The launching of USS Marinette Freedom-class littoral combat ship at Fincantieri Marinette Marine
on October 31, 2020
USS Marinette Launched Into Menominee River Issue Date: November 5, 2020
(See related story on Page B-4 of Today's Peshtigo Times.) The future USS Marinette's awe inspiring sideways launch into the waters of the Menominee River on Saturday, Oct. 31 was witnessed by only a handful of dignitaries and a small crowd of the Fincantieri Marinette Marine employees who helped build her, due to Covid-19 restrictions. Lack of spectators did not diminish the impact of the splash-down as the littoral combat vessel hit water for the first time.
The day was clear and cold, with the mercury at about 30 degrees at the time of the launch. Some spectators not admitted to the shipyard were able to watch the launch from the Interstate bridge and from other sites along the river.
Shipyard officials have expressed hope that the ship's christening in spring or summer of 2021 can be a more impressive event, complete with the usual gathering of dignitaries from all over the nation. LCS is the 13th littoral combat vessel to be built at the Marinette shipyard, and the final three Freedom-Class LCS are under construction there for the United States Navy.
The USS Marinette, LCS 25 will be the first commissioned U.S. Navy ship to bear the name Marinette, and was named to recognize the Marinette shipyard's significant contributions to Navy shipbuilding. The only prior U.S. Navy vessel named to honor the city where so many ships are built was a non-commissioned Natick-class tugboat, Marinette YTB-791, that was in service in service from 1967.
Marinette is the birthplace of Lockheed Martin's Freedom-variant LCS, which Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine have partnered to produce for more than 16 years.
Saturday's launch may be one of the last sideways launches at the shipyard in Marinette, where a ship lift is being installed to accommodate launches of the larger frigate ships to be built there for the U.S. Navy over the next decade.
LCS are regarded as highly maneuverable vessels, lethal and adaptable - high speed, agile crafts with a shallow draft, mission-focused vessels suitable for shallow water and ocean-going assignments. They are useful in mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions.
Marinette Marine was established by Clarence Boren and Max Hellerman in 1942 and started by building five wooden barges and six wooden tugs for World War II.
In 1954, control of the company passed to Harold Derusha, who had been a machinist in the yard when it started, and from him to his three sons in 1969. Thirty years later, in 1999, Manitowoc Corp. bought it but they sold it in 2008, together with Bay Shipbuilding and Cleveland Ship Repair, to the Italian shipbuilding giant, Fincantieri. It is now called Fincantieri Marinette Marine.
Overall, Marinette Marine has produced over 1,500 boats of varying size and complexity and thanks to Fincantieri investments there, has become a sophisticated, state of the art mid-sized shipbuilder.
Marinette Marine was awarded the contract to build LCS 25 (USS Marinette) on March 31, 2016 and construction began In March of 2019 with laying of the keel plate by Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's 47th governor, who was named ship sponsor.
In April the Navy awarded a $795-million contract to Fincantieri to begin building the Constellation-class frigates, the first new major shipbuilding program for the Navy in more than a decade. The frigates will bring the evolution of the Navy's Small Surface Combatant with increased lethality, survivability, and improved capability to support the National Defense Strategy across the full range of military operations.
The Marinette shipyard has hosted some major national officials during the past year, including President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
On Monday, Oct. 26, just five days before the launch, Ambassador Robert O'Brien, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, toured the Marinette shipyard.
He spoke with Fincantieri management about the Littoral Combat Ship and Constellation-class Frigate programs and the shipyard's efforts to expand in order to accommodate the Frigate platform. Fincantieri's production is essential to meeting the 355-ship Navy goal.
"Fincantieri appreciates the opportunity to show Ambassador O'Brien our shipyard and the high caliber of work being done by the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin," said Fincantieri Marinette Marine Shipyard President Richard Hunt. "We believe in the work we do here. We believe our work keeps our Navy strong and our country safe."
Marinette Marine CEO Jan Allman said she always tells people that at Marinette Marine they build freedom every day, and declared it is an honor to have the Name "Marinette" as part of the Navy's legacy.
U. S. Congressman Mike Gallagher, a Marine Corp veteran, suggested by naming the LCS Marinette the Navy was recognizing the men and women who built her, and bringing honor and recognition to the entire community.
Rep. John Nygren, a native son of the city, said the launch of the USS Marinette is a huge occasion that has been years in the making, and is a tribute to the workers who built her.
Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot congratulated shipyard workers and the entire community, and declared it is a great honor for a community the size of Marinette to have a US warship named for it.
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