The head of the U.S. Navy is announcing plans to name one of its newest fighting ships after Nebraska’s largest city, while another vessel will carry the name of an Iowa city just up the Missouri River.
In an interview with Nebraska Radio Network, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Maybus says the ships will be christened the USS Omaha and the USS Sioux City.
“These are littoral combat ships, they’re some of our newest types of ships,” Maybus says. “They’re shallow draft, they’re very fast, and they’re modular. They can take off one weapons system and put on another.”
He says the Navy will buy 55 of the ships over the next few years and the Sioux City will be designated LCS 11 and the Omaha, LCS 12. That LCS stands for Littoral Combat Ship and “littoral” means close to shore.
Maybus says he chose the names as a tribute to America’s heartland.
“It was to honor the people of Iowa and the people of Nebraska, and the people of Sioux City, the people of Omaha. There’s always been a great military connection with the towns and cities of the Midwest,” Maybus says.
He says both states also have historical links to the Navy, including the retired battleship USS Iowa and the USS Nebraska, which is now in service as a submarine.
“It’s the work ethic, the patriotism that these two cities and these two states represent and also the strong military connection that these two states and these two cities have demonstrated,” Maybus explained.
There are two types of ships in the LCS class. The Sioux City will be built in Marinette, Wisconsin, as a single-hull steel ship. The Omaha will be built in Mobile, Alabama, and will be an aluminum tri-moran.
The Sioux City will be 378-feet long and the Omaha will be 419-feet long. Both will have a top speed over 40 knots.
The military is looking at making big cuts in all branches, but Maybus says this ship program will move ahead after some work to lower their cost.
He says the initial bids for the ships came in way too high and he decided to have the two builders bid against each other, even though he thought they need two variations of the ships.
“And over the course of the next year, the prices came down by almost 40%,” Maybus says. “So we have 10 ships from each builder locked in at fixed-price contracts. It’s one of the best values that we have. We’ll be getting the last of these ships for about $350-million.”
The keels will be laid for the Sioux City and Omaha in 2013 and Maybus says they should be ready to launch in 2016. Each ship will have a crew of around 80 sailors.
Learn more about the LCS class on the Navy’s website at: www.navy.mil.