Fincantieri Marinette Marine christened another Littoral Combat Ship today.
The USS Sioux City, the first US Navy vessel to be named after the city, launched into the Menominee river Saturday morning.
“I practiced yesterday and hopefully that will bring the ship good luck for her entire life. We’re starting off on the right note,” says Mary Winnefeld, wife of Retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Ms. Winnefeld us the USS Sioux City ship sponsor and helped christen the ship in front of a crowd of hundreds.
The Navy is hopeful the Sioux City’s future is a smooth one. Two ships in the LCS program previously at Fincantieri Marinette Marine suffered setbacks at the end of 2015. The USS Milwaukee, commissioned last November, lasted less than a month before it broke down on way to its new home at the Naval Base San Diego.
“The Milwaukee, they’re looking into that, looks like we had some trouble there, but the ships sometimes have troubles and you fix them and you get them right back to sea,” says Admiral Michelle Howard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations for the U.S. Navy.
Less than a month later the USS Fort Wayne suffered a malfunction leaving it stranded in Singapore.
“The ships had some growing pains, but we’ve had the USS Fort Worth deployed out there for ten months and she’s been doing a great job,” says Admiral Howard.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, (D) Wis, was also in attendance. When asked if the setbacks worry her about Marinette being able to attract future military contracts the senator said she didn’t.
“I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a number of Naval commanders who are reviewing the performance of these ships,” said Sen. Baldwin. “I’m hearing really exceptional reviews on those that are in Japan and Singapore, really are getting high reviews.”
Lockheed Martin partners with Marinette Marine on building the ships. Joe North is the company’s VP of Littoral Ships and Systems. He says the issues are nothing more than growing pains.
“One thing that’s unique about ship building maybe not some of the other services,” says North, “you… go through a lot of testing on smaller vessels – trucks, airplanes – with ships that’s hard to do. The first one we build becomes our best test platform.”
The future USS Sioux City hasn’t been commissioned yet. Lockheed Martin expects to deliver the ship to the U.S. Navy by early 2017.