Congresswoman Granger attended the ceremony as the ship’s sponsor. As part of the tradition of the being the ship’s sponsor, Congresswoman Granger had her initials “KG” welded to the ship which will remain with it for the entire service life of the ship.
“It’s a great honor to serve as the sponsor of the USS Fort Worth,” said Granger. “The keel laying ceremony today is also a great tribute to the tireless efforts by the city of Fort Worth and all those who believed this day would happen. The thousands of letters that were written and the drawings that were done embody the spirit of making this dream a reality. The keel is the backbone of the ship, and the city of Fort Worth has long been a “backbone” of support for our American Military forces.”
The community will have a unique role to play in supporting the USS Fort Worth. The USS Fort Worth committee and the community will be supporting the USS Fort Worth at home, and while the ship travels around the world.
Congresswoman Granger was joined during the ceremony by Captain Robert E. Howell, the Director of Contracts and Rear Admiral (Sel.) James Murdoch the manager of the Littoral Combat Ship program for the United States Navy. Lockheed Martin representatives were also on hand including Dan Schultz, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Maritime Systems Sensors, Integrated Defense Technologies business. In addition, there were nearly 100 people who attended the ceremony that are involved in the construction of the USS Fort Worth as well as the mayors of the five surrounding cities of Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Green Bay and Peshtigo.
"Today, we are recognizing the symbolic first significant construction milestone in delivering a ship. And in this case, the second of a new breed of vital ship to be delivered to the fleet in support of our global maritime strategy. Fort Worth and her sister ships will give our forces new capabilities to deal with the numerous threats and challenges they face around the world," said Capt. Jim Murdoch, LCS program manager within the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships. "It is an honor that this warship will be associated with the people and city of Fort Worth, a city with a proud heritage of support for our men and women in uniform."
“We are committed to continuing our partnership with the Navy and providing them the most affordable solution to fill a critical need,” said Dan Schultz, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Maritime Systems & Sensors, Integrated Defense Technologies business. “LCS 3’s construction will benefit from lessons learned on USS Freedom. It will be built using Marinette Marine’s modular production process that enables ship modules to be outfitted up to 85 percent complete prior to launch. We look forward to Fort Worth (LCS 3) following in USS Freedom’s (LCS 1) ground-breaking footsteps, as one of the Navy’s finest surface combatants.”
The announcement a ship would be named USS Fort Worth came nearly three years after a grassroots effort by Congresswoman Granger and the community to name the ship after the city in honor of Fort Worth’s rich military history.
The littoral combat ship is a 21st century ship that is designed to allow access to shallow coastal waters for missions such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare. It will also be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads that can be changed out quickly to accommodate various missions.
The USS Fort Worth will be designated LCS-3 and will be built by Lockheed Martin. It will be 378 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 57 feet, displace approximately 3,000 tons and will make speed in excess of 40 knots. Based on previous LCS construction timelines, the USS Fort Worth is slated for completion in 2012.
This ceremony is the first of four key milestones (keel laying, launching, christening, and commissioning). In earlier times, the keel laying was the “laying down” of the central or main timber making up the backbone of the vessel. Today, fabrication of the ship may begin months before and some of the ship’s bottom may actually be joined. However, the keel laying symbolically recognizes the joining of modular components and the ceremonial beginning of a ship.