MARINETTE, WIS. — The Navy is preparing to christen its newest littoral combat ship the USS Milwaukee, which will make it the fifth naval vessel to bear the name of Wisconsin’s largest city.
The ship will be christened Wednesday at the Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard by Sylvia Panetta, the wife of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Littoral combat ships are speedy warships designed to conduct water combat immediately off an enemy’s shore. They can be used to hunt submarines and pirates, defend ground troops and support unmanned aerial vehicles such as Predator drones.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the littoral ship program represents the future of the Navy, and the name of its newest ship is fitting.
“Milwaukee’s christening serves as a tribute to this great American city, but also to the hard working people of Wisconsin and our nation’s entire industrial base,” he said in a statement.
The USS Milwaukee will be 388 feet long and is designed to be extra-speedy. Unlike ships built for a single purpose, littoral ships can be refitted to suit a specific mission. For example, an anti-submarine package can be swapped out for a mine-warfare package if war conditions change.
‘Littoral’ is an aquatic term that pertains to the shore of any large waterway.
Among the other ships named USS Milwaukee were an ironclad vessel built for Civil War service and a light cruiser that served through World War II in the Atlantic.