MILWAUKEE (NNS) -- The "Juggernauts" of Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Crew 104 are one step closer to commissioning the Navy's newest warship, the future USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), after moving on board Oct. 18.
The crew is currently preparing for the ship's commissioning, scheduled Nov. 21 at Milwaukee Veterans Park. USS Coronado (LCS 4) was commissioned in its namesake city in April 2014, but Milwaukee's commissioning will make her the only LCS to not only be commissioned in her namesake city, but also in the state where she was built and among the people that built her.
Crew 104 spent much of the year in Wisconsin, working to prepare the ship for its future service. During their time in Wisconsin, the San Diego-based crew developed a strong bond with the citizens of Milwaukee.
"LCS is a complicated design and it takes well trained people with the proper education to not only operate these systems, but design and build them as well," said Operations Specialist First Class Billy Latham." We've had the opportunity to visit local schools to talk about the importance of STEM [Science Technology Engineering and Math] programs."
Jim Kliese, the Milwaukee Commissioning Committee STEM Action Team Leader, agrees.
"It's wonderful that we can highlight the critical nature of these STEM programs in our community schools by bringing in these Sailors that operate and maintain these complicated ships," said Kliese. "It provides the kids more appreciation for the hard work they are putting into their studies and gives those studies a connection to the real world."
Unlike previous crews of commissioning littoral combat ships, LCS Crew 104 is already an operationally experienced crew.
Deployed on USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) to Singapore last November, the crew gained significant experience during operations, which included assisting in the search and recovery efforts of AirAsia Flight 8501, which crashed during a storm in the Java Sea.
"The modular design of LCS allowed us to quickly leverage our on-board surface warfare mission package and use it in the successful search and recovery efforts," said Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, LCS Crew 104's commanding officer.
As a team, the Juggernauts have faced and overcome many difficult challenges, said Lt. Paul Richardson, Crew 104's operations officer.
"This crew has been tested and we have risen up and met every challenge successfully, both on Fort Worth and Milwaukee," said Richardson.
"This crew is worthy of the 'Juggernaut' name," said Cmdr. Mark Haney, LCS Crew 104 executive officer. "They truly are unstoppable. No matter what is thrown their way, they find a way to succeed."
After returning from deployment aboard Fort Worth in February, the crew underwent rapid refresh training using the latest in shore-based training simulators to prepare them for taking delivery of Milwaukee.
"The simulators allow us to train and demonstrate our level of knowledge and skills without having to get a ship underway," said Command Master Chief Mark Christman, the crew's senior enlisted leader. "It tests our ability to react to different scenarios in a realistic setting."
Following the commissioning ceremony, Milwaukee will begin her journey out of the Great Lakes and into the Atlantic Ocean to embark on her expected 25 years or more of service to our nation.