Navy Commissions USS Gabrielle Giffords
GALVESTON, Texas --
The USS Gabrielle Giffords, the Navy's newest littoral combat ship, was brought to life by her crew before a crowd of nearly 2,500 guests at Pier 21 at the Port of Galveston, Texas, June 10.
Navy Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, delivered the ceremony's principal address before officially commissioning the ship into service.
"As we man the rails today, blood gets pumped, the ship comes alive, and the heart begins to beat," Moran said. "It's the blood that is infused by the spirit, the attitude, and the courage of its namesake. We are so proud to be part of Gabrielle Gifford’s legacy to the United States."
Following the commissioning, Jill Biden, the ship's sponsor and wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, gave the time-honored Navy tradition of ordering the crew to "man our ship and bring her to life!"
The crowd sounded its approval as the crew ran aboard the ship to man their assigned stations and complete the ritual of bringing the ship into active service and ending a story that began more than five years ago.
In 2012, then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the future ship's name, and USS Gabrielle Giffords became the 16th U.S. Navy ship to be named for a woman and the 13th ship to be named for a living person since 1850.
The ship is commanded by Navy Cmdr. Keith Woodley, a native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, who leads the core crew of 50 officers and enlisted personnel.
New Class of Ship
During the ceremony, Woodley praised the crew for their dedication and hard work in getting the ship ready for service.
"This is not just a new ship. This is a new class of ship and that makes it even more challenging for the crew," Woodley said. "They have risen to that challenge, and performed exceptionally well in getting this ship ready for service."
Most other Navy surface combatant ships have a crew of 300 or more sailors, but littoral combat ships like the Gabrielle Giffords are more automated and have much smaller crews than their counterparts. The Gabrielle Gifford’s crew numbered just 73 at the ship's commissioning.
"It's not easy being an LCS sailor," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Dobrinin, a gunner's mate. "We have to wear so many hats and be trained on systems and duties outside of our normal job specialty due to the small crew size. Every enlisted sailor here volunteered for the program and we're excited to serve on USS Gabrielle Giffords."
The 3,200-ton ship was built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. The ship is 421 feet long and has a beam, or width at the waterline, of 103 feet and a navigational draft of 15 feet. The Gabrielle Giffords uses two gas turbine and two diesel engines to power four steerable waterjets capable of propelling the ship to speeds in excess of 40 knots.
Littoral combat ships are fast, agile, mission-focused platforms designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking, and succeeding against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines and swarming small craft.
A fast, maneuverable and networked surface combatant, the Gabrielle Giffords is capable of operating independently or with an associated strike group. It is designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in coastal waters.
USS Gabrielle Giffords will depart Galveston and begin her transit to her home port at Naval Base San Diego.