Originally published in the Capital Gazette
October 30th, 2018
By Danielle Ohl
The Navy combat ship soon to be commissioned at the Naval Academy next month is officially underway for Annapolis.
The littoral combat ship to be named USS Sioux City left Marinette, Wisconsin on Oct. 23 and is making its way to Annapolis, where it will dock at Dewey Field on Nov. 10 for its commissioning on Nov. 17.
Plenty of tickets for the commissioning ceremony are available until Friday, said retired Rear Adm. Frank Thorp, commissioning committee chairman. Tours of the ship are open to the public throughout the commissioning week.
“There’s no more patriotic event than a ship commissioning other than the peaceful transfer of power at a presidential inauguration,” Thorp said.
The commissioning will be preceded and followed with a number of celebratory events meant to honor the heritage of the Naval Academy, Annapolis and Sioux City, Iowa — the ship’s namesake.
Thorp expects 5,000 people. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and Navy Under Secretary Thomas Modly are scheduled to attend.
The week will kick off with a private picnic at the Eastport Yacht Club and Watermark cruise for the crew. Sponsors above the $1,000 level will be invited to a Taste of Annapolis reception in Dahlgren Hall on Nov. 16.
Before the Saturday morning, the crew will line up in formation at Dewey Field.
The ship’s citizen sponsor Mary Winnefeld will yell “Man your ship and bring her to life!” The crew will run onto the ship and the ship will “transform from a hunk of metal and a bunch of sailors assigned to it, to a U.S. war-fighting ship,” Thorp said.
“And then when the commanding officer turns and reports, ‘the USS Sioux City reports for duty,’ even the toughest, most callous individual will be touched,” he said.
After the daytime events, Dahlgren Hall will again transform to host A Taste of Sioux City, featuring native treats like Blue Bunny ice cream and Jolly Time popcorn.
There are at least 500 people boarding planes, trains and cars to get to Annapolis from the Iowa town, said Chris McGowan, president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce.
The Sioux City will be the first combat ship to be commissioned at the Naval Academy; the Navy commissioned a patrol ship in 1993. The ship is the size of a World War II destroyer, can navigate in shallow water and travels faster than most boats because it’s powered by water jet propulsion.
The newly commissioned Sioux City will head Sunday, Nov. 18 to its home port in Mayport, Florida, where it could be called to defend U.S. interests at any time.
Naval ships like the Sioux City could be involved in a number of missions and military patrols. Modern naval ships patrol the gulfs looking for submarines, monitor pirate activity, thwart drug trafficking and keep legal trade lines open.
The week’s events will cost about $500,000, to be paid for from sponsorships. Another $100,000 will go to recognition plaques for the crew and $200,000 will go an education fund for the crew and their families for the life of the ship, about 30 years.
If You Go
The USS Sioux City commissioning ceremony will begin 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Naval Academy, Dewey Field. General admission tickets are free, but require prior registration. Tours of the USS Sioux City will be ongoing throughout the week of Nov. 12. Register online and find more information at usssiouxcity.org.