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Navy slated to commission the USS Cincinnati, its 20th littoral combat ship

The Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Cincinnati is scheduled to be commissioned in Gulfport, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 5. 2019. The Cincinnati is the Navy's 20th LCS and its fifth vessel to be named after the Ohio city.

PAUL ARCHER/U.S. NAVY

By CHRISTIAN LOPEZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 4, 2019

The Navy plans to commission its newest littoral combat ship, the USS Cincinnati, during a ceremony Saturday in Gulfport, Miss.

A departure in design from its sister vessels, the LCS was plagued with problems during its development but is showing potential. For example, an LCS recently successfully launched an advanced type of over-the-horizon ship-killing missile during an exercise near Guam.

Former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, the USS Cincinnati’s sponsor, is slated to follow naval tradition by shattering a bottle of sparkling wine across the ship’s bow and giving the order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, will give the principal address.

“USS Cincinnati and her crew will play an important role in the defense of our nation and maritime freedom,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said in a statement.

Farther north on Saturday, the Navy will christen its newest Virginia-class attack submarine, the USS Oregon, in Groton, Conn.

The Cincinnati was built by General Dynamics and Austal USA. It holds up to 40 sailors and carries two MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters and a MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter.

The ship is the ninth of the Independence class and the 20th LCS of a planned 32 ships in two designs, Independence and Freedom, according to naval-technology.com.

The 418-foot-long vessel is capable of more than 47 knots, or 54 mph, according to the ship’s website.

“She stands as proof of what teamwork – from civilian to contractor to military – can accomplish,” Spencer said in the statement. “This fast, agile platform will deliver her motto, ‘Strength in Unity’ worldwide thanks to their efforts.”

The $12.4 billion LCS program, begun during President George W. Bush’s administration, was assailed by critics for cost overruns, faulty design and poor performance at sea.

The warship redeemed itself somewhat when the USS Coronado deployed to the western Pacific in 2016-17, according to the Navy Times. Although mechanical issues laid the vessel up for a month in Hawaii, the ship and its crew completed an uneventful remainder of the cruise, the newspaper reported.

And Tuesday, another LCS, the USS Gabrielle Giffords, successfully fired the latest version of a Naval Strike Missile at a target ship, the decommissioned frigate USS Ford, while at sea near Guam. It was the first test of the missile in the region.

The Navy in a statement Thursday said the Ford was targeted and sunk by fire from several ships and aircraft during the Griffin Pacific exercise with Singapore.

The Cincinnati will be homeported at Naval Base San Diego, according to the Navy.

Littoral combat ships are built to conduct mine countermeasures, antisubmarine warfare or surface warfare missions in near shore or open ocean environments in a swift and nimble manner.

The Cincinnati is the fifth Navy ship to be named after Ohio’s third-largest city. The first was a stern-wheel casemate gunboat that served during the Civil War and was decommissioned following the war. The second served as a cruiser from 1894 until the end of the Spanish-American War in 1919.

The third ship to bear the name was a light cruiser commissioned in 1924 that earned a battle star for service in World War II and then was decommissioned after the war ended in 1945. The fourth Cincinnati was a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine that served the Navy from 1978 to 1995.

lopez.christian@stripes.com
Twitter: @CLopez_Stripes

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