"It was awe-inspiring. Congratulations to Local 696 members for building the new USS Little Rock."
Boilermaker-built USS Little Rock meets namesake in Buffalo
WHEN THE USS Little Rock littoral combat ship number 9 (LCS 9) was commissioned December 16, 2017, in Buffalo, New York, retired Local 7 member and former BNAP National Coordinator Marty Spencer was on hand to witness the historic event. It was historic because it marked the first time in the U.S. Navy's 242-year history that a new warship was commissioned alongside its namesake.
The LCS 9, built by Boilermakers of Local 696 in Marinette, Wisconsin, took the name of the decommissioned light cruiser USS Little Rock (CL-92), which was completed as World War II drew to a close. The cruiser is now permanently moored as a museum ship near the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park along the shore of Lake Erie.
Spencer said many other Boilermakers from the Buffalo area were on hand for the commissioning, scattered among the crowd of 8,500 in attendance. With the pomp and circumstance that is traditional in bringing new U.S. Navy vessels into service, bands played, admirals and politicians spoke, and the LCS 9's captain issued commissioning orders to the ship's crew.
Spencer, a native of Buffalo and a 40-year member of the Boilermakers, said the ceremony evoked many emotions. "It was awe-inspiring. Your chest felt 30-foot thick with pride - not only for our military but for our Boilermakers union. Congratulations to Local 696 members for building the new USS Little Rock."
Speaking about the importance of Boilermaker work, Spencer added, "We do something that matters. Whether your building ships, building boilers or working in mining or other industries - when you step back and look at it, it makes you proud to know we had a part in that."
The USS Little Rock is the fifth littoral combat ship to be completed by L-696 members for shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine and military contractor Lockheed Martin. Fast and highly maneuverable, the ships are designed to operate in shallow coastal waters (although capable of operating farther out at sea), conducting missions such as anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures, maritime intercept and special operations support. More information on the ship can be found at www.usslittlerocklcs9.org. A video of the ship can be viewed below.