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WTAQ: Marinette Marine Christens USS Fort Worth

December 6, 2010

MARINETTE, Wis. (WTAQ) - With the champagne being cracked across the bow, Marinette Marine launched its latest ship for the U.S. Navy.

After 20 months on land, the 380-foot, 3,000 ton USS Fort Worth has finally found its home on the water.

Texas Congresswoman Kay Granger was one of the dignitaries in attendance. The littoral combat ship was named after the major Texas city, the Navy says, since Fort Worth has a long history of supporting U.S. armed forces.

"This particular project kept over 600 people employed for the last two years," Marinette Marine President and CEO Richard McCreary says.

But more jobs could be on the way. Marinette Marine hopes to get another contract through the U.S. Navy to build ten more of these ships. 10 other ships could go to a ship builder in Alabama.

Officials expect it would add 1,000 new jobs at the shipyard and have a $500 million economic impact throughout Wisconsin and Michigan each year.

However, the contract is still making its way through Congress.

"We've been working closely with both houses of Congress to get support for the initiative, and right now I believe we have very strong support in the house and will continue to work with the Senate where the bill will go next," said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research and Development Sean Stackley tells FOX 11.

Current bids for the next ten ship contract expire after Tuesday.