July 24 (UPI) -- Construction began this week on LCS 29, the future USS Beloit and the U.S. Navy's newest littoral combat ship, in Marinette, Wis.
A low-key keel-laying ceremony was held this week with a reduced crowd over concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Beloit City Council President Regina Dunkin, Rhett Merriman of Fairbanks Morse and representatives of Fincantieri Marinette Marine and Lockheed Martin attended.
The ship's sponsor, retired Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson, grew up in nearby Beloit, Wis., and was the first Black female major general in the U.S. Army. She watched as her initials were inscribed on a plaque that will form the ship's keel, a maritime tradition.
The ship's future name was chosen in honor of the city of Beloit and the city's Fairbanks Morse, originally a locomotive builder, but producer of marine engines and propulsion systems for the U.S. Navy for 125 years.
The ship will be the 15th Freedom-variant LCS. Over 30 Freedom- and Independence-class LCS vessels now serve in the Navy, Lockheed Martin said in a press release on Wednesday.
The ship in under construction at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine facilities, where five other LCS are currently being built.
The ship is expected to be completed by December 2021.