The US Navy has officially commissioned its newest freedom-variant littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Wichita.
During a ceremony held at Naval Station Mayport in Florida – where the USS Wichita will one day be based – US Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas delivered the principal address. In time-honored US Navy tradition, ship’s sponsor Kate Lehrer gave the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
“This commissioning represents USS Wichita’s entry into the active fleet and is a testament to the increased capabilities made possible by a true partnership between the Department of the Navy and our industrial base,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer. “This ship honors the citizens of Wichita, Kansas for their longstanding support of the Navy and Marine Corps team and I am confident USS Wichita and crew will make our Navy and nation stronger.”
To date, this is the third naval vessel to honor Kansas’ largest city. The first, a heavy cruiser, was on duty during World War II. She supported amphibious landings during Operation Torch in November 1942, and later participated in the Battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf and the invasion of Okinawa in 1944. The first USS Wichita earned 13 battle stars for wartime service.
The second USS Wichita (AOR 1) was a replenishment oiler in service from 1969 to 1993. During her first three deployments, the ship made numerous trips to replenish ships on ‘Yankee Station’, earning four battle stars for service during the Vietnam War.
The Littoral Combat Ship class comes in one of two variants – Freedom or Independence – designed and built by two distinct industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin in Marinette, Wisconsin (for odd-numbered hulls). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).
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