(NNS) -- The crews of the Navy's newest littoral combat ship (LCS), Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Fort Worth (LCS 3), conducted a mast-stepping ceremony at the Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wis., Dec. 3.
Mast stepping, an ancient Greek and Roman practice of putting coins at the base of a mast of a ship under construction, has continued throughout history.
In current naval tradition, coins and other items that highlight the heritage of the ship are placed in a container and welded into the mast.
Kay Granger, the ship's sponsor, joined the ship's commanding officers, Cmdr. Randy Blankenship (Blue Crew), Cmdr. Warren Cupps (Gold Crew) and distinguished guests from the city of Fort Worth, Texas, and Marinette, Wis., placing coins and other artifacts representing the heritage of the ship and namesake city.
The coins included half dollars minted in the birth years of the ship's matrons of honor totaling $3, representing the ship's hull number; a coin from the 2nd Striker Calvary Regiment, that trace their military lineage to the 2nd Dragoons, who founded Camp Worth; a coin from the 2nd Infantry Division representing Gen. William J. Worth's command of the 2nd Regular Division; and a coin from PCU Fort Worth.
Military artifacts included a tunic button from one of the founding 2nd Dragoons, an arrowhead and arrow shaft from the period when Fort Worth was founded and a piece of the external coating of the military's newest fighter, the F-35. The ship's sponsor included a U.S. House of Representatives' member pin, a Fort Worth All-American City pin and a key to the city of Fort Worth. The ship's crews added nametags representing the oldest and youngest Sailors of each crew.
Jim Renner, senior welder at Marinette Marine Corporation, sealed the mast-stepping container. It will be welded into the ship's mast at a later date.
The Navy christened Fort Worth Dec. 4 during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony at Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard in Marinette, Wis.
Former Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England delivered the principal address at the ceremony, and the ceremony was highlighted by Granger breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship, which is a time-honored Navy tradition.
Designated LCS 3, Fort Worth is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast-surface craft. It is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep. Fort Worth will address a critical capabilities gap in the littorals. Carrying out the Navy's mission, it will serve to enhance maritime security by deterring hostility in troubled waters, maintaining a forward presence and by its ability to project power and maintain sea control.
A fast, agile and high-technology surface combatant, Fort Worth will be a platform for the launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. To meet increased demand for mission-tailored packages, its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine countermeasures or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of days, adapting as the tactical situation demands. The modular approach also allows us to incorporate new or improved systems into the fleet as advanced technologies mature, providing flexibility and evolving capability. These ships will also feature an advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.
Fort Worth will be manned by two rotational crews, Blue and Gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. These core crews will be augmented by one of the three types of mission package crews as well as an aviation detachment. The prospective commanding officer of the Blue Crew is Cmdr. James R. Blankenship, from Ironton, Ohio. The prospective commanding officer of the Gold Crew is Cmdr. Warren E. Cupps, from Fort Worth. Upon being commissioned in the future, Fort Worth will be homeported in San Diego.
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