MARINETTE, Wis. — A shipyard on the border between Wisconsin and Michigan was for one day crowded with Minnesotans who showed up Saturday to watch the launch of the U.S. Navy’s newest combat ship, named in honor of the Twin Cities.

The littoral combat ship Minneapolis-St. Paul was dropped sideways into the water Saturday at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin, about 55 miles north of Green Bay.

The ship is designed to be fast and agile in order to conduct missions close to shore.

The ship’s sponsor, Northfield, Minnesota native and Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy Jodi J. Greene, christened the ship by smashing a bottle of champagne against its bow, the EagleHerald reported.

Greene said her role as sponsor has allowed her to reconnect with her Minnesota roots in the last few years.

"Being the Navy sponsor of the future USS Minneapolis-St. Paul is the honor of a lifetime," she said.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, the keynote speaker, praised those who built the ship and those who will serve aboard it.

"You are the backbone of America's industrial base," she said, directing her comments to shipyard workers. "You make our economy strong and that's very important for making sure that we have a nation that is secure for future generations."

The ship is the latest in a line of near-shore Navy vessels constructed by Fincantieri Marinette Marine and Lockheed Martin.

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