MARINETTE, Wis. — Within a stone’s throw of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay, a Wisconsin-built Navy ship with a Minnesota namesake is about to be launched.
The USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul will be christened on Saturday morning.
“It’s tremendously exciting, particularly for the Navy reservists of the Twin Cities,” Lt. Cmdr. Mike Sheehan of the US Navy Reserve said.
Sheehan will be among the Minnesotans in attendance for the Saturday launch.
“The USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul is going to go all over the world, people are going to see the name Minneapolis St. Paul on the back of this ship no matter where it’s parked,” Sheehan said.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul was built by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, in partnership with the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard.
It will be one of 16 Wisconsin-built littoral combat ships joining the Navy fleet.
Seven are already in service.
Propelled by water jets, LCS Freedom Class ships are designed to be fast, with speeds up to 45 miles per hour, and capable of operating in shallow water closer to shore than other Navy ships.
A flight deck and hanger can accommodate attack helicopters.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul will have capacity to accommodate a crew of up to 98 sailors and flight personnel.
Currently, 80 percent complete, the ship is ready to hit the water – but not in the traditional way.
Because the Marinette shipyard accesses Lake Michigan through the narrow Menomonee River, side launches are necessary.
Released from their cradles, ships hit the water broadside, rolling violently to one side, before righting themselves.
“So, it’s pretty exciting,” said Jim Murdoch, director of business development for Lockheed Martin.
After its launch, the USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul will remain docked as construction continues. After trials on Lake Michigan, the ship is scheduled to be turned over the Navy next year.
The name USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul was used once before, on a Navy submarine decommissioned in 2008.