The Navy’s seventh Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) was brought to life during a commissioning ceremony at Naval Station Mayport, January 12.
Kansas Senator Jerry Moran delivered the commissioning ceremony’s principal address to approximately 1,300 attendees.
“It’s an entirely new category of warship,” said Commander Nathan Rowan, commanding officer of Wichita.
“The LCS, like your favorite mobile device offers more portability and maneuverability, while being much less conspicuous. And like a smartphone, the LCS packs quite a hefty punch for such a small package.”
Wichita is crewed by approximately 70 officers and enlisted Sailors, and is designed to work close to shore and in open ocean.
This provides cost-effective force flexibility and allows the Navy to strengthen allied partnerships.
“It’s good to be part of a crew that’s small,” said Damage Controlman Fireman Brandon O’Connell, assigned to Wichita. “I can talk to everyone. We’re close to each other. Overall, I like it.”
Wichita is the third ship with its namesake in the Navy, honoring Kansas’ largest city, sailing with the motto, “Keeper of the Seas.”
The first USS Wichita (CA 45), a heavy cruiser, was commissioned in 1939 and served in World War II. Wichita-class replenishment oiler Wichita (AOR 1) was the second, commissioned in 1968 and served in the Vietnam War.
The SECNAV selected Kate Lehrer, an American author, as Wichita’s ship sponsor.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be assigned to Wichita,” said Chief Operation Specialist Isaac Davis.
“I was born and raised in Kansas, so this is a real privilege,” Davis added at the commissioning. “This is my first time being a plank owner (commissioning crew), or being on a new ship. It’s a moment I’ll definitely treasure. I hope I will do justice to the city of Wichita. I hope to pass down knowledge I gained to the younger Sailors.”