Jackson is joining the Navy, or at least its name is.
The sea-going service will commission a 418-foot Independence-class littoral combat ship Dec. 5 in Gulfport as the USS Jackson. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the Port of Gulfport’s West Pier at Mississippi Hwy. 90 and 30th Avenue.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the official who names newly commissioned ships is a former governor of Mississippi – Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
The USS Jackson will be the Navy’s third LCS6, or Independence-class littoral combat ship, a vessel designed to operate near shore in waters as shallow as 15 feet. Another of the three littoral combat ships, the USS Montgomery, will be commissioned next year.
The Navy launched the USS Jackson on Dec. 14, 2013 and christened it on March 22, 2014. Built by Austal USA at its Mobile shipyard, the USS Jackson is an aluminum-constructed ship that carries a 3,104-metric-ton weight and typically has a crew of 40, though it can accommodate up to 78 seamen.
The Navy League of the United States Mississippi Council is raising $250,000 to pay for the commissioning ceremony. Fundraising “is going real well,” said Bob Hawley, a Madison resident and retired Navy commander who is heading the fund-raising.
“We’re getting a lot of support,” he said.
The city of Jackson has contributed about $25,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, including signage for ship hallways that will carry the names of Jackson streets and highways. “These are things to connect the city to the ship and vice versa,” said Hawley, a member of the Navy League of the United States Mississippi Council, a civilian organization that supports all sea services of the U.S. military.
Naming of vessels follows customs longheld by the Navy, Hawley said. For instance, aircraft carriers and destroyers tend to be named after individuals, submarines and battleships after states and Independence-class vessels after state capitals, he added.
“The unique privilege of having a naval vessel bear the name of our great city is a high honor that we share with all Mississippians,” Mayor Tony Yarbor said in a written statement.
The LCS is an entirely new breed of U.S. Navy warship, the Navy League said. At a little more than 400 feet in length and 103 feet in width, the USS Jackson is fast and agile and designed to operate close to shore.
It’s expected its initial stationing will be in the Pacific.
“LCS will operate with focused-mission packages that deploy manned and unmanned vehicles to execute missions as assigned by combatant commanders,” the Navy League added.
The commissioning ceremony is free to the public but tickets are required. Tickets can be obtained by sending an email request to USSJacksonCommissioning@gmail.com. More details are available at the Navy League’s USS Jackson Web page at jacksoncommissioning.com.
Hawley advised arriving early to avoid traffic congestion and to allow time for security checks. Parking is at Island View Casino parking garage