DETROIT — Officials commissioned the USS Detroit naval vessel on Saturday, after it spent more than a week in its namesake city.
The ceremony included speeches and appearances by military officers as well as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Mayor Mike Duggan and U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. They were alongside the $440 million Freedom-class ship, which was docked on the Detroit River in front of the GM Renaissance Center since Oct. 14 and opened for festivities and tours.
Barbara Levin, wife of former Sen. Carl Levin and the ship's sponsor, gave the ceremonial order to "man" the ship and bring it "to life." The sponsor also performs the ceremonial breaking of the bottle on the bow and remains involved in special events throughout the ship's life.
The USS Detroit was built in Marinette, Wisconsin. Officials say it's designed to work in shallow waters and operate with speed and agility. It can be quickly modified to take on different missions.
The idea for the Navy vessel first came about after the 9/11 attacks, when the U.S. Navy held a design competition for an innovative kind of focused-mission ship.
According to the Defense Department, this is the sixth U.S. ship to be named in honor of Detroit. The first USS Detroit was a British sloop of war captured by the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812, and the most recent was a fast combat support ship serving from 1969 to 2005.
Ben Capuco, chief naval architect with Gibbs & Cox Inc., the firm that designed the ship, said previous Navy ships have carried the Detroit name but that none have moved like the new vessel. Critics believe the vessel might not be what the Navy needs at the moment due to the changing environment; there's concern for its "survivability" in combat.