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Navy Allots Funds to Build USS Cooperstown

With the Navy recently releasing funds for construction of the USS Cooperstown, two area officials on Tuesday discussed the project's relationship to the area.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced at July's Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony that the future littoral combat ship would be named for the village to honor professional baseball players who served in World War II.

According to a Navy media release, the littoral combat ship class is "a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments yet capable of open-ocean operation." The USS Cooperstown is built by the "Freedom-version" team led by Lockheed Martin.

The Navy's payout of $279 million follows an earlier payment of $79 million approved by Congress in March 2015.

Baseball Hall of Fame communications director Brad Horn said "we remain very honored and humbled by the decision." It represents the deep relationship that exists between the Hall of Fame and the Navy, he said. That is true with all the armed forces, but especially the Navy, he said.

The Hall of Fame is looking forward to seeing the project develop and being a part of "this wonderful tribute to the community," he said. "It will be a historic day for the museum and the village." It will "continue to show how important Cooperstown is to so many around the world."

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The ship will be constructed at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wis., said Lockheed Martin spokesman Joseph Dougherty. It is the same shipyard that built the three Freedom-version littoral combat ships now in the Navy, and will have the hull marking LCS 23.

The version being built by Austal USA will have even numbered hulls.

Construction on the USS Cooperstown is slated to begin in early 2017 with sea trials tentatively scheduled for late 2019, Dougherty said. A Navy spokesman said the launch and christening is tentatively set for Dec. 2018.

Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz said of the ship: "It's an honor and a thrill." When the announcement was made in July, people were quite "astonished." With all the lore surrounding the Navy and its ships, "it's very exciting."

He said he hopes to see the village has a good strong representation at the christening, if that is appropriate.

Naming the vessel after the municipality is fitting, he said, because Cooperstown has a place in the American consciousness, not only as a place but as an idea, Katz said.

In addition, Katz said: "We represent the values of small-town America."

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