September 15, 2016 - The Navy will christen its newest Freedom-variant littoral combat ship, USS Wichita (LCS 13), during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony Saturday, Sept. 17 in Marinette, Wisconsin.
Wichita, designated LCS 13, honors the city of Wichita, Kansas.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the junior senator from Wisconsin, will serve as the principal speaker. Novelist and editor Kate Lehrer, the wife of former PBS news anchor and Wichita native Jim Lehrer, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by Lehrer breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow to formally christen the ship, a time-honored Navy tradition.
“The christening of the future USS Wichita brings this warship one step closer to joining our nation's growing fleet,” said the Honorable Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy. “The skill and dedication of the men and women who brought this ship from an idea to a reality—our country's incomparable shipbuilders—will be remembered for years to come as the LCS 13 deploys around the world.”
The future USS Wichita is the third naval vessel to honor Kansas's largest city. The first (CA 45) was a heavy cruiser in service from 1939 to 1947. Active during World War II, Wichita supported amphibious landings during Operation Torch in November 1942 in the European Theater and later participated in the Battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf and the invasion of Okinawa in 1944 in the Pacific Theater, earning 13 battle stars for wartime service. The second USS Wichita (AOR 1) was a first-in-class replenishment oiler in service from 1969 to 1993. During her first three deployments, AOR 1 made numerous line swings to replenish ships on “Yankee Station,” earning four battle stars for service during the Vietnam War.
The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g. LCS 1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS 6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).
Each LCS seaframe will be outfitted with a single mission module made up of a mission system and support equipment. A dedicated ship crew will combine with aviation assets to deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare or surface warfare missions.