The US Navy launched the third littoral combat ship on December 4th, 2010 from the Marinette Marine Shipyards in Marinette, Wisconsin.
A large wave rolled across the Marinette River as the USS Fort Worth was launched laterally on a grey Saturday morning. The vessel will not be delivered to the Navy until 2012. Work will continue while the newest littoral combat ship, known as an LCS, floats in the icy river near the shipyard.
Watching the ship slide into the river was only part of the official ceremony attended by shipyard workers, project designers, and members of the community.
Modern Vessel, Ancient Tradition
Members of the crew that will serve on the USS Fort Worth were there to take part in a Navy ceremony that has its roots in ancient Greek and Roman times.
The mast stepping ceremony placed coins under the foot of the mast of a newly constructed ship. It is though this was done for good luck. The ancients also placed coins at the stem and the stern post as the ship was being built.
The modern ceremony is similar but the objects included symbolize the lineage of the shipâ€™s name and the physical embodiment of US Naval tradition.
Commanding officers from the shipâ€™s two rotational crews, the shipâ€™s sponsor, and distinguished guests from the cities of Fort Worth, TX and Marinette, WI placed symbolic objects in a container which will be incorporated into the base of the shipâ€™s mast.
According to the Navy many objects were included.
â€œThe coins included half dollars minted in the birth years of the ship's matrons of honor totaling $3, representing the ship's hull number; a coin from the 2nd Striker Calvary Regiment, that trace their military lineage to the 2nd Dragoons, who founded Camp Worth; a coin from the 2nd Infantry Division representing Gen. William J. Worth's command of the 2nd Regular Division; and a coin from USS Fort Worth.â€
Also included were;
â€œMilitary artifacts included a tunic button from one of the founding 2nd Dragoons, an arrowhead and arrow shaft from the period when Fort Worth was founded and a piece of the external coating of the military's newest fighter, the F-35. The ship's sponsor included a U.S. House of Representatives' member pin, a Fort Worth All-American City pin and a key to the city of Fort Worth. The ship's crews added name tags representing the oldest and youngest Sailors of each crew.â€
As tradition dictates the mast stepping ceremony was carried out, on December 3rd, before the ship was launched. The senior welder at the shipyard will have the honor of placing the artifact container into the mast permanently.
The obligatory bottle of Champagne sent the Navyâ€™s newest combat ship into the water at the christening ceremonyâ€™s climax.
The Mission of the Littoral Combat Ship
Littoral Combat Ships will fill a gap in the Navyâ€™s capabilities. The class of ships is able to operate in shallow coastal waters of less than 20 feet. It is also a high speed vessel for its size, a top speed of 40+ knots is possible.
As a forward operating platform the vessels will fill many roles including launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles, anti-countermeasure duty, surface combat, and submarine mitigation. Modular equipment packages to suit the tactical situation can be swapped at pier side in a few days. This will allow greater flexibility in deployment allowing a single ship to fill roles usually filled by several vessels. The design will allow new technology to be incorporated quickly. Advanced internal and external networking capabilities are part of the expandable design.
A rotational crew, designated as â€œblueâ€ and â€œgoldâ€ will alternate in the same way crews of Trident Class submarines serve.
The Navy recently announced the order for another ten of the LCS Class of ships. The order is expected to generate more than ten years of work for the builders. An unusual decision was made to split the workload between two shipyards, the Wisconsin shipyard and another in Alabama. Some parties protested the decision, but the wisdom of keeping two trained workforces and construction facilities active is an amicable decision for both companies and their supporting communities.