Navy to name new littoral combat ship USS Wichita

By RICK PLUMLEE AND DION LEFLER | The Wichita Eagle | Published: April 12, 2013

WICHITA, Kans. — For the first time in more than 20 years, a Navy warship will bear the name USS Wichita.

The new Wichita will be a littoral combat ship, a type of fast and maneuverable craft designed for combat operations close to shorelines.

U.S. Rep Mike Pompeo, and Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, all R-Kansas, made the announcement Thursday after receiving phone calls from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. An official announcement ceremony is scheduled for Friday.

"The two previous ships to bear the name Wichita distinguished themselves in service to our nation and I fully expect the future USS Wichita will continue that proud tradition, representing both Wichita and Kansas with honor around the world for many decades to come," Mabus said in a statement relayed by Roberts’ office.

The last USS Wichita, a replenishment oiler, was decommissioned in 1993. The first USS Wichita was a heavy cruiser used during World War II, including in the invasion of Okinawa.

Construction of the new ship will begin in the next couple of years in Wisconsin, Pompeo’s office said. It will be built by Lockheed Martin.

The Wichita will be part of the “Freedom” class of warships, named for the first littoral combat ship, USS Freedom, which was delivered to the Navy in 2008.

Five of the LCS class have been built and five more are under construction, according to the Navy’s website.

The ships are slightly smaller than the Navy’s guided missile frigates. They can be used as a small assault transport with a flight deck and hanger space.

The Wichita will be 378 feet long and have a speed of more than 40 knots, according to the Navy’s website.

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