SIOUX CITY | The Sioux City Council on Monday could make a big splash in the efforts to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to celebrate the commissioning of the USS Sioux City.
The council will consider a resolution to appropriate $50,000 to the USS Sioux City Commissioning Committee, which is tasked with planning and raising money for the commissioning, which will take place next summer in Annapolis, Maryland. The U.S. Navy has yet to set a date.
Mayor Bob Scott said the city should make a contribution and, if approved, it could provide momentum and spur local businesses to consider making donations, too.
"If we're going to ask the business community to step up and support this project, then I think we should," Scott said. "I think the city should be first in."
Earlier this year, ship sponsor Mary Winnefeld, committee chairman retired Rear Adm. Frank Thorp and others visited Sioux City to drum up excitement and support for the USS Sioux City's commissioning, a weeklong event that includes celebrations and receptions for the ship's crew, commanders and other dignitaries. The commissioning ceremony, which could attract thousands of spectators, marks the official declaration of the ship's readiness for service.
The committee hopes to raise $800,000 to $1 million for events, commemorative items and a legacy fund to pay for educational opportunities for the ship's crew members and their families. Donations are being sought in Annapolis, Sioux City and from national corporations.
Siouxland Chamber of Commerce president Chris McGowan, who's also serving as a committee co-chairman, said he hoped that $250,000 to $350,000 could be raised in Siouxland, and a donation from the city council could kick-start fundraising efforts, which will include private businesses and individuals.
"This is a great first step for our community," he said. "I think this represents a tremendous commitment by our city council for our community. It's a great honor for our community to have a ship named after Sioux City, and the council's consideration of this recognizes that."
In the meantime, the USS Sioux City is undergoing testing on Lake Michigan, near the Wisconsin shipyard where the ship was built. The ship was christened and launched in January 2016.
The USS Sioux City belongs to a new littoral combat class of ships designed to operate in shallow water close to shorelines and be used for mine detection, clearing mines, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.
Once commissioned, the USS Sioux City will go to its home base in Mayport, Florida, before it's deployed, likely to the Middle East.