ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (KTIV) – For more than six years, KTIV has followed the planning, construction, and launch of the littoral combat ship USS Sioux City.
Over the weekend, the ship was commissioned at the U-S Naval Academy, and officially became a member of the United States Navy.
To step aboard the USS Sioux City is to step into the future of naval warfare and ship construction.
“I don’t have a rudder sticking out of me, like a frigate, that’s 23-feet tall,” said CDR Randy Malone, USS Sioux City Commander. “So, I have water jets that are built into the hull of the ship, so I have a draft that’s really, really shallow.”
As Thursday’s tour of the ship taught us, the Sioux City can get closer to shore than any other Naval vessel. And, it can be reconfigured for any mission… from minesweeping to surface warfare. The Sioux City will be fitted for surface combat.
“That will give us two 30-millimeter guns in addition to the armament we have on board right now,” said Malone. “And, we’ll have an 11-meter RHIB that will go out the stern gate.”
Among the Sioux City’s 75 crew members are several graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy. On Friday, we toured “the yard”, and got a history lesson from 30-year Navy man Bob Cepek.
“Here I received an education, excellent preparation for being a naval officer, and then being able to serve in the Navy for 30 years and go to so many interesting places in the world, and be a part of so much of our nation’s history,” Cepek said. “It was a true privilege.”
When it was founded in 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy covered just 10 acres in Annapolis, Maryland, and had just 50 students, called midshipmen, in its first class. Today, the academy covers 338 acres and has 4,500 mids.
“Crew of the USS Sioux City, man our ship and bring her to life,” said Mary Winnefeld, USS Sioux City sponsor.
Saturday’s commissioning ceremony, the first ever at the Naval Academy, was the highlight of our time in Annapolis.
During the ceremony, the Sioux City became the newest member of the Naval fleet. And, the Navy welcomed her with open arms.
“A new, courageous, ready and able crew will sally forth to all corners of the world from here defending our nation from those who would threaten us, and deterring all others from thinking about it,” said Thomas Modly, Undersecretary of the Navy.
With the commissioning complete, Sunday brought the Sioux City’s departure.
“We’re making all preparations for getting the ship underway and return to home port,” said CDR Randy Malone, USS Sioux City Commander.
Just before Noon, workers removed bow and stern lines, and tugboats pulled the Sioux City from the shallow waters near the pier…into the deeper channel of the Severn River.
Sailing into history as the first ship named after Sioux City, and the first commissioned at the US Naval Academy.
The USS Sioux City will take about three days to sail to its home port of Mayport, Florida.
Once there, it will begin weapons testing in January.
The nearly 50 Sioux Cityans who traveled to Annapolis to watch the commissioning are back home.
One of those attendees, Doug Strohbeen, says it was a trip of a lifetime.
He says seeing the USS Sioux City all dressed up and being able to be with five-thousand people at the ceremony was something he’d never forget.
Strohbeen says one of his most memorable moments from the trip was seeing the control room or “gut” of the ship.
“They talked about how they locked everything on GPS,” said Doug Strohbeen, attended commissioning ceremony, “So if there’s a boat out there for example and they lock this thing in and they’re covering it, they’re following it, the cannon out front is just watching it, wherever that boat goes it goes and all they have to decide boom and that boats no longer there.”
Strohbeen adds the crew was so appreciative for all the work the people of Sioux City did to make the ship a reality.