In just two months, a combat vessel named after Sioux City will be commissioned a Navy warship, ready to deploy around the world.
The U.S.S. Sioux City will be commissioned Nov. 17 in Annapolis, Maryland. It is named in part for the birthplace of medal of honor recipient and veteran George Everette “Bud” Day.
The littoral combat ship is designed to operate close to shore at 50 miles per hour. Most cruisers move at 30 miles per hour.
Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Frank Thorp, who is the president of the United States Navy Memorial and chair of the U.S.S Sioux City Commissioning Committee, says the commission ceremony – when the ship will change from a hunk of steel to a US war fighting ship – is the biggest event of the vessel’s life; he also calls the ceremony the most patriotic event a person will ever attend.
“Even the toughest, meanest individual will get choked up at the emotion of knowing what those men or women are ready to go do for their country,” Thorp said.
He continued, “These ceremonies just make you feel proud to be an American.”
Thorp has visited Sioux City five times, and said he is overwhelmed by the excitement the city has shown towards the vessel.
Over the last two years, the commission has been planning the ceremony. Since federal law prohibits the event from being government-funded, the committee has been fundraising money for the activities, crew recognitions and an education legacy fund that provides scholarships for crew members and their families. The group aims to hit $800,000 before the event.
So far, they’re about halfway to their goal.
As the commissioning date nears, Siouxland Chamber of Commerce President Chris McGowan, who is also on the committee, said he is excited about the opportunity to put Sioux City on the map.
Many of the city’s local food vendors will be in Annapolis to give the country a taste of Sioux City – literally.
The ceremony and events that revolve around it will showcase how much Sioux City supports the men and women who serve the country, McGowan said.
“I think this is a manifestation and reflection of how strongly people from Sioux City and Siouxland feel about recognizing, supporting and lauding the men and women who volunteer to defend freedom around the world,” McGowan said.
The U.S.S. Sioux City is the first war vessel to be put into active service at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. It will have a crew of about 100. A second crew will continue to train while the other is out at sea, Thorp said.
The ship is still under construction, and its crew is in training. It will sail into Annapolis about 10 days before the ceremony.
After it is commissioned, the U.S.S. Sioux City could deploy any day, if ordered, to fight against new threats like quiet submarines or fast boats near-shore. Though one of the main reasons for maintaining a Navy, Thorp said, is to deter potential threats.
“The United States definitely wants any potential adversary to know what our capabilities are, because we don’t want to fight,” Thorp said. “We only want to fight if we have to fight.”
“But if we can demonstrate that peace is the better way to do it, that’s always the military’s goal," he said.