CINCINNATI (FOX19) - For the first time in 24 years, a ship bearing Cincinnati’s name will sail in the United States Navy.
USS Cincinnati, a littoral combat ship, is set to be commissioned during a ceremony Saturday morning in Gulfport, Miss., according to Navy officials.
Cincinnati Museum Center will livestream the commissioning at 11 a.m. in the Reakirt Auditorium with commentary about the ceremony. The livestream and an accompanying exhibition on past ships christened USS Cincinnati will be free to the public.
The commissioning’s principal speaker will be Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio.
Former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, the ship’s sponsor, will perform the time-honored naval tradition of shattering a bottle of sparkling wine across the ship’s bow, according to Stars and Stripes, after which she will give the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
"USS Cincinnati and her crew will play an important role in the defense of our nation and maritime freedom," Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said. "She stands as proof of what teamwork--from civilian to contractor to military--can accomplish.”
The commissioning comes 17 months after the Navy christened the ship and 17 years after the ship class came into existence under President George W. Bush.
The Navy conceived of littoral combat ships as modular, nimble, shallow-draft ships able to contend with asymmetrical threats in the aftermath of the Cold War, according to the Navy’s fact file on the ship class. With modular weapons and a variety of manned and unmanned vehicles, they are built to conduct mine countermeasures, antisubmarine warfare, and surface warfare missions both close to the shore and in the open ocean.
However, the Navy’s bidding and construction process for the $12.4 billion project was fraught with cost overruns, faulty designs, and poor performance at sea, according to Stars and Stripes.
Still, investment in the ship class continues. The original 20-ship block buy of 2010, split between Lockheed Martin and Austal USA, has since grown to encompass 33 littoral combat ships, reports the Navy.
Seventeen have been delivered to date. USS Cincinnati will be the 18th.
The 421.5-foot ship will be homeported at Naval Base San Diego, according to the Navy.
It is the fifth ship christened USS Cincinnati, the Navy says. The four previous ships comprise a Civil War gunboat, a cruiser deployed during the Spanish-American War, a cruiser that earned a battle star in World War II, and a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine that served the Navy from 1978 to 1995.