USS Milwaukee Christened In Marinette
The Wisconsin-built littoral combat ship's christening marks a major milestone.
Well, part of the nation's defense budget is being spent right here in Wisconsin. For the fifth time, the US Navy has a ship named after the city of Milwaukee. And for the first time it's being built in Wisconsin. The USS Milwaukee is the third littoral combat ship built in Marinette, and made its debut in dramatic fashion this week, champagne and all. [cheers and applause]
As the band played on, the USS Milwaukee took a dramatic plunge into the icy waters of the Menominee River. It's one of the Navy's new breed of warships designed for 21st century combat. It's called a littoral combat ship, or LCS Work on the USS Milwaukee started in 2011, and although it's in the water now, it's not finished. It will undergo more work and extensive testing during the next year. This is the fifth ship named after Milwaukee. The first was a monitor, built and then sunk during the Civil War. The next two Milwaukees were cruisers, one of which served in World War II, and was eventually loaned to the Soviet Union. The most recent Milwaukee was an oil replenishment tanker that was decommissioned in 1994. This is video of the current Milwaukee, while under construction earlier this year. Wisconsin Public Television traveled to Marinette last March and reported on the collaborative relationship between Marinette Marine and Northwestern Wisconsin Technical College, which helps train the skilled welders that work on the ships.
I can't say enough about it. It's just amazing. The quality of workmanship is second to none.
We can come up here, sometimes a couple of times a day, and we can actually meet the students as they're going through the program. We can talk to the instructors about who's really standing out in a class.
And those newly-trained students will be needed. The Marinette Marine workforce is expanding.
When I got here a year and a half ago, we were a little bit over 850 employees. We're now at 1400.
Another 100 employees are expected to be hired in the next year because the Navy has ordered five more LCS ships at a cost of $470 million apiece. Despite scrutiny over the program's high cost from Congress, Navy leadership says it backs the littoral combat ship program, and would like to acquire more than 50 of the ships in the coming decades. At 380 feet, it is small by Navy standards, but it can operate at high speeds in shallow waters, making it perfect for anti-piracy, special operations and anti-submarine warfare. An interesting side note. The Marinette Marine shipyard is among the last ship builders in the nation to launch ships sideways like that into the water. When the USS Milwaukee hit the water, it dropped about six feet and hit the surface going about 10 miles an hour.