The Navy’s newest ship, the USS Savannah, comes to life

The Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Savannah will officially come to life during a commissioning ceremony Saturday at the Port of Brunswick. (Facebook)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (Tribune News Service) – The Navy’s newest ship, the USS Savannah, will officially come to life during a commissioning ceremony Saturday at the Port of Brunswick.

The Independence-class littoral combat ship is described as a “huge step forward” from the Navy’s more conventional surface ships, said Cmdr. Kevin Ray, the ship’s commander.

Ray, who served in the Navy for 17 years, said it was his first time serving on a commissioned ship. He said the crew was as excited as he was.

The Savannah is described as a fast, agile, and targeted mission platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, but capable of operating in open seas. It is designed to defeat asymmetric “anti-access” threats, such as mines, silent diesel submarines and fast surface craft.

Ray said the Savannah would be ported home to San Diego after leaving Brunswick.

The ship is new, but Ray said the crew had trained hard and were ready for the new assignment.

“Our sailors know what to do and how the ship is going to react,” he said.

The boat will have two crews who will rotate deployments lasting around six months, Ray said.

When crew members are not at sea, they train and take time off.

Some of the crew of 70 sailors will also have earned their Naval Surface Warfare Specialist pin, a process that takes around 18 months. The designation shows that a sailor has sufficient knowledge of most ship systems and can take over in an emergency. One of the important skills that everyone trains on is firefighting due to the threat a fire poses to a ship at sea.

During a tour of the boat on Thursday, Ray explained how the high-tech equipment makes the Savannah a great offshore platform.

The 127-meter high-speed trimaran-hulled warship incorporates new technology to support current and future mission capability from deep water to the littoral zone.

The boat also has a larger flight deck than Navy destroyers. There is room inside the ship to house a helicopter.

The vessel has a top speed of over 40 knots and can serve in a strike group or alone in different environments around the world.

The original plan was for the commissioning ceremony to be held in the ship’s namesake city, but the port of Savannah has a cargo backlog, so the ceremony was moved to Brunswick. But that doesn’t mean the city is ignored.

Ray said members of his crew attended events in Savannah to commemorate the commissioning, and the city will be well represented at Saturday’s invitational ceremony. The ceremony begins at 9:45 a.m. and will be streamed live online at dvidshub.net/webcast/27899.

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