The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest littoral combat ship, USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), before a crowd of 2,500 at Pier 21 at the Port of Galveston on Saturday.
Adm. William Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, delivered the ceremony's principal address before officially commissioning the ship into service.
"As we man the rails today, blood gets pumped, the ship comes alive, and the heart begins to beat," said Moran. "It's the blood that is infused by the spirit, the attitude, and the courage of its namesake. We are so proud to be part of Gabrielle Giffords' legacy to the United States."
Following the commissioning, Dr. Jill Biden, the ship's sponsor and wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, gave the time-honored Navy tradition of ordering the crew to "man our ship and bring her to life!"
In 2012 the Secretary of the Navy announced the future ship's name, and USS Gabrielle Giffords became the 16th ship to be named for a woman and only the 13th ship to be named for a living person since 1850.
The ship is commanded by Cmdr. Keith Woodley, a native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, who leads the core crew of 50 officers and enlisted personnel.
"This is not just a new ship. This is a new class of ship and that makes it even more challenging for the crew," said Woodley during the ceremony. "They have risen to that challenge and performed exceptionally well in getting this ship ready for service."
While other Navy surface combatant ships have a crew of 300 or more Sailors, littoral combat ships like Gabrielle Giffords have more automated systems and much smaller crews. Gabrielle Giffords' crew is just 73 at the ship's commissioning.
"It's not easy being an LCS Sailor," said Gunner's Mate 1st Class Mark Dobrinin. "We have to wear so many hats and be trained on systems and duties outside of our normal job specialty due to the small crew size. Every enlisted Sailor here volunteered for the program and we're excited to serve on USS Gabrielle Giffords."
The 3,200-ton Gabrielle Giffords was built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. The ship is 421 feet in length and has a beam of 103 feet and a navigational draft of 15 feet. The ship uses two gas turbine and two diesel engines to power four steerable waterjets to speeds in excess of 40 knots.
USS Gabrielle Giffords will depart Galveston and begin her transit to her homeport at Naval Base San Diego.
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