A ship-naming ceremony for the vessel was held Wednesday morning at Wichita City Hall. During the meeting, Mabus said naming a ship after a city or state "is a reflection not just of heritage but also as an expression of gratitude" for their support.
"I like to think that in naming a ship, it carries and projects some of the character of the name and place it is named after," he said. "Wichita is a place of courage, heart, faith and hardworking Americans who love their families, their country and believe God has blessed America."
Kansas is home to about 230,000 Navy veterans. The state's ship building and repair industry contributes $126 million each year to its gross domestic product, the Wichita Eagle reported.
"Your part in this partnership is so powerful in the success of Navy and Marine Corps - and it is so crucial to have that relationship," Mabus told the audience.
The new USS Wichita is designed to handle both near-shore and open-ocean operations. It's part of the Freedom class of warships, which are slightly smaller than the Navy's guided-missile frigates, and can be used as a small assault transport with a flight deck and hangar space.
"Its capabilities reflect the changing nature and new challenges that we face as a society and the world faces. . These ships can protect, defend and deter but can also provide humanitarian support and emergency search and rescue missions," Mabus said.
The ship is the third in 76 years to carry the name of Wichita.