BUFFALO, N.Y. (NNS) -- The Blue crew of Freedom-variant littoral combat ship, USS Little Rock (LCS 9) proudly delivered their ship to the fleet and brought her to life in front of a welcoming crowd of thousands at Canalside Buffalo, New York.
The littoral combat ship was commissioned next to the first USS Little Rock, a Galveston-class guided missile cruiser (CLG 4). The commissioning ceremony marked the first time a U.S. Navy ship has commissioned next to her namesake.
Vice Adm. Luke M. McCollum attended on behalf of the chief of naval operations and was joined on by the Lieutenant Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul; Chairman of the USS Little Rock Namesake Committee Tom Prince; and the Mayors of Buffalo and Little Rock, Arkansas.
The ship's sponsor is Janee Lambert Bonner, the wife of former Congressman Jo Bonner. She gave the command to "bring the ship to life!" She was selected by the secretary of the Navy for this very important role in Little Rock's life and is officially associated with the ship throughout its life.
The commissioning ceremony was just one of many events which filled the week. Upon the ship's arrival in Buffalo the city warmly welcomed Sailors by lining the pier and waving American flags and patriotic signs. In a momentous moment as the ship passed the CLG-4, veterans aboard the retired vessel rendered honors by saluting LCS 9 and with the newest Little Rock returning their salute with pride.
The combined commissioning committees from both the cities of Little Rock and Buffalo hosted events throughout the week for the crew members and their families, such as a Buffalo Sabers hockey game, a Buffalo Bills football game and a variety of dinners and events. The crew members participated in community service events such as visiting a local Veterans Affairs Hospital and working with Habitat for Humanity and the Food Bank of Western New York.
"After years of planning and hard work, the crew is honored to bring the USS Little Rock to the fleet so we can carry out the mission of the U.S. Navy," said commanding officer Cmdr. Todd Peters. "We are extremely grateful to the people of both Little Rock and Buffalo for their incredible hospitality and interest as we visited their city and joined them in celebrating bringing the legacy of USS Little Rock Back with a Vengeance!"
Little Rock is the fifth freedom-variant LCS to join the fleet. The fast, shallow draft vessel has a modular design capable of implementing a variety of mission packages as an asset to the fleet in both the shallow coastal regions as well trans-Atlantic service.
Little Rock was constructed at Marinette Marine Corporation, Marinette, Wisconsin.