Saturday, November 8, 2008

USS Freedom Crew Preps for Commissioning in Milwaukee

The USS Freedom (LCS 1) berths in Milwaukee harbor preparing for her commissioning on Nov. 8. The USS Freedom (LCS 1) is the first of two littoral combat ships being produced for the Navy. Freedom is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in costal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. (U.S. Navy photo by John Sheppard.)

Focus on Defense:

MILWAUKEE, Wisc., Nov. 8, 2008 -- Sailors from the USS Freedom (LCS 1) have spent the week getting to know the city of Milwaukee and its citizens in preparation from the commissioning of Freedom Nov. 8 at Milwaukee's Veteran's Park.

Sailors have welcomed hundreds on board the ship for special tours and visited with veterans at the VA Medical Center. Additionally, they have been hosted by several civic groups around the city for luncheons, tours and dinner and even attended a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game. The ship arrived in Milwaukee, Nov. 2.

"Milwaukee was our first choice of cities to do our commissioning in and it is absolutely the right place to do it," said Cmdr. Donald Gabrielson, commanding officer of USS Freedom, Blue Crew. "It is an opportunity us to bring her to life and put her into service with the people who built her and have supported this program from the beginning."

Milwaukee's Midwest hospitality has made an impression on the crew of Freedom as they have traveled around the city visiting veterans, attending the Milwaukee Bucks game and getting to know the people of Milwaukee.

"The people are great. This is going to be a great city to do our commissioning in," said Chief Operations Specialist (SW) Robert Holguin, who is in charge of the ship's combat information center.

Holguin was one of several crew members who spent Tuesday afternoon visiting with veterans at the Clement J. Zablocki Veteran's Medical Center in Milwaukee.

"This has been terrific, they tell us some stories, we tell them some stories and we are just having a blast with them," Holguin said.

The crew thanked each of the veterans for their service and presented them with a commissioning coin in honor of Freedom being brought to life in their city. The coin was designed by Operations Specialist Second Class (SW) Nicholas Shelton, who was among the Sailors visiting.

"We can do what we do in the military because of what you each have done," Chief Damage Controlman (SW/FMF) Joseph Dennis, of Bridgeport, Texas, told the veterans.

"It is great to have these Sailors come and visit us," said Robert Zdrojewksi, a Navy Seabee veteran. "It is very exciting to have a Navy ship in town."

Freedom will be commissioned Saturday, Nov. 8 at Milwaukee's Veteran's Park. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the event.

Freedom is the first of two LCS seaframes being produced. Freedom is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. The LCS is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep.

Freedom will be manned by one of two rotational crews, blue and gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments.

Freedom was built at the Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisc., and is the first Navy ship to be built on the Great Lakes since World War II. Freedom is the first Navy ship to be commissioned in the City of Milwaukee.

(Report by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Rhonda Burke, Commander, Navy Region Midwest/Naval Station Great Lakes Public Affairs.)

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