The US Navy commissioned its newest littoral combat ship and retired one of its Los Angeles-class submarines in separate ceremonies on May 21 and 20, respectively.
Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21) commissioned during a ceremony that was hosted in Duluth, Minnesota, a port city on Lake Superior located 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
Built by the Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine team in Marinette, Wisconsin, Minneapolis-Saint Paul was launched and christened on June 15, 2019. The ship completed acceptance trials in August 2020, and was delivered to US Navy in November last year.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul is the second naval ship to honor Minnesota’s Twin Cities although each city has been honored twice before.
The first US Navy warship named Minneapolis-Saint Paul was a Los Angeles-class submarine launched in 1983 that participated in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (SSN 708) was the first submarine to carry Tomahawk missiles specifically designed for use in strikes against Iraq during the Gulf War. Having served for over two decades with distinction, the submarine decommissioned in 2007.
“I am incredibly proud of this crew for their dedication to shipmate and ship as we worked toward the commissioning of USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul,” said Cmdr. Alfonza White, commanding officer of USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul. “We are honored to carry the name Minneapolis-Saint Paul into the fleet.”
USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul will be homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
Decommissioning of Los Angeles-class submarine USS Oklahoma City
A day before the Minneapolis-Saint Paul entered service, the US Navy bid farewell to fast attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723). The inactivation ceremony was held at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS-IMF) in Bremerton, Washington, and marked the end of 34 years of service for the boat.
During the inactivation process PSNS-IMF will defuel the submarine and retain the hull in safe storage until the boat is officially decommissioned. The crew will be reassigned to another ship or command.
Oklahoma City returned from its final deployment August 20, 2021, after deploying to the Indo-Asia Pacific region in support of operations vital to national security.
Commissioned July 9, 1988, Oklahoma City is the second navy vessel to be named after Oklahoma City.
Crews past and present, along with supporters, were on hand to bid the boat one final farewell.
James G. Foggo, retired US Navy Admiral and former commanding officer of Oklahoma City, served as the keynote speaker during the ceremony. Rear Adm. Robrert Gaucher, commander, Submarine Group 9, Kevin Reardon, the first commanding officer of Oklahoma city, and Oklahoma City Councilman Mark Stonecipher also provided remarks.
“For all who served [aboard] the boat, she was a good mother to all of us,” Foggo said. “She took us to sea and returned us to homeport intact with all of our fingers and toes and ready for the next underway.”
US Navy ship retirement schedule for 2022
USS Oklahoma City is one of several US Navy ships set to decommission this year. The service has already several Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships and is set to retire Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Monterey, USS Hue City, USS Anzio, USS Vella Gulf, and USS Port Royal.
The service previously revealed its intent to decommission the first four littoral combat ships, after just a little over a decade of service. Two were decommissioned in 2021, while the third – USS Coronado – will join them by September this year.
Other ships set for decommissioning this year include dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island, the final Powhatan-class fleet ocean tug USNS Apache, and
cargo ships USNS Mendonca and USNS Benavidez.