The USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the second military battleship named after the Twin Cities, is docked in Duluth ahead of its commissioning this weekend.
While berthed at Rice’s Point on Thursday, the ship, the first US Navy warship to arrive in Duluth since 1993, when the Navy performed annual Great Lakes deployments, was outlined in jubilant bunting.
The approximately 400-foot battleship will be commissioned into the Navy at a ceremony on Saturday at 10 a.m.
On that day, the majority of the ship’s 110-member crew would be requested to “run aboard” by running up the gangway in Navy tradition.
During a Thursday media tour, Cmdr. Alfonza White, the vessel’s commanding officer, said, “I’m more than proud.” “I’ve spent 27 years in the Navy.” The personnel are the finest part about the Navy. Everything about this ship revolves around the people on board and who looks after it.”
Minneapolis-Saint Paul is a littoral combat ship of the Freedom class built for protection and battle within 25 miles of shore. It can attain speeds of up to 50 mph, and its main cannon on the forward deck can fire ordnance that explodes on impact or within 9 nautical miles of targets.
Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida is its homeport. However, the options are unlimited from there.
“We are trained and equipped to cruise the high seas,” said White, who began his career aboard the now-decommissioned USS Duluth.
The $360 million ship was built in Marinette, Wisconsin, by Fincantieri Marinette Marine on Lake Michigan, and it has taken a long time to accomplish its commissioning. On June 15, 2019, the ship was christened and launched in the Menominee River by the Fincantieri yard, however during trials, a design flaw in the combining gear’s high-speed clutch appeared.
Both 2020 and 2021 have been pushed back for the commissioning, which will be the first for a Navy warship in Minnesota.
“The team is tenacious,” White remarked. “We handled it well and are now here.”
The crew has been training onboard other vessels in Florida for the past two years in preparation for the Minneapolis-Saint Paul route.
“I know the ship was being constructed up here in the Midwest, but we started creating a crew two years ago-plus, and that is really the bread and butter of what brings the ship to life,” said the vessel’s senior enlisted member, Command Senior Enlisted Leader Edward Pare. “We’ll have a commissioning ceremony, but this team has been working together for a long time, and it shows.”
Water jets, rather of the more typical propeller-and-rudder arrangement, drive the vessel.
When the Minneapolis-Saint Paul is opened, the jets process an Olympic swimming pool’s worth of water per second, according to White.
White explained, “That’s how much thrust vector we create.”
The crew has been taught to manage the vessel without the need of tugboats in tight places. The crew received great experience navigating the Soo Locks and other Great Lakes during their 37-day journey north from Florida.
White stated, “If you’ve ever been out on Lake Superior, it’s fantastic.” “The team had a terrific time going through the Soo Locks and then into Water Superior – lovely lake, amazing landscape.” We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
The ship belongs to a type of ships that are named after prominent cities.
Jodi Green, a former deputy undersecretary of the Navy and a Minnesota citizen, was instrumental in the name of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
The Minneapolis-Saint Paul will be the second naval warship to bear the names of both cities. From 1984 through 2008, the submarine USS Minneapolis-St. Paul was in service.
White said the Twin Cities and Duluth should be proud of their role in commissioning a ship that could be deployed anywhere in the world.
The ship was in Duluth for “worldwide access,” according to White. “We are a part of the planet.” We like sailing all over the world, and this demonstrates that we have access to a wide range of sites.”