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Navy Christening USS Cincinnati, Will Carry A Key To The City

Austal USA
The USS Cincinnati is a littoral combat ship like the one shown here, the USS Tulsa (LCS 16).

The latest military vessel to bear Cincinnati's name is being christened Saturday morning in Mobile, Ala.

The USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) is the 10th of 15 Independence-variant littoral combat ships builder Austal USA is under contract to provide to the Navy. The total contract is worth more than $4.5 billion.

Cincinnati council member and Navy veteran David Mann will be on hand to present to the ship a key to the city, a history of previous USS Cincinnati vessels, several medallions of sentimental value, and a letter from the mayor. During what's called a "mast stepping" ceremony just prior to the christening, the items will be included in a small aluminum box that will be welded to the inside of the ship's mast like a time capsule.

Mann says he's honored to represent the city, and that he asked to be chosen for the job when the Navy requested a representative. He served four years in the Navy, including on the destroyer the USS English (DD-696) where he was deployed to Cuban waters during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

He remembers getting the "follow me" light signal from the USS Independence, an aircraft carrier. "We wanted to say we were detached to go home, but we didn't say that. We sailed through the night and Friday we were in Cuban waters, and like most people, we didn't know what was going on until President Kennedy gave a national speech on Monday evening."

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is the ship's sponsor, meaning she has the honor of smashing a bottle of Champagne on its bow. Mann jokes that's despite his lobbying the honor go to his wife.

The ship includes two LM2500 marine gas turbine engines built at GE Aviation in Evendale. "Each LM2500 engine produces over 29,500 horsepower, propelling the ship to speeds in excess of 40 knots, or 46 miles-per-hour," GE says.

A littoral combat ship is a "high-speed, agile, shallow draft, focused-mission surface combatant designed to conduct surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and mine countermeasures missions in the littoral region," according to Austal.

A commissioning date for the USS Cincinnati hasn't been set, though it will likely be about a year from the christening. Where it will be stationed is also to be determined, though the first four, which are already commissioned, are ported in the Pacific.

This is the Navy's fifth vessel to carry the name "Cincinnati."

(Information courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati.)

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.