SIOUX CITY | In just one month, Sioux City will take to the sea.
Contractor Lockheed Martin confirmed Tuesday that the USS Sioux City will be launched on Jan. 30 at the Marinette, Wisconsin, ship yard, where one of the Navy's new class of littoral combat ships has been under construction since June 2013.
"The crew has been notified, and it is an exciting time for the crew," said Cmdr. Ken Lieberman, who will be the ship's executive officer, the second in command.
The crew will be present for the launch, an important step toward the ship becoming commissioned in the Navy, Lieberman said.
"The launch of a ship is a critical milestone in the life cycle of the ship and the crew," he said. "It's the first event of bringing the ship to life and making it an active member of the fleet."
Mayor Bob Scott told the Journal editorial board Tuesday he plans to travel to northern Wisconsin for the ceremony. Other city leaders are invited to the launch as well.
"We are as excited as the residents of Sioux City to christen and launch LCS 11. A side launch is a spectacular thing to witness. It will be a great day for Sioux City and the U.S. Navy," Lockheed Martin spokesman Joe Dougherty said.
The ship is expected to be commissioned by the Navy in 2017 after more than a year of trials and testing on Lake Michigan. Once commissioned, the USS Sioux City is scheduled to be based in Mayport, Florida, and will operate across the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and in the Middle East. It will have a core crew of 53.
The Sioux City will be the 11th of the new class of ships, designed to sail nearer the coast -- in the littoral zone -- and into shallower waters than other naval vessels. The ships are designed for mine detection, clearing mines, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.
The ships in this group have been given the names of cities located in the middle of the country. Some of them are well-known, such as Omaha, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Detroit and St. Louis. Sioux City, along with Billings (Montana), would fall in the category of smaller, lesser-known cities to be honored.