The Star-Telegram: USS Fort Worth will "come to life" in Texas
Star Telegram Editorial
It took a tenacious congresswoman and a community effort to convince then-Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter to name a littoral combat ship after the city of Fort Worth.
And it will take a community working together to make sure the USS Fort Worth has the most memorable commissioning the Navy's ever seen when she sails into Galveston for the Sept. 22, 2012, event.
The official date and site for the ceremonies were announced this week by the ship's two commanders, Capt. James "Randy" Blankenship and Capt. Warren Cupps.
"Our crews are very excited to commission USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in the city of Galveston," Blankenship and Cupps wrote in a joint statement. "The close partnership Fort Worth and Galveston have demonstrated gives us no doubt that this will be a historic event honoring the first U.S. Navy warship to be named Fort Worth.
"Additionally, our sailors will have the unique opportunity to experience the hospitality of these two great Texas cities! With this decision, it is truly a great day for the crews of USS Fort Worth and the cities of Fort Worth and Galveston."
The LCS class of warships is unique in several ways, not the least of which is having two 40-sailor crews that will rotate every four months to wherever the ship is on duty.
A delegation of about 90 Texans whooped and hollered on a cold Dec. 4, 2010, when ship sponsor U.S. Rep. Kay Granger smacked the hull with a champagne bottle during the christening at the Marinette Marine shipyards north of Green Bay, Wis.
Granger wants the commissioning to be just as memorable for the ship's crews and their families on the September day when the USS Fort Worth comes to life in a Lone Star port.
"This is going to be a great celebration," said Granger. "I was hoping (and politely pushing) for a Texas commissioning so everyone could be there.
"Galveston will be terrific," she said. "This is a huge tribute to Fort Worth and for the Navy. Pack your hats and boots to welcome the crew to Texas and be ready to give them a generous and enthusiastic Fort Worth hello!"
Blankenship and his blue crew are conducting sea trials this month. The journey from Wisconsin to Texas will include navigating the extensive system of canals and locks along the Saint Lawrence River out to the Atlantic Ocean. The ship will make several stops along the East Coast before it reaches Galveston.
"It's 'game on' for the commissioning of the USS Fort Worth," said commissioning committee Chairman Roger Williams.
"Thanks to the hard work of so many wonderful Fort Worth residents, the commissioning of this great ship will be a huge success. It will be a great day in the history of our Navy and in the history of our city."