The USS Santa Barbara became the latest Independence-class littoral combat ship put into service, following its weekend commissioning by the Navy.
Santa Barbara is the third Navy ship to bear the name of the Southern California city, home to a Marine Corps air station and a naval reserve center during World War II, the service said in a statement Friday before the commissioning.
The ship was commissioned in a ceremony Saturday at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, Calif. It is homeported in San Diego, along with the rest of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 1.
The service’s Freedom-class littoral combat ships make up Squadron 2 and are homeported in Mayport, Fla., according to the Navy’s website.
Last year, the service announced plans to mothball nine Freedom-class vessels significantly ahead of their planned end-of-service dates because of serious propulsion and other costly problems.
One of those ships, USS Little Rock, was set for decommissioning last week in Mayport. Five, including USS Fort Worth and USS St. Louis, ultimately were saved from being scrapped.
The Navy says the ships don’t have the firepower needed. It is instead prioritizing development of Constellation-class frigates, which are expected to provide a more powerful punch.
Independence-class ships also have experienced problems, including cracked hulls on at least six of the vessels, according to a Navy Times report May 10, 2022.
Fast, nimble and able to transit in shallow waters as well as open-ocean, littoral combat ships are “ideal for integrating into joint, combined, manned and unmanned teams to support maritime security operations and humanitarian missions around the globe,” Adm. Samuel J. Paparo, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a separate statement Saturday.
There are 13 of the Independence-class ships already in service, and USS Canberra is set for commissioning this summer.
Three more Independence-class ships are under construction or in pre-production, according to the Navy website.