The latest USS Wichita was christened Saturday in Wisconsin.
Kate Lehrer, the ship’s sponsor, broke a bottle of champagne on the ship’s bow before it was rolled into the Menominee River at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wis. Lehrer is a nationally known author and wife of Wichita native Jim Lehrer, the former anchor of “The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour” on PBS.
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Lehrer was selected by the secretary of the Navy to be the ship’s sponsor. She was joined by about 20 Wichita officials and dignitaries, including Mayor Jeff Longwell.
“It is an honor and privilege to serve as the sponsor of the future USS Wichita and to be a part of this major milestone in the ship’s journey towards joining the great U.S. Navy fleet,” Lehrer said in a statement Saturday. “I look forward to an ongoing relationship with Wichita’s future crews and their families throughout the ship’s service.”
The USS Wichita is a littoral combat ship, one of the Navy’s fastest, lightest and most technologically advanced ships, according to Navy officials. It will be part of the Navy’s Freedom class of warships.
The USS Wichita will be 378 feet long and will have a top speed of more than 40 knots, according to the Navy’s website.
The ship will now undergo more testing and be fitted with several more critical systems before it is delivered to the Navy next year.