SIOUX CITY | The USS Sioux City will be commissioned in summer 2018 in Annapolis, Maryland.
Members of the local planning committee got the update Wednesday morning and were told the official ceremonies will involve a week of activities, many at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The ship, which was christened Jan. 30, 2016, in Wisconsin, is the 11th in the class of littoral combat ships. It will have a 98-person crew and be used for maritime security throughout the world.
A group from the commissioning committee was in Sioux City Wednesday to meet officials, get a sense of the community and begin the planning process. Among the contingent: Mary Winnefeld, the ship's sponsor and wife of Adm. James "Sandy" Winnefeld, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Long associated with the Navy, Winnefeld said she was excited to be part of the ship's life. She christened the ship and has been actively involved in its building process. She will continue to be a part of its life after it's launched by establishing a Legacy Fund to provide educational opportunities for the families of its crew.
Also in tow: Rear Adm. Frank Thorp, the committee chair; David Gray, the committee chief of staff; and Capt. James Graybeal, the committee public affairs officer.
Thorp said the commissioning is akin to a wedding. "It's a big deal." Adding to the excitement: It will be the first commissioning in Annapolis, which will mean those associated with the Naval Academy will get to participate.
Thorp said the event has an $800,000 budget. Funds will come from donations. "Any amount will be accepted," but those at levels between $100 and $250,000 will be given keepsakes and seating at the events.
The Siouxland Chamber of Commerce will be handling local fundraising and activities prior to the 2018 events. Officials said there will be ample opportunity for area residents to become involved in the once-in-a-lifetime event.