The Navy’s future littoral combat ship Nantucket was christened Saturday in Marinette, Wisconsin, and launched into the Menominee River at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Shipyard.
When it is commissioned, the Freedom-variant LCS will be homeported in Mayport, Florida. Its Independence-variant counterparts are based in San Diego.
The ship will be the third bearing the name Nantucket — the first being a Passaic-class coastal monitor that was commissioned in 1863 and the second being a wooden light ship built in 1907. The name also is a nod to Nantucket Island and its maritime roots as a whaling hub in the 1800s.
“The future USS Nantucket will be the third U.S. Navy ship commissioned to honor the maritime history and spirit of Nantucket,” then-acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker said in a statement. “I have no doubt the Sailors of USS Nantucket (LCS 27) will carry on the proud legacy from generations past in preserving sea lanes, countering instability, and maintaining our maritime superiority.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., the keynote speaker during the christening ceremony, noted that Navy leaders have cautioned that the People’s Republic of China may attempt to take action against Taiwan in the next six years — or sooner.
“We can’t simply pay lip service to the idea of naval supremacy anymore,” Gallagher said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “We have to earn it, each and every day. If we want to avert disaster — and make no mistake, that is where our present course leads — we must act with a sense of urgency to advocate for, build, and resource American seapower before it is too late.”
The first Nantucket ship was involved in attacking Confederate forts in Charleston Harbor on April 7, 1863, and performed blockade duty around Charleston the following year.
The second Nantucket ship, which was acquired by the Navy in 1917 through an executive order, was responsible for safeguarding waters near Nantucket Shoals from U-boats.
“The future USS Nantucket will truly honor the rich heritage of the people of Nantucket and the maritime legacy that the island represents,” said C. Elizabeth Gibson, Nantucket town manager, in a Lockheed Martin news release. “Having dedicated much of my life to living in and serving the town of Nantucket, I know just how proud our community is of LCS 27 bearing our island’s name and knowing that the ship and its crew will fulfill critical missions on behalf of the U.S. Navy for years to come.”
The Navy has started to decommission some of its first littoral combat ships; the LCS Independence was decommissioned in San Diego last month and the LCS Freedom is slated to be decommissioned in September.
Both ships were test and training vessels for the littoral combat ship program, as were the Fort Worth and Coronado.
Navy leaders have said significant and costly upgrades were needed for the first versions of the littoral combat ship to remain operation and, as a result, it was best to decommission them.
In February 2020, then-Rear Adm. Randy Crites, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget at the time, said such upgrades included structural modifications and updates to the combat systems, among other things.