ever served with,” said Kloppel. “From the start of this crew’s journey, they have excelled. They achieved the highest scores and completed certifications early and inspections the first time, every time. It’s the unit cohesion, that special bond, that strength and unity that makes this a great crew.”

Kloppel took command of Cincinnati during a change of command ceremony, Oct. 3.

“Our ship motto ‘strength and unity’ is also the motto of our namesake city,” said Kloppel. “It’s the strength and unity that makes Cincinnati great. It’s the strength and unity that makes this crew great, and if USS Cincinnati is called into harms way, through strength and unity, Cincinnati would win.”

LCS is a fast, agile, and networked surface combatant. Its primary mission includes countering diesel submarine threats, littoral mine threats, and surface threats to assure maritime access for joint forces. The underlying strength of the LCS lies in its innovative design approach, applying modularity for operational flexibility.

Fundamental to this approach is the capability to rapidly install interchangeable mission packages (MPs) onto the seaframe to fulfill a specific mission and then be uninstalled, maintained and upgraded at the Mission Package Support Facility (MPSF) for future use aboard any LCS sea frame.

Seventy officers and enlisted personnel make up the crew of Cincinnati, which will be home ported in San Diego.

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Woody Williams (ESB 4) Commissioned

Hershel Woodrow Williams, Retired Chief Warrant Officer Four and Medal of Honor recipient, salutes as he is introduced to the stage along with other members of the ship commissioning committee, March 7, 2020 in Norfolk, VA. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Fernando Moreno)

Article appears courtesy of Defense Media Activity, U.S. Marines

The Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) Hershel “Woody” Williams was commissioned as a warship on March 7, 2020. The ship transfers from military Sealift Command to the Navy.

In attendance to the event were figures such as the commandant of the Marine Corps, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and five Medal of Honor recipients.

The ship was previously known as the United States Naval Ship (USNS) Hershel “Woody” Williams. Now, that it has been commissioned as a Navy warship, the ship is the United States Ship (USS) Hershel “Woody” Williams.

The ship is named after retired Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Four Hershel Woodrow Williams. At 95 years old, Williams is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient recognized for his heroic deeds at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Williams delivered his namesake address where he acknowledged the impact such an event has and will continue to have for the future.
“I’m grateful to all those who have the expertise to put something like this together,” said Hershel Woodrow Williams, retired CWO4. “And may all those who serve aboard this ship that will bear my name be safe and be proud. And may she have God’s blessings for a long-life of service to the greatest country on earth.”

The commissioning of the ship as a United States Ship will make it a more versatile and flexible warfighting machine, capable of a variety of sea missions. The ship operates with a mixed crew of Navy Seamen, Mariners, and civilians and is uniquely designed, being only the second ship of its kind, to have an open operations deck below and a flight deck above.

Its capabilities as a war fighting asset are not to be outdone, however, by its overall cost effectiveness as stated by General David H. Berger.

“This ship is a step in the right direction for what we can afford as a nation. It’s a draft office civilian design, but modified by naval architects to make a fighting ship out of it,” said General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps.”

The Williams was built at a cost of about $500 million in 2017, and is the second of three Expeditionary Sea Base ships built for the Navy by a private sector company.

This is how the Navy and the Marine Corps can work with industry to produce what we need to protect our country.”

After remarks and addresses from distinguished ship commissioning committee members, Williams personally presented the long glass to the ships officer of the deck.

The long glass is traditionally the symbol representing the officer of the decks authority on the ship. Williams presented the looking glass to the newly commissioned ships officer of the deck, officially setting the first watch.

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USS Cooperstown (LCS 23) Christened

Article originally appears courtesy of Fox 11 News (March 1, 2020)

A celebration was held at the at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard to honor the littoral combat ship’s next significant production milestone.

“It all starts with the work that you do every single day and if we’re going to keep building ships right here in Marinette for decades to come it’s going to be because of your hard work,” U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-8th District, said to a crowd of individuals on Saturday morning.

As the U.S. Navy gets ready to replace littoral combat ships with frigates, Marinette Marine is working with the state to make shipyard improvements in hopes of landing the next generation of navy vessels.

Marinette Marine is one of four shipyards in the running for a multi-billion-dollar Navy contract. A $29 million state grant announced this week will allow the Port of Marinette to upgrade the waterfront and create a sink roll lift. The lift allows ships to go directly into the water as opposed to the side launch.

“What that allows us to do is build almost 95% complete inside the buildings as opposed to finishing the ship in the water, so it’s more efficient, less costly and cuts down on some of the time,” Rick Hunt, president of Fincantieri Marinette Marine said.

If awarded the contract, Marinette Marine plans to add up to 6,000 jobs.

“This would be huge, huge for the navy and huge for Northeast Wisconsin,” Gallagher added.

As for the future USS Cooperstown, it’s slated to begin sea trials later this year.

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USNS Cherokee Nation Keel Laying

Tribal leaders from the Cherokee Nation, U.S. Navy officials from Program Executive Office Ships and executives from Gulf Island Shipyards look on as the initials of the Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation, The Honorable Chuck Hoskins, Jr. and the Deputy Speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, The Honorable Victoria Mitchell Vazquez (ship sponsor) are cut into the keel of the future USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7) in a ceremony at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center here. (Photo by Landon Hutchens II, U.S. Navy)

Original appears courtesy of U.S. Navy/NAVSEA

A keel laying ceremony was held Feb. 12 for the future USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7), the second ship of the Navy’s Navajo class of Towing, Salvage, and Rescue vessels. The ceremony was held near Gulf Island Shipyard at the Houma Terrebonne Civic Center. 

The keel laying ceremony formally marks the start of a ship’s life and the joining of the ship’s modular components. The keel serves as the symbolic backbone of the ship.

In attendance to authenticate the keel was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, The Honorable Chuck Hoskin, Jr. and the ship’s sponsor and Deputy Speaker of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, The Honorable Victoria Mitchell Vazquez.

During the ceremony, the keel authenticators etched their initials into the keel plate and declared it to be “truly and fairly laid.”

“We are honored to have so many representatives of the Cherokee Nation in attendance to celebrate this early milestone,” said Mike Kosar, support ships, boats and craft program manager, Program Executive Office Ships. “The ship is critical to the operations of our fleet, and will soon sail with the pride and determination of the Cherokee people, which it is named to honor”

The Navajo-class will provide ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support fleet operations. The current capabilities are provided by three T-ATF 166 and two T-ARS 50 class ships, several of which will reach the end of their expected service lives later this year.

Navajo-class ships will be capable of towing U.S. Navy ships and will have 6,000 square feet of deck space for embarked systems. The platform will be 263 feet long, have a beam of 59 feet, and can carry a load of nearly 2,000 tons.

In addition to the future USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7), Gulf Island Shipyard is constructing the future USNS Navajo (T-ATS 6) and is under contract for the detail design and construction of the future USNS Saginaw Ojibwe Anishinabek (T-ATS 8).

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, sealift ships, support ships, boats, and craft.

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USS Oregon (SSN 793) Christened in Connecticut

The U.S. Navy's newest attack submarine, the future USS Oregon, is christened in a ceremony at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Politicians, shipyard leaders and Navy officials gathered for the ceremony at the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard, where they spoke about the importance of Virginia-class submarines and praised the skills of the thousands of shipyard workers in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia who built the Oregon. (DANA JENSEN/THE DAY/AP)
The U.S. Navy’s newest attack submarine, the future USS Oregon, is christened in a ceremony at Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. Politicians, shipyard leaders and Navy officials gathered for the ceremony at the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard, where they spoke about the importance of Virginia-class submarines and praised the skills of the thousands of shipyard workers in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia who built the Oregon. (DANA JENSEN/THE DAY/AP)

This article originally appears courtesy of AP/Stars and Stripes.

The U.S. Navy’s newest attack submarine, the future USS Oregon, was christened in Connecticut on Saturday.

Politicians, shipyard leaders and Navy officials gathered for a ceremony at the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, where they spoke about the importance of Virginia-class submarines and praised the skills of the thousands of shipyard workers in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia who built the Oregon.

Vice Adm. James Kilby said the Oregon, outfitted with the most modern weapons and sensors, will disappear beneath the waves and never be detected until a time and place of its choosing. It “truly represents naval combat power,” said Kilby, a deputy chief of naval operations.

The submarine is expected to cost about $2.7 billion and join the fleet next year. It will officially become the USS Oregon when it’s commissioned.

Electric Boat, which has facilities in Connecticut and Rhode Island, builds attack submarines with Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia. Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, said the submarine represents the “very best of American innovation, quality and pride.”

About 100 Electric Boat workers, upset over a proposed new contract, protested outside of the ceremony, according to The Day newspaper in New London. A vote on the contract is scheduled for next week.

Inside the shipyard, the ship’s sponsor, Dana Richardson, christened the nuclear submarine with sparkling wine from Oregon and water from Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Richardson, a native of Corvallis, Oregon, said the privilege of being a ship sponsor is beyond her wildest dreams. She’s married to retired Adm. John Richardson, who served as the chief of naval operations from 2015 until this summer.

The submarine is the third Navy ship to honor the state. It will carry on the proud legacy of its predecessors, said Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, who delivered the keynote address. Walden said the submarine has the capability to prevent nuclear war.

Construction began in the fall of 2014. It’s the 20th Virginia-class submarine. The class of submarines, equipped with torpedoes and missiles, are designed to carry out a wide range of missions, including surveillance work and the delivery of Special Operations forces.

The Oregon is part of a group of submarines with design changes so the submarines will need one less period in the shipyard for maintenance over their lifespan, according to the Navy. Consequently, they will be able to do one more deployment over their lifespan, for a total of about 15 deployments.

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USS Basilone Keel Laying

BATH, Maine (Jan. 10, 2020) Ship sponsor Ms. Ryan Manion welds her initials into a steel plate during a keel authentication ceremony for the future USS John Basilone (DDG 122). (Photo courtesy of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works)

Original article appears courtesy of U.S. Navy/NAVSEA

The keel of the future USS John Basilone (DDG 122) was ceremoniously laid at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard Jan.10.

Speakers included Capt. Seth Miller, DDG 51 class program manager; Diane Hawkins, niece of the ship’s namesake; and the ship’s sponsors, Amy Looney and Ryan Manion. The ship’s sponsors authenticated the keel by etching their initials into the keel plate, a tradition that symbolically recognizes the joining of modular components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.

“It’s an honor to celebrate this milestone with Ms. Looney, Ms. Manion, andmembers of the Basilone family,” Miller said. “Laying the keel for our nation’s 72nd Arleigh Burke destroyer, and building a ship named for a man who embodied the spirit of commitment and strength, this is a truly special occasion.”

The ship’s namesake was a United States Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in WWII. Basilone received the Medal of Honor for heroism displayed in the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, and for conspicuous gallantry displayed in the Battle of Iwo Jima, after he singlehandedly destroyed an enemy blockhouse and led a Marine tank under fire safely through a minefield.

Arleigh Burke class destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants that serve as integral assets in global maritime security, engaging in air, undersea, surface, strike and ballistic missile defense, as well as providing increased capabilities in anti-submarine warfare, command and control, and anti-surface warfare.

As a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, John Basilone will employ the Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System, which includes Integrated Air and Missile Defense capability, delivers quick reaction time, high firepower, and has increased electronic countermeasures capability for anti-air warfare.

In addition to John Basilone, BIW has four additional Arleigh Burke class destroyers under construction – Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), Carl M. Levin (DDG120), Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG 124) and Patrick Gallagher (DDG 127), as well as the Zumwalt-class destroyer Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002). BIW isunder contract for an additional six Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which will all be built in the Flight III configuration with enhanced Airand Missile Defense capabilities.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.

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USS Billings (LCS 15) Commissioned

KEY WEST, Fla. (Aug. 3, 2019) Naval Air Station Key West color guard parades the colors during the commissioning ceremony of USS Billings (LCS 15). Billings is the 17th littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the eighth of the Freedom variant. It is the first ship named for Billings, the largest city in the U.S. state of Montana. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Arnesia McIntyre)

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Marianne Guemo, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Southeast

KEY WEST, Fla. – The U.S. Navy commissioned the USS Billings (LCS 15), the eighth Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship, during a ceremony in Key West, Florida, Aug. 3.

Billings is the first ship in the U.S. Navy to be named after the largest city in Montana. She sails with the motto, “Big Sky over Troubled Waters.”

“The citizens of Billings and the state of Montana will always be proud to call this ship their own,” said Bill Cole, the mayor of Billings and the chairman of the ship’s commissioning committee. “Wherever you sail, the people of Billings will always be with you and the Big Sky will always be over you.”

“This privilege is not lost on me,” said Cmdr. Nathan Rowan, commanding officer of Billings. “I am humbled by it and hope to exceed expectations in my remaining time with the Billings setting the tone for a safe, successful, and sustained legacy for this ship and all who will serve aboard her.”

Billings has a crew of approximately 70 Sailors, and is designed to operate near the shore and in the open ocean. This provides cost-effective force flexibility and allows the Navy to strengthen allied partnerships.

“A warship and its crew is better when they are ambassadors, better when they put a hand out—a hand of friendship, a hand of comfort, reassurance. But make no mistake, they can bring it. They’ve got power and they can fight,” said Adm. Craig S. Faller, Commander, U.S. Southern Command. “Billings is fast. It’s lethal. It can fight, and so can its crew.”

Rowan said Billings has been designated as a mine counter-measures platform.

“We have already begun developing missions and protocols that future ships will conduct and adhere to,” said Rowan.

Billings’ sponsor, Sharla Tester, married to Montana Sen. Jon Tester, christened the ship on July 1, 2017, and, during the ceremony, welcomed the families of the ship’s crew to join her to give the traditional order: “Man our ship and bring her to life.”

The Sailors who brought the Navy’s newest ship to life will enjoy the latest in design and technology maximize lethality without sacrificing the needs of the crew.

Billings is the newest in mine countermeasures,” said Mineman Seaman Kevin Lee Carpenter. “This ship is bigger, there’s more space, more livable conditions, and better berthing spaces.”

Billings will be homeported in Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

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USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) Brought to Life

The crew of the Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), brings the ship to life during its commissioning ceremony. Paul Ignatius is the 67th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the first warship named for the former Secretary of the Navy who served under President Lyndon Johnson from 1967 to 1969. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alana Langdon)

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alana Langdon, NPASE East, Det. Southeast

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. – The Navy commissioned its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), at Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 27.

The ship’s namesake, Paul Ignatius, served honorably as Secretary of the Navy under President Lyndon Johnson from 1967 to 1969 and as a commissioned lieutenant during World War II aboard the Casablanca-class escort carrier USS Manila Bay (CVE 61).

“What could be greater than serving aboard a Unites States destroyer,” said Ignatius himself, speaking from a podium aboard the ship’s quarterdeck. “Destroyers have an honorable role in Navy history because of their many capabilities.”

It was Dr. Elisa Ignatius, granddaughter to the ship’s sponsor, the late Nancy Ignatius, who ordered the crew to bring the ship to life. Sailors rushed from shore, carrying aboard their motto “ALWAYS READY, FIGHT ON,” running two-at-a time to populate the ship. Medals jangled from their dress whites as Paul Ignatius Sailors manned all rail space and deck stations available under a sun-lit, billowing Ensign.

“Thank you all for your mental toughness and unwavering dedication to get our ship through every milestone of performing at sea with excellence,” said Cmdr. Robby D. Trotter, commanding officer of Paul Ignatius, to his crew. “I’m extremely proud of each and every one of you.”

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer was the ceremony’s principal speaker.

“The ship in her magnificence alone provides peace through presence and will keep the maritime commons open, which is the artery of free trade and commerce for our allies, friends and ourselves,” said Spencer, the 76th Secretary of the Navy. “But please keep in mind that at a moment’s notice, this well-trained crew and this ship can be put into harm’s way as your forward-deployed force to deliver the fight tonight in order to keep our peace and prosperity. That is the mission of this crew. That is the mission of this ship. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the mission of your United States Navy.”

About 310 officers and enlisted personnel make up the crew of Paul Ignatius, slated to be home ported in Mayport, Florida. Together they have tried, tested and demonstrated seaworthiness as a lethal, ready and well-trained crew prepared to forward-operate in any ocean of the world.

“It’s a rare and special opportunity for a Sailor to be a plank owner,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate Gilbert Laguerre, the leading chief petty officer of Paul Ignatius’ auxiliary division. “We learn first-hand from the builders how to manage our equipment as it’s installed and we take great pride in becoming subject-matter experts.”

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer sails up to 30 knots at sea, carrying advanced RADAR and SONAR systems that allow the ship to engage targets in the air, on the sea and underwater. The decks host two MK 41 Vertical Launching Systems (VLS), one five-inch gun turret, a close-in weapons system (CIWS) and two MK 32 triple-barrel torpedo mounts.

The guest speakers also included Fort Lauderdale’s Broward County Mayor Mark D. Bogen, who welcomed the community to the ceremony, and Huntington Ingalls Industry President Michael C. Peters, who shared details of the momentous energy and thought put into the ship’s design and construction.

Trotter reported Paul Ignatius ready and in his command to Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

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