Navy commissions littoral combat ship USS Omaha

The ship is the 11th littoral combat ship and sixth Independence-variant LCS to enter the fleet.

James LaPorta and Susan McFarland
The future littoral combat ship USS Omaha returns to the Austal USA shipyard after successfully conducting acceptance trials. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Austal USA
The future littoral combat ship USS Omaha returns to the Austal USA shipyard after successfully conducting acceptance trials. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Austal USA

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The USS Omaha, the Navy's newest Independence-variant littoral combat ship, was commissioned Saturday afternoon at the Broadway pier in San Diego.

The USS Omaha, the 11th littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the sixth of the Independence-variant design, was commissioned into the fleet Saturday at 3 pm EST. The Navy streamed the commissioning online at the Navy Live blog.


Former Navy SEAL officer and Medal of Honor recipient Bob Kerrey, who also served in the U.S. Senate and as governor of Nebraska, was keynote speaker for the event.

"At a time when so many Americans are yielding to the siren song of cynicism saying that the system doesn't work, the system did produce this boat," Kerrey said. "And it wasn't easy. There were setbacks, there were skeptics, there were opponents."

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Kerrey said "there is a story here that tells us our system of government does work."

"If you're looking for an example - and god knows we need them - that give you confidence in our capacity to govern ourselves, this ship should give you that confidence."

Warren Buffett's daughter, Susie Buffett, who is an Omaha philanthropist and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., serves as the ship's sponsor.

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"I'm lucky enough to have enjoyed a lot of really great days in my life but nothing compares to this," Buffett said, before giving the sailors a message of encouragement.

"As you carry out your duties in the months and years ahead, there will be days and nights aboard this mighty ship when you will find yourself felling lonely but you must always remember you'll never really be alone," Buffett said. "Your fellow sailors will be with you and I commit to you that thousands of us back in Omaha and throughout Nebraska will be with you as well. Through thick and thin, through combat and in peace, whatever may come."

Other guest speakers included San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who said "the ship and her crew will be known for their courage, their patriotism and their valor."

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"And its because of their willingness to put their lives on the line that we can say that we live in the greatest country in the world," Faulconer said.

Vice Adm. Richard A. Brown said the USS Omaha is tailor-made for the dynamic and congested sea waters and will provide flexible options and unparalleled tactical advantages.


"Omaha's adaptability is like no other in our Navy," Brown said. "The ship's persistent visible presence when deployed will reassure allies and partners that the United States is committed to preventing conflict, detouring aggression but if necessary, will fight and win."

The LCS series of ships is designed to operate close to shore for patrol, interdiction, mine-countermeasures, undersea warfare operations and other missions. The modular design of the ships allows it to be outfitted based on mission requirements.

"Omaha and her sister ships represent an investment in our nation, the result of the partnership between the Department of the Navy and our shipbuilding industry," Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a news release. "American craftsmen in Mississippi, Alabama, around the country have made USS Omaha possible."

"The LCS fills a unique mission for the United States Navy and as these remarkable ships continue to be produced out of our shipyards, they represent an increase in our readiness and lethality," Spencer said.

The LCS-class consists of the Freedom-variant, made by Lockheed Martin, and the Independence-variant, made by Austal USA.

The Navy says contracts for 29 LCS ships have been awarded to date, with 11 already having been delivered to the Navy. Fifteen others are in various stages of construction, and three are in pre-production states.


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