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Navy to christen fast transport ship USNS Guam in Okinawa

By Ed Adamczyk
Navy to christen fast transport ship USNS Guam in Okinawa
The USNS Guam, a former civilian fast ferry boat reconfigured for military use, will be christened in ceremonious in Okinawa, Japan, on Saturday. Photo by Bill Mesta/U.S. Navy/UPI

April 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy will christen the USNS Guam, its latest expeditionary fast transport ship, in ceremonies on Saturday in Okinawa, Japan.

Saturday's ceremony will include remarks by Harry B. Harris Jr., U.S. Ambassador to South Korea and a former Navy officer, the Navy said on Thursday.

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The traditional breaking of a bottle on the ship's bow by its sponsor will be conducted by Harris' wife, Bruni Bradley, a Navy veteran of 25 years. It will be the Navy's fourth ship to bear the name Guam, following a World War II-era patrol ship and cruiser, and two assault ships in service from 1965 to 1998.

The aluminum-hull catamaran ship, 373 feet long, was built in 2008 as a civilian fast ferry boat for the Hawaii Superferry company, capable of carrying over 800 passengers and nearly 300 cars.

Initially named the Huakai, the ship and its sister ship were acquired for $25 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation in a 2012 auction and refurbished for military use. The sister ship, originally named the Alakai, is now the USNS Puerto Rico.

As a military ship, the USNS Guam has 25,000-square-feet of mission-bay areas and can be quickly reconfigured for moving troops and cargo, or in humanitarian missions. It is fast, flexible and maneuverable and able to operate in shallow water.

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