Keel laid for LCS 11

Mary Winnefeld, center left, wife of Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, watches as her initials are welded into the keel of the future littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) Mary Winnefeld, center left, wife of Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, watches as her initials are welded into the keel of the future littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11) US Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

FEBRUARY 21, 2014 — The Navy and the Lockheed Martin-led LCS team held a keel laying ceremony Feb. 19, for the future USS Sioux City (LCS 11) at Fincantieri Marine Group's Marinette Marine shipyard, Marinette, WI.

The Lockheed Martin-led LCS team includes shipbuilder Marinette Marine, naval architect Gibbs & Cox, as well as nearly 900 suppliers in 43 states, including approximately 30 small businesses in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Laying the keel marks the beginning of the module erection process, which is a significant undertaking that signifies the ship coming to life. Modern warships are now largely built in a series of pre-fabricated, complete hull sections rather than a single keel, so the actual start of the shipbuilding process is now considered to be when the first sheet of steel is cut and is also often marked with a ceremonial event.

LCS 11 is the first Navy ship to be named after Sioux City, Iowa.

Ship sponsor Mary Winnefeld, wife of Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James "Sandy" Winnefeld, Jr., authenticated the keel by having her initials welded into a sheet of the ship's hull.

"I'm both honored and delighted to be back in my home state of Wisconsin as the sponsor of Sioux City," said Mrs. Winnefeld. "It's been a real privilege to meet the great Americans who are building this versatile ship, and I thank them in advance for their quality work. I look forward to meeting her crew soon, being part of her family, and bringing our ship to life when she's commissioned."

Sioux City is one of four Freedom-variant LCS currently under construction at Marinette Marine. The ship is expected to deliver to the fleet in 2017.

"We are acknowledging an important milestone in the life of the newest Littoral Combat Ship, and we are also celebrating a monumental leap forward in the strength, capability, and flexibility of the Navy's future Surface Fleet. LCS 11 and the entire LCS Class are truly without precedent in our national defense arsenal -- breaking new ground in Navy acquisition, ship design, and warfighting technology," said Capt. Tom Anderson, the Navy's LCS program manager.

"We are proud to provide our Sailors with a proven warship that allows them to carry out their missions around the world," said Dale P. Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training business. "We are working in partnership with the Navy as they build a fleet able to operate forward, stand ready for any challenges, and serve our essential warfighting requirements."