The 29th Littoral Combat Ship, the future USS Beloit,
launches into the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin, on May 7.
Future LCS Beloit Christened, Launched At Marinette MarineIssue Date: May 11, 2022
State, national and local dignitaries, including the employees who helped build her and their families, gathered at the Marinette Marine shipbuilding facility in Marinette on Saturday, May 7 to celebrate the christening and launch of the future LCS Beloit into the Menominee River.
During the ceremonial christening just prior to the launch, the ship's sponsor, retired Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, of Beloit, broke the traditional bottle of champagne over the ship's bow.
"Nothing I can say today can express how honored I am to be the sponsor of this ship," said Anderson.
The spectacular sideways launch sent shock waves over 20 feet into the air and onto the banks across the river. The crowd that gathered to watch included many Marinette Marine employees and their families. They and the others who gathered to watch, many from afar, on the Michigan side of the river, were witnessing the sight for nearly the last time. There will be only one more of the LCS sent out to sea with the unique sideways launch from the Marinette shipyard.
According to Mark Vandroff, CEO for FMM, the USS Cleveland (LCS 31), which is to be launched this fall, will be the last sideways launch at Marinette Marine.
The next ships being in Marinette are larger, and a Travelift launch will be used to lower them into the water. Eliminating the rough sideways launch allows more construction to be completed in the assembly hall before launch, Vandroff said.
Vandroff said FMM plans to complete construction of the infrastructure to accommodate the lift this summer. This involves building and extending a U-shaped pier into the river. On each side of the pier, a series of 29 hoists are attached to a perforated launch platform. The platform extends across the pier. The Syncrolift essentially forms a cradle that gently lowers the ship into the water. It will enable a more controlled and safer launch, that in the long term adds efficiency and a more cost-effective way to build a ship.
Last summer, FMM completed all blasting and dredging of the river needed to install the Synchrolift after the USS Cleveland launch. The USS Cleveland is the last LCS scheduled to be built at Marinette, and the shipyard is moving into construction of the larger new multi-mission surface combatant ship known as MMSC under a contract between the United States and the Royal Saudi Navy.
The shipyard is also preparing to do its part in construction of the United States Navy's new fleet of advanced Constellation-class (FFG) frigates. According to Vandroff, the size of the FFGs makes them incompatible for a side launch.
The festive gathering on Saturday was blessed with fine weather, and Bethany Skorik, Marinette Marine Corporation (MCC) Senior Manager, Public Affairs and Government Relations said they were excited to finally be able to again hold a festive in-person christening and launch. "This (was) one of our first events in a while that we (were) able to hold the Christening and the launch together. It (was) also one of our first post-COVID events where we (were) able to re-open the ceremony to employees and their families, bringing back the celebratory items of the ceremony as well," Skorik declared.
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a veteran of the US Marines, saluted the blue collar workers and proud patriotic histories that Marinette and Beloit share through their industry and military connections. He said while FMM in Marinette builds Navy ships that uphold the nation's defense, Fairbanks Morse Defense, in Beloit, manufactures the propulsion systems that power those ships to go where they are needed.
Gallagher pointed out that the U.S. Constitution mandates the federal government to maintain a Navy, and in fact, the Navy, to which the Marine Corps is attached, is the only branch of the military that the Constitution requires the government to provide and maintain. He said the Navy constantly patrols the frontiers of freedom in order to deter aggression, and deterrence of aggression maintains peace. Gallagher said peace represents the answer to the question, "Why do we build warships in Wisconsin?"
"Lockheed Martin is confident that the sailors of Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 29, the future USS Beloit, will play a critical role in supporting maritime security and deterrence," said Steve Allen, Lockheed Martin vice president, of Small Combatants and Ship Systems. He added, "The LCS Freedom-variant being operationally deployed today is an unmatched and highly adaptable warship, designed to outpace the growing threat of our adversaries and fulfill the dynamic missions of the U.S. Navy. Our team of more than 800 suppliers maintains a strong partnership with the U.S. Navy to add lethality and survivability enhancements to the highly capable and resilient LCS class."
In 2011, when the Honorable Richard Spencer, former Secretary of the Navy, directed that LCS 29 be named after the City of Beloit, he also asked that Major General Marcia Anderson be honored as the ship sponsor. Major General Anderson was the first female African American officer to earn her second star in the U.S. Army reserves.
Numerous dignitaries from Beloit were transported to Marinette by bus to witness Saturday's launch of the vessel named for their city.
"I am honored and excited to be a part of the christening and launch of the USS Beloit," Anderson told the crowd. She added, "As a Beloit native, I am well aware of the long history my city has had as it supported our national security by not just providing people who served, but also helped build the amazing ships and vehicles that have made our military the envy of the world. I know the USS Beloit will carry that tradition forward as she and her crew become an integral part of our nation's history, and I am happy to be able to play a small role as the Sponsor during the life of this great ship."
"Shipbuilding is hard work, done by dedicated professionals. And I could not be more proud of the work done by our team here in Marinette to get another Freedom-class warship built and in the water where she belongs," said Mark Vandroff, Fincantieri Marinette Marine CEO.
Unique among combat ships, LCS is deployed today for close-to-shore missions and is a growing and relevant part of the Navy's fleet. In the last year, Freedom-variant Littoral Combat ships have supported the Navy on various missions including several counter-illicit drug trafficking in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in narcotics seizures. Its speed, strength and versatility make it a critical tool to help sailors achieve their missions. Recently, the Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship for the first time has deployed to US 6th Fleet, as a measure of assurance for NATO allies and partners in Europe and Africa.
LCS 29 is the 15th Freedom-variant LCS and 29th in the LCS class. It is the first ship named in honor of the city of Beloit.
The Lockheed Martin-led LCS team is comprised of shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine, naval architect Gibbs & Cox, and more than 800 suppliers in 42 states. Built at the Midwest's only naval shipyard, LCS production supports 12,500 U.S. jobs, including more than 7,500 jobs in Wisconsin and Michigan.
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