CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The USS Charleston, the Navy’s newest Independence variant littoral combat ship, officially joined the U.S. Navy fleet shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday.
The commissioning ceremony began at 10 a.m. at the Charleston Columbus Street Terminal.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina delivered the commissioning ceremony’s main address. Scott said 40 Naval ships have honored South Carolina, whether being named for cities or people associated with the Palmetto State.
“It’s because so many South Carolinians have been dedicated to making sure that America remains the safest nation on Earth,” Scott said. “We have been blessed to have our Charleston defending this nation.”
Charlotte Riley, wife of former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, is the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when she gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life," according to the Navy’s website.
On Thursday morning during a behind the scenes tour, the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Christopher Brusca said the 3,200-ton ship was built in Mobile, AL, is 421 feet long and 103 feet wide.
“The littoral combat ship is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking and winning against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines, and swarming small craft," according to a release from the Navy.
The ships are capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control and deterrence.
Once commissioned, the USS Charleston will be used as a mine warfare ship which can detect and destroy mines.
“Commissioning ceremonies are rooted in centuries of naval history and tradition. It has been a pleasure to lead the USS Charleston Commissioning Committee and to work with members of our armed forces as we bring Charleston’s sixth namesake ship into active duty,” Navy League Charleston President Patrick Keaveny said.
USS Charleston will be based at Naval Base San Diego but will be deployed near South America, Singapore and the South China Sea.