MARINETTE, Wis. – A Navy combat ship being built on the shores of eastern Wisconsin will launch with a delicious bit of football irony.
If all goes as scheduled, late next year the USS Minneapolis/St. Paul will be immersed in the waters of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay.
Asked about the Packers fans building the ship, Jodi Greene, Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy - and a Northfield, Minnesota native - smiled and said, “They’re doing a good job. Every once in a while we try to instill some Vikings spirit in them.”
Greene was among the dignitaries Monday who toured the Fincantieri Marinette Marine Shipyard, where the Minneapolis/St. Paul and several of her sister ships are now being built.
“The fact that I’m able to bring a part of Minnesota and connect the ship to ‘The Cities’ is just an honor beyond words,” Greene said.
The Minneapolis/St. Paul is part of a series of vessels known as littoral combat ships.
By using water jets instead of propellers, the ships - which are nearly 400 feet long - can operate both in shallow waters and at high speeds.
The Marinette shipyard teamed up with Lockheed Martin to build the ships. Five have already been delivered to the Navy.
The Minneapolis/St. Paul is scheduled to launch last next year, after which it will undergo trials on Lake Michigan before setting out to sea with a crew of nearly 100 sailors.
Before entering Green Bay, the Minneapolis/St. Paul will actually be launched in the Menominee River. Due the river’s shallow bottom, the shipyard employs a unique sideways launch.
“I’ve been to five launches and it still isn’t old,” says John Torrisi, a Lockheed Martin communications specialist. “It’s amazing every time. Sometimes you wonder if it’s going to tip over. It never does.”