The USNS Carson City EPF-7 was christened Saturday in Alabama and sent into service with best wishes for fair winds from Mayor Robert Crowell of Nevada’s capital community.
“Our community is profoundly grateful for this tribute,” said Crowell.
The Carson City mayor, a Vietnam era Navy veteran, said the safety of the ship and crew “will forever be in the forefront of our thoughts, and your safe return in our prayers. May you always be blessed with fair winds and following seas.”
The mayor, his wife Susan, and others from Carson City attended the christening ceremony, which was in the Alabama city Mobile. The ship is known as the seventh Spearhead-class Joint High Speed Vessel. a 338-foot shallow draft aluminum catamaran.
The mayor in brief prepared remarks noted Carson City’s rich naval history began with the World War II era commissioning of the USS Carson City PF-50, a Tacoma class frigate. He said his city is small in size with a compact geographical area.
“What we lack in size, however, we make up in the immense pride we share for the community we call home.”
A flag box was presented at a pre-ceremony dinner on Friday as the sponsor’s gift to the captain and crew on Carson City’s behalf. The Navy League, part of that presentation, also provided a bulkhead plaque to be permanently affixed to the ship.
The flag box of gifts included Carson City’s official flag, military memorabilia from the Vietnam period through the Iraq era, along with rank and rate insignia devices from Carson City veterans.
“This is a big deal for Carson City,” said Crowell, “and it is wonderful that Susan Crowell was chosen by the Secretary of the Navy to be the ship sponsor.” He said Susan selected Carolyn Southard, the wife of Bud Southard, as matron of honor.
Bud Southard is president of the local Navy League Council.
The mayor noted as ship sponsor, his wife is considered a member of the crew expected to give her personality to the vessel and advocate for it and the crew.
He termed it an honor for Susan, the daughter of an Air Force colonel who married “a young sailor who is now an old, maturing salt.”
In her remarks, Susan Crowell said, “The Carson City is a beautiful ship — strong and fast — a credit to all those who had a hand in building her,” at the Austal USA employees site.
“Today we crown all the wonderful attributes of our community with the naming of this United State Navy Ship in our honor.”
Congressman Mark Amodei, who arrived Friday night, said.
“For a guy who grew up walking into the Nevada State Museum and the first room you walk into they have the silver service of the USS Nevada battleship and pictures of the Reno, the Carson City patrol frigate, this is a big deal for me,” he said.
“Here I am in Mobile going to watch them bust another bottle of champagne over the bow. This is exciting stuff when you get to be an old curmudgeon like me.”
He said he also was in the mood to do a little shopping from Austal.
“I want to be the first guy on my block to have an aluminum flatbed built for my pickup. I’ll be up front about it. I’ll pay for it but how cool would it be to have a flatbed built by the same guys who built this ship.”
USNS Carson City is the seventh of 10 Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels (EPF), formerly joint high speed vessels (JHSV), Austal has under contract with the U.S. Navy as part of a $1.6 billion 10-ship block-buy contract.
“We’re very excited to christened Carson City, and at how well this ship is coming together,” said Austal USA president Craig Perciavalle. “The EPF program has really matured very well thanks to the incredible shipbuilding team we have here at Austal, including our Navy teammates.”
More than 300 naval guests, civic leaders, community members and Austal employees attended the ceremony held beneath the hull of the ship in Austal’s final assembly bay.